Origin of Life: From Soup to Nuts

first_imgEvolutionists have been stewing over primordial soup for over a century, but origin-of-life research is still in the kitchen with empty kettles.  Some new recipes are downright nutty.Origin of life theories span the spectrum from genetics-first to metabolism-first, from dry land to deep sea vents, and homegrown to seeded from outer space.  After a century since Oparin, and half a century since Miller, no theory has gained traction.  Even the popular “RNA World” scenario has recently come under fire as vanishingly improbable (Evolution News & Views).  With no clear path for research, some researchers are sending weird flags up the pole to see if anyone salutes.Living pinwheels:  An example of the desperation can be seen at Astrobiology Magazine, a NASA website devoted to the community of experts trying to explain the origin of life on Earth and other planets.   Titled “Pinwheel ‘living’ crystals and the origin of life,” the article presents experiments at University of Michigan that found nanoparticles can self-organize into rotating crystals “that could serve as a nanopump,” they believe.  If any idea were less nutty, they surely would have used it instead:….researchers like [Sharon] Glotzer are exploring ways to make order develop naturally from disorder, much like what may have occurred at the very beginnings of life.“If we can understand that, not only can we begin to imagine new ways to make materials and devices, but also we may begin to understand how the first living structures emerged from a soup of chemicals,” said Glotzer, who is also a professor of materials science and engineering, macromolecular science and engineering, physics, and applied physics.“Begin to imagine” is the operative phrase, because there are numerous problems with the idea.  The nanoscopic particles they experimented on are liquid crystals that have nothing to do with the biochemistry used by living cells.  Further, the team supplied them with constant energy; this is known as investigator interference (i.e., cheating).  There is no genetic code; there is no metabolism; there is no membrane.  While it may display pretty moving patterns, they are analogous to soap bubbles arranging themselves when air is blown on them.  As such, they are irrelevant to the origin of life, and fail to “shed light” as promised.Soup to nuts:  In another Astrobiology Magazine post, “From Soup to Cells: Measuring the Emergence of Life,” astrobiologist Sarah Walker from the University of Arizona is up to her eyeballs in questions.  The opening disclaimer shows that no progress has been made since Alexander Oparin first speculated with coacervates (essentially fat bubbles surrounding nonliving organic molecules):The story of life’s origin is one of the great unsolved mysteries of science. The puzzle boils down to bridging the gap between two worlds–chemistry and biology. We know how molecules behave, and we know how cells work. But we still don’t know how a soup of lifeless molecules could have given rise to the first living cells.Here, the operative word is “story,” because no theory or even hypothesis is even capable of showing progress.  All Walker had to share with her colleagues at a recent conference is a “conceptual framework” for approaching the problem.  How can she “jumpstart chemical evolution“?  Nobody knows.  How can she ” get a pool of lifeless molecules to form a basic chemical network”?  Nobody knows.  She’s toying with the idea that day-night cycles have “driven the process.”  Well, they drive the tides and the winds, but genetic codes and networks do not normally “jumpstart” that way.  Her scenario is little more than a sequence of begged questions:The model starts out with monomers–or loose building blocks–and turns them into polymers. Bonds form during the day (during the dry phase) and break at night (during the wet phase). So the system goes over a constant process of building and destroying new chains of molecules.Over time, some of the chains may have a useful function. And because they benefit the system, they stay and are replicated by that cycling, serving as template for the formation of other polymers. Eventually, clusters of polymers begin to grow and interact with each other, until they give rise to a very basic chemical network. Eventually, that network evolves to a state Walker calls “almost life.”Like Glotzer, Walker is filling in huge gaps with leaps of imagination.  There is no such thing as “almost life,” because without the kind of accurate replication of functional genetic information and metabolism that living cells provide, any “system” would collapse in an “error catastrophe.”  The almost-thingee would fall apart with the next tide.  (Note: living cells proofread their text by machine.)Interestingly, Walker recognizes the need for “information transfer” in the definition of life.  She knows that in living cells, information flows both ways, top down as well as bottom up.  But she fails to define information, fails to store it, and fails to preserve it.  She speaks of blueprints, but has no draftsman.  She speaks of function, but has only blind molecules that couldn’t care less what happens.  Perhaps the most telling part of the article is this quote during her presentation:She began her talk with a quote from the Harvard chemist George Whitesides, which captured nicely the gap she is trying to bridge: “How remarkable is life?” he asked. “The answer is: very. Those of us who deal in networks of chemical reactions know nothing like it.”The geological bridge:  “What we are trying to do is to bridge the gap between the geological processes of the early Earth and the emergence of biological life on this planet,” says chemist Terry Kee from the University of Leeds in an article on Science Daily.  His preferred place to look for leads is hydrothermal vents.  To make the gap appear tractable, he merely redefines life to include geology:“Before biological life, one could say the early Earth had ‘geological life’. It may seem unusual to consider geology, involving inanimate rocks and minerals, as being alive. But what is life?” said Dr Kee.“Many people have failed to come up with a satisfactory answer to this question. So what we have done instead is to look at what life does, and all life forms use the same chemical processes that occur in a fuel cell to generate their energy.”But are mere cycles of oxidation-reduction (redox) reactions anything like the dynamic, regulated choreography in a living cell?  One might as well consider the tides as alive, or the winds.  Talking about photosynthesis or man-made fuel cells (as the article does) cannot support a nutty idea, because the origin of plants is the question to be explained, not the explanation, and fuel cells had their “emergence” in intelligent design by human minds. PhysOrg reported that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is lending their experimental support to the Kee concept of how geology “kickstarted life.”  But wouldn’t geology be more likely to kick it down to a dead stop?“In the new study, the researchers have demonstrated a proof of concept for their fuel cell model of the emergence of cell metabolism on Earth,” the article says, but this is nothing new.  The metabolism-first hypothesis has been kicked around for a decade or more now (see Russell, 2008, 2004); it was roundly criticized, if not falsified, by the late Leslie Orgel (1/26/08, “Pigs Don’t Fly, and Life Doesn’t Just Happen”).  Orgel was a close co-worker with Stanley Miller of spark-discharge fame (5/02/03).  Unfortunately for him, his genetics-first model had already been falsified the year before by metabolism-first proponent Robert Shapiro  (2/15/07).  Readers can judge for themselves the chutzpah of Science Daily‘s endorsement of Kee’s “geological life” concept:For now, the chemistry of how geological reactions driven by inanimate rocks and minerals evolved into biological metabolisms is still a black box. But with a laboratory-based model for simulating these processes, scientists have taken an important step forward to understanding the origin of life on this planet and whether a similar process could occur on other worlds.In other words, Kee has a bridge to sell you.  For the top news by the leading lights of origin-of-life research, browse CEH’s origin of life category.Have you ever encountered any subject as silly as naturalistic origin of life that gets so much respect in the media?  Besides socialism, that is.  These articles are not by quacks in far left field; they come out of leading universities, and are supported with NASA funding, some of them.  With primordial soup this nutty, the intelligent design community can relax.  All they have to do is laugh.  Given this backdrop of insanity from the institutions of human intellect, the case for creation is stronger than it has ever been.  Biblical creationists have all the reason in the world to preach the Truth of their foundation for all truth, “In the beginning, God created.”(Visited 98 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Govt approves AgriBEE charter

