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  • derhexerus
    From NewAmericanDemocrats. Chris ____________________________________ From: lhs_emf@pacbell.net Reply-to: NewAmericanDemocrats@yahoogroups.com To:
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 19, 2013
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      From NewAmericanDemocrats.


      From: lhs_emf@...
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      Sent: 8/19/2013 9:08:55 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time
      Subj: [NewAmericanDemocrats] The Origins of Directed Panspermia

      Comment: After this article was published early this year, the consensus
      about the increased number of planets which could support life in the
      universe has become accepted by science.

      This article includes a point about the prevalence of molybdenum in life's
      chemistry on earth when it is not equally prevalent on earth in
      non-organic compounds supports the thesis that panspermia is also the means by which
      life arose on earth as well.


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      _The Origins of Directed Panspermia_
      By _Christian Orlic_ () | January 9, 2013 | _16_

      _Share_ () _Email_ () _Print_


      The Earth is beaming with life and yet there is no consensus on how life
      arose or what life is. The origin of life is “one of the great unsolved
      mysteries of science” (Crick, F.Life Itself). While there is no accepted
      definition of life, most of us [humans] can easily discriminate the living from
      the non-living (IrisFry’s _Book_
      620&sr=1-1&keywords=iris+fry) is a good primer on ideas regarding the
      origins of life). Questions about the origin of life became more prevalent
      after _Pasteur_
      .html) and others showed that life did not arise _spontaneously_
      ticleService=showFullText) .
      The discovery that the raw components of life are present throughout the
      universe suggests that life could exist elsewhere, and that the origin of
      life as we know it may have depended on materials that arrived on Earth via
      inter-stellar travel. Some_scientists_
      keywords=comets+and+the+origin+of+life) have speculated that life itself
      originated elsewhere and made its way to earth.
      In 2012 a movie called _Prometheus_ (http://livepage.apple.com/) was
      released. In this stunning movie human scholars find similarities between
      archeological sites from ancient civilizations separated by centuries have drawn
      the same pictogram. The archeologists conclude that the pictogram must be
      a map, an invitation, from the “engineers” who not only designed us but
      have intervened in our affairs. The movie is set in 2093 and researchers
      decide to go and find them in a quest to further understand the origins of
      mankind. Despite its several and severe scientific _flaws_
      (http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-science-of-prometheus/) , Prometheus is an
      interesting film because it addresses that ever mysterious quest to unveil
      not only how we came to be but how life began.

      Mars Curiosity

      Life in space has been making the news, and on November 20th 2012, NPR
      reported that NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover had gathered important data._Mars_
      s-us-crazy/) holds a special place in our world. The principal Mars’
      rover investigator, John Grotzinger claimed “_This data is gonna be one for
      the history books. It’s looking really good_
      (http://www.npr.org/2012/11/20/165513016/big-news-from-mars-rover-scientists-mum-for-now) ,”. He refused to
      give any more details because his team had to confirm their findings. In
      general, this is good practice because scientists want to avoid finding
      superfluous results and correlations; however, in this case, it heightened
      Shortly thereafter NASA tried to _downplay_
      (http://www.foxnews.com/science/2012/11/29/too-soon-to-declare-life-on-mars-nasa-says/) Grotzinger’s
      statements, pointing out that it was the _mission which was historic_
      ng_mission_leader_excited_about_entire.html) rather than a specific
      finding. Despite this backtracking some speculated that _organic compounds_
      had been found, some claimed that it was _life_
      cience-laboratory-john-grotzinger) that had been _discovered_
      . On December 3rd NASA _confirmed_
      l) , Curiosity had found Organic compounds but it was uncertain whether
      they were indigenous to Mars (or had been brought by Curiosity).
      Most of the speculation had suggested that organic compounds were the “
      historical finding”. These are also important because they confirm that the_
      stuff of life_
      (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57556497/water-on-mercury-bodes-well-for-alien-life-search/) , the raw materials, are far more
      common than originally thought (as corroborated by the discovery of signs of
      water and organic molecules in mercury), or the finding of organic molecules
      in _meteorites_
      (http://1%20http/science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2001/ast20dec_1/) . Like the discovery of extremophiles which showed
      that once life got started it could be found in _unexpected places_
      (http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/sfs/index.jsp?id=life&sid=ext) ; the
      advances in the search for extraterrestrial life suggest that the stuff of life,
      and hence life, could be commonly found throughout the universe.


