What'sNEW Oct - Dec 2017
The Role of Type VI Secretion System Effectors in Target Cell Lysis and Subsequent Horizontal Gene Transfer, doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2017.12.020, by Peter David Ringel, Di Hu and Marek Basler, Cell, 26 Dec 2017.
Bacteria acquire resistance from competitors, University of Basel (+Newswise), posted 27 Dec 2017.
7 July 2014, 19 Jan 2015 & 13 Oct 2016: we describe more examples of recipient-initiated HGT.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms is the main related webpage.
Jerry Fodor, 2008, coauthor of What Darwin Got Wrong (2010)
In 2010, we reviewed Jerry Fodor's book and corresponded briefly with him, wishing to form an alliance with a fellow non-Darwinist. He patiently answered, but we thought his opposition to natural selection was too blunt and doctrinaire. It seems clear to us, for a familiar example, that a series of cold winters could induce wild sheep to grow longer wool, just as if breeders had artificially selected for it. The trouble is that the scope of selection is limited; it cannot invent wholly new genetic programs. All of this would be better analyzed with improved understanding of the details of molecular biology, genetics and related science, but Fodor's interest was more philosophical. Now, sadly, he has died, November 29th, 2017.Thanks, Suzan Mazur. Her 2008 interview with Fodor is on Huffpost, updated 23 Dec 2017.
Why Pigs Don't Have Wings by Jerry Fodor, London Review of Books, 18 Oct 2007. ...Darwin's theory of evolution has two parts. One is its familiar historical account of our phylogeny; the other is the theory of natural selection, which purports to characterise the mechanism ...of all evolutionary changes in the innate properties of organisms.
What Darwin Got Wrong, reviewed 13 Jun 2010. Correspondence with Fodor, 14-29 Jun 2010.
The Cosmic Zoo: Complex Life on Many Worlds by Dirk Schulze-Makuch and William Bains, ISBN 978-3-319-62045-9, Springer International, 2017.
...Mysterious Asteroid Oumuamua Could Be a Galactic Bus Carrying Life Between Solar Systems (with 3 min. video) by Meghan Bartels, Newsweek.com, 21 Dec 2017.
01 Nov 2017: Our first notice about Oumuamua, an asteroid from beyond the solar system.
Zubrin is entirely optimistic about the opportunity for bacteria to travel and survive between star systems, even without cometary panspermia. He knows that bacteria swap genes rampantly and he conjectures that they might contain undeployed genes and enable evolutionary advances among eukaryotic species via their microbiomes. The essay is edifying and imaginative, as he freely ranges to several unorthodox speculations like our own. He gets it. Recommended.
Introduction... has background. How is it Possible? includes similar speculations.
What Is Life? sees the same the analogy: A Cell Is Like a Computer.
SIMS analyses of the oldest known assemblage of microfossils document their taxon-correlated carbon isotope compositions by J. William Schopf (pictured) et al., doi:10.1073/pnas.1718063115, online 18 Dec 2017.
...the preservation in this ~3,465 Ma deposit of such Archaea and λ-proteobacteria suggests that methane cycling methanogen-methanotroph communities were a significant component of the Paleoarchean biosphere.
Thanks, Kevin Hatfield, Stan Franklin and Martin Langford. And Bob Sweeney.
Life Before 3850 Million Years Ago? has more evidence for early life.
Science, but not fiction by Gerry Boyle, Colby Magazine, 15 Dec 2017.
If mcrobes can remain viable while dormant for millions of years, and probably forever, panspermia is entirely possible.
Bacteria: The Space Colonists has much more about their survival capabilities. Thanks, Google Alerts.
Chandra Wickramasinghe remembers Arthur Clarke, born 16 Dec 1917.
Recurring Martian Streaks: Flowing Sand, Not Water?, NASA JPL, 20 Nov 2017.
28 Sep 2015: There is water on Mars! Life on Mars! has background.
Bacteria discovery ...prompts rethink of ...search for alien life by Nick Whigham, News.com.au, 11 Dec 2017.
Scientists Find Antarctic Microbes That Live on Air Alone by Mark Mancini, HowStuffWorks, 18 Dec 2017.
Thanks, Ronnie L. McGhee. And Jim Powers. Life on Mars! has more about the positive results from Viking.
Meteorites from Mars suffer a velocity boost due to the material pileup, Chiba Institute of Technology / Tokyo Institute of Technology, 12 Dec 2017, re:
Hydrocode modeling of the spallation process during hypervelocity impacts: Implications for the ejection of Martian meteorites by Kosuke Kurosawa et al., doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2017.09.015, Icarus, Feb 2018. Thanks, Google Alerts.
Life on Mars! begins with ALH84001, a martian meteorite with lifelike fossils.
...The Dutch Synthetic Cell, interview with Suzan Mazur, HuffPost, 10 Dec 2017.
The RNA World and What Is Life? are related local webpages.
Do Viruses Exchange Genes across Superkingdoms of Life? by Shahana S. Malik et al., Frontiers in Microbiology, 31 Oct 2017.
Viruses share genes with organisms across the tree of life by Diana Yates, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 06 Dec 2017.
Earlier research from UI/U-C also relies on protein structure.
