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So the carbon layer isn’t magic either?

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From Ars Technica:

Sometimes, scientists announce things that are breathtakingly stupid. The Guardian, which generally has pretty good science coverage, has an article up reporting that some top scientists believe that the comet 67P may harbor lots and lots of life. The purported evidence for life is the presence of complex hydrocarbons on the comet’s crust. Of course, this article is just based on a press release, and the data won’t be available until it’s presented later today at a meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society.

But The Guardian could at least have done some background reading on the person behind the claim, Chandra Wickramasinghe. It would have found that he has a long history of making claims about extraterrestrial life (and that he testified in favor of teaching creationism in US classrooms). Or, the reporter could have talked to someone who knows a little bit about surface chemistry—like me.

I am here to make a prediction: this claim will vanish, never to be heard from again. More.

Oh hey, Ars Technica. The claim won’t vanish as long as pop science culture needs the space alien.

See also: Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!

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10 Replies to “So the carbon layer isn’t magic either?

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    My pulse quickened a bit when I read that story yesterday. Then I saw the name “Wickramasinghe”. Oh well.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    As to ‘breathtakingly stupid’ Chandra Wickramasinghe, well, it seems he had at least one friend in none other than Fred Hoyle:

    Hoyle–Wickramasinghe model of panspermia
    Throughout his career, Wickramasinghe, along with his collaborator Fred Hoyle, has advanced panspermia, the belief that life on Earth is, at least in part, of extraterrestrial origin.[27] The basic propositions[28][29][30] of the Hoyle–Wickramasinghe model of panspermia include the assumptions that dormant viruses and desiccated DNA and RNA can survive unprotected in space
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandra_Wickramasinghe

    In fact the late Nobel prize winner Professor Francis Crick, OM FRS, along with British chemist Leslie Orgel proposed the theory of directed panspermia in 1973.
    http://www.panspermia-theory.c.....anspermia/

    Why would Fred Hoyle associate his name with such a ‘breathtakingly stupid’ person as Chandra Wickramasinghe? Well it was because Fred Hoyle realized that the chance of life originating on earth was fantastically improbable:

    Fred Hoyle – Rejection of Earth-based abiogenesis

    Excerpt: Published in his 1982/1984 books Evolution from Space (co-authored with Chandra Wickramasinghe), Hoyle calculated that the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell without panspermia was one in 1040,000. Since the number of atoms in the known universe is infinitesimally tiny by comparison (1080), he argued that Earth as life’s place of origin could be ruled out. He claimed:
    The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Hoyle#Rejection_of_Earth-based_abiogenesis

    From this number, 1 in 10^40,000, Fred Hoyle also infamously compared the random emergence of the simplest bacterium on earth to the likelihood “a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 therein”.
    Fred Hoyle (1915-2001), is the famed astrophysicist who established the nucleo-synthesis of heavier elements within stars as mathematically valid in 1946.
    Years after Sir Fred discovered the stunning precision with which the element carbon in particular is synthesized in stars he stated:

    From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? … I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.
    Sir Fred Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.

    Sir Fred also stated:

    “I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars.”
    Sir Fred Hoyle – “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections.” Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12

    Michael Denton -Atheist Fred Hoyle’s conversion from atheism to being a Deist/Theist (6:38 minute mark)- video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ADT9L5MBPak#t=398

    Of related interest to a ‘super intellect’ monkeying with physics, chemistry, and biology in order to produce carbon in stars, it is now found that, besides the Cosmic Background Radiation, there are two other places in the universe where ‘exceptional roundness’ is found. One place of ‘exceptional roundness’ is the sun:

    Sun’s Almost Perfectly Round Shape Baffles Scientists – (Aug. 16, 2012) —
    Excerpt: The sun is nearly the roundest object ever measured. If scaled to the size of a beach ball, it would be so round that the difference between the widest and narrow diameters would be much less than the width of a human hair.,,, They also found that the solar flattening is remarkably constant over time and too small to agree with that predicted from its surface rotation.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....150801.htm

    and another place ‘exceptional roundness’ is found in the universe is the Buckyball carbon molecule:

    Bucky Balls – Andy Gion
    Excerpt: Buckyballs (C60; Carbon 60) are the roundest and most symmetrical large molecule known to man. Buckministerfullerine continues to astonish with one amazing property after another. C60 is the third major form of pure carbon; graphite and diamond are the other two. Buckyballs were discovered in 1985,,,
    http://www.3rd1000.com/bucky/bucky.htm

    Of related interest to ‘buckyballs’

    Double-slit experiment
    Excerpt: In 1999 objects large enough to see under a microscope, buckyball (interlocking carbon atom) molecules (diameter about 0.7 nm, nearly half a million times that of a proton), were found to exhibit wave-like interference.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D.....experiment

    Verse and Music:

    Habakkuk 3:4
    His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden.

