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NASA is investing more in pre-biotic chemistry

To better support the broad, interdisciplinary field of astrobiology – the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe – NASA is announcing a new programmatic infrastructure for the Astrobiology Program.
pre-biotic chemistry/NASA Astrobiology

Georgia Tech biochemist Loren Williams was recently named co-leader of NASA’s new consortium to tackle origin of life:

Did life on Earth originate in Darwin’s warm little pond, on a sunbaked shore, or where hot waters vent into the deep ocean? And could a similar emergence have played out on other bodies in our solar system or planets far beyond? These questions lie at the center of research in NASA’s new Prebiotic Chemistry and Early Earth Environments (PCE3) Consortium.

One of five cross-divisional research coordination networks with the NASA Astrobiology Program, PCE3 aims to identify planetary conditions that might give rise to life’s chemistry. One goal of PCE3 is to guide future NASA missions targeting discovery of habitable worlds. Aaron Gronstaal, “New NASA Research Consortium To Tackle Life’s Origins” at Program News

Suzan Mazur has reproduced her 2013 interview with him, which gives a sense of where the field was a decade to half-decade ago, which gives some background to what might happen now:

January 23, 2013, Princeton

Suzan Mazur: Have we seen significant developments in the RNA world in recent years?

Loren Williams: The RNA World is evolving. If you look at how people presented it in the past compared to now, there have been significant changes. The 1986 paper by Wally Gilbert describes a pure RNA world, where you have RNA running all of metabolism and information transduction. It’s all RNA, all the time, and nothing else. I don’t think many people accept that as reasonable anymore. In that sense the original RNA World model is dead.

But what has happened is that people have adapted and modified the model. There are now dirty RNA World models in which RNA collaborates with other molecules. Most people now are assuming that amino acids, peptides and a variety of other molecules were involved along with RNA. … Suzan Mazur, “Loren Williams—Co-leader of NASA’s New Prebiotic Chemistry & Early Earth Consortium” at Oscillations

Origin of Life Circus

Suzan Mazur is the author of The Origin of Life Circus and several other books, including The Paradigm Shifters: Overthrowing ‘the Hegemony of the Culture of Darwin’ and Darwin Overthrown: Hello Mechanobiology (about which more later).

See also: Ribosome transnational system dates back to earliest Earth (cf. Loren Williams)

