Oldest fossils ever found show life on Earth began before 3.5 billion years ago

December 18, 2017, University of Wisconsin-Madison
This sample of rock was taken from the Apex Chert, a rock formation in western Australia that is among the oldest and best-preserved rock deposits in the world, in 1982 and was soon found to contain evidence of early life on Earth. A study published by UCLA and UW-Madison scientists in 2017 used sophisticated chemical analysis to confirm the microscopic structures found in the rock are indeed biological, rendering them -- at 3.5 billion years -- the oldest fossils yet found. This is the rock after analysis in the WiscSIMS Laboratory. Credit: John Valley, UW-Madison

Researchers at UCLA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have confirmed that microscopic fossils discovered in a nearly 3.5 billion-year-old piece of rock in Western Australia are the oldest fossils ever found and indeed the earliest direct evidence of life on Earth.

The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by J. William Schopf, professor of paleobiology at UCLA, and John W. Valley, professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The research relied on new technology and scientific expertise developed by researchers in the UW-Madison WiscSIMS Laboratory.

The study describes 11 microbial specimens from five separate taxa, linking their morphologies to chemical signatures that are characteristic of . Some represent now-extinct bacteria and microbes from a domain of life called Archaea, while others are similar to microbial species still found today. The findings also suggest how each may have survived on an oxygen-free planet.

The microfossils—so called because they are not evident to the naked eye—were first described in the journal Science in 1993 by Schopf and his team, which identified them based largely on the fossils' unique, cylindrical and filamentous shapes. Schopf, director of UCLA's Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life, published further supporting evidence of their biological identities in 2002.

He collected the rock in which the fossils were found in 1982 from the Apex chert deposit of Western Australia, one of the few places on the planet where geological evidence of early Earth has been preserved, largely because it has not been subjected to geological processes that would have altered it, like burial and extreme heating due to plate-tectonic activity.

But Schopf's earlier interpretations have been disputed. Critics argued they are just odd minerals that only look like biological specimens. However, Valley says, the new findings put these doubts to rest; the microfossils are indeed biological.

"I think it's settled," he says.

An example of one of the microfossils discovered in a sample of rock recovered from the Apex Chert, a rock formation in western Australia that is among the oldest and best-preserved rock deposits in the world. The fossils were first described in 1993 but a 2017 study published by UCLA and UW-Madison scientists used sophisticated chemical analysis to confirm the microscopic structures found in the rock are indeed biological, rendering them -- at 3.5 billion years -- the oldest fossils yet found. Credit: J. William Schopf, UCLA

Using a secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS) at UW-Madison called IMS 1280—one of just a handful of such instruments in the world—Valley and his team, including department geoscientists Kouki Kitajima and Michael Spicuzza, were able to separate the carbon composing each fossil into its constituent isotopes and measure their ratios.

Isotopes are different versions of the same chemical element that vary in their masses. Different organic substances—whether in rock, microbe or animal—contain characteristic ratios of their stable carbon isotopes.

Using SIMS, Valley's team was able to tease apart the carbon-12 from the carbon-13 within each fossil and measure the ratio of the two compared to a known carbon isotope standard and a fossil-less section of the rock in which they were found.

"The differences in carbon isotope ratios correlate with their shapes," Valley says. "If they're not biological there is no reason for such a correlation. Their C-13-to-C-12 ratios are characteristic of biology and metabolic function."

Based on this information, the researchers were also able to assign identities and likely physiological behaviors to the fossils locked inside the rock, Valley says. The results show that "these are a primitive, but diverse group of organisms," says Schopf.

The team identified a complex group of microbes: phototrophic bacteria that would have relied on the sun to produce energy, Archaea that produced methane, and gammaproteobacteria that consumed methane, a gas believed to be an important constituent of Earth's early atmosphere before oxygen was present.

It took Valley's team nearly 10 years to develop the processes to accurately analyze the microfossils—fossils this old and rare have never been subjected to SIMS analysis before. The study builds on earlier achievements at WiscSIMS to modify the SIMS instrument, to develop protocols for sample preparation and analysis, and to calibrate necessary standards to match as closely as possible the hydrocarbon content to the samples of interest.

