COSMIC ANCESTRY | Quick Guide | 2002 - Replies Index - 2000 | by Brig Klyce | All Rights Reserved

If the past is any guide, then almost everything we now think we know will be substantially qualified or proven wrong within the next 25 years, let alone another century. Biology, in particular, will not persist in its current primitive form. Right now, it is at a stage that is roughly analogous to physics when Newton discovered his law of gravity. There is an awfully long way to go. ó Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart, Nature, 22 February 2001

Replies to Cosmic Ancestry, 2001

From: Walter ReMine
To:
Arthur S. Lodge
Date: 2:36 PM, 29 November 2001
Subject: Mathematics of Evolution, by Fred Hoyle

Dear Arthur S. Lodge,

Thank you for your inquiry about Dr. Hoyle's book, _Mathematics of Evolution_.

> I cannot follow the argument given on p.8. When
> I attempt to reproduce it, I get a different result.

You are correct concerning the math, but incomplete in your understanding of what Dr. Hoyle was doing there.

On page 8, he says, "Let us start *naively* with ..." and then he gives the classic feedback equation (equation 1.1) which shows up frequently in the natural world, even outside genetics.

That easily integrates to give equation 1.2, which is an exponential equation -- which grows enormously large, given sufficient time. Clearly something gets unrealistic here, and he was tipping that off with his above word "naively".

In effect, Dr. Hoyle is giving a simple tutorial discussion here, intended to introduce and teach a few simple points. On that page, he uses this self-same simple approach to illuminate both beneficial and harmful mutations (positive, and negative s value).

Indeed, Darwinian theory is frequently taught in close association with exponential growth (Malthus's theory of exponential population growth). Many times you've heard statements like, "in twenty generations there would be enough elephants to fill the universe, if natural selection didn't remove many of them." -- that's pure-Malthusian reasoning.

He continues (bottom paragraph of page 8): "I am convinced it is this almost trivial simplicity that explains why the Darwinian theory is so widely accepted, why it has penetrated through the education system so completely."

In other words, Dr. Hoyle is introducing Darwinian theory rather much like it is taught in schools, only here he is supplying the math too (which most evolution books do not supply).

He then begins to show the above simplicity is "naive" (the word he used straight-off the bat, above). By page 10 he is writing, "This is already an immense climb down from what is usually claimed for the theory. Gone is its 'obvious' status."

He then begins his more rigorous development of the math, but first he pauses to clear up any misconceptions remaining from his above example. He writes (bottom of page 10): "To begin the present consideration of a single parent-to-offspring model, let us note that equation (1.1) was not normalized properly to maintain a stable population from generation to generation." Indeed his above equation grows exponentially.

In other words, Dr. Hoyle cannot be faulted here. His first tutorial example (equation 1.1 & 1.2) represents (by means of mathematics) the way Darwinian theory is commonly sold -- "naively".

I encourage you in your continued examination of Dr. Hoyle's book. It gets mathematically quite heavy, but reveals the step-by-step math details better than any other book of its kind.

-- Walter ReMine | Fellow with Discovery Institute | Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture

Arthur S. Lodge, Emeritus Professor, University of Wisconsin -- Lodge's inquiry.
The Biotic Message, by Walter ReMine.
Mathematics of Evolution is CA's announcement of the book.


Subject: panspermia
Date:
11/10/01 7:55 PM
From: Dave Huebert

The idea of panspermia is all very intriguing, but I feel like I've stepped into the middle of a conversation... and the FAQ/RAQ don't really help... is there somewhere I can find a primer on panspermia and its relation to evolution and to the gaia hypothesis?

I am a sessional lecturer at the University of Manitoba and I want to introduce this topic to my biogeochemistry students (3rd and 4th year) next term... it will confuse the heck out of them!

dave huebert.
-----

Date: 11/18/01 6:19 PM
From: Dave Huebert

here is a brief outline of my upcoming Evolution lecture... comments welcome

EVOLUTION

1. Creationism
-- dominant paradigm up to the 19th century in western civilization
-- earth is new (6000 yrs old), static, and perfect

problem;
-- Creationism is not a scientific theory since it is not falsifiable

2. Darwinism
-- earth is about 4.5 billion years old
-- life arose from non-life in about 100 million years
-- complex eukaryotes arose from simple prokaryotes through mutations
-- diversity of eukaryotes has proceeded through mutation and natural selection

problem;
-- non-life to life occurs in too short a time. It is mathematically improbable
-- need protein to make DNA, need DNA to make protein
-- no evidence that a new enzyme can develop by chance from an existing, unrelated enzyme
-- climate regulatory mechanisms are biologically mediated

3. Strong Panspermia
-- earth is about 4.5 billion years old
-- life arrived on earth from extraterrestrial sources
-- complex eukaryotes arose from simple prokaryotic life through genetic input
-- diversity of eukaryotes has proceeded by mutation, genetic input and natural selection

answers to Darwinism problems;
-- life did not develop from non-life but has always been present
-- complex biochemical pathways are injected into the biosphere from extraterrestrial organisms
-- metabolic pathways that ensure climate regulation arrive from extraterrestrial sources

problem;
-- bacteria can't live long enough to traverse interstellar distances
-- no extraterrestrial bacteria have been found
-- radiation and desiccation would kill bacteria
-- there are no transfer mechanisms to move DNA from bacteria to eukaryotes

answers;
-- 250 million year old bacterial spores were recently revived
-- evidence for the presence of extraterrestrial bacteria is mounting
-- bacteria can survive high doses of radiation and extended periods of desiccation... during the Apollo era a living bacteria was retrieved from the moon
-- plasmids, restriction enzymes, reverse transcriptase, introns, non-coding DNA, transposons, retroviruses all point to the mobility of DNA

hope this is of interest

dave huebert.
-----

Date: 11/27/01 5:59 PM
From: Dave Huebert

Brig;

So I presented my evolution lecture yesterday... there was outright laughter when I started on the panspermia theory... several comments of, "there he goes again with the Star Trek stuff". I then carefully went through the arguments and problems for and against both theories... at the end of the class there were several students who definitely favored panspermia as the more likely theory... I think there is an intuitive distaste with Neo-darwinism that recognizes the mathematical impossibility of going from non-life to life and from prokaryotic to eukaryotic in a short period of time. Anyways, it was lots of fun... many of the students were completely bewildered by the fact that they hadnt heard of panspermia before, even though they had all heard the evolution lecture again and again and again.

I'll present this lecture again to my third year students in the new year.

dave huebert.


Subject: suggested link
Date:
Mon, 19 Nov 2001 1:10 PM
From: Charles Smith

Dear Sir/Madam:

Please consider adding a link from your site to my service "The Alfred Russel Wallace Page," at:

http://www.wku.edu/~smithch/index1.htm

Wallace is recognized as one of history's most important naturalists (as the "other man" in the development of the theory of natural selection, as the founder of the modern school of zoogeography, and as a leading authority on the peoples and biodiversity of tropical regions), and as a prominent and far-seeing social critic and theorist. My site contains the full-text of well over 150 of his writings extending to all these subjects, plus much other information including extensive bibliographies, indexes, and commentary.

Wallace has pretty much been left out of the evolution/creationism debate, which is really too bad: he had a lot to say (perhaps, indeed, more than just about anyone else) on the matter of the relation of evolution to spirituality and moral/ethical action, and I believe many people involved in studying such matters would profit from reading his writings.

Thanks very much for your time and attention!

