August 10, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Weird-Science Origin-of-Life Theories

Two news articles on the origin of life seem bizarre at best.  One even used the word “bizarrely” in its own self-evaluation.

  1. Living dust:  Zap the dust in your living room and it may come alive.  Is that the gist of this story in PhysOrg?  A team of international scientists thinks that cosmic dust in plasma takes on properties similar to that of carbon-based life, like DNA.  Here’s the word bizarrely—

    Quite bizarrely, not only do these helical strands interact in a counterintuitive way in which like can attract like, but they also undergo changes that are normally associated with biological molecules, such as DNA and proteins, say the researchers.  They can, for instance, divide, or bifurcate, to form two copies of the original structure.  These new structures can also interact to induce changes in their neighbours and they can even evolve into yet more structures as less stable ones break down, leaving behind only the fittest structures in the plasma.
        So, could helical clusters formed from interstellar dust be somehow alive?  “These complex, self-organized plasma structures exhibit all the necessary properties to qualify them as candidates for inorganic living matter,” says Tsytovich, “they are autonomous, they reproduce and they evolve”.

    It should be noted that these behaviors were noted in computer models, not in real plasmas.

  2. We could be Martians:  The same scientists who revived bacteria from alleged 8 million year old ice (see 08/04/2007) say their study helps refute panspermia.  Life could not have come on comets, says a reporter on, because radiation would have killed it.  But since it might survive inside meteorites, it was OK for him to trade one weird-science theory for his own.  Because life was so hardy on Earth, and since Mars is just one step away, isn’t it logical?  Staff writer Bob Groves ended on that note: “Microbes might survive a trip from Mars if encased in a meteorite, [Paul] Falkowski of Rutgers said.  ‘So we could all be Martians,’ he said.”

Neither of the reporters dealt with the difficulties of their ideas.  The first story, for instance, failed to mention how genetic information might be stored in plasma dust, or how it could produce useful function, and be reproduced accurately.  It mentioned that life might have started as plasma dust before it became carbon-based, but presented no plausible idea how or why a “genetic takeover” might have occurred.
    The second article failed to deal with the difficulties of assembling ribose and amino acids of the right handedness on the surface of a dead planet, explaining the origin of genetic information, getting it packaged into a meteorite, and delivering it unharmed to Earth in sufficient quantity and safety where it would not be destroyed the moment it splashed down.  The article dismissed the idea that “building blocks of life” were delivered by comets, but then presented a similar idea (that they were delivered from Mars in a meteorite by a chance process) as plausible.
    The 15th Intl. Conference on the Origin of Life will be held a year from this month in Florence, Italy.

The gutless science reporters, who should be gatekeepers of rationality, let anything and everything pass as long as it is materialistic and Darwinian.  This, folks, is the sorry state of science reporting in our world today.  These same reporters will attack creationists in the worst vituperative rhetoric, and portray them as the enemies of science wanting to bring on the dark ages, but in the same breath will let weird Frankenstein tales pass right on through unopposed as long as they assume evolution.  The only controversies they occasionally report is when two Darwinists disagree about whose Darwinian tale is better.  We have a lot of work to do.

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Categories: Dumb Ideas, Origin of Life

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