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Jane Goodall was already on a London dock in March 1957 when she realized that her passport was missing. In just a few hours, she was due to depart on her first trip to Africa. A school friend had moved to a farm outside Nairobi and, knowing Goodall’s childhood dream was to live among the African wildlife, invited her to stay with the family for a while. Goodall, then 22, saved for two years to pay for her passage to Kenya: waitressing, doing secretarial work, temping at the post office in her hometown, Bournemouth, on England’s southern coast. Now all this was for naught, it seemed.

It’s hard not to wonder how subsequent events in her life — rather consequential as they have turned out to be to conservation, to science, to our sense of ourselves as a species — might have unfolded differently had someone not found her passport, along with an itinerary from Cook’s, the travel agency, folded inside, and delivered it to the Cook’s office. An agency representative, documents in hand, found her on the dock. “Incredible,” Goodall told me last month, recalling that day. “Amazing.”

Within two months of her arrival, Goodall met the paleontologist Louis Leakey — Nairobi was a small town for its white population in those days — and he immediately offered her a job at the natural-history museum where he was curator. He spent much of the next three years testing her capacity for repetitive work.

He believed in a hypothesis first put forth by Charles Darwin that humans and chimpanzees share an evolutionary ancestor. Close study of chimpanzees in the wild, he thought, might tell us something about that common progenitor. He was, in other words, looking for someone to live among Africa’s wild animals. One night, he told Goodall that he knew just the place where she could do it: Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve, in the British colony of Tanganyika (now Tanzania).

In July 1960, Goodall boarded a boat and after a few hours motoring over the warm, deep waters of Lake Tanganyika, she stepped onto the pebbly beach at Gombe.

Her finding, published in Nature in 1964, that chimpanzees use tools — extracting insects from a termite mound with leaves of grass — drastically and forever altered humanity’s understanding of itself; man was no longer the natural world’s only user of tools.

After two and a half decades of living out her childhood dream, Goodall made an abrupt career shift, from scientist to conservationist.


Scientists have found the first evidence that briny water flowed on the surface of Mars as recently as last summer, a paper published on Monday showed, raising the possibility that the planet could support life.

Although the source and the chemistry of the water is unknown, the discovery will change scientists‟ thinking about whether the planet that is most like Earth in the solar system could support present day microbial life.

The discovery was made when scientists developed a new technique to analyze chemical maps of the surface of Mars obtained by NASA‟s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

They found telltale fingerprints of salts that form only in the presence of water in narrow channels cut into cliff walls throughout the planet‟s equatorial region.

The slopes appear during the warm summer months on Mars, then vanish when the temperatures drop. Scientists suspected the streaks were cut by flowing water, but previously had been unable to make the measurements.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter makes its measurements during the hottest part of the Martian day, so scientists believed any traces of water, or fingerprints from hydrated minerals, would have evaporated.

Also, the chemical-sensing instrument on the orbiting spacecraft cannot home in on details as small as the narrow streaks, which typically are less than 16 feet wide.

But Ojha and colleagues created a computer program that could scrutinize individual pixels. That data was then correlated with high-resolution images of the streaks. Scientists concentrated on the widest streaks and came up with a 100 percent match between their locations and detections of hydrated salts.







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