Paper View:  Why SETI Hears Only a “Great Silence”

Enrico Fermi posed a curious question in 1950: “Where is everybody?”  If life emerges on planets as a consequence of evolution, there should be other intelligent civilizations out there, and some of them must have colonized other worlds.  He thought there must have been plenty of time for galactic colonizers to achieve technologies far beyond […]

Can the Origin of Life Be Simplified?

Evolutionists looking for a materialistic explanation for the origin of life know that there is a huge gap between a sea of chemicals and a self-replicating cell.  Over the years since the Miller experiment (see 05/02/2003 entry), there have been several approaches trying to bridge this gap.  One has been the RNA World hypothesis, that […]

The Porridge Before the Soup: Too Hot?

In the evolutionary theory of everything, there is a soup before the primordial soup we normally think of.  It’s the solar nebula, the whirling disk of dust, gas and ice that preceded the planets.  Scientists used to think the nebula was differentiated like chemicals in a giant centrifuge, with the rocks close to the sun […]

Astrobiology Ten Years Later: Can It Justify Its Funding?

Astrobiology just turned ten years old, but is experiencing growing pains, partly due to a starvation diet.  This “science without a subject” (as George Gaylord Simpson quipped about its predecessor, exobiology) is struggling to justify itself at the Congressional feeding trough.  Proponents tout it as the most important subject in the universe.  Why, then, is […]

Isolated DNA Bases Are Destroyed Quickly

Without water, DNA bases fall apart quickly.  Any origin-of-life models expecting the building blocks of DNA (nucleotides) to stick around for long are going to suffer, say researchers from Oregon State University.  The molecules can enter a “dark state” in which they are highly vulnerable to UV radiation.  This idea was once considered “scientific heresy” […]

“Fertile Imagination” Envisions Life on Titan

The dramatic landing of the Huygens Probe on Titan over a year ago (01/14/2005, 01/21/2005, 12/05/2005) is finally getting some overdue notice from the media.  The PBS science series NOVA just aired a new program on Cassini-Huygens, “Voyage to the Mystery Moon” (see your local PBS station for rebroadcast times), and Astronomy Magazine’s May 2006 […]

Reviewer Stunned by Author’s Handwaving

David Nicholls appears to have suffered whiplash from a line in a book he was reviewing in Science,1 Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane (Oxford, 2006).  Though he liked the book in general, he said this about Lane’s explanation for how the first cell got its power generator: The […]

Minimum Genome Doubles

How many genes does a bacterium need to live?  Evolutionists interested in the origin of life have been trying to determine the minimal genome for life.  Those estimates may have been way too low, say researchers from the University of Bath.  Though they did not supply a number, they estimate the required number of genes […]

Dry-Marsers Score Points

Those looking for water on Mars in hopes that life would grow in it had some setbacks this week.  National Geographic and Mars Daily reported on work by Gwendolyn Bart (U of Arizona) who found gullies on the moon similar to those on Mars thought to be formed by water.  Since the moon never had […]

Stromatolites Can Form By Non-Biological Processes

Exclusive  Stromatolites have been Exhibit A for stories of the rise of life on the early earth.  These column-shaped rocks found in Precambrian strata are usually assumed to be evidence of microbial mats that grew upward as sediment slowly accumulated on top of them.  Scene 1 is usually Shark’s Bay in Australia, where stromatolites form […]

The Astrobiology Sky Is Falling

Rocco Mancinelli (Principal Investigator, SETI Institute) made an impassioned plea on for continued funding of astrobiology projects, calling threatened funding cuts a “national disaster” if not reversed.  And what is astrobiology?  He defined it as “the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.”  His reasons for keeping astrobiology […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: Better Living Through Chemistry

Joel Achenbach (Washington Post) got a page in the March 2006 National Geographic.  His short piece on chemical evolution was juxtaposed (whether intentionally or not we do not know) against a news item on archaeology announcing the discovery of a new Dead Sea Scroll – the first found in 40 years – a fragment from […]

Life Didn’t Start on Hot Clay

Strike off one more proposal for the origin of life.  “Darwin’s warm pond theory tested,” announced the BBC News, but it was found wanting.     Origin of life researchers have long recognized the serious problem of concentrating organic molecules in a primordial soup such that they could interact and grow.  A popular ingredient in […]

SETI Tries to Stretch the Habitable Zone

Can life exist outside the circumstellar habitable zone, that ring of life around a star where the temperature is comfy?  “For more than 150 years,” Ker Than wrote for LiveScience, “…this zone has been defined as a narrow disk around a star where temperatures are moderate enough that water on the surface of a planet […]

Article: David Berlinski on the Origin of Life

David Berlinski has written a survey of the origin of life field in the Feb. 2006 issue of Commentary magazine.  He critiques whether origin-of-life research qualifies as an entry into “the model for what science should be.” This is a good article to gain background on a topic often discussed here at CEH.  You can […]
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