ญญWhat'sNEW in Cosmic Ancestry, beginning Jul 2021
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31 Jul 2021 What'sNEW about HGT
Our results suggest that the driving force in the virus-parasitoid-lepidopteran host arms race is derived ...also by gene transfers that provide target-specific weapons....
"Horizontally transmitted parasitoid killing factor shapes insect defense to parasitoids" by Martin A. Erlandson, Salvador Herrero, Madoka Nakai et al., doi:10.1126/science.abb6396,
Science, 30 Jul 2021.
Caterpillars borrow weapons from viruses..., University of Saskatchewan +Phys.org, 29 Jul 2021.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has more.

Gilbert Victor Levin
28 Jul 2021
Gilbert Victor Levin died, Monday, 26 July, at the age of 97. He had been in good health until that morning, when he suffered a dissection in his aorta. He was actively studying extant microbial life on Mars related to his 1976 "Labelled Release" life-detection experiment flown on NASA's Viking mission. He was a team member on the ESA's 2022 ExoMars Habit experiment. He believed that Viking had found life, and he advocated his conviction with eloquence, logic and good data, until he died.
Gilbert Victor Levin

Gilbert Levin.
10-min. video by Andy Fancher.
Thanks Thanks, Richard Hoover.
Life on Mars! has background and updates about Viking.
30 Jul 2021: 45 years ago today, Levin's team at NASA concluded that Mars has life.

26 Jul 2021
...on Earth phosphine is exclusively associated with anthropogenic and biological sources.
"Phosphine on Venus Cannot Be Explained by Conventional Processes" by William Bains et al., doi:10.1089/ast.2020.2352,
Astrobiology, online 19 Jul 2021.
14 Sep 2020: Our first notice with updates.

22 Jul 2021 What'sNEW about HGT |
15,000-Year-Old Viruses Discovered in Tibetan Glacier Ice by Laura Arenschield, Ohio State News +Newswise, 20 Jul 2021. Most of the viruses were previously unknown....
"Glacier ice archives nearly 15,000-year-old microbes and phages" by Zhong, ZP., Tian, F., Roux, S. et al., Microbiome, 20 Jul 2021. Viruses... has more.

19 Jul 2021 What'sNEW about HGT |
We infer that these are a new type of archaeal extrachromosomal element [ECE] with a distinct evolutionary origin.
The new ECEs are far larger than usual — 600,000 to a million nucleotide pairs in a linear DNA stucture. They contain mostly unfamiliar genes, lotsa genes with a variety of functions, and even genes that resemble highly conserved eukaryotic ones. Nineteen different examples have been observed in archaea in California and Colorado. "Borgs" is their suggested nickname, because they appear to have scavenged genes from diverse sources. Geomicrobiologist and team leader Jill Banfield describes them as "a toolbox" of genes that can provide useful capabilities to a species. We know that HGT drives prokaryotic evolution, and large ECEs, "megaplasmids," have been transferred within soil bacteria. Now we see that a Borg is likely another, capacious, gene transfer agent.

"Borgs are giant extrachromosomal elements with the potential to augment methane oxidation" by Basem Al-Shayeb et al.,
bioRxiv, doi:10.1101/2021.07.10.451761, posted 10 Jul 2021; and commentary:
"...'Borgs,' recovered from California mud" by Elizabeth Pennisi, Science, 15 Jul 2021.
"Massive DNA 'Borg' structures perplex scientists" by Amber Dance, Nature, 16 Jul 2021.
Thanks Thanks, Martin Langford. Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has more.
Kevin Dougherty et al., "Multiple Phenotypic Changes Associated with Large-scale Horizontal Gene Transfer" doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102170, PLoS One, 21 Jul 2014. "(~1Mb megaplasmid) within Pseudomonas stutzeri...."

19 Jul 2021
An international team endorses a new computer model to explain diversification. Big paper, open acces:
"gen3sis: A general engine for eco-evolutionary simulations of the processes that shape Earth's biodiversity" by Oskar Hagen et al., doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3001340,
PLoS Biol, 12 Jul 2021.

Innovation is more than diversification. Hagen et al. may know this, but many darwinists seem not to.
> The Evolution Prize: For a Demonstration of Open-Ended Evolutionary Innovation in a Closed System, 2006.

13 Jul 2021
...I believe we need alternative theories about what the universe was doing before it was expanding.
"James Peebles: a life in cosmology" by Sergio de Regules,
Physics World, 02 Jul 2021.
> The End... has more about alternatives. > The Beginning has philosophical discussion.

09 Jul 2021
Enceladus' plumes Methane in the plumes on Enceladus could well come from life. Known geochemical processes like serpentinization (formula below) wouldn't produce enough to explain it, according to a new statistical analysis.
"Bayesian analysis of Enceladus's plume data to assess methanogenesis" by Régis Ferrière, Stéphane Mazevet et al.,
Nature Astronomy, 07 Jul 2021; and ambivalent commentary:
Methane in plume of Saturn's moon Enceladus could be sign of alien life... by Mike Wall, Space.com, 09 Jul 2021.
An unknown methane-producing process is likely at work... by Daniel Stolte, University of Arizona, 06 Jul 2021.
Thanks Thanks, Ted Steele.
Methane formula

02 Jul 2021
If you are an astrobiology instructor, a textbook published in 2007 should perhaps get onto your radar. Complete Course in Astrobiology covers a wide spectrum in twelve chapters by chosen experts. Following consensus, it rests on the assumptions that 1) everything began with the big bang, and 2) life must originate. The "logic" behind the latter took my breath away: Because life can originate only from preexisting life, it has a history and therefore an origin, which must be understood and explained by chemists. Horneck and Rettberg, 2007

Blindness like this is common within science, where specialties are narrow and excommunication is a ready threat. Here, neo-darwinism's ability to produce the software for the origin-of-life and continuing macroevolutionary advances is never questioned. And experimental evidence that would support that capability, in vivo or in silico, is deemed unnecessary. (At least molecular biologist Kirsi Lehto is aware of HGT and viruses.) Titan's dense atmosphere is analysed only for its prebiotic potential — nevermind how it came to be ∼95% nitrogen and ∼5% methane.

But the science actually discussed at length is well-referenced and hasn't changed much in the intervening years. So, here is a fine, strictly orthodox, nearly current academic resource.
Complete Course in Astrobiology [
pdf], Gerda Horneck and Petra Rettberg, eds., ISBN:978-3-527-40660-9, 414 pages, Wiley-VCH GmbH KGaA, Weinheim, Feb 2007. Thanks Thanks, Academia.edu.
> The RNA World... has our intro and updates for origin-of-life research. I welcome informed comments.

01 Jul 2021
Complex organic structures formed in meteorites older than the sun. A couple of research chemists propose that gas-phase chemistry may have have formed them. We wonder if life made the amino acids they contain.
Polymers in Meteorites Provide Clues to Early Solar System, American Institute of Physics, +Newswise, re:
"Structural organization of space polymers" by Julie E M McGeoch and Malcolm W McGeoch, doi:10.1063/5.0054860, Physics of Fluids, 29 Jun 2021.
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