What'sNEW Oct - Dec 2021
Thanks, Chandra, for 40 years of friendship and wisdom. Thanks for your lifelong contributions to science. You deserve this recognition and more. Congratulations!
Press release docx, 10:30 AM GMT, 31 Dec 2021.
Honorees list: iNews, London | The Herald, Scotland | Wales Online.
Buckingham astrophysicist awarded MBE, by Hannah Richardson, The Bucks Herald, 04 Jan 2022.
interview with George Howard, 70-min. YouTube video, 31 Dec 2021.
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's Analysis of Interstellar Dust describes some of Chandra's pioneering work. (Fred Hoyle, Chandra's advisor and collaborator, was Knighted for his contributions to science fifty years ago, 01 Jan 1972.)
eDNAir: proof of concept that animal DNA can be collected from air sampling, by Clare EL, Economou CK, Faulkes CG, Gilbert JD, Bennett F, Drinkwater R, Littlefair JE, PeerJ 9:e11030, 31 Mar 2021; with YouTube video, 3.5 min.
Thanks, The Scientist. Dan Robitzski, 06 Jan 2022.
Plant diversity is blowing in the wind, by Elizabeth Pennisi, Science, 06 Jan 2002.
Evolutionary impact of chimeric RNAs on generating phenotypic plasticity in human cells, by Sumit Mukherjee and Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern, doi:10.1016/j.tig.2021.08.015, Trends in Genetics, 01 Jan 2022.
Introns... has discussion of more familiar RNA splicing.
A Wordcount... compares alternative sources for new genes.
The essential but enigmatic regulatory role of HERVH in pluripotency by Corinne E. Sexton, Richard L. Tillett and Mira V. Han, doi:10.1016/j.tig.2021.07.007, Trends in Genetics, 01 Jan 2022.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has more.
Human Genome Search describes a related, unsuccessful research project.
Scientific Targets of Tanpopo... by Akihiko Yamagishi, Shin-ichi Yokobori, Kensei Kobayashi, Hajime Mita, Hikaru Yabuta, Makoto Tabata, Masumi Higashide, and Hajime Yano, Astrobiology, 09 Dec 2021 [ToC with links].
11 Mar 2010: introducing Tanpopo.
Are Water Plumes Spraying from Europa? by Lonnie Shekhtman, NASA, Goddard, 30 Nov 2021.
Thanks, Centauri Dreams. Life on Europa, Other Moons...? has related links.
George Nickas comments - 13 Dec.
How Beauty Is Making Scientists Rethink Evolution by Ferris Jabr, NY Times Magazine, 09 Jan 2019.
Thanks, Mark Alan Hewitt, ArchDaily.
Professor Brian Cox introduces panspermia in ∼6-min. video by Pomona Pictures and The Open University, 29 Nov 2021. Short, informative, with cartoon animation. Thanks, Jacob Navia.
Early Activity in Comet C/2014 UN271 Bernardinelli–Bernstein as Observed by TESS, by Tony L. Farnham et al. (Open Access), The Planetary Science Journal, 29 Nov 2021.
New Study Shows Largest-Known Comet Was Active at Near-Record Distance by Kimbra Cutlip, University of Maryland, 29 Nov 2021.
Comets: The Delivery System has discussion and updates.
09 Jan 2021: Evidence for long-lived radioactivity in comets?
A lab-maintained life in oil - an implication for a life on Titan by Takeshi Naganuma and Akiko Koi, Academia Letters, 2021.
30 June 2012: Titan has a liquid [likely saltwater] ocean 100 kilometers below its surface.
Life on Europa, Other Moons, Other Planets? includes links about Titan.
Gaia suggests how life can shape the environment.
Fossils of the Tennessee Valley by Richard Keyes, 130 pages, ∼2,500 illustrations, ∼100 references, ISBN:978-0-9970031, RGEO, Dec 2015.
NASA did not follow a scientific investigative approach is Keyes' comment about the crinoid-like fossil photographed by NASA on Mars in 2004. The 3-dimensional pieces, arranged in a logical structure, obviously needed further scrutiny. NASA should have looked at this one from various angles, and at the surroundings for other possible examples. Instead, NASA immediately obliterated the fossil and drove away. Why?! Meanwhile, Keyes agrees that many features in the photo resemble crinoid remains:
Last question: What non-biological process could, plausibly, make these forms?
