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Science Mag on the ancient Greenland fossils

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From Ben Andrew Henry at Science:

“Earth’s surface 3.7 billion years ago was a tumultuous place, bombarded by asteroids and still in its formative stages,” Allwood writes. “If life could find a foothold here, and leave such an imprint that vestiges exist even though only a minuscule sliver of metamorphic rock is all that remains from that time, then life is not a fussy, reluctant and unlikely thing. Give life half an opportunity and it’ll run with it.”More.

Really? Just half a chance? But then why isn’t spontaneous generation happening now, when conditions are more favorable?

See also: Oldest fossils found in Greenland shrink time for origin of life: If it is true that life existed by ~3.7 billion years ago during the Hadean [(> 4,000 Ma)], it evolved very quickly after Earth became habitable. We are left with only a couple hundred million years for life to develop. Considering the improbabilities of the origin of life, that’s a very short period for life to have happened without intelligent direction.


What we know and don’t know about the origin of life

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3 Replies to “Science Mag on the ancient Greenland fossils

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    as to: “life is not a fussy, reluctant and unlikely thing. Give lifewse half an opportunity and it’ll run with it.”,,,,
    ENV noted the same flaw in logic as you did News

    Greenland Fossils, Earth’s Oldest, Pose an Evolutionary Dilemma – September 1, 2016
    Excerpt: If so, Dr. [Abigail] Allwood wrote, then “life is not a fussy, reluctant and unlikely thing.” It will emerge whenever there’s an opportunity.”

    But the argument that life seems to have evolved very early and quickly, so therefore is inherently likely, can be turned around, Dr. [Gerald] Joyce said. “You could ask why, if life were such a probable event, we don’t have evidence of multiple origins?”.

    Besides that little overlooked detail, stromatolites, and bacteria in general, do not give us any evidence for evolution happening once life appeared. That is too say, both stromatolites and bacteria demonstrate an extreme conservation of morphology over billions of years.

    notes here:

  2. 2
    awstar says:

    “life is not a fussy, reluctant and unlikely thing. Give lifewse half an opportunity and it’ll run with it.”

    Wasn’t it Jonathan Wells in the video “Expelled” who pointed out that if you open a cell and dump all its contents into a test tube of pure water, life will not run with it?

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:


    Punctured cell will never reassemble – Jonathan Wells – 2:40 mark of video

    “Imagine that on the early Earth, a complete system of catalytic and information- bearing molecules happened by chance to come together in a tide pool that was sufficiently concentrated to produce the equivalent of the contents of our flask. We could model this event in the laboratory by gently disrupting a live bacterial culture, subjecting it to a sterilizing filtration step, and adding the mixture to the flask of nutrient broth. No living cells are present, but entire bacterial genomes are available, together with ribosomes, membranous vesicles, ATP and other energy-containing substrates, and thousands of functional enzymes. Once again, would a simple living system arise under these conditions? Although Kauffman might be optimistic about the possibilities, most experimentalists would guess that little would happen other than slow, degradative reactions of hydrolysis, even though virtually the entire complement of molecules associated with the living state is present. The dispersion has lost the extreme level of order characteristic of cytoplasm in contemporary living cells. Equally important is that the ATP would be hydrolyzed in seconds, so that the system still lacks a continuous source of free energy to drive the metabolism and polymerization reactions associated with life.”
    D. Deamer, “The First Living Things: A Bioenergetic Perspective,” Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews 61 (1997):239-61; p. 242.
    Deamer, a Darwinist, argues that any abiogenesis scenarios that does not invoke the immediate encapsulation of replicating molecules will run afoul of chemical realities such as hydrolysis. His thought experiment about killing a modern cell is meant to illustrate the functional necessity of isolating membranes, but arguably it entails much more than that.
    Same thought experiment (i.e., point) as Wells; entirely different philosophical outlook on the origin of life.
    Paul Nelson

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

    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)

    Also of interest is the information content that is derived in a ‘simple’ cell when working from a thermodynamic perspective:

    “a one-celled bacterium, e. coli, is estimated to contain the equivalent of 100 million pages of Encyclopedia Britannica. Expressed in information in science jargon, this would be the same as 10^12 bits of information. In comparison, the total writings from classical Greek Civilization is only 10^9 bits, and the largest libraries in the world – The British Museum, Oxford Bodleian Library, New York Public Library, Harvard Widenier Library, and the Moscow Lenin Library – have about 10 million volumes or 10^12 bits.” – R. C. Wysong

    ‘The information content of a simple cell has been estimated as around 10^12 bits, comparable to about a hundred million pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica.”
    Carl Sagan, “Life” in Encyclopedia Britannica: Macropaedia (1974 ed.), pp. 893-894

    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,, E. coli contain(s) 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.

    of note: The 10^12 bits of information number for a bacterium is derived from entropic considerations utilizing the tightly integrated relationship between information and entropy,

    “Is there a real connection between entropy in physics and the entropy of information? ….The equations of information theory and the second law are the same, suggesting that the idea of entropy is something fundamental…”
    Siegfried, Dallas Morning News, 5/14/90, [Quotes Robert W. Lucky, Ex. Director of Research, AT&T, Bell Laboratories & John A. Wheeler, of Princeton & Univ. of TX, Austin]

    For calculations of the information content of a ‘simple cell’, from the thermodynamic perspective, please see the following site:

    Biophysics – Information theory. Relation between information and entropy: – Setlow-Pollard, Ed. Addison Wesley
    Excerpt: Linschitz gave the figure 9.3 x 10^12 cal/deg or 9.3 x 10^12 x 4.2 joules/deg for the entropy of a bacterial cell. Using the relation H = S/(k In 2), we find that the information content is 4 x 10^12 bits. Morowitz’ deduction from the work of Bayne-Jones and Rhees gives the lower value of 5.6 x 10^11 bits, which is still in the neighborhood of 10^12 bits. Thus two quite different approaches give rather concordant figures.

    A few more related notes

    Information and Thermodynamics in Living Systems – Andy C. McIntosh – May 2013
    Excerpt: The third view then that we have proposed in this paper is the top down approach. In this paradigm, the information is non-material and constrains the local thermodynamics to be in a non-equilibrium state of raised free energy. It is the information which is the active ingredient, and the matter and energy are passive to the laws of thermodynamics within the system.
    As a consequence of this approach, we have developed in this paper some suggested principles of information exchange which have some parallels with the laws of thermodynamics which undergird this approach.,,,
    – Dr Andy C. McIntosh is the Professor of Thermodynamics (which is, I believe, the highest teaching/research rank in the U.K.) at the University of Leeds.

    Demonic device converts information to energy – 2010
    Excerpt: “This is a beautiful experimental demonstration that information has a thermodynamic content,” says Christopher Jarzynski, a statistical chemist at the University of Maryland in College Park. In 1997, Jarzynski formulated an equation to define the amount of energy that could theoretically be converted from a unit of information2; the work by Sano and his team has now confirmed this equation. “This tells us something new about how the laws of thermodynamics work on the microscopic scale,” says Jarzynski.

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