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Mars Life Hopes Suffer Double Disappointment

Just when the new Phoenix lander was flexing its arm and going to work (see JPL), hoping to determine the habitability of Mars, two papers came out expressing doubt it will find anything. Toxic salty stew:  Space.com summarized a new paper in Science1 that concluded Mars has way too much salt.  Although some earth organisms […]

Earth’s Core Values Questioned

Geologists have long assumed that iron attracted certain elements toward the earth’s core during its formation.  The amounts of them we find today were added by meteorites and comets as a veneer on the surface later.  A press release from Florida State University is questioning those core values.  New research “calls into question three decades […]

Astrobiologists Pool Their Ignorance at AbSciCon

A big conference on Astrobiology was held in Santa Clara, California last month.  It was the fifth AbSciCon (Astrobiology Science Conference), a bi-annual cross-disciplinary event.  This one pulled together 675 researchers from 28 countries across a variety of disciplines, all interested in life in space.  Naturally, evolution was an overarching theme.  From Edna DeVore’s account […]

Watch for Falling Amino Acids

A long-standing problem of origin-of-life theories is how proteins became left-handed.  Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, come in right-handed and left-handed forms, yet life uses only the left-handed form.     The two isoforms are otherwise identical—yet one amino acid of the wrong hand in a protein spells doom for its function.  Wherever […]

Enceladus: Hotter Chemical Plume Found

Initial results of Cassini’s March 12 flyby of Enceladus have been published.  You can watch a replay of today’s press briefing, read the blog, and read illustrated bulletins about the organic material, chemical signatures, hot spot locations, the stellar occultation (see also the Quicktime animation).  Another article shows the plume locations.  An astrobiologist (Chris McKay) […]

Simple Molecules: The Building Blocks of Lie

At a physical level, everything in the universe is made of atoms and molecules.  Life, being a subset of everything in the universe, is composed of a subset of all molecules that exist.  It could be said that any atom or molecule present in a living thing is a building block of life, but how […]

Astrobiology Justifying Itself

Is astrobiology a legitimate science?  Seth Shostak, director of the SETI Institute, tried to answer that question in the weekly SETI Thursday column on Space.com.  He estimates there are “approximately a thousand scientists who would be proud to print ‘astrobiologist’ on their business cards.”  Astrobiology still gets a cool reception in some quarters.  Shostak likened […]

Mars Life Hung Out to Dry in Salt

Scientists have just about hanged the possibility for life on Mars.  At first, the acid measured by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers made the environment look inhospitable.  “Now, we also appreciate the high salinity of the water when it left behind the minerals Opportunity found,” said Mark Knoll on a JPL press release.  “This tightens […]

Life Is Earth’s Waste Dump

Exclusive  Most evolutionists and philosophers recognize the origin of life as one of the most difficult questions to broach from a materialist standpoint.  Dr. Michael Russell, however, made it sound very easy to a large audience gathered in JPL’s auditorium on February 4.  In a talk titled confidently, “How Life Began on our Water World […]

Leslie Orgel’s Last Testament: Pigs Don’t Fly, and Life Doesn’t Just Happen

Leslie Orgel's last written article before his death shows no patience for hypothetical scenarios for the origin of life.

Nuke Sand, Get Life

Glowing sand was your cradle, claimed The Telegraph.  “The sifting and collection of radioactive material by powerful tides could have generated the complex molecules that led to the evolution of carbon-based life forms –including plants, animals and humans.”     The article acknowledged that “radiation may seem an unlikely candidate to kick-start life because it […]

Origin of Life: Food for Queazy Thought

New theories of the origin of life seem to come and go like fashion trends.  A biochemist at University of California at Santa Barbara (Helen Hansma) put out a new plot line about biomolecules forming between the protective flakes of mica.  This was all Dave Mosher at Live Science (see reprint on MSNBC) needed to […]

Magicians through the Looking Glass

A leading origin-of-life researcher passed away last month: Leslie Orgel.  Gerald Joyce paid him tribute in Nature.1  Orgel worked closely with other famous origin-of-life people like Stanley Miller, and was a leader in the “RNA world” scenario for the origin of life.  Joyce appreciated his rigid empiricism: Although Orgel was a theoretician, he always demanded […]

No Salt, Please: Europa Life Needs It Bland

Salt may taste good on human food, but for life trying to emerge in the sea, it is toxic.  Astrobiologists have long wondered if life could exist at Jupiter’s moon Europa, where an ocean is believed to exist miles deep under the icy crust.  They must have been presuming the water is pure, but an […]

SETI Researcher Writes Children’s Poem

For a feature called “SETI Thursday” at Space.com, Dr. Laurence Doyle has written a childish poem about how life brought itself up from nothing to galactic explorers.  It begins, “When the Earth was young, and the Moon nearby, in a cometary sea, prokaryotic thoughts arose, what fun it is to be!”  The idea of evolving […]
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