Open-access enumeration of NASA's criteria for recognizing extraterrestrial life or its fossils, including a rebuttal to the evidence in ALH84001 from David S. McKay et al., NASA, 1996.
28 Oct 2021: More criteria. Life on Mars! includes ALH84001.
Hoover discusses the evidence for fossilized microbial life in meteorites, and the crinoid-like fossil seen on Mars. We just became aware of this video.
...Microfossils in a Carbonaceous Meteorite and
A fossil on Mars... have more with related links.
Molecular biologists have studied the "evolution" of an important family of genes. The educated public expects the analysis to probe how the genes may have originated. But it's actually a phylogenetic analysis. It tells us only how they descended and varied after the earliest time they are identified. Our findings suggest that [versions of all 3 types] were already present in the cnidarian-bilaterian common ancestor. In fact, genes without discernable origins are the usual finding. And mainstream science seems comfortable with the ambiguous meaning of "evolution".
Metazoan Genes Older Than Metazoa? and
Genes Older Than Earth? are relevant.
A viral RNA hijacks host machinery using dynamic conformational changes of a tRNA-like structure by Steve L. Bonilla et al., doi:10.1126/science.abe8526, Science, 18 Nov 2021.
10 Feb 2013: Thomas Nagel affirms our observation (see italicised quotation there.)
Robust Software Management... (incomplete) has comments and examples of life's complexity.
A chickpea genetic variation map based on the sequencing of 3,366 genomes, by Varshney, R.K., Roorkiwal, M., Sun, S. et al., Nature (Open Access), doi:10.1038/s41586-021-04066, 10 Nov 2021.
Thanks, Google Alerts. Viruses... has more about HGT.
NASA should think anew. In 1976, the Viking life-detection experiments got positive results, but NASA ignored that because no organics were detected.
Organic molecules revealed in Mars's Bagnold Dunes by Curiosity's derivatization experiment by Millan, M., Teinturier, S., Malespin, C.A. et al., Nature Astronomy, 01 Nov 2021.
NASA just found these organic molecules on Mars for the first time by Passant Rabie, Inverse.com, 01 Nov 2021.
Organic molecules revealed on Mars by Curiosity's new kind of experiment by Bob Yirka , Phys.org, 03 Nov 2021.
Thanks, Stan Franklin and Kenneth Augustyn. Life on Mars! has updates.
Call for a framework for reporting evidence for life beyond Earth by James Green et al., Nature, 28 Oct 2021.
These NASA scientists restate (understate) the case for life contained in ALH84001 from Mars. They don't mention the Viking LR experiment. In Comments, I point to the crinoid-like fosslls seen by the Opportunity rover in 2004.
"White Paper Report from the Biosignatures Standards of Evidence Community Workshop" by of the Biosignature Standards of Evidence Workshop Participants, accessed 28 Oct 2021 [Draft].
This 77-page draft on the same themes follows a July joint conference with Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) and the Network for Life Detection (NfoLD). Viking gets discussed, but discounted. In invited feedback I again mention Opportunity.
Thanks, Richard Hoover, for alerts about Opportunity, sol 34.
Life on Mars! has history and related links, including Sea Lilies on Ancient Mars?
Nanometre-scale imaging and AI reveal the interior of whole cells by Jason R. Swedlow and Lucy Collinson, Nature, 25 Oct 2021.
...cells – as never seen before by Diana Kwon, Nature, 26 Oct 2021.
Life Is Cells is our answer to the question, What Is Life?
Computer Models of Evolution discusses our skepticism.
NASA's Perseverance Sheds More Light on Jezero Crater's Watery Past, Nasa.gov, 07 Oct 2021.
26 Jul 2013: Did NASA's Opportunity rover find evidence for life on Mars in 2004? 28 Oct 2015: More.
Life on Mars! has history and related links.
The Archean origin of oxygenic photosynthesis and extant cyanobacterial lineages by G. P. Fournier et al., doi:10.1098/rspb.2021.0675, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 29 Sep 2021.
Zeroing in on the origins of Earth's "single most important evolutionary innovation" by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office, 28 Sep 2021.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has more. Search for "photosynthesis".
Genes Older Than Earth? mentions genes for oxygen metabolism that were "born" too early.
A Strange Comet Erupted 4 Times in a 'Super Outburst' by Robin George Andrews, The New York Times, 30 Sep 2021.
Comet 29P Undergoes Brightest Outburst in Recent Years by Bob King, Sky & Telescope, 29 Sep 2021.
Comets: The Delivery System has history and related links.