May 23, 2016 | David F. Coppedge

Life from Sun Flares?

A NASA scientist proposes that a period of superflares on the early sun zapped life into existence on the earth.

Vladimir Airapetian, a solar scientist at NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, thinks he can kill two evolutionary conundrums with one blast. “Superflares from the Sun May Have Sparked Life by Warming Earth,” Mike Wall writes for Space.com (a piece echoed by Live Science). Simultaneously, the flares produced nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, to keep earth warm when the sun was smaller back then, solving the old “faint young sun paradox.”

Life on Earth may owe its existence to incredibly powerful storms that erupted on the sun long ago, a new study suggests.

Potent and frequent solar eruptions could have warmed the planet enough for life to take root, and also provided the vital energy needed to transform simple molecules into the complex building blocks of life, such as DNA, researchers said.

Space.com posted the NASA video clip separately under the headline, “Brewing Life On Earth – Violent Sun, Weak Shielding May Have Contributed.

Ironically, superflares are often blamed for sterilizing planets around other stars, and ripping away their atmospheres. Airapetian envisions violent forces as creative agents.

New Scientist jumped part way onto the bandwagon. “Cranky young sun could have kickstarted life on Earth,” Joshua Sokol writes. See? The sun was smart; it knew about kickstarter campaigns before humans evolved. At least Sokol went the extra journalistic half-mile and looked up one critic rather than taking Airapetian’s optimism as evidence.

It’s a compelling suggestion, says James Kasting of Penn State University, but it needs to be confirmed with more sophisticated atmospheric models. Kasting thinks that ultraviolet light from the sun might have destroyed nitrous oxide before it could mix into the atmosphere.

It would take a convoluted mechanism to produce that high up in the atmosphere and then get enough of it into the lower atmosphere to produce a good greenhouse effect,” he says.

Kasting doesn’t seem to have any problem, though, with the suggestion that the sun brewed life in a kickstarter campaign.

Life from Europe to Europa

Airapetian is not the only NASA scientist suggesting that life is a simple byproduct of violent natural processes. Steve Vance at JPL is suggesting that Jupiter bathed its moon Europa in heavy radiation. This, he feels, produced an “earthlike chemical balance” that maybe aided life’s origination in the putative ocean deep under its icy crust. Astrobiology Magazine reports:

The other half of Europa’s chemical-energy-for-life equation would be provided by oxidants — oxygen and other compounds that could react with the hydrogen — being cycled into the Europan ocean from the icy surface above. Europa is bathed in radiation from Jupiter, which splits apart water ice molecules to create these materials. Scientists have inferred that Europa’s surface is being cycled back into its interior, which could carry oxidants into the ocean.

“The oxidants from the ice are like the positive terminal of a battery, and the chemicals from the seafloor, called reductants, are like the negative terminal. Whether or not life and biological processes complete the circuit is part of what motivates our exploration of Europa,” said Kevin Hand, a planetary scientist at JPL who co-authored the study.

Did anyone tell Hand and Vance that oxygen destroys the so-called building blocks of life? That’s why Stanley Miller carefully excluded it from his spark-discharge apparatus. If Jupiter bathed Europa with radiation since its formation, life could never have gotten started—even if one granted all the other suppositions in the naturalistic scenario.

Unless you have studied the origin-of-life issue and cell biology, you may not have sufficient idea how utterly silly these stories are. But just think about it: life as we know it is an exceedingly complex phenomenon that survives by carefully shielding itself from violence. These NASA guys want you to think the way life started was by kicks, blasts, and sunburns. Does that make any sense? Of course not. But use the power of suggestion, raise the perhapsimaybecouldness index, and personify lifeless bodies as creators, and the imagination begins to glow with visions of the impossible becoming possible. These rhetorical tricks constitute some of the Building Blocks of Lie.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Bill says:

    Amazing the could haves, may(be), perhaps, that were the basis of the story. Pure speculation with calls for someone to try and get evidence to support it. What ever happened to getting the evidence before they publish such speculations… Strikes me as lazy…

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