The Apex Chert, a rock formation in western Australia that is among the oldest and best-preserved rock deposits in the world. In 1982, at the site pictured here, a team of geologists sampled rock that was ultimately found to contain microfossils of the oldest life yet described on Earth. Pictured are UW-Madison geoscience researchers on a field trip to the site in 2010. Credit: John Valley, UW-Madison

In preparation for SIMS analysis, the team needed to painstakingly grind the original sample down as slowly as possible to expose the delicate fossils themselves—all suspended at different levels within the rock and encased in a hard layer of quartz—without actually destroying them. Spicuzza describes making countless trips up and down the stairs in the department as geoscience technician Brian Hess ground and polished each microfossil in the sample, one micrometer at a time.

Each microfossil is about 10 micrometers wide; eight of them could fit along the width of a human hair.

Valley and Schopf are part of the Wisconsin Astrobiology Research Consortium, funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, which exists to study and understand the origins, the future and the nature of life on Earth and throughout the universe.

Studies such as this one, Schopf says, indicate life could be common throughout the universe. But importantly, here on Earth, because several different types of microbes were shown to be already present by 3.5 billion years ago, it tells us that "life had to have begun substantially earlier—nobody knows how much earlier—and confirms it is not difficult for primitive life to form and to evolve into more advanced microorganisms," says Schopf.

Earlier studies by Valley and his team, dating to 2001, have shown that liquid water oceans existed on Earth as early as 4.3 billion years ago, more than 800 million years before the fossils of the present study would have been alive, and just 250 million years after the Earth formed.

"We have no direct evidence that life existed 4.3 billion years ago but there is no reason why it couldn't have," says Valley. "This is something we all would like to find out."

UW-Madison has a legacy of pushing back the accepted dates of early life on Earth. In 1953, the late Stanley Tyler, a geologist at the university who passed away in 1963 at the age of 57, was the first person to discover microfossils in Precambrian rocks. This pushed the origins of life back more than a billion years, from 540 million to 1.8 billion years ago.

"People are really interested in when life on Earth first emerged," Valley says. "This study was 10 times more time-consuming and more difficult than I first imagined, but it came to fruition because of many dedicated people who have been excited about this since day one ... I think a lot more microfossil analyses will be made on samples of Earth and possibly from other planetary bodies."

Explore further: Life on Earth may date back 3.95 bn years: study

More information: J. William Schopf el al., "SIMS analyses of the oldest known assemblage of microfossils document their taxon-correlated carbon isotope compositions," PNAS (2017). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1718063115

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jljenkins
4.4 / 5 (14) Dec 18, 2017
It seems many times that the failure of cretins like young earthers and most conspiracy kooks is a real inability to imagine scale. They're always wittering on about how nothing so complex as complex mammals could have happened due purely to survival pressure, but this study really demonstrates, if correct, the time scales involved. It took a looooooooong time to get to Cambrian life even. And if there's one think our tech should teach us is that progress is not linear. Once you get going, things change faster. That point was really brought home with the "flat earth lady" that lined everything up along some NJ beach and found no curvature. Scale. The conspiracy nutters just don't get it. Except they think that their armchair musings are more accurate than computations. Definitely burning the ignorance stick from both ends!
Catamok
4.7 / 5 (3) Dec 18, 2017
Not news. It's interesting, but not news. Previous fossil evidence from Australia dating life back to 3.5 bya, with evidence published over the last 12 years, first back in 2005. Evidence of biogenic graphite discovered in 3.7 billion-year-old metasedimentary rocks in southwestern Greenland. Just two years ago, evidence of the remains of biogenic material found in West Australia dating to 4.1 bya. And just earlier this year, Leeds published their findings of "fossilized microorganisms ... possibly 4,280 million years old in ferruginous sedimentary rocks ... from the Nuvvuagittuq belt in Quebec."
RobertKarlStonjek
5 / 5 (6) Dec 18, 2017
Unlike the other pristine planets in our solar system, Earth became mouldy right from the get-go...
mackita
2.2 / 5 (5) Dec 18, 2017
These observations could support the panspermia hypothesis, for example in form of viruses raining from sky into seas. After all, the Earth isn't the first planet in the Milky Way galaxy, which could form there and the body of indicia, that the Solar system emerged outside the Milky Way is also growing. Maybe the past of terrestrial life is way more complex and ancient, than it looks at the first sight,
ddaye
4.7 / 5 (6) Dec 18, 2017
These observations could support the panspermia hypothesis

I can't help thinking that the panspermia hypothesis is somehow self-cancelling. I'm just a layman but my question is that if planets are so fertile that life can spread through a stellar system or between them, then why can't planets be so fertile as to produce life spontaneously? I think domestic origin is the simpler explanation.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (6) Dec 18, 2017
Viruses are extremely specialized and can only work where their target cells are present. They're not self-sufficient like living cells. They neither eat nor excrete; they are inanimate until they encounter their target cell.