    Consumed by Fire – Walk Through The Fire – music
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkNweXe6N0M

  3. 3
    awstar says:

    The purported evidence for life is the presence of complex hydrocarbons on the comet’s crust.

    If they do find the presence of life in the crust of a comet, it will confirm a creationist prediction. Not that that would ever impress anyone who has eyes but can’t see.

    http://www.creationscience.com.....mets2.html

    While simple organic compounds are not always a product of life, complex organic compounds almost certainly are. Furthermore different comets are expelling multiple organic compounds, so a living source is very likely. Today, a popular belief is that comets brought life to Earth. Instead, comets probably have traces of life from Earth.

  4. 4
    Mapou says:

    How is life on a comet a creationist prediction? Does the book of Genesis mention panspermia according to creationists?

  5. 5
    englishmaninistanbul says:

    @4

    From that Wikipedia article:

    Wickramasinghe and his mentor Fred Hoyle have also used their data to argue in favor of cosmic ancestry,[77][78][79][80][81][82] and against the idea of life emerging from inanimate objects by evolution.[83]

    “ Once again the Universe gives the appearance of being biologically constructed, and on this occasion on a truly vast scale. Once again those who consider such thoughts to be too outlandish to be taken seriously will continue to do so. While we ourselves shall continue to take the view that those who believe they can match the complexities of the Universe by simple experiments in their laboratories will continue to be disappointed. ”

    Wickramasinghe attempts to present scientific evidence to support the notion of cosmic ancestry and “the possibility of high intelligence in the Universe and of many increasing levels of intelligence converging toward a God as an ideal limit.”[84]

    During the 1981 scientific creationist trial in Arkansas, Wickramasinghe was the only scientist testifying for the defense, which in turn was supporting creationism.[83][85] In addition, he wrote that the Archaeopteryx fossil finding is a forgery, a charge that the expert scientific community considers an “absurd” and “ignorant” statement.[86][87]

    So it’s not that creationism expects life on a comet, it’s more the other way around.

    If you’re expecting life on a comet because it’s highly unlikely life arose through natural processes on Earth, then you’ve got two choices:

    1. It was more likely life arose through natural processes elsewhere. Which as up there with multiverse theories for unfalsifiability.

    2. God. Also unfalsifiable scientifically. But more causally adequate.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note:

    Desperately Seeking Life Beyond Earth – July 7, 2015
    Conclusion: Hoyle’s ideas on panspermia may be philosophically and empirically challenged, but he presented one of the strongest logical and mathematical proofs against the origin of life by chance (after his calculations, he came up with the “tornado in a junkyard to a 747″ analogy). Yet even the famous astronomer could not get a respectful hearing on that point. Darwin skeptics have been hammering on the improbability of life’s origin by undirected natural causes for decades (see our online book as one example). The Wistar Institute study made little difference. The Mystery of Life’s Origin didn’t make much of a dent, either, other than stimulating the Intelligent Design Movement. Stephen Meyer’s excellent book Signature in the Cell stands unrefuted. Despite all this empirical and logical evidence, the unfeigned faith of the Darwinian astrobiologists continues on as if nothing happened. This is the sad state of affairs when ideology takes on totalitarian powers, and corrupts a government willing to pour millions of dollars into the pockets of its priesthood. –
    http://crev.info/2015/07/despe.....ond-earth/

    notes:

    Evolution Possible or Impossible by Dr. James F. Coppedge
    http://creationsafaris.com/epoi_toc.htm

    HISTORY OF EVOLUTIONARY THEORY – WISTAR DESTROYS EVOLUTION
    Excerpt: A number of mathematicians, familiar with the biological problems, spoke at that 1966 Wistar Institute,, For example, Murray Eden showed that it would be impossible for even a single ordered pair of genes to be produced by DNA mutations in the bacteria, E. coli,—with 5 billion years in which to produce it! His estimate was based on 5 trillion tons of the bacteria covering the planet to a depth of nearly an inch during that 5 billion years. He then explained that the genes of E. coli contain over a trillion (10^12) bits of data. That is the number 10 followed by 12 zeros. *Eden then showed the mathematical impossibility of protein forming by chance.
    http://www.pathlights.com/ce_e.....hist12.htm

    Professor Harold Morowitz shows the Origin of Life ‘problem’ escalates dramatically over Hoyle’s 1 in 10^40,000 figure when working from a thermodynamic perspective:

    “The probability for the chance of formation of the smallest, simplest form of living organism known is 1 in 10^340,000,000. This number is 10 to the 340 millionth power! The size of this figure is truly staggering since there is only supposed to be approximately 10^80 (10 to the 80th power) electrons in the whole universe!”
    (Professor Harold Morowitz, Energy Flow In Biology pg. 99, Biophysicist of George Mason University)
    http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

