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OOL Study Substitutes Computer for Chemistry

Upon reading a recent origin-of-life paper in PNAS,1 you might think the authors ran experiments with real chemicals and real deep-sea rocks.  A more careful look, however, reveals that their model only worked in cyberspace.  This raises interesting questions about the ability of simulations to substitute for empirical evidence.     Their claims were dramatic […]

Can the Miller Experiment Be Revived?

Jeffrey Bada at the Scripps Institute is finding more interesting stuff in Stanley Miller’s spark-discharge tubes – with a little tweaking of ingredients.  Scientific American acknowledges that the famous experiment fell into disrepute when scientists used a more realistic atmosphere: “It seemed to refute a long-cherished icon of evolution—and creationists quickly seized on it as […]

Is Hardy Life Evidence of an Evolutionary Origin?

Salt-tolerate species of unicellular organisms are found in all three kingdoms of life, says an article on Space.com.  “Astrobiologists, those cross disciplinary scientists dedicated to investigating the broad question of life in the universe,” writes Lisa Chu-Theilbar of the SETI Institute, “often study extremophiles, organisms that live at the edges of what life is known […]

Can the Interior Design Itself?

Calling all interior designers: has Darwinism rendered you superfluous?  J. Scott Turner thinks so.  He wrote a book called The Tinkerer’s Accomplice: How Design Emerges from Life Itself (Harvard, 2007).  It was reviewed by Claus Wedekind in last week’s Nature with the title, “The interior designer.”  This does not imply that interiors need an exterior […]

Extrasolar Gas Giants Turn Up Dry

A “dramatic step” led to a “big surprise”, said a press release from Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope was able to capture the first spectral information from two planets orbiting other stars.  HD 209458b and HD 189733b are so-called “hot Jupiters” – similar in size to our gas giants, they orbit much closer […]

OOL on the Rocks

An important survey of the origin-of-life (OOL) field has been published in Scientific American.  Robert Shapiro, a senior prize-winning chemist, cancer researcher, emeritus professor and author of books in the field, debunks the Miller experiment, the RNA World and other popular experiments as unrealistic dead ends.  Describing the wishful thinking of some researchers, he said, […]

The Space Race: Just Staying Alive

“Ad astra!” the sci-fi slogan announces with eternal optimism: “To the stars!”  Medical doctors and astrobiologists are not sure you would want to stay there long, though.  Some recent findings give a dismal picture of the prospects for life – human or bacterial – at least in our solar system, if that can be assumed […]

Dreams of Planetary Oceans Dry Up

Astrobiologists like oceans.  The vision of life evolving on Earth in a primordial soup drives the quest to find liquid on other worlds.  It doesn’t have to be liquid water: just liquid that stimulates the imagination with visions of exotic life.  Two solar system bodies once considered prime candidates for ocean front property, though, have […]

Mars Life With Bleached Hair

Mars has hydrogen peroxide.  Bombardier beetles use peroxide.  So maybe the Viking landers in 1976 didn’t find life, because they didn’t look for peroxide-based life.  That’s the essence of the reasoning in an Associated Press story circulating on the net (see Breitbart.com).     Reporter Seth Borenstein earns Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week for […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  Comets as Life’s Lego Jumper Cables

Results of the Stardust mission made the cover of Science this week.1  The Jet Propulsion Laboratory put out a press release that condensed the abstruse papers into a simplistic story built around the L word life.  Publicist David Agle wrote for the Lego generation: Just as kits of little plastic bricks can be used to […]

Darwinists Award New Inductee

The journal Science published the winning entry in the 2006 contest “GE and Science Prize for Young Life Scientists.”  The Grand Prize went to Irene A. Chen (Harvard) for her essay entitled, “The Emergence of Cells During the Origin of Life.”1  Her chemical-evolution scenario makes generous use of that word emergence and its synonyms. Modern […]

To Get Complex Life, Just Add Oxygen

A story is circulating in the science news media that a burst of complex organisms in the Cambrian coincided with a rise in oxygen in the atmosphere.  Reporters seem to be drawing a cause-and-effect relationship.  Examples: News@Nature:  “A sharp increase in the amount of oxygen in the air may have sparked the evolution of complex […]

Mars Waterpark a Booming Place

Two surprises about Mars came from NASA this week: (1) water may be flowing today down gullies in places (NASA press release), and (2) meteorites are still hitting the surface (NASA press release).  The water evidence comes from fresh deposits downslope of a gully on a crater wall.  One photo in the second article shows […]

SETI a Descendant of OOL

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) may seem a different subject than origin of life (OOL), but researchers in both depend on each other’s assumptions.  The common bond is illustrated in a SETI article on Space.com today.  Devon Burr of the SETI institute wrote an article not about intelligent aliens trying to broadcast signals to […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  It’s a Gas

This week’s entry by Sara Goudarzi in Live Science requires no comment.  The title of the article is, “Life’s Origin a Gas.” Life on Earth emerged out of thin air, scientists now say.     By mimicking in a lab the gases that could have been present on early Earth, researchers have concluded that a […]
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