The chance of a random virus being able to replicate in a biosphere it did not evolve in is minuscule to say the least.
Whydening Gyre
2 / 5 (2) Dec 19, 2017
Viruses are extremely specialized and can only work where their target cells are present. They're not self-sufficient like living cells. They neither eat nor excrete; they are inanimate until they encounter their target cell.

The chance of a random virus being able to replicate in a biosphere it did not evolve in is minuscule to say the least.

DS,
As the frequency of new flu shots shows, virus' are an adaptable lot. And they can hang around long enough to find something to adapt to. Most assuredly it was a time a great and frequent change, so - don't count 'em out...:-)
And altho I don't personally subscribe to the panspermia thing, I wouldn't doubt that viruses were some of the very first organisms evolving here in our own biosphere...
Urgelt
5 / 5 (6) Dec 19, 2017
WG, you're missing DS's point utterly.

Viruses adapt *in the presence of targeted cells.* They have no ability to reproduce by themselves, and so they cannot adapt to any environment by themselves.

Viruses are parasitic. Their genomes are stripped down to the point where they don't encode *any* of the traits necessary for self-reproduction and adaptation to environments on their own. Without reproduction, that's all she wrote. There is no adaptation. It wouldn't matter if quadrillions of viruses rained down on the early Earth; not a single one of them could have started a biosphere.

The panspermia hypothesis relies entirely on bacterial contamination reaching Earth in cometary materials. The alternative, self-assembling bacteria formed from local materials, also requires bacteria to appear first. At that point, you can get parasitism and the evolution of viruses, but not before.

EnricM
5 / 5 (3) Dec 19, 2017

As the frequency of new flu shots shows, virus' are an adaptable lot. And they can hang around long enough to find something to adapt to. Most assuredly it was a time a great and frequent change, so - don't count 'em


From what I have read viruses (or is it virii?) would have been a relatively late arrival and there doesn't seem to be a need for them to explain anything up until the eucariotes started forming more complex organisms.

dfjohnsonphd
not rated yet Dec 19, 2017
Regarding viruses, the earliest life forms on earth likely did not rely on protein in their genesis and evolution. Their internal libraries and mechanisms were composed of polynucleic acids that provided both the code, and the mechanisms, to drive the reactions of life. Protein did not appear until later, as the primitive life forms evolved slowly before the jump to the current form of all life, which does rely on protein, big time.

Viruses are likely renegade assemblies of DNA and protein and evolved from cellular mechanisms that employed such assemblies. A classic example of such a mechanism is the ribosome, used to translate the code of mRNA (transcribed from DNA) into protein. A ribosome is very much like a virus - it is an aggregate of protein and polynucleotides, vital to all life on earth.

It is not rational to believe that viruses evolved on their own, but rather evolved from existing assemblies after the central dogma of current life developed : DNA -> RNA -> protein.
Zzzzzzzz
not rated yet Dec 20, 2017
Many data points are beginning to show that life will develop in its basic forms in conditions previously deemed impossible. And once present, is difficult if not impossible to eradicate. This indicates that life is present everywhere matter has clumped in together in the universe.
dfjohnsonphd
1 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2017
Many data points, in many experiments, have suggested many things that were wrong. The origin of life is an extremely complex event requiring precise environmental conditions. It will be present throughout the universe, but far from common. Thought experiments are the only way to appreciate this, and you better know the details before you get started. The devil is surely in the details on this one.

Origins in a salty ocean on Europa, etc? Not likely. High salt content would disrupt many sensitive reactions, preventing even the most primitive life to arise. Extremely low temperature even with liquid water would render reactions extremely slow, again preventing this near miracle to occur.

Sad to say it, but the origin and continuation of life anywhere will require a vary narrow range of conditions. Most people just don't understand the complexity of it all. Studying the origin of life is so problematic it makes figuring out the Big Bang look like a high school science project.
gkam
2 / 5 (4) Dec 20, 2017
The bodies of Adam and Eve?
Urgelt
5 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2017
dfj wrote, "Sad to say it, but the origin and continuation of life anywhere will require a vary narrow range of conditions."