Suzan Mazur’s New Book Details How Mechanobiology Dooms Darwin


Welcome to RNA World: The five-star hotel of origin-of-life theories

As to:
Did life on Earth originate in Darwin’s warm little pond, on a sunbaked shore, or where hot waters vent into the deep ocean? And could a similar emergence have played out on other bodies in our solar system or planets far beyond?
"Remarkably, the biosynthetic routes needed to make the key molecular component of anoxygenic photosynthesis are more complex than the pathways that produce the corresponding component required for the oxygenic form."; Early Life Remains Complex By Fazale R. Rana (FACTS for FAITH Issue 7, 2001) Evolutionary biology: Out of thin air John F. Allen & William Martin: The measure of the problem is here: “Oxygenetic photosynthesis involves about 100 proteins that are highly ordered within the photosynthetic membranes of the cell." http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v445/n7128/full/445610a.html Calculations of life beginning through unguided, natural, random events. http://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t2508-calculations-of-life-beginning-through-unguided-natural-random-events The Prebiotic Soup - UC San Diego Excerpt: A pile of bricks does not make a cathedral, and a collection of organic molecules does not make a living cell. There is presently no such thing as a “primitive” cell. There is no experiment that produces anything resembling living things. Imagine a junk yard with bits and pieces of metal of various shapes. Then think of a modern automobile with GPS and onboard computer, and a voice telling you to fasten your seat belt. That is roughly the distance between the organic matter seen in experiments simulating early-Earth conditions and the life forms now extant. http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/virtualmuseum/PrebioticSoup.shtml
I wonder why they only included a warm little pond and volcanic vents on the ocean floor in their list of possibilities for the OOL and did not include God as at least a possibility in their list of options for OOL??
"There are only two possible explanations as to how life arose. Spontaneous generation arising to evolution or a supernatural creative act of God. . . . There is no other possibility. Spontaneous generation was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others, but that just leaves us with only one other possibility. . . that life came as a supernatural act of creation by God, but I can’t accept that philosophy because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation leading to evolution." - George Wald (AD 1906 – 1997/ professed atheist/ 1967 Nobel Physiology or Medicine Prize).
Hmmm, well that explains why atheists refuse to even ask the question about God possibly creating life. Regardless, despite the fact that atheists refuse to even consider the possibility of God creating life in this universe, the fact of the matter is that we have far more evidence supporting the fact that God, Who is held to be beyond space and time, (i.e. Who is held to be 'non-local'), created all life on earth than we have evidence that a naturalistic OOL is even remotely feasible.
Assessing the "Algorithmic Origin of Life" (Paul Davies' Recent Paper) - December 18, 2012 Excerpt: It is the functionality of the expressed RNAs and proteins that is biologically important. Functionality, however, is not a local property of a molecule. It is defined only relationally, in a global context, which includes networks of relations among many sub-elements,, One is therefore left to conclude that the most important features of biological information (i.e. functionality) are decisively nonlocal. Biologically functional information is therefore not an additional quality, like electric charge, painted onto matter and passed on like a token. It is of course instantiated in biochemical structures, but one cannot point to any specific structure in isolation and say "Aha! Biological information is here!",,, ,,,For example, mechanical stresses on a cell may affect gene expression. Mechanotransduction, electrical transduction and chemical signal transduction -- all well-studied biological processes -- constitute examples of what philosophers term "top-down causation", where the system as a whole exerts causal control over a subsystem (e.g. a gene) via a set of time-dependent constraints. - per ENV Uncovering Quantum Secret in Photosynthesis - June 20, 2013 Excerpt: Photosynthetic organisms, such as plants and some bacteria, have mastered this process: In less than a couple of trillionths of a second, 95 percent of the sunlight they absorb is whisked away to drive the metabolic reactions that provide them with energy. The efficiency of photovoltaic cells currently on the market is around 20 percent.,,, Van Hulst and his group have evaluated the energy transport pathways of separate individual but chemically identical, antenna proteins, and have shown that each protein uses a distinct pathway. The most surprising discovery was that the transport paths within single proteins can vary over time due to changes in the environmental conditions, apparently adapting for optimal efficiency. "These results show that coherence, a genuine quantum effect of superposition of states, is responsible for maintaining high levels of transport efficiency in biological systems, even while they adapt their energy transport pathways due to environmental influences" says van Hulst. - per science daily Coherence and nonlocality Usually quantum nonlocality is discussed in terms of correlated multiparticle systems such as those discussed by John Bell in his famous 1964 theorem and then later clarified by GHZ, David Mermin and others. But more striking and significant is the qualitative nonlocal phenomena associated with coherent states,,,, In fact, theoretically these two kinds of nonlocality have precisely the same basis: the unmeasured singlet state uncovered by EPR is a coherent 'pure state' despite its spacial extension, and when the parts are realized in a measurement (a la Bell) this coherence is harvested or cashed in. Whereas the "EPR" connections are ephemeral and fragile, some forms of nonlocal coherence are robust. http://www.nonlocal.com/hbar/nonlocalcoherence.html
