DailyDirt: Living On Earth (Or Elsewhere)

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The origins of life are incredibly mysterious. The life that we normally interact with is made up of chiral molecules, and no one actually knows why only certain chiral molecules are involved in our biology. No one knows how life began, or where it began, or when. Lots of basic questions about life have no solid answers. Attempts to duplicate the creation of life have generally only produced inanimate molecules (except for synthetic life based on existing lifeforms). Here are just a few fascinating links on the topic of life. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 May 2013 @ 5:07pm

    Moore's law applied inappropriately

    Wow. I've seen some bad references to Moore's law... that first link goes off the deep end.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tofof, 7 May 2013 @ 6:10pm

    Oh man not this again

    By the logic in the first paper, newborns are actually seven years old.

    Reproduced here:

    A) a newborn is, on average, 17 inches. tall
    B) an average American 21-year-old man is 70 inches.
    Therefore, the rate of growth from birth to age 21 is 2.5 inches per year.
    Therefore, newborns have been growing for 6.8 years before they're born - not 40 weeks.

    Or consider xkcd #605 which shows another example of the same problem.

    You can't just arbitrarily pick a measurement, take it at two (or a dozen) points in time, and declare it as a good stand-in for time.

    Techdirt, stop picking up pseudoscience that's already made the rounds a few weeks ago and giving it yet another chance at life. Last time it was the panspermia guy, now it's this nutter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2013 @ 9:09am

    The origins of life are incredibly mysterious.

    Bullshit, Mr Ho !!!

    Obviously the origins of life are becoming increasingly clear.

    we (humans) have recently (in the last 10 years) have decoded the entire Genome of thousands of species, (including humans) from that information scientists have established with reasonable accuracy when DNA first appeared.

    humans were fully decoded in 2001, and since that time thousands of other species have been identified.

    within the DNA code it is possible to determine that life on earth started some 4 billion years ago, that is a specific time, and is a strong indicator that life started right here on earth, that so far is the only place it so far has been found.

    Genitics has also clearly shown that we have a 'tree of life' and not a Forrest of life, life has not continuously 'started' and there is only one tree.

    Genetics has also shown that some 4 billion years ago Archaea's and bacteria combined for form much larger and more complex DNA's.

    For life to have come from 'outer space' it would have had to come in 2 forms that combined here on earth, which not nearly as probable as that occurring here on earth.

    we also know that genome of life on earth had this 4 fold multiplication of it's length (double, then double again) and have determined that this occurred around 250 million years ago, that resulted in a rapid advance in evolution of more complex species.

    They also know that for a long period when life first appeared there were only Archaea and bacteria. Archaea and bacteria still exist, but so does the combination of the two types of single cell life.

    and with mitochondrial DNA analysis it can be determined when this occurred, (at about the same time as the earth got to a stage of supporting life).

    So as a clear earthly source of life has been found on earth, and as there is only one tree of that life, and that complex life is the combination of two 'types' of life, it can be concluded that the origin of said life is from the same locations where these types of life exist (ie, hot springs).

    The fact you can decode the genome and date these occurrances, with the necessary information encoded in DNA, with no abrupt start is another indication that life started, and evolved from a single source, from a single location, that location being earth.

    The life that we normally interact with is made up of chiral molecules, and no one actually knows why only certain chiral molecules are involved in our biology.

    Chirality of the DNA molecules is not really an issue and does not really contribute to the analysis, it is just as possible for life to have formed with the opposite chirality.

    also where life started does not offer much in the way of insight in how it started, but conditions of early earth were far more favourable for the start of life than that of outer space.

    Although the amino acids and make up DNA (DNA IS NOT LIFE), can be produced in the conditions of space. AND on earth.

    When scientists test this theory they are NOT trying to make 'animate life' they are trying to see if the molecules required to make DNA based life can be formed in those conditions, and the answer is YES they can.

    They are NOT trying to create life, but the condition for the creation of the chemicals required for one aspect of what is necessary for life, again, they have proven that is possible.

    They are trying to make Amino acids, amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, proteins are one of the building blocks of life.

    and no one actually knows why only certain chiral molecules are involved in our biology

    because they happen to be the molecules that are necessary and that naturally 'go together' for form life as we know it. there only 4 nucleotides that fit together, and can separate as DNA does, they are the molecules that form life because they are the ones that were necessary for life to form, (yes, they are what they are because they are).

    The origins of life are incredibly mysterious

    there are mysteries, but there is also a huge base of knowledge and understanding of the process and it's causes. Unless you don't care to inform yourself, then for you I guess everything is a mystery.

    Other people, not so much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Michael Ho (profile), 8 May 2013 @ 1:39pm


      Despite all our current knowledge, it's still true that there is a lot we don't know about biology. I'm not saying we'll never figure it out, but given the current state of biology, it is still "mysterious" and a lot of questions about the origin(s) of life remain.

      If you think you know or have all the answers, more power to you....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 May 2013 @ 7:03am

        Re: Re:

        Despite all our current knowledge, it's still true that there is a lot we don't know about biology

        yes, apart from what we know, the other things we don't know !!

        Yes, everything that is not part of our 'current knowledge' is by definition things we don't know.

        But "all our current knowledge" on Genetics is quite extensive, and not at all speculative. WE KNOW IT, it's a fact and it's ALOT..

        we know a vast amount about the 'origins' of all the life we know about, and can from that make quite good predictions regarding the start of that life.

        Knowing if life first started on earth or some other place and migrated to earth, does not answer the question as to how life first began.

        But it can be showed that conditions on the early earth have been determined to be suitable for the predicted and possible methods of the formation of life.

        All (and only) life we know about was know it's origins, right back to the beginning of the Earth, or shortly after it.

        what it is not is "incredibly mysterious", we know how the basic chemicals required for the formation of life can be created in a lab simulating a primeval earth, and we also have strong and viable theories as to how life could originate from those base chemicals.

        what will always remain a mystery is exactly how that occurred.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2013 @ 9:32am

    Moore's law probably doesn't apply to biology, but if it did, it suggests that life as we know it began before the Earth existed.

    he's right, Moore's law DOES not apply to evolutionary biology.

    Also evolution is NOT a direction, it is a continuous process for unfortunate and fortunate MISTAKES that happen all the time, and vary (on their fortunality) on the prevailing conditions AT THE TIME.

    we simply do not just continue to evolve into more advanced forms of life, we gain something somewhere that works and we continuously lose other things (that are not necessary or does not work). So evolution has no real directionality, it's just a series of constant mistakes and errors some beneficial and some not depending on the particular conditions that life is under at that time.

    you might want to PTB a pirated copy of the doco "The Gene Code" and watch it, you might just learn something, and there are always books.

    for example:

    "Evolution third edition by Munroe W. Strickberger that is a bit dated but very informative.

    If at any time Mr HO you choose to educate yourself and clear up a few of the many 'mysteries' in your 'life'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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