      (http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/SC/) Francis Crick (who co-discovered the
      structure of DNA with _James Watson_
      (http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1962/watson-bio.html) ) and_Leslie Orgel_
      (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/05/us/05orgel.html?_r=0) once proposed that life on Earth
      was the result of a_deliberate infection_
      (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0019103573901103) , designed by aliens who had purposely
      fled mother nature’s seed to a new home in the sun. Crick repeatedly
      addressed the question of the origin of life between 1971 and 1988 (I am
      currently working on a historical study of Crick and Orgel’s theory of Directed
      Panspermia and its reception).
      Crick and Orgel proposed their Directed Panspermia theory at a conference
      on Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence, organized by _Carl
      Sagan_ (http://www.carlsagan.com/) and held at the Byuraka Observatory in
      _Soviet Armenia_
      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Soviet_Socialist_Republic) in_ 1971_
      (http://www.amazon.com/Francis-Crick-Hunter-Lifes-Secrets/dp/0879697989/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357698068&sr=8-1&keywords=olby) . This
      theory which they described as an _“highly unorthodox proposal”_
      html) and _“bold speculation”_
      (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/30/us/francis-crick-co-discoverer-of-dna-dies-at-88.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm) was
      presented as a plausible scientific hypothesis. Two years after the
      conference they published _an article_
      (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0019103573901103) in Icarus on 1973.
      Crick and Orgel were careful to point out that Directed Panspermia was not
      a certainty; but rather a plausible alternative that ought to be taken
      seriously. In the_paper_
      (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0019103573901103) Crick and Orgel recognised that they “do not have any
      strong arguments of this kind, but there are two weak facts that could be
      relevant”. The 1973 paper focuses on the universality of the genetic code and the
      role that molybdenum plays in living organisms (I am likewise working on a
      history of molybdenum and the origins of life) which is more than one
      would expected given the abundance of molybdenum on the earth’s crust.

      Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel. (Circa 1993)

      Crick and Orgel used the universality of the genetic code to support the
      theory of directed panspermia because if life had originated multiple times
      or evolved from a simpler genetic code one could expect living things to
      use a slew of genetic codes. Further, if there was only one code, Crick and
      Orgel reasoned that as organisms evolved they should evolve to use the same
      codons to code for different amino acids.
      We can draw a parallel to language: while many human populations use the
      same symbols (letters), they combine them in different ways. These different
      languages use the same alphabets but different combinations of the same
      symbols to denote different objects (French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese,
      Catalan) as opposed to different codes (languages which uses different
      alphabets like Spanish and Mandarin); however, what we find is analog to a
      single universal language.
      Their most convincing argument was the importance of _molybdenum_
      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molybdenum) in organic processes and its relative
      scarcity on Earth. They had argued that living organisms should bear the
      stamp of the environment in which they originated. Organisms, Crick and Orgel
      held, would be unlikely to develop a dependency on elements that were
      extremely rare as organisms that relied on elements which were more abundant
      would be favored by selection. An organisms that was able to substitute the
      rare element for one which has similar biochemical properties but is more
      frequent would have a clear advantage.
      Crick and Orgel pointed out the “anomalous abundance of molybdenum” in
      organisms made it possible that life arose in an environment rich in
      molybdenum. The abundance of molybdenum in living organisms suggested that life
      started in a molybdenum rich environment and they found that the Earth is not
      sufficiently rich in molybdenum (this was later challenged as the amount of
      molybdenum found in the ocean is higher than in the Earth’s crust). Thus,
      they suggest that this difficulty could be resolved if life began in a
      molybdenum rich environment. Likewise, the fact that all organisms use the same
      codons for the same amino acids could be explained if life had arisen
      elsewhere and the organisms which were used to infect lifeless planets shared a
      Crick and Orgel also suggest that the universe is sufficiently _old_
      (http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/age.html) that other intelligent
      civilizations could had arisen elsewhere. One of these other intelligent civilizations
      could have built a spaceship and seeded the universe with life. One can
      easily imagine a not too distant future where humans accept that our planet
      and all that lives within it will perish. In the unlikelihood that this is
      the only planet that harbors life in the universe its demise would leave a
      lifeless universe.
      The demise of our kind is hard enough to accept but the prospect of a
      lifeless universe, a universe that could never come to know itself, a universe
      so grand and yet with no one to admire it or even dwell in it could be too
      much to bear. In order to save our kind we can envision our zealous and
      hard working descendants endeavoring to colonize other worlds (by sending
      microbes through interstellar journeys). Microorganisms are easier to transport
      and could more readily adapt to new conditions; sending larger organisms
      would be too difficult (Crick and Orgel pointed out).
      The origins of life remains an unresolved mystery. I argue that Crick and
      Orgel’s paper was meant both as a serious and plausible scientific
      alternative and as a means to criticize concurrent origins of life. Considering the
      life arose elsewhere could also free scientists studying the origin of
      life from trying to imitate the alleged conditions of a pre-biotic Earth. My
      ongoing research suggests that while Orgel abandoned Directed Panspermia,
      Crick continued to advocate for its viability and to argue in its favor. Our
      continued exploration of space will, presumably, continue to reveal the
      existence of organic compounds in space (and quite possibly life) and hence
      suggest that the universe may be beaming with life.
      Images: _Mars Curiousity_
      (http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/images/content/671125main_msl20110519_PIA14156.jpg) by NASA; _Molybdenum_
      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Molybdenum_crystaline_fragment_and_1cm3_cube.jpg) by
      Alchemist-hp at Wikimedia Commons; _Francis Crick and Leslie E Orgel_
      (http://www.fasebj.org/content/7/1/238.full.pdf) from FASEB journal.

      About the Author: Christian Orlic is currently a graduate student in
      Zoology and he is study experimental evolution at Michigan State. Christian has
      a BSc in Zoology and one in the History of Science. Christian is currently
      working on an extended history of Crick and Orgel's theory of Directed
      Panspermia and its reception by the scientific community. (I do not quite know
      what to do for an author bio). Follow on Twitter _@christian_orlic_
      (http://twitter.com/christian_orlic) .
      _More »_

      The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those
      of Scientific American.

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