--Charles H. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
charles.smith@wku.edu
http://www.wku.edu/~smithch/index.html


Subject: Transposons in germline
Date:
Fri, 7 Sep 2001 13:19:43 -0800
From: Damon Lisch

Dear Brig

I happened to run across an article you wrote in January for the OSETI III Conference. Since you made reference to a manuscript by Margaret Kidwell and me, I though I should clear up some confusion. You wrote:

..."Horizontal gene transfer also works in higher eukaryotes, where we used to hear that the germ line was protected from invasion. The very opposite may be the case. In February 2000, Kidwell and Lisch 6 announced that some transposable elements preferentially target the germline cells and avoid somatic cells when they invade".

We were refering to the propensity of some transposons to downregulate themselves in somatic tissue where they would cause damage to their hosts with no net benefit to themselves. Duplications in the germ line, on the other hand, would result in an increased number of progeny that carry the transposon in the next generation. Now, it is true, that this transposon (the P element) is horizonally transfered between species, but that has nothing to do with the point we were making. Your point about "no new functions except by horizontal transfer" is really overstating the case. In my own field of maize genetics it is quite clear that subtle changes in gene expression due to point mutations can cause changes in phenotype that are remarkably similar to changes that we know have occurred in maize domestication. Further, there are many examples of large gene families, all of which arrose from a single progenetor, that have taken on various new functions. Certainly this is a source of new variation that did not necessarily result from horizontal gene flow. Similarly, point mutations are only one kind of mutatagen at work. Transposons can be a rich source of sophisticated mutations, such as those that reprogram gene expression. Again, these transposons may be endogenous mutagen, not introduced from without (or above). Although I'm sympathetic with anyone arguing against the dominant paradigm, I think you are in danger of overgeneralizing and grasping to tightly to anything that makes panspermia more likely. In the end, I think it weakens you case.

Respectfully, Damon Lisch
-----

Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 19:46:19 -0500 ...From: Brig Klyce

Dear Damon --

Thank you for your recent feedback. I would have replied sooner, but I was away from the computer all weekend....

Your work shows, you say, that the P-element transposon is often "downregulated" in somatic cells but not in germline cells. And the P-element transposon can be horizontally transferred, we agree.

I wrote, "some transposable elements preferentially target the germline cells and avoid somatic cells when they invade."

If I had written, "some transposable elements preferentially become permanently installed in germline cells and not somatic cells," would you still see evidence that I am confused? And can't this occur after the transposons are acquired by horizontal transfer? I'm not sure what I am missing here.

As for "no new functions except by horizontal transfer," yes, I am suggesting that a fully scientific theory could include this principle. But I never said that you were promoting this idea. That would be "overstating the case." I assure you, no one at the conference got that impression from me. I simply said that your work adds credibility to the mechanism that I endorse, not that you endorse my mechanism.

You say, "subtle changes in gene expression due to point mutations can cause changes in phenotype that are remarkably similar to changes that we know have occurred in maize domestication." I agree that artificial and natural selection depend on the same genetics.

More generally, I find the evidence that the darwinian mechanism can account for sustained evolutionary progress (vs speciation, adaptation, or microevolution) to be very weak. Now that we know that the biosphere could receive input from outside, there is another way. I am advocating closed system experiments -- in biology or computer models -- to probe the issue.

I welcome your additional comments. I want to understand how evolution works!

Thank you. Brig Klyce
-----

Tue 1:32 PM

Dear Brig,

>Your work shows, you say, that the P-element transposon is often "downregulated" in somatic cells but not in germline cells. And the P-element transposon can be horizontally transferred, we agree. I wrote, "some transposable elements preferentially target the germline cells and avoid somatic cells when they invade."

The point is that the transposon doesn't target the germline during invasion, it is active in the germline to facilitate VERTICAL transmission (form parent to offspring). That is to say, the tissue-specific activity has nothing to do per se with horizontal transfer. Now, P elements do horizontally transfer, which wouldn't occur unless they got into the germline (the egg). However, that is a function of the vector for transfer possibly a parasitic mite), not any special regulatory mechanism of the P elements. The idea is that P elements are active only in tissues that facilitate transfer from parent to offspring, and not in somatic tissue, in which activity would cause harm to the host with no benefit to the transposon.

>If I had written, "some transposable elements preferentially become permanently installed in germline cells and not somatic cells," would you still see evidence that I am confused? And can't this occur after the transposons are acquired by horizontal transfer? I'm not sure what I am missing here.

Again, I'm afraid you are still confused. The P element is present in every cell of the fly. It is only active in some cells (the germ line), because it "wants" to transmit more copies of itself to the next generation.

>...I simply said that your work adds credibility to the mechanism that I endorse, not that you endorse my mechanism.

I should point out that this wasn't my work. I wrote about the work with Margaret Kidwell (who has done a great deal of work on P elements). We didn't "announce" this result; it had been in the literature for many years. Rather, we were using this as an example of instances in which transposons can modulate their "behavior" in such a way as to reduce thier impact on host fitness. At any rate, it's always best to cite primary literature (available freely at PUBMED on the internet).

>...I agree that artificial and natural selection depend on the same genetics.

Yes, but the point was that subtle changes in the time and position of gene expression can have profound effects on phenotypes. If, for instance, you mutate only three or four genes in maize you get something that looks remarkably like its progenetor species. Thus, you don't necessarily need horizontal transfer to explain significant morphological shifts during evolution. Now, bacteria are extra promiscous with respect to horizontal transfer, and I think transfer has been documented even between yeast and bacteria, so I think the case for a massive influence of horizontal bacterial evolution is a stronger one. However, not of that says that the genes came from anywhere but earth.

...As a geneticist who has worked on both classical genetics and molecular evolution, it is hard for me to see how anyone can call the evidence for darwinian evolution as the mechanism for evolutionary change "weak". When you compare genes and genomes between related species at the DNA sequence level, you really start to get a feel for how changes in DNA sequence are reflected in changes in morphology. I would really urge you to pick up a molecular evolution text book and read it with an open mind. I would reccomend Molecular Evolution by Wen-Hsiung Li. It gives an excellent overview of the state of the field.

...I hope I don't come off sounding to pissy. In my experience molecular evolution is a field with very big egos and much too much acromony. I wish you the best in your investigations!

Damon
-----

Tue 2:16 PM

Dear Damon --

Thanks for yours. Obviously we disagree about the mechanisms behind evolution, and there is an opportunity for the acrimony that you mention. Therefore I especially appreciate your civility.

We may have overworked the transposon issue, but I still think that your point supports my original point. You now say, "the transposon ...is active in the germline to facilitate VERTICAL transmission (form parent to offspring)." Later, "[the transposon] "wants" to transmit more copies of itself to the next generation." My original point was that contrary to previous opinion, some horizontally transferred elements (after transfer) are subsequently vertically inherited with striking efficiency. Do you disagree with this (last previous) sentence?

I was not aware that the transposon is present in all the somatic cells -- thank you for that clarification.

You say, "...P elements do horizontally transfer, which wouldn't occur unless they got into the germline (the egg)." I was under the impression that some horizontal transfer affects somatic cells only and does not have an inheritable effect. Is this wrong also? If it is, then why was there ever any argument against horizontal transfer as an evolutionary force in the first place?

Thank you also for recommending _Molecular Evolution_ by Wen-Hsiung Li. I have read most of it, and I especially studied Chapter 12, "Evolution by Transposition and Horizontal Transfer."

You wrote, "...it is hard for me to see how anyone can call the evidence for darwinian evolution as the mechanism for evolutionary change "weak"." I didn't. Where you have "evolutionary change," I wrote "sustained evolutionary progress." The difference is important. Too often it is ignored by Darwinists. On this issue I like an essay by a creationist, Lee Spetner. (I am not a creationist.) He avoids the terms macroevolution and microevolution, instead using "evolution A" and "evolution B."

http://www.trueorigin.org/spetner1.htm

I welcome your additional comments. I would like to learn from you. I apologize for my argumentative style....