Your statement requires correction: "Sad to say it, but the origin and continuation of life *as we know it* will require a very narrow range of conditions."

What we know is life on Earth, which exists within a narrow range of conditions, as compared to the range of conditions existing within the universe. What we do not know is whether life as we know it is the only kind of life that is possible.

Europa's oceans may be salty. That *might* prevent life possessing biochemistry familiar to us from evolving there. But we really, really can't rule out that life exists there unless we go look for it. And that goes for all of the other worlds and worldlets in the solar system with complex chemistries, like Titan. Or even Pluto.

Certainty, in the absence of even looking closely, is absurd.
mackita
1 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2017
I can't help thinking that the panspermia hypothesis is somehow self-cancelling. I'm just a layman but my question is that if planets are so fertile that life can spread through a stellar system or between them, then why can't planets be so fertile as to produce life spontaneously? I think domestic origin is the simpler explanation
Both options could be possible at the same moment. But I think, similarly to observations of distant but mature galaxies in more and more early Universe the findings or older and older traces of life would gradually posit a stress to spontaneous life formation theory.
Origins in a salty ocean on Europa, etc? Not likely.
Europa's subsurface ocean is supposed to be strongly acidic.
The chance of a random virus being able to replicate in a biosphere it did not evolve in is minuscule to say the least
The prions can replicate without any host and viruses can replicate in vitro too.
Urgelt
4 / 5 (4) Dec 20, 2017
mackita wrote, "... prions can replicate without any host and viruses can replicate in vitro too."

Highly misleading statement. The demonstrated replication of viruses in vitro requires the presence of proteins specific to the virus' reproductive needs and originating in living cells. You can't just throw viruses into agar and expect anything to happen. Same for prions.

"...the findings or (sic) older and older traces of life would gradually posit a stress to spontaneous life formation theory."

Wishful thinking from a panspermia advocate? Alas for you, the oldest rocks we can examine fall well short of the time period liquid oceans appeared. The local origination hypothesis is under no stress whatsoever from the investigation of accessible rocks.
Zzzzzzzz
5 / 5 (1) Dec 20, 2017
dfj wrote, "Sad to say it, but the origin and continuation of life anywhere will require a vary narrow range of conditions."

Your statement requires correction: "Sad to say it, but the origin and continuation of life *as we know it* will require a very narrow range of conditions."

What we know is life on Earth, which exists within a narrow range of conditions, as compared to the range of conditions existing within the universe. What we do not know is whether life as we know it is the only kind of life that is possible.

Europa's oceans may be salty. That *might* prevent life possessing biochemistry familiar to us from evolving there. But we really, really can't rule out that life exists there unless we go look for it. And that goes for all of the other worlds and worldlets in the solar system with complex chemistries, like Titan. Or even Pluto.

Certainty, in the absence of even looking closely, is absurd.

dfj sounds very 19th century......
mackita
1 / 5 (2) Dec 20, 2017
/* demonstrated replication of viruses in vitro requires the presence of proteins specific to the virus' reproductive needs and originating in living cells. You can't just throw viruses into agar and expect anything to happen. Same for prions. */
This statement contradict the well-known fact that several viruses, including the mammalian poliovirus, can replicate in a cell-free system. Therefore exactly this may happens with viruses on agar soaked with these proteins. Existing viruses are already highly specialized parasites or even symbions like mitochondria. But in distant pasts they could live separately like more complex organism. Their simplicity as we know today may be product of their evolution in similar way, like for another symbions and parasites. We know already about giant viruses, which resemble bacteria and contain many unique genes not found in other life forms. Maybe we should look for their origin right there.
mackita
1 / 5 (2) Dec 20, 2017
Regarding the prions, we also have many examples of their activation and propagation outside the cell environment. You should study more sources than just schematic and obsolete textbooks or popsci articles.
Urgelt
3 / 5 (2) Dec 20, 2017
'Cell-free' does not mean 'anywhere.' It only means that if the virus finds exactly the proteins it needs to reproduce itself, it can reproduce itself. Those proteins are manufactured by cells. You can take the proteins out of cells and hand them to the virus, and the virus is okay with that. But the virus has no ability to reproduce on its own without cell-produced proteins.

A virus has a stripped-down genome, as parasites often do. But it's not clear that they are descended from living organisms in the way you are imagining. They *may* have been. Or they may not.

