"The Outer Limits" --NASA's New Radio Program Exploring Spacetime & the Cosmos (LISTEN)
Today's "Planet Earth Report" --The Worst Oil Spill the World Has Ever Seen: "A Radically Different Mix of Molecules"

"Black Hole in the Origin of Life" --One Freakish Event May Mean We're the Only Complex Life In the Cosmos

 
BlackHoleArt66_jb.0

 

There’s a black hole in the middle of the history of life: how did we go from tiny bags of chemicals to the vast menagerie of creatures we see around us? RadioLab explores one of the most underrated mysteries of all time, and present one possible answer that takes us from an unexpected house guest to a tiny bolt of lightning to every critter you hold dear. It’s the story of one cosmic oops moment that changed the game of life forever.

Shortly after Earth’s formation, the planet was barren of life. Then, proteins combined in just the right way, and life appeared. For billions of years, it was simple and uninteresting, oceans full of simple, single-celled organisms floating for millennia after millennia.

Suddenly, life got a lot more interesting. Organisms became more complex, with more than one cell. And they got much bigger — 10,000 times bigger by volume, Nick Lane, professor of evolutionary chemistry at University College London, wrote in his 2015 book The Vital Question.

LISTEN RadioLab Broadcast Here

The importance of this step — of this sudden increase in size and complexity — cannot be overstated. Without it, complex life (like humans, for example) would not exist.

How exactly this step happened is one of the big questions in evolutionary biology. There are a number of theories about how, exactly, life got so much more complicated. One of the prevailing theories, from Lane himself, focuses on energy. Here’s the thinking: Cells need more energy to build more complex structures. To do that, according to Lane’s theory, single-celled organisms merged with bacteria we now know as mitochondria, which have an electrical charge and bring power to the cell. It’s possible, though unlikely, for the two bacteria to fit together, and even less probably that the two were able to survive and live symbiotically. This occurrence that made possible all other forms of complex life is rare, to be sure.

But in Lane’s opinion, it only happened once. 

“It comes down to one merger between two cells that made one cell, then everything comes from that. You, me, the redwood tree or the hummingbird, a fungus, a piece of algae growing in a pond, every form of life we can see with our naked eyes and many that we can’t come from that single cell,” Nick said in an episode of the science podcast Radiolab on his work.

Continue reading...

The Daily Galaxy via Futurism, and RadioLab and Nautil.us

 

 

 

 

Comments

Well, to quote one of the interviewed sources in the linked-to article, Pierre Pontarotti: "The symbiosis between bacteria and eukaryotes has occurred many times during the evolution of life on Earth."

So the basic premise that there was only one event is not a given at all.

Nick Lane's idea is linear; it happened, it didn't happen again. Reality is pretty muddy. That linear history seems to me at odds with the fact that there are different kinds of mitochondria, to the extent of having different DNA coding and very different levels of sharing genetic information with the host cell's nucleus.

"All of the above" occurred, is my guess - and the best hand won.

The arrogance of crowning us as the single instance of a high complexity dominant life form in the Universe is almost unimaginable. How does a "brilliant mind" of this dominant life form come to such a self centered view and set itself up as judge of the occurrences of complex life in the infinite Universe. The arrogance.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. We're still really new at this SETI stuff, and there's every possibility that we're searching the wrong way, or on the wrong frequencies, or pointing at the wrong stars. Or life is in the next galaxy over, or early life was annihilated when the central supermassive black hole in the Milky Way killed off everybody near the center, and it's only us folks out here in the galactic sticks have had a chance to re-evolve.

We've barely had radio for 100 years; give this a chance!

Silliest thing I've read in years. And you folks say belief in God is nonsense.

Science says no man in the clouds or creator of all. Can't be proven or disproven.

Believe what you want, there is no right or wrong. Remember, humans are like sheep, eventually, you can be talked into following or believing anything.

@Doug050, you stated, "crowning us as the single instance of a high complexity dominant life form in the Universe is almost unimaginable."

Well, hate to break the bad news to you son, we wear that crown until it can be passed on. As of right now, there is zero evidence of "high complexity dominant life forms".

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)