Thank you. Best regards. Brig
-----

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 13:53:50 -0800 ...From: Damon Lisch

>...My original point was that contrary to previous opinion, some horizontally transferred elements (after transfer) are subsequently vertically inherited with striking efficiency. Do you disagree with this (last previous) sentence?

The "striking efficiency" you mention comes from the capasity of transposons to duplicate themselves, thus making them overrepresented in progeny. I just want to be clear that, although your point that there is any horizontal transfer is a good one (and it certainly opens the door to the idea that other genes may be transfered as well), the tissue in which the element is active is not really germain. Enough said about that.

>...I was under the impression that some horizontal transfer affects somatic cells only and does not have an inheritable effect. Is this wrong also? If it is, then why was there ever any argument against horizontal transfer as an evolutionary force in the first place?

Well, viruses horizontally transfer all of the time, and that's no surprise, and yes, it was a big surprise that transposons (or any genetic material for that matter!) could transfer between species and then be vertically transfered. However, I've found in many evolutionary arguments (especially between geneticists and evolutionary biologist) that frequency matters. How often, what kind, etc... The argument against horizontal transfer was perfectly reasonable in the absence of evidence for it. Now almost no one doubts that it can occur. The only question is, how frequently, and to what extent has it influenced evolution? I would caution you that transposons are a special case, because they can spread very rapidly within populations and they can transpose between vector DNA (such as a virus) and host DNA.

...Speaking as a corn genetisist, I've seen would looks very much like "macroevolution", or evolution A, due to changes in a single gene in the absence of horizontal transfer. I could send you pictures of corn mutants that you wouldn't recognize as corn. Thus, the only question is, what kind of mutations may have contributed to macroevolution, and to sustained evolutionary "progress". Let me suggest that the way that kind of macroevolution can occur is through changes is the expression and timing of regulatory genes, rather than the introduction of new genes. To my mind, the really interesting question is how gradual that change is, and how many genes are involved. Traditionally the important mutations have been "black boxed" by evolutionists, mostly because we didn't know what they were. However, now we have a whole bunch of candidate genes and we are starting to look at exactly how they changed in different species, and how those changes are reflected in morphological evolution.

Look, we (none of us) know exactly how evolution works, and I personally think that the sheer randomness and seemingly arbitrary nature of Darwinian evolution offends something basic in our sense of order. It implies very directly that there is no God, no planner, no program, no progress. But that doesn't make it untrue. To tell you the truth, I think it has a Zen-like beauty to it. Evolution isn't a plan, it is a process. It just is. That, to me, is very cool, but it goes against everything we accept in our own lives. It is a profoundly revolutionary idea, and, like quantum mechanics, it is profoundly inaccessible on an emotional level. Still, it has a certain elegance!

Damon
-----

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 16:32:39 -0500

Dear Damon --

Thanks for your last and your continuing civility.

You say, "I could send you pictures of corn mutants that you wouldn't recognize as corn."

I don't doubt that for a minute. But the critical piece for evolutionary progress is not change -- even drastic change -- per se, but the invention of useful new traits or features, like photosynthesis, oxygen metabolism, multicellularity, cell specialization, etc., etc. Few if any such inventions have been shown to be produced by the darwinian mechanism. None has, if you admit that strong panspermia is possible.

I am very interested in knowing about closed system experiments that examine biological evolution. I am aware of ones done by Richard Lenski at Michigan State (pretty sure it's there). If you know of others, or if you do them yourself, I would like to know about it.

Thanks!! Best regards. Brig

Panspermia Asks New Questions is the referenced CA webpage.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms is a related CA webpage.


Subject: Panspermia / San Diego
Date:
8/22/01 11:06 AM
From: Brig Klyce
To: Sam Kounaves

Dear Sam --

I enjoyed meeting you in San Diego. I enjoyed your paper, and I enjoyed the lunch with you and Chandra Wickramasinghe. However, for all our walking, the food could have been better!

I realize that Chandra and I came on strong about the weakness we see in Darwinism. You were kind to entertain our views so equanimously.

There is one point I would like to clarify. I understand that there was a rumor in San Diego that I use panspermia as a front for my real, creationist views. I do not know the source of this rumor, but because you do not know me well and you listened to my arguments against Darwinism (as a mechanism for evolutionary progress), you may have believed it.

I am not a creationist. This misapprehension damages me, and it could be damaging to science, so I want to be very clear about it. The theory I am promoting, strong panspermia, has nothing to do with creationism. True, some of the arguments I make against Darwinism are similar to ones creationists make. But my alternative is completely different from theirs. Furthermore, I am a person of integrity. Whatever views I hold, I hold them openly.

The strong version of panspermia that I promote is strictly scientific, or materialistic, if that is clearer. Under this theory, at no time in the past is any miracle required. If you are interested in knowing more about the difference between strong panspermia and creationism, the following webpages, that have been posted for five years, two years, and one year, respectively, will be helpful, I hope:

http://www.panspermia.org/mechansm.htm
http://www.panspermia.org/proof5.htm
http://www.panspermia.org/astrobio01.htm

If you were never under any misapprehension about my views, I apologize for this possibly tiresome message. As you can tell, I am slightly bent out of shape over this.

Again, I enjoyed meeting you. I hope we will meet again soon. Thanks.

Best regards. Brig
-----

Samuel Kounaves - 8/23/01 2:59 AM

Dear Brig...

I also enjoyed meeting you in San Diego and hope to see you at future conferences. I must say that your hypotheses for panspermia and evolution catalyzed several debates among several of my colleagues. Thanks for your panspermia website references. I read them and they do put forth some provocative ideas.

I had several conversations with Chandra and hope to speak to him in the future also. It did appear that Chandra and you "came on strong" in your criticisms of Darwinism. However, I personally never considered your philosophy to be in the creationist camp even though some of your arguments did sound like creationist arguments. However I did notice on your website that you often reference creationists in support of some of your arguments. For example in your second link (proof5.htm) you reference "A Scientific Critique Of Evolution" by Spetner. I donít remember where right now, but Iíve seen a couple of excellent rebuttals to his latest critique (Iíll try to dig them out for you if I get a chance). I emailed a copy of it to a biologist here at Tufts and she said that his arguments show a total lack of understanding of evolutionary biology. Even when I looked at them, I could see serious flaws.

I have over the years been impressed by how easily all the creationist arguments against evolution have been refuted by many of my colleagues in the evolutionary biology field. Evolution may have several areas of contention but I feel that the theory is basically an accurate description of the process as it occurs in nature.

As a I said to Chandra (and I think we also discussed) there are many in the scientific community who see no problem with the concept of microbial transfer between planetary bodies and perhaps even intragalactic. I presume this is the "weak form" of panspermia and I think there is enough evidence to support it.

I have a suggestion, which I also made to Chandra, that would allow panspermia to gain more support (and which I think is scientifically valid). In my opinion, I see NO reason for panspermia to be in conflict with natural selection or any parts of Neo-Darwinian theory. One could imagine the seeding of life via panspermia - the slow evolution of such life over several billion years - perhaps a second "seeding" about a billion years ago - and the continued evolution via natural selection.

Why canít panspermia accept Darwinian evolution and ADD to it the a panspermic mechanism. This battle sounds similar to the punctuated equilibrium battles fought by Gould and Eldridge in the 70ís. The difference was that they incorporated their theory within the Darwinian frame work. Is there any reason why panspermia can not be overlaid on Darwinian theory (or visa-versa)???

Until such time that overwhelming evidence shows "strong" panspermia to be valid, would it not be better to have the support of a larger segment of the scientific community? Is anything gained by giving the "impression" that you are a creationist in disguise?