An alternative hypothesis, which hasn't been ruled out, is that viruses have a more prionic history: they are descended from dead cell fragments which happened to have coded for two properties: one, they could gain entry into a complimentary cell, and two, they could reproduce themselves once inside from available chemicals.

Most fragments would fail, of course. But you don't need many successes.
Urgelt
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2017
It's funny to hear you declare advanced knowledge of prions, mackita, when the science of biology is busy scratching its head and trying to figure out whether natural selection even applies to them.

Ice crystals propagate themselves, too, under suitable conditions. Get the temperature range right, provide the raw materials required, and you get more of them. But that doesn't mean that they're alive.
dfjohnsonphd
not rated yet Dec 21, 2017
"Life as we know it" is the only life that is likely to exist based on a careful consideration of chemistry, which of course establishes the fundamental laws by which life can arise. Life of any kind (without fantasy) is purely based on chemical reactions and interactions. Polymers are primary in their genesis and evolution. Careful consideration leaves only carbon with the flexibility to provide highly variable polymeric structures with stability for the requirements of life, and also provide the enormous flexibility for changes in the structure of complex biomolecules.

Without question, there is only one element that provides these requirements. Carbon. An alternate pathway may be possible, but probability overwhelmingly favors carbon, and indeed in the very same manner in how we were formed and survive. Reactions of carbon polymers in an aqueous solution provides the greatest "creativity" for primordial seas to cook it all up. Other notions are simply too, well, simple!
Urgelt
1 / 5 (1) Dec 21, 2017
dfj, carbon is great. Carbon makes it all much easier.

That doesn't mean that alternative chemistries aren't possible.

There are literally an infinite number of possible chemistries that might lead to self-replication and natural selection. It's not at all clear that carbon-based life in the presence of liquid water encompasses all of them.

We are at the beginning of our journey of discovery about the possibilities, not the end. Hubris is perhaps unjustified.
mackita
not rated yet Dec 21, 2017
It's funny to hear you declare advanced knowledge of prions, mackita, when the science of biology is busy scratching its head and trying to figure out whether natural selection even applies to them. Ice crystals propagate themselves, too, under suitable conditions. Get the temperature range right, provide the raw materials required, and you get more of them. But that doesn't mean that they're alive.
Being alive and subject of natural selection are two different things. Just the proponents of spontaneous life formation should know something about it.
Urgelt
3 / 5 (2) Dec 21, 2017
mackita blurted, "Being alive and subject of natural selection are two different things."

Maybe. We have no examples, however, of 'being alive' without being subject to natural selection. None whatsoever. (A consensus hasn't yet formed regarding prions.)

You are declaring facts where there is only speculation and hypotheses.
dfjohnsonphd
not rated yet Dec 22, 2017
You claim "There are literally an infinite number of possible chemistries that might lead to self-replication and natural selection."

If this is true, It should be a snap for you to describe five of them, in brief.

We're waiting.....................
Urgelt
3 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2017
Oh, sure, it ought to be easy to invent five entirely functional forms of life. I'll do that while I brew myself a cup of coffee.

While you wait, have a look at the results of a 2012 conference hosted by Emory University on this very subject:

http://alternativ...chem.pdf

Actual scientists are not as quick as you are to dismiss alternative life chemistries, and why should they? Infinities happen to be large. The possible combinations available to chemistry is indeed infinite. Even proteins, all by themselves, constitute an infinity. There is literally no end to the possibilities.

You like to regard life chemistries as constrained and our unfamiliarity with alternative life chemistries as evidence that they can't exist. That's just incredibly close-minded, not to mention cognitively deficient.
mackita
not rated yet Dec 22, 2017
we have no examples, however, of 'being alive' without being subject to natural selection. None whatsoever.
Once you believe in spontaneous formation of life, the you should find the example of physical system, which gets subject of natural selection. Or - indeed - you can refrain to panspermia hypothesis.
dfjohnsonphd
not rated yet Dec 22, 2017
Your inability to suggest the slightest means for even one alternate life form might take speaks volumes.

There is a good place for those "no end to the possibilities" in life formation, and all other aspects of the natural world like you suggest. Its called "science fiction". While you may dream up an infinite variety of solutions to any physical event(s), very few in reality fit the bill, as reasonable and/or rational, and finally, natural.There is no fooling Mother Nature......

