Rob Sheldon writes to say,
Just had 3 days of Origin-of-life talks at the annual SPIE (non-NASA) Astrobiology conference here in San Diego. Saw lots of fossil pictures, Mars pictures, and general bewilderment at the treatment of the topic by NASA and/or government funded types.
Fascinating interplay of ID arguments interspersed with diatribe about “why we can’t get published.”
Paul Davies gave a talk that promoted The Eerie Silence as a consequence of not being smart enough to find them, then defended the arsenic paper (that has his name on it). SETI@home people defended their “dumb searches” by ridiculing the SETI institute and their (refunded) Allen telescope array. Frank Drake’s equation (for finding alien intelligence) was supposed to be a cakewalk except for that stubborn “Origin-of-life” term in there, a term that Davies thought (and has written two books on) was uncommonly low.
I presented a calculation that said it was physically impossible and demanded coherent information transfer, but the next speaker calculated it could be accomplished in a meteor crater sized swimming pool in 10 million years. I’ll try to post a review of the conference, but if I can get hold of the tape of the panel discussion (for lay persons), it was pure quote-mining gold–the JPL speakers, in particular, …
Watch for his post later.