It seems to me youíve got the worst of both worlds! You are attacked on the one side by creationists because you basically espouse a naturalistic theory and on the other side by scientists because you are attacking evolution. From my vantage point it seems there is no accord to be reached with the supernaturalists BUT I see no basic conflict in a synthesis of panspermia and Darwinism.

Anyway, sorry for this long rambling email.

Best regards, Sam
Prof. Samuel P. Kounaves / Department of Chemistry / Tufts University...
-----

8/23/01 6:05 PM

Dear Sam --

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate your taking time to comment so carefully on strong panspermia and creationism.

I would like to respond to some of your points, in the hope that we may understand each other.

There are billions of Darwinists in the world and billions of creationists, and several dozen advocates of panspermia. I am basically desperate for allies, so when someone says something that I agree with, I endorse their message without imposing any litmus test on them.

I reference Spetner because I read his book and I read the essay that I link to, and I agreed with his objections to Darwinism almost 100%. While I do not endorse any alternative to Darwinism except strong panspermia, I accept any help in opposing what looks like a bad idea to me. You mentioned that your colleague saw problems and you see problems with Spetner. Do you mind elaborating on those problems?

I have witnessed several times the casual trashing of minority views, only to find that the trashing itself is completely shallow. For example, Robert Shapiro trashes Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's analysis of interstellar dust. I interviewed Robert Shapiro about it by email, and there was no substance to his trashing. See http://www.panspermia.org/replies2.htm#shapiro

For another example, I recently read a debate between William Dembski (creationist) and Tom Schneider (Darwinist.) Schneider says that Dembski's CSI is not different from Information as defined by Shannon. It has been a year or more since I read Dembski's last book, but Dembski's distinction between the two is very clear. Schneider's analysis is wrong.

Creationist arguments are often, but by no means always, bad. Darwinists behave as if they are always bad, so there's no need to understand them.

Thank you for your suggestion that panspermia and Darwinism can peacefully co-exist. I am aware of this possibility, and I would willingly go along if I believed it. But as I argued, perhaps too forcefully, I do not see the evidence for Darwinism *as the mechanism behind evolutionary progress*. I simply see strong panspermia as far more plausible. Seriously.

You wrote:

"Until such time that overwhelming evidence shows "strong" panspermia to be valid, would it not be better to have the support of a larger segment of the scientific community? Is anything gained by giving the "impression" that you are a creationist in disguise?"

Of course it would be good to have broad support. But I would lack integrity to proclaim views that I do not hold. As for giving the impression that I am a creationist in disguise, I go to some lengths to be clear about that in person and on my website. I appreciate the opportunity you have given me to elaborate my views to you.

Thank you again for your time. Please tell me where Spetner is wrong!!!

Thank you! ... Best regards. Brig Klyce / Acorn Enterprises LLC ...
----

Samuel Kounaves / Fri 2:42 PM

Dear Brig...

I would like to respond in detail to your last email, but I'm overwhelmed with work this semester (teaching & research & family!). So it may be a while before I can get back to you with more details, but I definitely want to. I agree with you that many claims are hollow when examined closely. I have always tried to insure that my statements could be substantiated with sufficient evidence and references.

I have over the past 20 years gotten into some protracted debates with several creationists. In all that time they have never provided to me any evidence that on closer examination held up. (I guess we might be destined to disagree here, since I would say 99% of creationist claims are hollow and only 10% of evolutionist's are.) I am not an expert in many of the areas in contention, but I have always sought the advice of my trusted colleagues who are. This is one reason I suggested that you are "scientifically" on sounder ground synthesizing panspermia with Darwinian evolution than appearing to ally with creationists.

Four points that I will try to address further, in addition to the rebuttal to Spetner, are :

1. I am quite convinced that the Darwinian model is a reasonably accurate representation of the evolutionary process as it has occurred and occurs in nature. However, I still see no problem with the "weak" form of panspermia causing a perturbation in the process (i.e., one of the many forces directing natural selection). When and how much are the sticking points.

2. Scientifically, I currently see strong panspermia as a "speculation" as opposed to an "hypothesis" or a "theory". In some ways your position is analogous to that of the "theistic evolutionists" who accept micro-evolution but insist that God intervened(s) at specific points for the "macro" portion. I have still to see any sound evidence for either and have been convinced by my biologist colleagues that evolutionary biology and genetics can account for both macro/micro rather well.

3. I also have been convinced by several evolutionary and molecular biologists that new genetic programs (increased information) are indeed "well-accounted for by known genetic mechanisms".

4. The strong form of panspermia requires that new genetic programs "arrive" on Earth and have always existed. Thus, this part of panspermia requires abandoning the big-bang model. The evidence for the BB is more than speculation, and many cosmologists would say more than an hypothesis. Thirty years ago I was convinced of a "steady-state" universe. It appealed/s more to me than the BB concept. But, over the past decades the evidence does not seem to support this hypothesis. I have read several items by people such as Burbidge, Hoyle and Narlikar in opposition to the BB, but they have not been convincing enough and do not, in my opinion, refute the BB. (for philosophical reasons, I think many of us would love to see the steady-state model come back.. but alas!)

To provide you with reasonable and documented responses to these and my previous statements will require some effort on my part. I am willing to try and do this, but it will take some time.

Fred Hoyle has made several outstanding contributions to science, whether panspermia will turn out to also be one will have to await stronger and clearly unambiguous evidence (a least to convince me and much of the scientific community).

Regards ...Sam
Prof. Samuel P. Kounaves / Department of Chemistry / Tufts University...

+ Prof. Kounaves' followup will be posted here when it is received.
Evolution vs Creationism is a related CA webpage.


Subject: Terms & Conditions
Date:
15 August 2001
From: Ken Jopp

Hello Brig, I hope your summer is going well. I just wanted to chime in with a couple comments about the growing acceptance of "Pseudo-panspermia" Mainly, you might want to reconsider the term. What's gaining acceptance it seems is not so much a false panspermia, but a Quasi-panspermia. In other words, it's not a sham or deception, but rather a similarity, in the form of a weak version of the original.

[Klyce, 16 August, italicized] Agreed, it's not false, but it's too weak.

In fact, "weak" and "strong" are standard terms that attach themselves to scientific theories. The Anthropic Principle, for example, is often characterized as having weak and strong forms. Hoyle advocates Strong Panspermia. The variant gaining acceptance is Weak Panspermia.

Weak panspermia is the original panspermia -- life on planets gets seeded by whole cells from space. Strong panspermia involves evolutionary progress after the first cells get established. I have been promoting this convention for several years now.

Also, The growing recognition of comets as the "delivery system" would seem to beg the question, why Earth only?

For the same reason that there are no palm trees in Antarctica. Wrong climate, nutrients, daylight, temperature or something.

Why haven't Mars and Venus been terraformed by their own cometarily delivered life? Why no Martian or Venusian Gaia?

Don't be too sure there hasn't been.

Does Earth alone occupy some viability zone in terms of distance from the Sun?

Possibly. Perhaps there's a combo of distance, planet size, etc.

But it would seem that extremophiles would be able to get a foothold on the other planets. If there once was unicellular life on Mars, why did it fail to thrive and evolve?

The problem today is that there's not enough water on Mars for life to thrive. Dunno exactly how this came about. Weaker surface gravity may have contributed. There may be enough water for single-celled life to survive on Mars.

To your knowledge, has anyone tried to define the unique conditions of the Earth that made it hospitable in a way that the nearby planets were not?

Yes, more than one person. Recently, the book Rare Earth by Ward and Brownlee tackles the question.

