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Posts Tagged "origin of life"

Cross-Check

Craig Venter has neither created–nor demystified–life

Craig Venter is the Lady Gaga of science. Like her, he is a drama queen, an over-the-top performance artist with a genius for self-promotion. Hype is what Craig Venter does, and he does it extremely well, whether touting the decoding of his own genome several years ago or his construction of a hybrid bacterium this [...]

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Guest Blog

From the Shadows to the Spotlight to the Dustbin–the Rise and Fall of GFAJ-1

Six months ago a paper appeared on the Science Express pre-publication site of the prestigious journal Science. It came from a group of NASA-funded researchers, accompanied by the full NASA publicity hoopla, but it was harshly criticized by other researchers, with almost all agreeing that it was so seriously flawed that it should never have [...]

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Guest Blog

Life 2.0? First let’s figure out Life 1.0

Pornography, Life 2.0 and the citizens of a quaint New Mexico town were just some of the subjects invoked during "The Great Debate: What is Life?" a panel presentation featuring preeminent scientists, held on the campus of Arizona State University (A.S.U.) in Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday, February 12. Emceed by Lawrence Krauss, A.S.U. Foundation Professor, [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Complex Life Owes Its Existence To Parasites?

mitochondria.001

Is complex life rare in the cosmos? The idea that it could be rests on the observation that the existence of life like us – with large, energy hungry, complicated cells – may be contingent on a number of very specific and unlikely factors in the history of the Earth. Added together they suggest that [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Maybe Mars Seeded Earth’s Life, Maybe It Didn’t

mars clip

This week a major geochemistry conference heard an argument for life on Earth having originated on Mars, but does this hold up to scrutiny? The idea that a young Mars, some four billion years ago, was a far more hospitable and temperate place is not particularly controversial – although it is certainly not understood in [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Astrobiology Roundup II

Life in all it's glory... (Credit: C. Scharf)

It’s been a busy season for research that comes in under the astrobiology umbrella, here’s a smattering of some of the more interesting recent discoveries and studies.       The youngest solar system….so far. Locating and studying the birth of stars and planets is an enormous challenge, but a vital component in learning about [...]

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Observations

New Extremophile Breathes Rocket Fuel

curiosity-scoops

The energetic molecule perchlorate is rocket fuel and, it turns out, food for ancient microbes. Given that deposits of the stuff have been found wherever robots look on Mars, could the chlorine compound—poisonous to the development of humans—be serving as Martian life’s lunch? A team of Dutch researchers show in the April 5 edition of [...]

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Observations

How Life Arose on Earth, and How a Singularity Might Bring It Down

It didn’t take long for the recent Foundational Questions Institute conference on the nature of time to delve into the purpose of life. “The purpose of life,” meeting co-organizer and Caltech cosmologist Sean Carroll said in his opening remarks, “is to hydrogenate carbon dioxide.” Well, there you have it. Carroll is one of the most [...]

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Oscillator

Creation and Synthetic Biology: Book Review

creation_cover

What is the origin of life on Earth? What is the future of life in the age of synthetic biology? These are two of the biggest questions of contemporary biology, and the questions that drive Adam Rutherford’s new book, Creation: How Science is Reinventing Life Itself, a compelling and accessible two-part look through the history [...]

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Thoughtomics

A Spoonful of Molybdenum, some Ulysses and the Origin of Life

Molybdenum was 'ineluctable' for the origin of life. Photo courtesy Alcehmist-hp.

“Have you ever read Ulysses?” The question catches me off guard. I am interviewing Michael Russell, a geochemist working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Russell was originally trained as an ore prospector, but several twists and turns in his scientific career brought him where geology, chemistry and biology intersect: the origin of life. Decades of [...]

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Thoughtomics

Did life evolve in a ‘warm little pond’?

Geothermal field near Mutnovsky, Kamtchatka. Copyright Anna S. Karyagina

“But if (and oh what a big if) we could conceive in some warm little pond with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity etcetera present, that a protein compound was chemically formed, ready to undergo still more complex changes [..] ” ~Charles Darwin, in a letter to Joseph Hooker (1871) All [...]

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