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Zircons are back, as a possible source of information re early Earth and origin of life

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zircon crystal on calcite/Rob Lavinsky (CC BY-SA 3.0)

We don’t really know what the very early Earth looked like because the landscape was always being recycled. Zircons, however, are hard enough that they may survive, containing clues about the previous environments.

Using zircon oxygen isotopes, researchers previously discovered that liquid water covered parts of our planet some 4.3 billion years ago, suggesting the surface cooled just a few hundred million years after our planet’s formation. And just last year, researchers found what they believe might be hints of early life in the form of carbon-rich inclusions in 4.1-billion-year-old zircons.

Some zircons contain the chemical signatures of rocks weathered by water to form clay. Other zircons bear the signatures of dissolved minerals that crystallize to form rocks like chert or banded iron formations in lakes or oceans. Still others have the signature of a process known as serpentinization, so called for its snake-skin-like texture and color. During this process, water reacts with rocks enriched in iron and magnesium, incorporating itself into the mineral structures. Maya Wei-Haas, “4-Billion-Year-Old Crystals Offer Clues to the Origins of Life” at National Geographic

We know that life got started soon after the planet cooled but the conditions remain largely a mystery. It’s been a few good decades for hypotheses as a result.

See also: Rob Sheldon: Why zircons might be evidence for life at earliest formation of Earth


“Compelling new evidence” claimed for comets generating phosphates for earliest life

Hey News, This would be an interesting topic to discuss: https://www.discovery.org/multimedia/audio/2018/10/id-inquiry-robert-marks-on-information-2/ Would you open that thread? Nonlin.org
Yes, RJ, ID is clearly not a science stopper as it obviously opens up new and very interesting questions. But to speculate they were built-in via the design of the organisms, at the time the organisms were being designed, by the designers, they designed the environments and the constraints and they are and have been degrading.
ID seems to be good at making the broad claims (e.g., built in cues, irreducible complexity, etc.) but less willing to pursue the obvious lines of questioning and research that arise from these claims.
I smell a hypocrite. Your position makes broad claims and no one is trying to flesh them out. And you guys have the vast bulk of the resources. Intelligent Design's concepts are useful and being used in the form of genetic algorithms. No one uses blind watchmaker evolution for anything. ET
1997- “built-in responses to environmental cues” Dr Spetner
How were they built in? When were they built in? Who built them in? How can they predict the possible future environmental cues? How are these built in cues preserved over millennia without degradation? And many more questions. ID seems to be good at making the broad claims (e.g., built in cues, irreducible complexity, etc.) but less willing to pursue the obvious lines of questioning and research that arise from these claims. Maybe I have just not seen any of these follow-on questions being asked and researched. I really haven't kept up on all of the science research so it is quite possible that I have missed something. R J Sawyer
RJ Sawyer:
There is not enough speculation as to the mechanisms,...
1997- "built-in responses to environmental cues" Dr Spetner ET
So much speculation,...
Without speculation, there can be no advancement in knowledge. In my opinion (and it is just an opinion), that is the biggest weakness of the ID concept. There is not enough speculation as to the mechanisms, as to the nature of the designer, as to when and how the designs are produced and brought to fruition. R J Sawyer
So much speculation, where I believe, once again, the materialists are not trying to explain the evidence on hand, but to come up with an explanation or loophole (another divide by zero non falsifiable bandaid like the multiverse) for the miraculous emergence of almost all major body plans or phyla in the cambrian, with nothing of consequence before, AND what I think is missed, and of equal importance, the fact that there is ALSO nothing at all compelling that shows any intermediates IN BETWEEN these major phyla. Think about this - there should have been, in that nanosecond of geological time, not just the time to form this incredibly fortunate base of body plans (seems terribly odd that the basis for most all life to come was laid out from the very beginning), but where are the intermediates IN BETWEEN body plans or phyla, not just before?? and this only exponentially compounds the information problem. I hear a lot about the evidence that there seems to be nothing or almost nothing before the cambrian, BUT ALSO I think it is terribly important that it is pointed out that we do not note any lifeforms that show a transition between these phyla - if the main tenant of not just neo-darwinism, but common ancestry to be true, then these lifeforms could not develop independently. We should see a LOT of fluidity between these body plans with many, many examples in the fossil record of organisms that show a bridge between these body plans for a common ancestor to be true. Greg Venter and many of the greatest secular genomics researchers (for the life of me I can't recall the other two huge names in this area) have stated the tree of life has actually hampered our progress in understanding the development and diversification of life and needs to be "jettisoned" - this is a HUGE shift in thinking. Ventner, to my knowledge, still leans heavily toward the idea that there were many separate ancestors and that they were anything but "common", which is exactly my point. What he means by anything but common is saying not only are their multiple ancestors, but they are not similar to each other. Tom Robbins

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