(If I remember right, you're in North Carolina. I was there last week,vacationing on Oak Island. It's our fourth trip to the Outer Banks (I think Oak is considered part of the Banks), and it was a wonderful experience, though I could have done without the beach "renourishment" project.)

Best regards, Ken

Glad it was fun. I'm in Memphis. At one time in history, Tennessee was part of N.C., but no longer! Thanks for the comments.[...] Brig

20 August 2001, from Ken Jopp:

Dear Brig [...] As for the "weak" and "strong" terminology, I suppose one could define a multi-tiered heirarchy from weakest to strongest:

  1. Precursor molecules from space.
  2. Whole, viable cells from space
  3. 2 plus ongoing evolution and/or diseases from continuous infall
  4. 3 plus Gaian feedback mechanisms (I think this is your intended meaning with the term "Cosmic Ancestry")
  5. 4 plus sociobiology, Chomsky's "universal grammar", Jungian "archetypal" psychology (such a radical extension of the theory rests on Hoyle's explanation of evolution from space in terms of standardized genetic "subroutines" that get spliced together in various ways to produce the diversity of species. If the generalized patterns that one finds in social behaviors, language, and psychology have genetic roots, then they too might best be understood as governed by a set of standard subroutines that are capable of combining in various, but limited, ways.)
  6. 5 plus ???

As for the "Rare Earth", that idea seems to be at odds with the general tenor of Panspermia, aka, "seeds everywhere". The "rare Earth" idea argues for the unlikeliness of other life-bearing planets anywhere, because Earth's hospitability (is that a word?) to life depends on so many coincidences. It will be interesting to watch the developments as astronomers detect planets around other stars, if they are able to discern whether or not a "rare" (life-bearing) planet is a standard fixture of a solar system, or whether we really are alone -- or a least "rare".

Ken
Kevin Keogh comments, 16 Aug 2002.


Subject: My congratulations
Date:
Sun, 10 Jun 2001 16:04:01 -0500
From: Danilo José Antón Giudice

Dear Dr Klyce:

I've reading your site with much interest. You are providing highly valuable information on a very important subject. My name is Danilo Anton (60 years old), I am a geographer and a writer (12 books) mainly dealing with multidisciplinary issues (environment, water, anthropology, etc).

I am from Uruguay and I've worked in many countries, such as Canadá (I worked for IDRC of Canada for 13 years), taught in the United States, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, France, among others. Presently, I am doing research on water issues at the University of the State of Mexico in Toluca.

I am really impressed with your Cosmic Ancestry Theory and would like to help in any way that may be possible to disseminate these ideas. One thing I could do is to translate some of your articles in Spanish (I have translated into Spanish several books and articles already). These translations could be used by you in your site, if you wish, or given to other sites willing to spread the Cosmic Ancestry- Panspermia Theories. I do not want to obtain any profit from this work.

Just for your information, my last book in English, published in Canada by IDRC Books, is called Diversity, Globalization and the Ways of Nature (Anton, D., 1995) which you can find at www.idrc.ca/booktique I've just finished another book (in Spanish) titled: "Peoples, Drugs and Serpents" (Pueblos, Drogas y Serpientes) which deals with the origin of life (my own view of panspermia, not so different from Cosmic Ancestry), evolution of human consciousness, the mysterious role of DNA, the relationship between humans and plants and the contemporary need of a new paradigm to address society problems (including the unnecessary witch hunt which the media, call "drugs war"). It will soon be published in Costa Rica.

Again, my congratulations for your site, and keep the good work.

Sincerely yours

Dr. Danilo Anton / danton@chasque.apc.org / ciramex@coatepec.uaemex.mx


Subject: Eukaryotes to prokaryotes in 15 days
Date:
9:17 AM, Fri, 1 June 2001
From: Brig Klyce
To: Douglas Robinson

Dear Dr. Robinson --

I have read with interest your report on the evolution of prokaryotes from altered human cells in 15 days. My organization is interested in panspermia and its possible implications for the mechanisms behind evolution. Your experiment is so remarkable that it would influence our thinking dramatically, if it stands up. But to influence mainstream science, a result as remarkable as yours needs confirmation and peer acceptance, I would think. So I am curious, has your experiment been published in any journals, or reviewed in them? How has your experiment been received by the scientific establishment? Has anyone not affiliated with you endorsed your report?

Any response will be welcome. Thank you. [...]

From: Douglas Robinson
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 23:11:11 -0400

Dear Brig,

I appreciate your review of the research article "An Oxygen-Related Bioprocess Drives Eukaryote-to-Prokaryote Genome Evolution and Speciation." I believe you have summarized the major points of the work well.

The experiments described have been published only online on the Internet, the modern-day Guttenberg press. The work has been reviewed favorably by several biological scientists including a Nobel laureate, a member of the Genome Analysis Group of the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium and a biochemist who is at the forefront of evolutionary biology thinking. Some reviewers suggested that the research article be submitted to one of the top-tier science journals. I declined to do so for several reasons including the length of the article and its novelty which appears to transcend the current aims and scopes of these journals.

An earlier version of the research article was submitted to a journal of molecular evolution. After initial interest and a prolonged back-and-forth communication with the editors, the work was rejected finally by one editor who wrote "In particular, no matter how carefully controls are carried out, the alternative explanation that indeed there was contamination is in my mind much more likely than spontaneous production of a prokaryotic cell." (italics mine) So much for empirical science! The implication by this editor that I am proposing a type of 'spontaneous generation' was a little surprising. This highlights further the gap in understanding that exists between the evolutionary worldview this work presents and that held by many molecular evolutionists. Post publication online, I communicated the article to the editors of three top-tier journals.

It is not surprising that the work has met with skepticism, considering its novelty. According to Kuhn (1), scientists do not "Ö normally aim to invent new theories, and they are often intolerant of those invented by others." On the other hand, the explanatory power of a scientific theory correlates positively with its degree of improbability (2). It follows that the more improbable a theory is (and, hence, its initial rejection by many scientists), the greater its chances of uncovering a 'new' secret of Nature if corroborated.

I am content that despite considerable resistance from some quarters, peer acceptance and endorsement by others has led to collaborations to study the bioprocess and develop applications in both the United States and overseas. As for corroboration of this evolutionary bioprocess, please review the independent 'validation study' published online at http://www.denovo-bio.com/bioprocess4.htm. This fastidiously controlled study, conducted by a biotechnology company well-known for its sterility testing of cell lines and biologicals, confirms the findings by my laboratory.

Finally, I wish to clarify some points related to the experimental findings. With nucleotide databases current to December 2000, approximately 60% of shotgun library DNA sequence sampling from the representative prokaryote W genome were found to match no sequences contained in these databases according to sequence alignment methods stipulated (NCBI GenBank nucleotide databases and BLAST programs). As testament to the rapid expansion of nucleotide databases and the improvement of sequence alignment programs (the latest in silico analysis of April 2001 uses the EMBL nucleotide databases and the WU-BLAST2 program), many of these 'no-match' sequences subsequently were found to have significant similarities to phylogenetically diverse nucleotide sequences. These DNA sequence similarities include those to human-like DNA sequences, plant-like DNA sequences, fungus-like DNA sequences, unicellular eukaryote-like (paramecium) DNA sequences and chimerical DNA sequences, i.e. bacterium-like/human-like DNA sequences.

These recent data support the conclusion that the eukaryote-to-prokaryote genome evolution and speciation involves widespread recombination and a process of 'vertical' DNA transfer. The magnitude of DNA recombination, as indicated by the phenotypic diversity of these DNA sequences, and the amount of phylogenetically diverse (and non-bacterium-like) DNA sequences transferred from eukaryote to prokaryote are incompatible with what is currently known about 'lateral gene transfer.' I refer you to the research article postscript for an in-depth reporting and discussion of these findings.

