What'sNEW July - Sep 2021
Life on Europa, Other Moons, Other Planets? has related links. Search for "Venus".
Quenching of star formation from a lack of inflowing gas to galaxies by Katherine E. Whitaker et al., doi:10.1038/s41586-021-03806-7, Nature, 22 Sep 2021. Hubble Finds Early, Massive Galaxies Running on Empty, NASA Goddard, 22 Sep 2021.
Hubble telescope discovers 6 mysteriously dead, massive galaxies from early universe, by Alexandra Larkin, CBS News, 22 Sep 2021.
Thanks, Rob Cooper.
Why they shut down star formation so early is still a puzzle. Could the anomalous galaxies actually be older than consensus cosmology requires? This is only one of the puzzles confronting the standard inflationary big-bang theory.
The End and the Big Bang has links to more puzzles and some skeptics.
Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales (MAPS) IX: Distribution and properties of the large organic molecules HC3N, CH3CN, and c-C3H2 by John D. Ilee et al., submitted to ApJ, draft version 16 Sep 2021; and commenary with links to related papers:
ALMA Reveals Carbon-Rich, Organic Birth Environments of Planets, National Radio Astronomy Observatory +Newswise, 15 Sep 2021.
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's Analysis of Interstellar Dust has history and related links.
Thanks, Stan Franklin.
Biology must generate ideas as well as data by Paul Nurse, Nature, 13 Sep 2021.
Polonnaruwa Stones Revisited – Evidence for Non-Terrestrial Life by Milton Wainwright and Chandra Wickramasinghe, May 2021.
11 January 2013: A carbonaceous meteorite that fell in Sri Lanka....
17 Sep 2021: ...protoplanetary disks host large organic molecules....
01 Jul 2021: Complex organic structures in meteorites older than the sun.
27 Apr 2000: Most interstellar particles captured by Stardust are complex organic compounds....
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's Analysis of Interstellar Dust.
Viruses may exist 'elsewhere in the universe', warns scientist, by Nicola Davis, The Guardian, 06 Sep 2021.
...scientist claims space germs could be absorbed into human DNA, by Helena Sutan, Brinkwire, 08 Sep 2021.
What's Eating the Universe? Richard Lea reviews Paul Davies' book in The Wall Street Journal, 10 Sep 2021.
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's Analysis of Interstellar Dust began in the 1960s.
"The role of the Cer1 transposon in horizontal transfer of transgenerational memory" by Rebecca S. Moore, Rachel Kaletsky, Chen Lesnik et al., doi:10.1016/j.cell.2021.07.022, Cell, 02 Sep 2021.
Murphy Lab scientists discover a mechanism for memory transfer between individuals in C. elegans, by Caitlin Sedwick, Princeton University +Newswise, 02 Sep 2021.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has more.
An example of this software management capability comes from the genomes of ciliates, unicellular eukaryotes with separate germline and somatic genomes in the same cytoplasm. The somatic macronucleus (MAC), responsible for gene expression, is not sexually transmitted but develops from a copy of the germline micronucleus (MIC) at each sexual generation. This is amazing. And there's more.
In the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia, half of the c. 40,000 genes in the MAC are originally interrupted by large regions containing c. 45,000 unique, short, interspersed sequences. Most of these disruptive strands, called internal eliminated sequences (IESs), are found in protein-coding genes. Fortunately, a system as precise as RNA splicing — but at the DNA level — removes them, every reproductive cycle. What accounts for all of this? Perhaps the IESs are leftover transposons that just happened to acquire excising end-motifs?
French biologists have carefully studied the gene-editing system that streamlines the MAC genome. They conclude, Despite significant progress in characterization of the mechanisms underlying IES elimination, the evolutionary origin of IESs remains mysterious. May I politely ask a broader question: How could darwinian evolution invent programming for the whole ciliate MAC/MIC phenomenon?"Massive colonization of protein-coding exons by selfish genetic elements in Paramecium germline genomes" by Sellis D, Guérin F, Arnaiz O, Pett W, Lerat E, Boggetto N, et al., doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3001309, PLoS Biol, 29 Jul 2021.
"Transposon debris in ciliate genomes" by Feng Y and Landweber LF, PLoS Biol, 24 Aug 2021.
Robust Software Management... [incomplete] and Introns... have discussion and updates.
11 March 2010 and 26 Aug 2020: Tanpopo updates.
Comets... ...Interstellar Dust and ...Murchison Meteorite have background and updates.