Happy trails!
Urgelt
3 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2017
"Once you believe in spontaneous formation of life, the you should find the example of physical system, which gets subject of natural selection."

Incoherence this bad requires treatment.
Urgelt
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2017
"Your inability to suggest the slightest means for even one alternate life form might take speaks volumes."

We can't even meet your requirement for the single life chemistry we know about. Hint: it's not simple. It's very, very complicated, and we are still struggling to comprehend how it works.

But scientists are trying to imagine how other chemistries might exist, which you will know if you will bother to read the PDF I linked for you.
humy
5 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2017

mackita blurted, "Being alive and subject of natural selection are two different things."

We have no examples, however, of 'being alive' without being subject to natural selection.
Urgelt

But we do have examples of something not being alive and yet being exposed to natural selection therefore mackita is correct; Being alive and subject of natural selection are two different things.
Haven't your heard of viruses?
Although the issue is greatly complicated by some disagreements about what the definition of 'life' should be, Most biologists say viruses are not true life forms and yet they clearly evolve via natural selection. So viruses would be an apparent example showing how being alive and subject of natural selection are two different things. You thus appear to be in error.
mackita
not rated yet Dec 22, 2017
I myself have my own theory of spontaneous life formation utilizing locomotion of coacervate micelles and I even think, that RNA and homochirality are the remnant of this mechanism. The oil droplets of hydrocarbons, amines and sugars formed by abiogenetic processes have tendency to collect surfactants from surface, to grow and divide spontaneously. During this they share their surface structures, which get gradually optimized by repeating of this process in fast pace. But the same process could also happen also on much older planets scattered by explosions of supernova so that the panspermia model remains in the game. Both mechanisms could actually cooperate in distant past at the Earth.
Urgelt
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2017
"So viruses would be an apparent example showing how being alive and subject of natural selection are two different things," wrote humy. "You thus appear to be in error."

But humy also admits "...some disagreements about what the definition of life should be..."

In other words, humy calls me in error, not because of scientific evidence but because of his preferred definition of a term, 'life.'

humy also writes, "Most biologists say viruses are not true life forms..."

Actually, biologists haven't formed a consensus around that view. In fact, biologists lack a firm consensus about how to define 'life.' How the word 'true' figures in is anyone's guess. Are there false life forms?

What we do know about viruses is that they are parasitical; they encode genomes using the same four base pairs as everything else we know of as 'life;' and they are subject to natural selection. The case for excluding them from being considered 'life' is anything but a slam-dunk.
Urgelt
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 22, 2017
mackita wrote, "I myself have my own theory of spontaneous life formation utilizing..."

Crank alert.

Publish in a peer-reviewed journal and link it. Or just quit with the nonsense. Science is not a rambling stream of word associations produced in isolation. It's collaborative, it advances through the efforts of well-trained peers, it thrives on experimentation and data, and cranks are happily excluded entirely.
mackita
not rated yet Dec 22, 2017
The parasites often looks simpler, specialized and they're also not able of independent life - in this sense the prions and viruses don't differ from leeches so much. What is important is, they're already able of independent evolution within their host environment. Most of parasites are also evolved from independently living organisms, which were more complex.
Science is not a rambling stream of word associations produced in isolation. It's collaborative, it advances through the efforts of well-trained peers, it thrives on experimentation and data, and cranks are happily excluded entirely.
Let me decide where, when and how I'll present my ideas at public. The official science has no informational monopoly. I'm not taking any money from tax payers so I'm not obliqued by any form of mainstream science.
Or just quit with the nonsense.
You should prove first, it's a nonsense, i.e. logic violating stuff. I'd say you have problem with logic instead, as @humy did recognize above.
mackita
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2017
BTW Crackpots also behave like the viruses of mainstream scientific community. Their ideas are simpler, but more flexible and capable of much faster evolution. Yes and they're handled like a disease by mainstream.. ;-) But they still exist and they're living well from a good reason.
The viruses are often considered as a remnant of former primitive living forms (most crackpots enjoy utilizing the historical ideas and bringing them back) - but in fact they could also advance evolution by testing various mutations in the wild, which are subsequently integrated into a genome of higher species. And due to predator-prey adaptation of both crackpots both their mainstream they also increase the speed of evolution of the rest. Many areas of breakthrough science (cold fusion, overunity, room temperature superconductivity or antigravity) are currently held by no one than just by "crackpots". Crackpots can also heal the mainstream from its systematical diseases and frauds like the bacteriophages.
mackita
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2017
I'm particularly specialized to topics, which keep their panspermia traits, i.e. the concepts which resonated in distant past in natural philosophy through social awareness before mainstream science even invented and started to research them systematically (vedian myths like aether/prana, astronomy and cosmology). Similarly to pre-BigBang cosmology and pre-terrestrial life evolution - I can see another physical analogies of this similarity.
Urgelt
5 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2017
mackita, that isn't how science proceeds.