I invite other scientists to confirm further these findings on the principle that "seeing is believing." I would be very happy to assist other laboratories regarding the relatively simple technical aspects of the bioprocess.

Again, Brig, thanks for your review. As to how this work potentially relates to the theory of panspermia, have you considered the possibility that a space-traveling eukaryotic life form seeded life on Earth?

Best regards, D. Robinson

1. Kuhn, T.S. The structure of scientific revolutions (The University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London 1962, 3rd edition 1996)
2. Popper, K. R. Conjectures and refutations (Routledge, London & New York 1963, 5th edition 1989)

May 28: Eukaryote-to-prokaryote evolution in 15 days?! is the related CA What'sNEW item.


Subject: Consciousness?
Date:
Fri, 18 May 2001 23:11:34 +0100
From: raywhit@appleonline.net

Dear Brig,

First, may I offer my utmost thanks and appreciation for your Web site 'Cosmic Ancestry', which , in my humble opinion, fills a gap in the generally available discussion on Evolution, Creation, etc.

Second, I think it is only fitting that I give a 'resume' of 'Where I'm coming from' !! after all there is great polarisation in these topics, and it's only natural that opinions stated will be 'coloured' by their source! By profession I'm an Electronics Engineer and was born (1942 ) / reside in the UK. My 'generic' religion is C of E, that is as far as the State is concerned! ( i.e.:- official organisations have to register you as something! ) , however I do not consider myself bound by ANY religious dogma - reckon that makes me Agnostic, or something? My wife is an RC, and does attend Church occasionally, the Kids are, well Students (Jedi) ?!? All my life I've had a 'passion' for Science & Technology, as well as the historical context for the many great advances we see today -- and sometimes yesterday! My job in electronics demands a deep understanding of both hardware and software principles, and it is in relating this type of discipline to the current paradigms of 'why the hell are we here?' that I find the explanations offered just do not 'hack'

OK, so now I'll start!

Firstly, Creationism. This solves everything in a simple and final manner, life exists because of the Creator. Any modifications made by 'US' are directly linked to Him, as we were Created in His image, Period. Simple, economic, universal, no need for multibillion $ atom smashers to get a proof, just go to your local Church, Temple, or whatever! This one must be the Accountants dream!!! I'm not knocking Religion, it's on the ball as far as it goes, BUT it stops short of a 'scientific' solution.

Secondly, Darwinism ( & the neo type! ). This seems to have attained almost a cult status, its proponents claim it solves everything, let an obstacle arise and its neatly bypassed. Moreover it appears to have a crucial function in modern scientific thought. Recently I heard in a BBC documentary program (Horizon? ) that if Darwinism were to fall then science would regress 150 years - obviously this could not be allowed to happen at any cost! In consequence many palaeontology discoveries are being immediately touted as proof of this Victorian scientist's theory - and as on the BBC documentary quoted; exit to images of a baby in the womb? OK, what's wrong with the evolution theory? statistics and logic for a start, followed by its very restricted frame of reference, more on this later.

Thirdly, panspermia. I'm not sure where this falls in reference the first two items? I suspect it could give a 'cop out' to both. I like the idea, and it seems that in a few years we may get irrefutable evidence one way or the other from space exploration, perhaps the truth is already known? What is for sure is that the Evolutionists and Creationists will integrate the data into their respective dogmas. It is an especial plus for the Evos' as it gives them more time to counter those 'dam' statisticians, and the Creas' will only marvel on the all inclusive hand of God.

An Engineers view.
Surely we are taking a very narrow view on this important subject, I mean that at present, as in many fields of Human endeavour, the so called experts are drawn from a very small section of the scientific spectrum. For instance genes and genetic code are the 'Holy' province of the microbiologist, and higher organisms the province of anthropology etc. Surely all these things are linked, and the only real approach should be the holistic one which encompasses the full spectrum of knowledge.

The holistic approach leads us to very interesting area for the definition of life. Let us take what is at present considered to be an Object, say a PC or Automobile, does it have life? was it Created or did it Evolve? Well I suppose one can answer yes to both, but we all know this isn't life. Why isn't it, dad? Its a material artefact made by intelligent Humans OK? If we persist in this 'childish' questioning I could ask 'what is material?' Is a Tree material? No its vegetable. Well what's the difference between a Tree and a PC? They serve different purposes. Who made them? God made the tree (or Charles Darwin), and Apple made the PC, But Apples grow on trees. OH SHUT UP!!!

This problem stems from our strict compartmentalisation of the various disciplines, and even worse the sub-compartmentalisation within disciplines. In what has become known as science we have Physics (divided into Astro, Particle, &...) , Chemistry (divided into organic & inorganic &...), Biology (divided in, oh so many bits) . Then we have Math (which covers everything), Theology, Philosophy, etc. etc. etc. The trouble is that most of these disciplines do not communicate with each other, and indeed can object violently if such contact is suggested, (keep of my patch syndrome! )

In a holistic approach all matter is equivalent. Going from the lowest point we could start from the ZPE of the vacuum and work up through the sub atomic particles to atoms to combinations of atoms (Chemicals) to combinations of chemicals (molecules) to great accumulations of this 'matter' to form Nebulae, Stars, Planets, and ultimately the Universe. All of this relates to the elemental energy of the vacuum, or as religion states Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes. A common practice in engineering is to 'reverse engineer' an article in order to copy or improve it. Lets reverse engineer an Automobile, we strip it down to component level, we investigate manufacturing methods, we investigate the design objectives, we consider what its used for:
Who designed it?Engineering team "a".
How was it manufactured?Factory Automation inc.
Who specified its operating parameters?The Department of Transport.
We obviously notice all of these stages are the result of conscious decision making, OK lets go back further.
What's Engineering team "a"?Oh about 576 people.
Can I see one?OK Mr Weston, he did some software modules for the engine management system.
Ah, what development system did he use?Something we developed in House.
Who made Mr Weston!!!!!!!!!!!!!Huh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Full stop.

We consciously observe our environment and consciously design artefacts to change it ---- I will not enter an argument as to the good or bad of this --- we do it. From the first 'discovery' using a stone to open a nut by some so called animals, to the construction of a massive infrastructure and the artefacts that go with it, all this is recognised as being conscious design. However by crossing the divide, of our own making, between inorganic to organic we abruptly stop, design is now no more than chance, or so according to Darwin. Consciousness starts with US, that's it! Apart from anything else is this not a supreme arrogance?

Perhaps the above example of the Automobile could be included under an enhanced Darwinism? Conscious design only served to accelerate the progress of Evolution and Natural selection,. Automobiles would have covered the Planet irrespective of Human intervention, it only would have taken longer!!! This is a ridiculous idea, counter to all logic!

Continuing in the same vein, we accept, know, that the engine management unit was designed by Mr Weston, but not all of it, many many others contributed to the development of the components, from the insignificant wire clip to the LSI chips, all this by design. So, turning to Mr Weston why is he just considered to be 'by chance'? After all he is a highly complex machine, with a highly developed control/decision system on board! Think of the complexity, don't just look at the micro biological components the cells, genes etc. no what about the systems to extract energy from the biosphere (food/digestion), the control system (brain) and its program? Evolutionist micro biologists make much of the gene mutation in altering cells, but how do the cells come together to make, say, the liver, and why do you need such an organ in the first place? Looking only at cells is just like looking at a microprocessor in terms of P and N semiconductor, or a Diesel injector pump in the terms of terms of the metal used in its fabrication.