first_img31 March 2008The Department of Trade and Industry has approved the application for the AgriBEE (black economic empowerment) sector transformation charter, which is aimed at ensuring greater participation by black people in the country’s agricultural sector.The framework aims to eliminate racial discrimination in the agricultural sector through implementing initiatives that encourage more black citizens to take part in agricultural activity and enterprises along the entire sector value chain.The government believes the through the charter, it will be able to address the imbalances of the past with an integrated plan that is also aimed at generating equitable access to land and creating a profitable and sustainable agricultural sector for the previously disadvantaged.Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana said in February this year that the land claims commission had settled more than 94% of the claims lodged on or before 31 December 1998.She said that while the performance of the commission had enabled the government to restore at least two million hectares of land, the challenges associated with the settlement of the outstanding claims should not be underestimated, as they were complex.These challenges included traditional leader conflict in terms of jurisdiction, boundaries and land ownership, claims still held at the Land Claims Court and family or community disputes, she said.Xingwana added that her department had introduced a proactive land acquisition strategy, through which the department identifies, purchases and distributes land in accordance with the prevailing needs.By February 2007, the government had made changes to the Expropriation Act, as well as set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that would acquire, hold, manage, develop and dispose of land for all reform purposes.Xingwana said back then that the SPV would ensure that the expropriated land would be maintained in a viable condition until new farmers were able to occupy them.She said then that while the government was still using the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle, it was only one of the instruments available to them to affect land reform. She however also pointed out that even though the government could use expropriation to acquire land, all exchanges would be fully negotiated.The charter is one method through which the government believes it can achieve its objective of ensuring that previously disadvantaged communities own at least 30% of the agricultural land in the country by the end of 2014.SAinfo reporter and BuaNews Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Foreign journalists visit SA