Thank goodness.

Crankery exists. But it's not thriving because of its contributions to science. It's thriving in spite of its utter lack of contributions to science.
mackita
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2017
mackita
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2017
At any case, the panspermia hypothesis isn't invention of crackpots only, the famous scientists like Fred Hoyle (the father of nucleosynthesis) supported it too. Not accidentally Hoyle was also one of loudest opponent of creationism and Big Bang cosmology. Now, when Big Bang is on decline in favor of cyclical and multiverse models, we should also judge insights regarding panspermia more cautiously. Hoyle for example said Earth was being constantly bombarded by microbes from outer space and that these were responsible for outbreaks of flu and other illnesses. Typically for mainstream science attitude, the empirical evidence provided by Hoyle and others was ignored, it was never seriously replicated and tested. And this is just the route to the hell for every scientific method based on falsification of hypothesis.
mackita
1 / 5 (1) Dec 23, 2017
See for example Did Russian Cosmonauts Find Alien Bacteria Outside the ISS? Before some time I myself noted strange object protruding the surface of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, which is resembling plant or fungus, trying to stay upright on the inclined surface. Could it host primitive plants, after then?
humy
not rated yet Dec 25, 2017
"So viruses would be an apparent example showing how being alive and subject of natural selection are two different things," wrote humy. "You thus appear to be in error."

But humy also admits "...some disagreements about what the definition of life should be..."

In other words, humy calls me in error, not because of scientific evidence but because of his preferred definition of a term, 'life.'

Nope, I say you are in error because of the evidence that viruses, considered my many to be non-living, evolved. I see you didn't deny they are non-living thus I assume you can conceive them as none-living despite evolving thus clearly showing mackita is correct in asserting the distinction in meaning between the two. The mere fact that you can conceive of something credibly being both non-living and evolving (whether such a thing actually exists is irrelevant to meaning) shows even you make a distinction between the two thus they don't mean the same thing.
humy
not rated yet Dec 25, 2017
See for example http://bigthink.c...-the-iss protruding the surface of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, which is resembling plant or fungus, trying to stay upright on the inclined surface. Could it host primitive plants, after then?

what? Plants grew on the surface there in those freezing and nearly always dark conditions and directly exposed to the vacuum of space where liquid water cannot exist because it will either instantly boil or freeze?
That's surely biologically impossible.
The plant cells there cannot contain liquid water and there is no readily available alternative solvent for the plant cells there.
mackita
not rated yet Dec 25, 2017
@humy: I just noted an artifact at this official photo of Rosetta mission. It apparently cast shadow (so it's not chip or cosmic ray artifact or something similar) and it resembles plant or fungus trying to stand upright on inclined surface because of gravitropism. The end of "plant" stem looks thicker, like this one holding succulent leaves, inflorescence or sporangium. It definitely looks quite unnaturally in the comet environment. But the comet contains lotta organic material and even water, which gets evaporated in cometary jets - so that once illuminated by Sun, the plants could transpire there in theory.
Urgelt
not rated yet Dec 25, 2017
humy wrote, "The mere fact that you can conceive of something credibly being both non-living and evolving (whether such a thing actually exists is irrelevant to meaning) shows even you make a distinction between the two thus they don't mean the same thing."

Nope. Viruses are - obviously - a part of the web of life on Earth. They are not - obviously - independent of that life. They are subject to natural selection and adaptation - as is all life. They can be rendered nonfunctional - the word 'dead virus' isn't meaningless.

And so I do *not* draw the distinction you accuse me of drawing.

But who cares? I'm not a biologist. We lose nothing by letting biologists have the last say.

mackita
not rated yet Dec 26, 2017
Oldest algae fossils suggest when photosynthesis began 1.25 billion years ago - but what started the appearance of oxygen in the atmosphere before 2.400 billion years after then?
mackita
not rated yet Jan 22, 2018

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