All the above reminds me of a pro creationist booklet a friend gave me in disgust, he being a science graduate. But I'm NOT a Creationist! so what am I suggesting? Your web site mentions Gaia, and also teleology, which you appear to disregard. I do not know what teleology means other that it's just ol Creation in another guise, I also saw a mention of scientific Creationism somewhere, also ridiculed. If there is a creation force, then I would require a logical explanation as far as possible. A Father figure, God, is unsatisfactory as it implies a point in space from whence all came, could be the Big Bang though? That space time could posses consciousness is another idea, but that's been hi-jacked by the New Agers, however it still remains as an interesting area. The term Consciousness is the key, as it implies understanding and logic in decisions, and I think the answer lies in the ultimate question "What is Consciousness?" Not an easy one!

We tend to only use the 'touchable' real World in scientific matters, so when an expert in cybernetics delves into the possibilities of artificial intelligence / consciousness the current computing systems will invariably be the starting point. We are talking of memory requirements, processor power etc. Usually the subject of the possibility of 'Quantum' memory and systems comes up, and the following explanations seem to me to tend towards the biological, are we going to turn full circle? If you apply the computer analogy to this question, you will notice that the computer's hardware basically only employs 2 state logic devices, so in theory any system or device capable of 2 states can act as a building block for a computer, in fact one can build simple systems using pneumatics, relays, and even totally mechanical parts, all of these systems could therefore be capable of artificial intelligence, although the limits of scale would prohibit most.

On an atomic scale there are multi state systems, electron energy bands for one, and as energy and matter are linked, the same must hold good for energy. This means that a viable logic system is possible in the pure energy domain, i.e.. space time! The beauty of such a system is that it operates in the same size frame as the objects it operates on. For example a factory CAD / CAM system uses micro technology to manipulate machines in the macro environment, so even with artificial intelligence it requires complicated sensors to know what it's doing, same with us, eyes, ears, nervous system, etc. But in the total micro or indeed nano environment the 'intelligence' would be dealing with like. That such a system relies on very basic logic elements, and has to rely on chance to achieve a 'Bootable' state is no problem considering the size and age of the Universe.

This solution could ultimately appeal to the Darwinists! why, you ask. Well it all started by chance and random selection, but in a lower space time state, not bio, good that gives more time!!! and once it's 'booted' well then it just continually gains speed as it upgrades itself and steers Evolution from the Nebula of space to bio cells to plant life to animal life, and when it can't get a hold on the macro material world it enables intelligence in one of it's bio life forms so it can carry on building and ordering ad inf. Darwinism thus could encompass the material world. QED. (This last bit would appeal to the religious, we are created in His image.)

Panspermia links very well with the idea of cosmic consciousness as there is no fixed point in space time for creation, call it what you will, to start. It could be anywhere and everywhere at the same time! and diffuse to where it can do some good, or gain a foothold.

The question of the true meaning of consciousness remains. And are we merely receivers of Universal consciousness? is it purely 'mechanical'? could it spontaneously arise in a logic system of sufficient complexity? indeed is it 'hard wired' into space time like the elementary particles? in which case all existence just fell into place like a box of LEGO bricks.

I'll leave it a that, hope this might provoke some discussion? ...Ray Whitcombe


Subject: your mars page
Date:
Tue, 15 May 2001 08:44:42 +0200
From: Prof. Dr. Stephan Kempe

have you seen:

Kempe, S. & J. Kazmierczak (1997): A terrestrial model for an alkaline martian hydrosphere.- Planet. Space Sci., 45(11): 1493-1499.

Best wishes, Stephan Kempe


Subject: Italian claims
Date:
14 May 2001
From: Michael Paine

Brig

You might consider adding a link to my space.com article. I wrote it last year but scepticism would apply to the latest claims of bacteria in meteorites.

regards, Michael Paine

Dear Michael --

Thanks for the advice. Actually I did post a link to your article back when it was new. As I commented then, your article would have more weight if you reported interviews with scientists on both sides of the issue.

http://www.panspermia.org/whatsne12.htm# 000223txt

I agree that the Italian meteorites are likely to be contaminated.

What do you think of the fossilized bacteria that were returned by the Soviet Union's Luna program in the 1970s? These can hardly be contaminants. Did you see that story?

http://www.panspermia.org/zhmur2.htm

What do you think of the apparently biogenic magnetites in ALH84001?

Your thoughts are welcome. Thanks for contacting me. -- Brig Klyce

Dear Brig,

Point taken about my space.com story.[...] Steele also reports Earthly contamination of Apollo lunar samples supposedly kept in sterile conditions so it makes me sceptical about the Russian samples - despite the extraordinary measures isolate them.(see links at http://www4.tpg.com.au/users/tps-seti/reading.html#ez8b )

ALH84001
Last weekend I attended a Mars Conference where Philippa Uwins gave an update on her "nanobe" investigations. She convinced me that she has discovered extremely small lifeforms that are not viruses. Astrobiologist Malcolm Walter remains skeptical but is being swayed. The importance for ALH84001 is that nanobes are a similar size to the features found in ALH84001 - the size has been used as a reason for dismissing claims that the features are biogenic.

Along the same lines, I did some back of the envelope calcs on "transpermia" mechanisms. Using numbers developed by Curt Mileikowsky and co ('Risks threatening viable transfer of microbes between bodies in our solar system', Planetary and Space Science 48 (2000) 1107-1115) I estimate that, on average, once every five years an Earth rock lands on the surface of Mars with viable organisms (colonising is another matter but there is certainly plenty of opportunity). It is based on the estimate that a suitable rock-launching impact occurs every 200,000 years, meaning several hundred Earth rocks land on Mars every year. So I agree with Paul Davies' conclusion that he is certain that Earth life has already reached Mars. The same could be said for the Moon of course - Carl Sagan pointed this out in a 1967 book http://www1.tpgi.com.au/users/tps-seti/planets.html

I wish I had time to play with the numbers some more but I have to go and earn an income!

regards, Michael Paine

Dear Michael --

Thanks for yours.[...] Steele and others have proven that contamination of meteorites with earthly bacteria is hard to prevent, even in a lab. And when a carbonaceous meteorite sits on the ground it is sure to become contaminated.

Also, when it sits on the ground it may be wet just enough for minerals to collect and crystallize in dead cells, creating fossils.

The samples returned by the Soviet Union's Luna program may well have been contaminated by live bacteria in the lab. (Although the stromatolite-dwelling bacterium is an unlikely contaminant.)

But how could they have become wet enough for these cells to become fosslilzed? That's the part I just can't believe.

Your comments are welcome as always.[...] -- Brig Klyce

May 10: Italians culture bacteria from a meteorite is a related CA What'sNEW item.


Subject: Dear mister Klyce
Date:
14 May 2001
From: Richard Reekers

I would like you to review this (short and temporarily) site:

http://members.chello.nl/~r.reekers/index.html

I hope you can spread the news around. I would be very much obliged.

Kind Regards, Richard Reekers


Subject: ĎDarwin vindicated!í
Date:
Thu 5:18 PM 22 February 2001
From: Stan Franklin

Is any of this convincing to you? ...'Darwin vindicated!'
--
Stan Franklin | Math Sciences Dept | Univ of Memphis


Dear Stan --

...The article reinforces the persistent claim that there are only two possible ways to explain evolution -- Darwinism or creationism. The genome work shows that humans are genetically related to bacteria, so, according to the article, Darwin is sustained and creationism is defeated. Case closed.

Evolution has many meanings. Darwinists (on the defensive) define it as simply "variation and adaptation." This much is not in dispute, and well-understood genetic mechanisms, like single-nucleotide mutations, can account for "microevolution."

The interesting aspect of evolution, however, is the emergence of more highly organized creatures with wholly new features. These developments require new genetic programs that are not well-accounted for by known genetic mechanisms. Darwinists present hypotheses as if they are established truths. Creationists rightly expose this weakness in Darwinism.

