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We are happy to have Marc Kaufman guest blogging with us today. Marc is a wonderful science writer and national editor at the Washington Post. He is also the author of the new book First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth.

The daffodils are blooming; an enormous pileated woodpecker is drilling the big oak near my window; the stink bugs that invaded the Washington suburbs last summer are reappearing after a winter's hibernation. Nature, in its familiar fullness, is putting on its springtime show.

Surrounded by this pleasing display, I am nonetheless getting a bit confused about the whole "nature" thing. That's because I'm also reading a recent release from the University of St. Andrews in the U.K. that talks about the possibility of worlds where plants are black. It is not an entirely original finding that's being reported — a NASA funded team came to a similar, if differently colored conclusion in 2007 — but it does bring the point home rather dramatically, and the results were presented yesterday at a meeting of England's Royal Astronomical Society.

Dumb question. Why would it? Nature is certainly not terracentric. To read the rest of the article, click here.
Category: Science