Viruses... has more about HGT. Thanks, Stan Franklin.
We discovered many virus-hallmark genes in cellular organisms those viruses are not known to infect — Arshan Nasir
Search for Life on the Red Planet by Diana Kwon, The Scientist, 01 Dec 2017. Life on Mars! has more.
Microrganisms on ISS? were also reported from Russia in May 2017. Unclear if there is new evidence.
Space dust may transport life between worlds, The University of Edinburgh (+PhysOrg.com), 20 Nov 2017.
Did life hitchhike through the Solar System? by Jake Parks, astronomy.com, 21 Nov 2017.
Are We the Aliens We Seek? by Prakash Chandra, The Wire, India, 22 Nov 2017.
Space dust collisions as a planetary escape mechanism by Arjun Berera, arXiv:1711.01895 [astro-ph.EP], 06 Nov (+Astrobiology, 01 Dec) 2017. Thanks, Stan Franklin and Google Alerts.
Ted Steele asks Berera for fuller citation for Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 23 Nov 2017.
100 kGy gamma-affected microbial communities within the ancient Arctic permafrost under simulated Martian conditions by Cheptsov, V.S., Vorobyova, E.A., Manucharova, N.A. et al., Extremophiles, Nov 2017.
Is there (frozen) life on Mars? by Alison Klesman, Astronomy.com, 09 Nov (+Discover, 15 Nov) 2017.
Thanks, Martin Langford. Bacteria... has lots about extremophiles. Life on Mars! has related information.
Powering prolonged hydrothermal activity inside Enceladus by Gaël Choblet et al., Nature Astronomy, 06 Nov 2017.
Thanks, Stan Franklin. Life on Europa, Other Moons, Other Planets? has related links.
Oxygen, made on Earth by photosynthesis, has a distinctive spectral signature. Its detection in the atmosphere of another planet would suggest that photosynthesis produced it there as well. Of course, microbial life on Earth was present for two billion years before O2 became abundant here. Other clues also matter. How to detect life on exoplanets light-years away, with coming telescopes, is the subject of a review, Signs of life by Daniel Clery, Science, 03 Nov 2017.
Life on Europa, Other Moons, Other Planets? has links about possible life elsewhere.
...first interstellar asteroid ever seen by Ken Croswell, Nature, 31 Oct 2017.
A brief visit from a red and extremely elongated interstellar asteroid by Karen J. Meech et al., Nature, 20 Nov 2017.
It Came From Beyond by Dirk Schulze-Makuch, AirSpaceMag.com, 06 Dec 2017.
Small Asteroid or Comet 'Visits' from Beyond the Solar System, Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, 26 Oct 2017.
Comets: The Delivery System has a few links about interstellar comets.
Spectroscopy and thermal modelling of the first interstellar object 1I/2017 U1 'Oumuamua by Alan Fitzsimmons et al., doi:10.1038/s41550-017-0361-4, Nature Astronomy, online 18 Dec 2017. Thanks, Stan Franklin.
22 Dec 2017: More from Nature and Newsweek.com. Thanks, Google Alerts.
29 Jun 2018: It was an interstellar comet, not an asteroid....
Methane: Fuel or Exhaust at the Emergence of Life? by Michael J. Russell and Wolfgang Nitschke, doi:10.1089/ast.2016.1599, Astrobiology, online 26 Sep 2017.
Interstellar Chemistry, under "Can The Theory Be Tested?" introduces this topic.
Special Issue "Carbonaceous Chondrites, Comets, Cosmic Dust and Life"
email from Richard Hoover with background, 19 Oct 2017.
Thanks for a comment about life on Mars, Gil Levin.
A virus carries a gene encoding ...a key regulatory enzyme in insect metamorphosis by Jun Takatsuka, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-14059-8, Scientific Reports (nature.com), online 19 Oct 2017.
Viruses... has a primer and links to many more examples.
The Origins of the RNA World, panel discussion among Doolittle, George Fox (pictured, right), Walter Gilbert and Ray Gesteland, Library of Congress, 17 Mar 2016. Thanks, William Smith.
...An Interview with Ford Doolittle, by Jane Gitschier, PLoS Genet, 07 May 2015.
Neo-Darwinism... and The RNA World are related webpages. Introns... are discussed at length by the panel.
Viruses... has a primer and related links.
Ancient hydrothermal seafloor deposits in Eridania basin on Mars by Joseph R. Michalski et al., Nature Communications, online 10 Jul 2017.
Ancient Hydrothermal Vents... Could Have Been a Cradle for Life by Matt Williams, Universe Today, 12 Oct 2017.
Life on Mars! has more about water and possible life there.
Thanks, Martin Langford.
Searching for Life on Mars Before It Is Too Late by Alberto G. Fairén et al., Astrobiology, online Sep 2017.
Life on Mars! has more about Viking.
Viruses... has a primer and related links. Thanks, Ronnie McGhee.
Astronomers Discover Traces of Methyl Chloride around Infant Stars and Nearby Comet, The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (+PhysOrg +Newswise), 02 Oct 2017.
Biomarker found in space complicates search for life on exoplanets, European Space Agency, 02 Oct 2017.
...Interstellar Dust has historical information and links. Thanks, Chandra Wickramasinghe.