first_imgBrand South Africa 2012 Media Tour Brand South Africa hosts a group of journalists from the United Arab Emirates; presenting the country’s strong business environment, with information and presentations from the financial sector to agri-industries. News articlesMore to South Africa than Nelson MandelaInsights into doing business in SASA to lead in Islamic finance  VideosMiller Matola On UAE Media tourUnited Arab Emirates Journos Visit to South Africa: Part 1United Arab Emirates Journos Visit to South Africa Part 2 Find out more about Brand South Africa’s projects, past and present. EventsBrand Africa Forum 2011ITI India 2011Russia Tour 2011Congo 2011Media Tour 2010 Current projectsMagnificent FridaysMake every Friday a Magnificent Friday by showcasing your patriotism and love for our beautiful country and its people.    Past projectsNational Communication Partnership2010 starts now! Learn how you can join communicators across South Africa and Africa to make the most of the opportunities that 2010 brings.2010 NCP conference blogNCP National Conference report, August 2009last_img read more

South African local elections date set

first_img12 April 2016The next local government elections will take place on 3 August 2016.The minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs would follow the necessary legal procedure to proclaim the date and fulfil other requirements needed, the Presidency said yesterday in announcing the date.All South Africans who are eligible to vote, in particular young people over the age of 18 who will vote for the first time, are urged to register on the voters’ roll during the voter registration weekend.People can still go to their local Electoral Commission office to register and check their details on the voters’ roll. Click here to find an office near you. Voter registration will close when the date of the election is officially published in the Government Gazette.Source: South African Government News Agencylast_img read more

UST rookie Alessandrini impresses in UAAP debut vs DLSU

first_imgGlobe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH Shrouded in the epic five-set match between defending champion De La Salle and University of Santo Tomas, that ended in a 25-20, 17-25, 25-22, 15-25, 15-8 victory for the Lady Archers, Golden Tigress rookie Melina Alessandrini left Ramil De Jesus in wonder.De Jesus, who guided La Salle to 11 championships, said Alessandrini still had butterflies in her stomach but La Salle’s mentor is confident the UST rookie will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“It’s just her first game, maybe she still has the first-game jitters but just give her more time and it would be difficult to stop her,” said De Jesus in Filipino Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.Alessandrini finished with 18 points and displayed a ground defense rarely seen from a 6-foot-1 player. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding LATEST STORIES NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises And with the help of an interpreter, Alessandrini thanked the longtime La Salle coach of the praise she’s earned.“I want to thank him because he believes in me even though this was just my first game,” said Alessandrini through the interpreter. “I know I will still have to adjust because this was my first game and this is my first time playing in front of this big of a crowd.”De Jesus added Alessandrini just has to adjust to the Philippine game to help her complete her transition in the UAAP.“I know she’ll be able to adjust,” said De Jesus.ADVERTISEMENT AFP official booed out of forum Weight’s over: It’s fight timecenter_img Chief Justice Peralta on upcoming UAAP game: UP has no match against UST PLAY LIST 01:00Chief Justice Peralta on upcoming UAAP game: UP has no match against UST00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting Read Next Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC MOST READ It cannot be argued that rookies have to make a good first impression in the UAAP, and in the league’s 80th season one newcomer took the opportunity to leave an indelible mark on an iconic coach.ADVERTISEMENT View commentslast_img read more