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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 […]

Wishing ET Upon a Star

What are the odds of finding extraterrestrials?  That subject has been discussed ad infinitum, but David Shiga at New Scientist thinks the odds just went up.  “Solitary suns like ours are not as rare as we once thought, boosting the likelihood that there are other life-friendly solar systems in the universe.”  It should be noted […]

Using Aliens to Titillate the Public

Geologists cannot even figure out our own planet (next headline), but some of them claim to know a lot about other planets – their geological history, and even their prospects for life.  Is it fair to tease the public with the L-word life when so much remains to be understood on the ground under our […]

The Limits of Scientific Speculation

How far can a scientist speculate and get a respectful hearing, just because he or she is a scientist?  One case to examine is a story on PhysOrg, “The Chance for Life on Io” (see also Astrobio.net).  Jupiter’s innermost large moon Io might be considered the last place to look for life.  It is the […]

Not Life on Titan Again

Something weird is going on at the large moon of Saturn.  “What is Consuming Hydrogen and Acetylene on Titan?” teased a press release from Jet Propulsion Laboratory”s Cassini mission: Two new papers based on data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft scrutinize the complex chemical activity on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.  While non-biological chemistry offers […]

Fooling Around with OOL

Origin of Life (OOL) research is one of those areas in science where one doesn’t have to make any real progress, as long as he or she looks busy.  Anything the scientist says, no matter how speculative, or even foolish, is likely to be taken seriously, because the alternative – creation – has already been […]

Titan Continues to Surprise Saturn Scientists

Since reaching Saturn in 2004, the Cassini spacecraft has now made 68 flybys of Titan, the large smog-shrouded moon.  Space.com highlighted a recent picture showing the rings appearing to bisect the moon.  What are some of the latest findings of this alien world – the only moon in the solar system with a substantial atmosphere? […]

Southpaw Explanations Out of Left Field

All proteins are left handed.  Some humans are left handed.  Can evolution explain that?  Evolutionists are never known to be at a loss for words when asked to explain anything, provided they are allowed liberal use of the word perhaps.     A new projection theme for the first left-handed amino acids that comprise proteins […]

Noah’s Ark on Mars

We apologize for this improbable headline to draw attention to two stories making the rounds: new claims about Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat, and new claims about life on Mars.  Headlines on these topics show up periodically in the news.  What do the subjects have in common?  How do they differ?  Do the most recent […]

SETI and other Pointless Gimmicks

Astrobiologist Paul Davies sure knows how to ask interesting questions, and ruffle feathers in the process.  His new book about SETI, The Eerie Silence, reviewed by Leslie Mullen in Astrobiology Magazine, defaced some long-standing notions.  But are his suggestions any improvement?     Davies thinks the Voyager record was a “pointless gimmick.”  He thinks that […]

Life, an Elegantly Simple Mistake

The ribosome is a complex molecular machine made up of multiple protein and RNA parts.  Last year, winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (see 10/10/2009) were praised for elucidating the structure and activity of ribosomes.  News stories described “the whole complicated process of transcription initiation, an operation that is of crucial importance in all […]

Divining Violent gods as Natural Cosmic Creators

Ancient stargazers imagined the violent actions of gods in the heavens giving rise to the stars, earth and man.  Today’s secular astronomers engage in a similar kind of lore.  While not naming their gods after mythical heroes, they describe them as forces of nature whose violent clashes give rise to order and design.  Sometimes they […]

Origin of Life: Claiming Something for Almost Nothing

Getting life to emerge from nonliving chemicals is either a cinch or the most impossible thing in the universe, depending on whom you ask.  Let’s look at a couple of recent papers that suggest the origin of life was no big deal.     A press release from the University of Colorado advertised a paper […]

March Moon Madness Arrives Early

Some of the most interesting bodies in the solar system are the objects not big enough to be called planets.  Moons, asteroids and comets continue to yield their secrets and surprises.  Here’s a quick rundown on recent findings.     Why do some asteroids look so fresh?  It’s because they get a facelift, Space.com reported […]

Old Primordial Soup Is Spoiled

Don’t open it; that can of primordial soup sitting on the shelf for decades is rotten.  PhysOrg announced, “New research rejects 80-year theory of ‘primordial soup’ as the origin of life.”  In its place come new theories about tiny chemical cooking pots in the pores of deep-sea vents.  Pioneered by Michael Russell (02/15/2008) and others, […]
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