What'sNEW Oct - Dec 2019
Yes, according to origin-of-life researchers Bruce Damer and David Deamer. Using a thought experiment with a computer analogy (illustrated) they suggest a way. We welcome their attention to the seldom-considered software problem for the origin of life. For the usual hardware problems, they advocate a process driven in a cycling environment, an idea that is gaining favor.
The Hot Spring Hypothesis for an Origin of Life by Bruce Damer and David Deamer, doi:10.1089/ast.2019.2045, Astrobiology, 16 Dec 2019.
The RNA World and Other Origin-of-Life Theories has history and updated links.
The Evolution Prize: we propose real experiments for the software problem. Like virtually everyone, Damer and Deamer assume that life originated. But all the direct evidence makes the difficulties look insurmountable. Only the standard big bang requires life to originate. That's not enough.
The End... and The Beginning discuss implications of life with no origin.
Now a comet from beyond our solar system is visiting — and releasing tons of its contents.
Hubble Snaps the Best Close-ups Yet of Speedy Visitor from the Stars, Hubblesite (+Newswise), 12 Dec 2019.
2-second video, Hubblesite. Comets: The Delivery System has more.
Living Comets, by Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Univesity College Cardiff Press, 1985 [7MB local pdf].
Climate tipping points – too risky to bet against by Timothy M. Lenton et al., doi:10.1038/d41586-019-03595-0, Nature, 28 Nov 2019.
Gaia has discussion and links about life's planetary engineering.
...plant cell wall-degrading enzymes (PCWDEs) obtained from bacteria and fungi via horizontal gene transfers may have been key to the Mesozoic diversification of herbivorous beetles—remarkably, both major independent origins of specialized herbivory in beetles coincide with the first appearances of an arsenal of PCWDEs encoded in their genomes. Furthermore, corresponding (Jurassic) diversification rate increases suggest that these novel genes triggered adaptive radiations that resulted in nearly half of all living beetle species.
The evolution and genomic basis of beetle diversity by Duane D. McKenna et al., doi:10.1073/pnas.1909655116, PNAS, 03 Dec 2019. News release, University of Memphis, 21 Nov 2019. McKenna interviewed, BBC Newsday.
...Without Gene Transfer? has relevant discussion with examples. 11 May 2019: a related example.
Viruses... has links to hundreds of examples of HGT affecting all domains. Thanks, Stan Franklin.
We think the sugars could be postbiotic.
...the evidence of [inflation] is very sparse.... ...there is in fact no concrete evidence for a giant explosion. ...Theories of course ...could have nothing to do with reality.
James Peebles (pictured) made these comments soon after the announcement that he would receive the 2019 Nobel prize in physics for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology. We welcome this affirmation from the world's most highly honored cosmologist, because a big bang that sterilizes everything at once would interrupt cosmic ancestry.
Top Cosmologist's Lonely Battle Against 'Big Bang' Theory, Agence France-Presse via CourthouseNews (+PhysOrg), 14 Nov 2019. Thanks, Stan Franklin.
The End and the Big Bang has discussion and links to 20 years of related news. The Beginning is also related.
James Peebles' Nobel Lecture, Stockholm University (+YouTube), 08 Dec 2019.
Alien genes from bacteria helped plants conquer the land by Elizabeth Pennisi, Science, 14 Nov 2019.
Viruses... has more about HGT.
Hayabusa2: Commencing the Return by Paul Gilster, Centauri Dreams, 14 Nov 2019.
Japanese mission gathers material from an asteroid by Davide Castelvecchi, Nature News, 14 Nov 2019.
Hayabusa 2 Leaves Asteroid Ryugu and Heads Home by David Dickinson, Sky & Telescope, 15 Nov 2019.
Comets: The Delivery System and Comet Rendezvous are related postings.
Discovery of a nearby 1700 km/s star ejected from the Milky Way by Sgr A* by Sergey E Koposov et al., doi:10.1093/mnras/stz3081, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 04 Nov 2019.
A runaway star ejected from the galactic heart of darkness, Carnegie Mellon University (+Newswise), 12 Nov 2019.
How is it Possible? is worth a look. (By cosmic ancestry, life would be related even among galaxies.)
Oxygen on Mars Adds to Atmospheric Mysteries by Kenneth Chang, The New York Times, 20 Nov 2019.
Thanks, George Nickas, Martin Langford, Rob Cooper and Stan Franklin.
Life on Mars! mentions Viking's detection of near-surface microbial life and much more.
...interstellar comet contains alien water by Alexandra Witze, Nature, 30 Oct 2016.
Comets: The Delivery System has background and updated links. 19 Oct & 13 Sep: more about 2I/Borisov.
Introduction... has history. ...New Questions describes types of panspermia. 19 Oct: an interstellar comet.
...more comments. At last Hoyle and Wickramasinghe are acknowledged:
Earth bacteria may have colonised other solar systems by Barry Keily, Cosmos, 15 Jan 2020.
Hubble Observes First Confirmed Interstellar Comet | video, Space Telescope Science Institute, 16 Oct 2019.
Comets: The Delivery System has history and updates. Thanks, Newswise and Rob Cooper.
Life on Mars! has more about the Viking LR experiments.
Thanks, Ted Steele and William Smith.
Multilayered horizontal operon transfers from bacteria reconstruct a thiamine salvage pathway in yeasts by Carla Gonçalves and Paula Gonçalves, doi:10.1073/pnas.1909844116, PNAS, online 14 Oct 2019.
The adaptation of the newly acquired operons to the eukaryotic setting involved a repertoire of mechanisms until now only sparsely documented, namely longer intergenic regions, post-horizontal gene transfer (HGT) gene fusions fostering coordinated expression, gene relocation, and possibly recombination generating mosaic genes. The results provide additional evidence that HGT occurred recurrently in this yeast lineage and was crucial for the reestablishment of lost functions and that similar mechanisms are used across a broad range of eukaryotic microbes....
Viruses... has more about HGT Robust Software Management... (incomplete) considers a repertoire of mechanisms.
...the transfer of large genomic regions in Vibrio cholerae by Noémie Matthey et al., elife, 03 Sep 2019.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has related examples.
Mankind must keep searching for life on Mars by Chandra Wickramasinghe, The Sunday Telegraph, 06 Oct 2019.
Chandra Wickramasinghe has more.