Creationists agree that there are only two possible explanations for this aspect of evolution. (Under these circumstances, it is extremely difficult to get a hearing for a third point of view.)

How do we know that new genetic programs ever originate de novo? Indeed, the genome work shows that lots of human genes were imported from bacteria, where they could hardly have acquired human functions by the Darwinian method. For Darwinists, the new findings make the origins of these genes more mysterious than before.

Darwinists and creationists insist that any theory of evolution must account for the de novo origin of genetic programs, because everybody knows that they can't have existed forever. The big bang guarantees that. But such philosophical reasoning has led down the wrong path on earlier questions, like, What's at the edge of the Earth? or What does the world rest on?

If it is possible for wholly new genetic programs to originate and build more highly organized creatures with new features, it should be possible to demonstrate this process in closed system experiments. Biological ones would be best, but computer models could probably get results faster.

To date, no such experimental support exists for Darwinism. Creationists are well aware if this lack. Therefore they claim, with no less assurance that the writer of your article, that God must have done it.

The scientific way is to demand evidence. If there is none to support the prevailing paradigm, we don't have to abandon science, as both Darwinists and creationists say we do.

The strong theory of panspermia holds that new genetic programs are not actually new, and that they do not originate, but arrive. The theory is speculative, but its mere existence belies the assertion that there are only two choices.

So let's demand experimental proof that new evolutionary programs can originate in a closed system. Until we have it, the case in favor of Darwin cannot be closed. And there is a scientific alternative.

I hope this issue continues to interest you! ...Brig...


1 March 2001 [Klyce]
>> Indeed, the genome work shows that lots of human genes
>> were imported from bacteria, where they could hardly have
>> acquired human functions by the Darwinian method.

[Franklin]
> You'll have to explain this to me. Why couldn't the imported
> genes have evolved for use in the bacterium and later been
> adopted for, perhaps other, use in a human? Mightn't the
> protein(s) coded for by the gene have multiple and different
> uses in either organism?

[Klyce] Yes, I almost agree. A subroutine developed for one software package may also serve its intended purpose in another software package.

But a software package that is significantly more organized and advanced than its predecessors will always critically depend on subroutines -- strands of code -- with no prior use or existence in the more primitive available software environment.

Until recently, Darwinists would not disagree with this assessment, and would say that the new strands of code evolve gradually from old code. How far they could diverge without the benefit of selection constraint has been a thorny problem under this scenario. If not far (say, <5 essential nucleotide substitutions) intermediate functions for the evolving code must be imagined. If far (say, >15 essential nucleotide substitutions) an unlikely passage though a very large sequence space that is mostly nonsense must be imagined.

Recently, the idea that all evolutionary advances might be built on preexisting code strands borrowed, ultimately, from bacteria has emerged. But as Doolittle wrote, "Many eukaryotic genes seem to have come from nowhere." There is reason to doubt this new idea.

Of course, under strong panspermia, evolutionary advances also require preexisting code strands to be borrowed. But if these are obtained from bacteria, the bacteria are only serving as intermediaries for code they cannot use. For example, hox genes that control embryo development might be found in bacteria, but they would not serve any precise bacterial purpose. (They might add bulk, an imprecise purpose.) They could not have been composed to serve as eukaryotic hox genes by Darwinian selection among bacteria. That's my elaboration of the passage you asked about.

You may think, "Sure they could've been." Well, you might be right, but, as of now, the theory behind that claim is quite slippery. Much more importantly, there's no evidence to support the claim. This is why I'm advocating closed-system experiments....


Subject: Golden Rule Stewardship/Cosmic Ancestry - Backward and Forward in Time
Date:
Wed 7:59 AM 21 February 2001
From: Robert E.Cobb

Brig: It follows that astronomy - the science which looks backward in time in pursuit of knowledge beneficial to human enlightenment and progress - will at some point commence the project of mapping Earth's cosmic-bio genealogy (Cosmic Ancestry) much in the same way that molecular biology was able to launch the Human Genome Project. The total commitment will doubtless not take place until Cosmic Ancestry is accepted by mainstream science, but its need, thanks to the work of pioneers such as Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe - and you - (with support from others), has clearly been established.

Fred Hoyle's view is that genetic materials largely responsible for human evolution to this point have been available since the Cambrian period, 570 million years ago. Starting backward at that time - and working forward - astronomy's goal might be the ascertainment of "near encounters" to Earth's solar/cometary systems by other star/cometary systems, with mutual exchange of genetic materials. Given the varying masses of systems involved, operative as Earth orbits the core of the Milky Way every 200 million years (the mission of this task woould also embrace establishing the relative, current locations of these star systems), this effort will be monumental. But optimism at the beginning of molecular biology was shared by only a few. Today the potential of the Human Genome Project is literally beyond prediction, and its promise for Golden Rule Stewardship is unbounded.

Equally true, successful mapping of Cosmic Ancestry (cosmic-bio genealogy) can assist in: SETI - can forewarn other planetary systems of organic materials detrimental to the integrity of evolving species (AIDS) - can open new vistas for Golden Rule Stewardship as a Cosmic Ethic on a cosmic scale.

Today a real passion attends genealogists in tracing individual family generations, even if only a few generations are the focus of research. For younger generations especially (with unquenchable thirsts for knowledge aimed at service to life), Cosmic Ancestry indeed extends a welcoming hand.

In forelawsship, Robert | Forelaws on Board


Subject: Life on Mars
Date:
Sat, 10 Feb 2001 08:04:11 +1100
From: Michael Paine
Organization: http://www4.tpg.com.au/users/mpaine/index.html

Although I would dearly like to see evidence of life on Mars I remain highly skeptical of re-analysis of the Viking Lander data. See 'Did Viking Discover Life on Mars' by Viking Biology Leader Harold (Chuck) Klein, Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere, 29: 625-631, 1999: http://www.wkap.nl/oasis.htm/195742 (title only) "[the assertion that] results of the Labelled Release experiment are analogous to those observed with terrestrial organisms...is found to be implausible."

Personally I consider it highly likely that Earth-life has seeded Mars (or vice versa!) via asteroid impacts but such life is likely to be underground. See the transcripts of a Paul Davies radio special at: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ss/stories/s223724.htm and my links at http://www4.tpg.com.au/users/tps-seti/swaprock.html

Mon, 12 Feb 2001: BTW You might find my simple animation of natural selection interesting: http://www4.tpg.com.au/users/mpaine/science.html#natsel. It illustrates how "directional" the mechanism can be, with the "genetic" lines quickly crawling up (or down) the screen in the presence of intense competition. (You have to download and run the Visual Basic program to see it in action)

regards | Michael Paine | The Planetary Society Australian Volunteers


Invitation to ETI Subject: optical seti conference
Date:
Sun, 7 Jan 2001 18:21:57 EST
From: Dr. Allen Tough (University of Toronto)

I enjoyed your website today, and look forward to meeting you at the optical seti conference.... The URL for my website is shown below. I will be interested in hearing your reactions to it.... Allen

Invitation to ETI -- Allen Tough's website.


Subject: Panspermia on TV
Date:
Mon, 8 Jan 2001 09:17:53
From: Hans-Peter Wheeler

Dear Mr. Klyce,

the TV show, the following link leads to was shown on German public TV (ZDF) on Sunday, January 7 th 2001.

http://www.zdf.de/wissen/zdfexpedition/42748/index.html

In this show the commentator explicitly mentioned the possibility of life having originated somewhere in space. I thought this might be of interest to You.

Sincerely, Hans-Peter Wheeler

COSMIC ANCESTRY | Quick Guide | 2002 - Replies Index - 2000 | by Brig Klyce | All Rights Reserved