August 7, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Grandma Gets Sexy Idea for Origin of Life

Helen Hansma likes being a grandmother and studying the origin of life, according to a video on PhysOrg.  To show she’s not over the hill, though, she came up with a sexy new hypothesis for how we got here: life emerged “between the sheets” – of mica.
    Her video clip explains three parts to her hypothesis: (1) Mica sheets provide safe havens for molecules to evolve; (2) Mica has potassium, and life uses lots of potassium; and (3) Mica sheets can rise and fall as waves of water intrude the thin layers, providing a source of mechanical energy to keep things thrusting between the sheets.
    The article, based on a press release from the NSF, presented her new ideas cheerfully.  PhysOrg embellished the new hypothesis further with by claiming that “That age-old question, ‘where did life on Earth start?’ now has a new answer,” titillating readers with a flashy headline, “The Secret of Life May Be As Simple As What Happens Between the Sheets – Mica Sheets.”

You can try this at home.  Put some watch parts in an accordion and pump till a watch comes out.  If you want NSF funding, find a way to make your experiment sound sexy.  (Warning: experimenting on the origin of life between your own sheets does not qualify.  Maybe the Kinsey Institute will finance that.)

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Categories: Dumb Ideas, Origin of Life

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