March 28, 2017

Review: A Professor, a President, & a Meteor by Cathryn J. Prince.

Out from Prometheus Books!

The road to scientific discovery can be a surreptitious one. Although America became a nation in 1776, it was sometime before American science would be taken seriously on the world stage. All of that was to change on the morning of December 14th, 1807.This week, we take a look at A Professor, a President, & a Meteor; the Birth of American Science by Cathryn J. Prince out from Prometheus Books. [Read more...]

17.03.10: A Hadean Simulation.


A pahoehoe lava flow on Hawaii. (Credit: Art Explosion).

A pahoehoe lava flow on Hawaii. (Credit: Art Explosion).



One of the key mysteries in science is how life began on Earth. In the 1950s, the landmark Urey-Miller experiments gave tantalizing evidence of how organic compounds may have formed on ancient Earth. Recently, scientists at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart have shed more light on the subject.  Using an artificial solution of primordial seawater interacting with atmospheric nitrogen and CO2, they subjected the mixture to temperatures of up to 662° Fahrenheit, similar to conditions that existed in the early Hadean era, 3.8 to 4.5 billion years ago. The Earth was much more volcanically active in its early history, and the baking process observed allowed amino acids to be “cooked” into the resulting salt crust. Amino acids are the key building blocks to proteins. Specifically, the team found essential compounds such as pyrroles, which function as the oxygen carrying component in the haemoglobin in your blood, were easily formed. Pyrroles also play a role in plant chlorophyll. This all points to the conjecture that life soon arose on Earth once the conditions were ripe for it. The initial seeding of amino acids may have occurred via cometary impacts in what is known as the panspermia process, which may be common place throughout the galaxy even today.