    Dr. Morowitz did another probability calculation working from the thermodynamic perspective with a already existing cell and came up with this following number:

    DID LIFE START BY CHANCE?
    Excerpt: Molecular biophysicist, Horold Morowitz (Yale University), calculated the odds of life beginning under natural conditions (spontaneous generation). He calculated, if one were to take the simplest living cell and break every chemical bond within it, the odds that the cell would reassemble under ideal natural conditions (the best possible chemical environment) would be one chance in 10^100,000,000,000. You will have probably have trouble imagining a number so large, so Hugh Ross provides us with the following example. If all the matter in the Universe was converted into building blocks of life, and if assembly of these building blocks were attempted once a microsecond for the entire age of the universe. Then instead of the odds being 1 in 10^100,000,000,000, they would be 1 in 10^99,999,999,916 (also of note: 1 with 100 billion zeros following would fill approx. 20,000 encyclopedias)
    http://members.tripod.com/~Black_J/chance.html

    Punctured cell will never reassemble – Jonathan Wells – 2:40 mark of video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKoiivfe_mo

    THE MYSTERY OF LIFE’S ORIGIN: Reassessing Current Theories – Thaxton, Bradley & Olson(Download the entire book here)
    http://themysteryoflifesorigin.org/

    Signature in the Cell – Stephen Meyer
    http://www.signatureinthecell.com/

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    semi OT:

    A checkpoint enzyme for flawless cell division – Jul 07, 2015
    Excerpt: The segregation of the 23 chromosome pairs of human cells only occurs when all parameters are correct. This is ensured by a surveillance process, a so-called checkpoint. Central to this checkpoint is an inhibitor formed on the chromosomes, called mitotic checkpoint complex (MCC), which prevents cell division until all settings on the mitotic spindle, the chromosome segregation apparatus, are correct. “Just like the enzyme Mps1, Plk1 also ensures the assembly of the MCC and finally the inhibition of cell division,” says the first author Conrad von Schubert. “Plk1 thus also has a checkpoint function and consequently safeguards chromosome segregation.”
    In the past, various functions have been attributed to the enzyme Plk1, including the correct assembly and disassembly of the mitotic spindle. “The newly uncovered checkpoint function of Plk1 had been overlooked, however, since other functions obscured this phenomenon,” explains Conrad von Schubert. The research team could now demonstrate that Plk1 influences the inhibitor MCC via at least two pathways. In a nutshell, Plk1 supports the enzyme Mps1, whose checkpoint function had already been known for some time. “Plk1 ensures rapid and robust checkpoint activation by acting in a similar way to Mps1, thus reinforcing Mps1 activity,” says Conrad von Schubert.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-07-c.....=item-menu

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Organization of human brain is nearly ideal – July 7, 2015
    New research reveals that structure of the human brain has an almost ideal network of connections
    Excerpt: The paper,,, reveals that the structure of the human brain has an almost ideal network of connections–the links that permit information to travel from, say, the auditory cortex (responsible for hearing) to the motor cortex (responsible for movement),,,
    “An optimal network in the brain would have the smallest number of connections possible, to minimize cost, and at the same time it would have maximum navigability–that is, the most direct pathways for routing signals from any possible source to any possible destination,” says Krioukov. It’s a balance, he explains, raising and lowering his hands to indicate a scale. The study presents a new strategy to find the connections that achieve that balance or, as he puts it, “the sweet spot.”
    Krioukov,,, in the new research, he and his co-authors used sophisticated statistical analyses based on Nobel laureate John Nash’s contributions to game theory to construct a map of an idealized brain network–one that optimized the transfer of information. They then compared the idealized map of the brain to a map of the brain’s real network and asked the question “How close are the two?”
    Remarkably so. They were surprised to learn that 89 percent of the connections in the idealized brain network showed up in the real brain network as well. “That means the brain was,, designed to be very, very close to what our algorithm shows,” says Krioukov.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....120101.htm
    Of note, the superfluous word ‘evolutionarily’ was deleted from before the word ‘designed’ from the preceeding article for the sake of honesty and clarity.
    Also of note, the deletion of the superfluous word has absolutely no effect on facts of the finding.

  9. 9
    awstar says:

    BA77 at #8

    Of note, the superfluous word ‘evolutionarily’ was deleted from before the word ‘designed’ from the preceeding article for the sake of honesty and clarity.
    Also of note, the deletion of the superfluous word has absolutely no effect on facts of the finding.

    Aren’t you afraid their gods will be angry with you for not giving them the credit they are due?

  10. 10
    awstar says:

    Mapou at #4

    How is life on a comet a creationist prediction?

    That’s why I embedded the link that takes you to the page that explains how life on a comet is the result of the historical events recorded in Genesis.

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