Gamow is less familiar to me, so I was glad to know more about his role in twentieth century cosmology. This began with a wondering: how did the elements got their realtive abundances? His work, with others, led to today's consensus about hydrogen, helium and the big bang theory. Hoyle wondered the same thing, and successfully showed how the elements from lithium to iron are made in stars. His insight about carbon 12 was ingenious. Still, he always tinkered with versions of steady-state cosmology, even after the big bang became the overwhelming consensus.
I enjoyed seeing Fred Hoyle so clearly and vividly. Episodes with Geoffrey and Margaret Burbidge reminded me of the day I met him 25 years ago. During our 3-hour interview mainly about panspermia he also talked about current issues in cosmology. Light from quasars is strongly redshifted, indicating they are very distant. But a deep gravity well can also redshift light, so maybe they aren't so distant. Besides, their small angular separation from galaxies known to be close by is, statistically, hard to explain. Afterward he, his grandaughter Nicola and I went to a pub to dine with the Burbidges. They were keen to discuss with him the latest data about quasars and related topics. But Fred was entirely distracted by the cricket match on TV!
Flashes of Creation is a fascinating look at science, who does it and how it gets done: it's even more political, cliqueish, quirky, labarinthine, incremental and error-prone than we usually hear. And colossal "mistakes" may turn out approximately right after all, like Einstein's cosmological constant. And maybe panspermia, we remind Halpern. But he's a physicist. And, he writes popular science, so he is especially comfortable with Gamow and Hoyle. The story is edifying, delightful and very well told. This book is excellent!Flashes of Creation: George Gamow, Fred Hoyle, and the Great Big Bang Debate, Basic Books, 17 Aug 2021.
"Before the Big Bang became scientific dogma" (book review) by Simon Mitton, Science, 20 Aug 2021.
Fred Hoyle... has our 1996 interview and links.
The End and the Big Bang has discussion and updates.
...the Oort Cloud may be home to more visiting objects than objects that belong to our solar system., Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 22 Aug 2021.
A Huge Population of Interstellar Comets in the Oort Cloud by Paul Gilster, Centauri Dreams, 25 Aug 2021.
Comets: they can traverse the galaxy, and their contents are consistent with life, we see.
"The Multiple Paths to Multiple Life" by Christopher P. Kempes and David C. Krakauer, Journal of Molecular Evolution, 12 Jul 2021; and commentary: "...new theory of life's multiple origins", Santa Fe Institute, 16 Aug 2021.
What Is Life? has our definition and more. The RNA World... describes origin-of-life theories.
"A fossil record of land plant origins from charophyte algae" by Paul K. Strother and Clinton Foster, doi:10.1126/science.abj2927, Science, 13 Aug 2021.
"When did terrestrial plants arise?" by Patricia G. Gensel, Science, 13 Aug 2021. When molecular clocks and fossils disagree, the genes always look too old.
Metazoan Genes Older Than Metazoa? and Genes Older Than Earth? have more.
...De Novo Genes has early notice and updated examples of them.
Thanks, Stan Franklin. Life on Mars! has background.
Worth a listen, not because I am sure that this virus recently came from space, but because it's possible:
"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.
"Genes Shared With Viruses Protect Caterpillars..." by Stephanie Melchor, The Scientist, 30 Jul 2021.
Caterpillars borrow weapons from viruses..., University of Saskatchewan +Phys.org, 29 Jul 2021.
"The Presence of Ancient Core Genes Reveals Endogenization from Diverse Viral Ancestors in Parasitoid Wasps" by Gaelen R Burke et al., doi:10.1093/gbe/evab105, Genome Biology and Evolution, Jul 2021.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has more.
10-min. video by Andy Fancher.
Thanks, Richard Hoover.
Life on Mars! has background and updates about Viking.
"Gilbert V. Levin, Who Said He Found Signs of Life on Mars, Dies at 97", by Kenneth Chang, The New York Times, 05 Aug 2021.
30 Jul 2021: 45 years ago today, Levin's team at NASA concluded that Mars has life.
Search for Life on Mars and the Legacy of Gilbert Levin by N. Chandra Wickramasinghe, Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach, 31 Aug 2021.
"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.
"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.
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 types (designated with colors) 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,' 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, 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...."
"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.
"James Peebles: a life in cosmology", interview by Sergio de Regules, Physics World, 02 Jul 2021.
15 Nov 2019: ...no good theory of such a thing as the beginning — James Peebles, 2019.
The End... has more about alternatives. The Beginning has philosophical discussion.
"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, Ted Steele.
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, Academia.edu.
The RNA World... has our intro and updates for origin-of-life research. I welcome informed comments.
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.