At the 21:00 minute mark of the following video, Dr Suarez explains why photosynthesis needs a 'non-local', beyond space and time, cause to explain its effect:
Nonlocality of Photosynthesis - Antoine Suarez - video - 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhMrrmlTXl4&feature=player_detailpage#t=1268s
Advances in "non-local' Quantum biology simply undermine the entire reductive materialistic framework that undergirds Darwinian thinking regarding the OOL (as well as all life in general):
Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology - video https://youtu.be/LHdD2Am1g5Y
Moreover, the environmental conditions necessary for 'non-local' photosynthesis to even occur are found to be extremely fine-tuned. And I would hold to even be 'miraculous' in their parameters.
Fine tuning of Light, Atmosphere, and Water to Photosynthesis (etc..) - video (2016) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIwZqDkrj9I
Of supplemental note: The Origin of Life is just one insurmountable problem for atheists to try to overcome. Another insurmountable problem for atheists to try to overcome, in order to give a robust explanation to the question of where life came from, is the 'Hard Problem of Consciousness'. After all without man, via his conscious mind, fretting over the existential angst of whether or not any of our lives have any true meaning, purpose, or value, the question of the OOL could not even be asked by us. i.e. Only conscious minds can even care to ask the question of 'From whence did my life come from?' Yet the 'Hard problem of Consciousness' is even more difficult of a problem for atheists to answer than the OOL problem is turning out to be for them. Paul Davies holds that both 'hard' problems are in the same ballpark of being irresolvable:
The “Hard Problem” of Life - Sara Imari Walker and Paul C.W. Davies - June 23, 2016 Excerpt:. In the case of consciousness, it seems evident that certain aspects will ultimately defy reductionist explanation, the most important being the phenomenon of qualia – roughly speaking our subjective experience as observers. It is a priori far from obvious why we should have experiences such as the sensation of the smell of coffee or the blueness of the sky. Subjective experience isn’t necessary for the evolution of intelligence (we could for example be zombies in the philosophical sense and appear to function just as well from the outside with nothing going on inside). Even if we do succeed in eventually uncovering a complete mechanistic understanding of the wiring and firing of every neuron in the brain, it might tell us nothing about thoughts, feelings and what it is like to experience something. Our phenomenal experiences are the only aspect of consciousness that appears as though it cannot, even in principle, be reduced to known physical principles. This led Chalmers to identify pinpointing an explanation for our subjective experience as the “hard problem of consciousness” [5]. The corresponding “easy problems” (in practice not so easy) are associated with mapping the neural correlates of various experiences. By focusing attention on the problem of subjective experience, Chalmers highlighted the truly inexplicable aspect of consciousness, based on our current understanding. ,,,in the same way that Chalmers identified qualia as central to the hard problem of consciousness. To that end we propose that the hard problem of life is the problem of how ‘information’ can affect the world. In this essay we motivate both why the problem of information is central to explaining life and why it is hard, that is, why we suspect that a full resolution of the hard problem will not ultimately be reducible to known physical principles.,,, Conclusions: There are many difficult open problems in understanding the origin of life – such as the ‘tar paradox’ [2] and the fact that prebiotic chemistry is just plain hard to do. These problems differ qualitatively from the ‘hard problem of life’ as identified here. Most open problems associated with life’s origin such as these, while challenging right now, will likely ultimately reduce to known principles of physics and chemistry and therefore constitute by our definition “easy problems”. Here we have attempted to identify a core feature of life that won’t similarly be solved based on current paradigms – namely, that life seems distinct from other physical systems in how information affects the world (that is, that macrostates are causal).,,, To quote Einstein, ‘One can best feel in dealing with living things how primitive physics still is.’ ( A. Einstein, letter to L. Szilard quoted in [25]). http://arxiv.org/pdf/1606.07184v1.pdf
And indeed, the Christian Theist would rightly presuppose, even predict, that these 'hard problems' in science, i.e. Consciousness and Information, would forever be beyond the Atheist's reductive materialism model.
John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
I know this a bit late to comment on, but... Call me unconvinced, but with NASA's consistent budget constraints, I just don't get why the Agency invests in secondary (at best) projects. Its prime mission is to explore the universe. Let other Agencies, who arguably have more expertise, manage and underwrite these types of efforts. Mark from CO
Did they recruit Mother Goose into that OOL research team? She could provide insightful advice based on her Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme. Actually, the king’s horses and the king’s men could share their vast experience in putting Humpty together again. Taxpayers wouldn’t object to such a waste of money. After all, what else is new? :( PeterA

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