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Everything posted by akh

  1. There is something called the RNA first model(or RNA world model). That RNA was the genetic material before DNA. Although RNA is less stable in the open environment, it has some very interesting properties. 1) It is obvious, it contains genetic information. 2) and more importantly to your question, is that RNA has been demonstrated to auto-catalyze. It can catalyze its own existance, in addition to many other reactions. Johnston WK, Unrau PJ, Lawrence MS, Glasner ME, Bartel DP (May 2001). "RNA-catalyzed RNA polymerization: accurate and general RNA-templated primer extension". Science 292 (5520): 1319–1325. doi:10.1126/science.1060786. PMID 11358999. Not to mention that nucleic acids have been found in carbonaceous chondrites. So you have something that can carry code (genetic information) and self replicate. You don't need any complicated biological machinery. If you want to go further, there have been experiments using fairly simplistic molecules that have been shown to auto-catalyze; it doesn't even need to be as complicated as RNA. (sorry don't have reference right now). Abiogenisis often results in questions of complexity which often bring one to a chicken and the egg scenario. But looking more closely, you will see that this really isn't as much of an issue as one might think. I did a research paper a few years back for an Astrobiology course that looked into chirality and the origin of life. Chirality is another area at which abiogenesis is attacked, as it as seen as an impossible level of organization. Why the exclusive existence of D-sugars and L-amino acids? Why the homochirality? I had over 70 references for the paper. The theories ranged widely from selective destruction of chiral molecules by circularly polarized UV light during star formation, which later seeded the planet, to simple micelle formation that naturally favored one enantiomer over the other. The micelle formation studies utilized the amino acid serine. This is important, because serine has been shown to exist in meteorites. Serine can bond with hydrocarbon tails to form sphingolipids and glycolipids. Sphingolipids and glycolipids can form bilayers, which is a simple cell wall. So you get any enormous amount of complexity and organization of a major biological component that does not have a biological origin. There are many other examples of how structure and organization can occur naturally. At the end of my studies, I was drawn to to conclusion that life in many ways can be viewed a force of nature. Given the right conditions, it is inevitable.
  2. Very cool article. Thanks But still, a worm is not a vertebrate. Fecundity, generation time, and constant selective pressures are huge factors. I think the OP mixed two separate questions as one. Could they become immune? Could they evolve to utilize the metals? The worms have not utilized the metals. Utilizing the metal would require a new biochemical process. However, they have evolved a protein that encapsulates the toxic metal so it cannot do harm. Also, I would suspect, but I would have to dig deeper, that this is not a truly novel protein, but rather a modification of an existing protein. Beautiful example of evolution in motion in any case.
  3. Although they are considered less complex, bacteria are much more biochemically versatile than humans and animals. I doubt that humans or any animal has the biochemical capacity to evolve such abilities.
  4. Without a doubt the media is a huge issue. Whats even worse, is that so many journalists and bloggers are so lazy that they just rehash another new report. I have seen this multiple times where the report is released at one outlet, and then days later it trickles into other "news" sites, often watered down, and often with quotes out of context. I also think that 99.9% of the people out there do not understand scientific vernacular. They don't understand the language used and why it is used which contributes to the problem. Kudos to the NYT for responsible journalism. The point is, that bringing in failed predictions clouds the study of AGW. Usually when AGW is discussed, skeptics bring in predictions as a "who cares" kind of tactic to detract from the topic. The skeptics may not be doing this intentionally every time, as they may view it as a logical extension of AGW studies. But, the studies do not need to make predictions in regards to humanity, it just needs to concern itself with AGW. Do you understand why? I think there is a place for predictions, but not within the study itself. Part of my aggravation with the NASA study was that the skeptics were placing meaning and making predictions behind the observation. It was not the scientist who did that. Same can be said for the studies that are consistent with AGW. There is a lot of blame to go around as to why this happens. The AGW studies should stand by themselves. I think there is substantial evidence in support of GW, and the GW observed is actually AGW. What that means to us as humans on this planet; I don't think anybody will claim to know for certain. There is a lot of work still needed to be done in this area. I absolutely do understand the difference. But when most people discuss predictions regarding GW, they look at specific weather events for examples. Its very hard to view climate as a whole for examples. When people speak of dire consequences, they usually imagine extended periods of drought, abnormal rain fall, increased number and intensity of hurricanes, ect. These are weather events, not climate events. Weather and climate are linked after all. Agreed Except that none of those things have been shown to be part of the atmosphere or contribute to the greenhouse effect like CO2. If bicycles could be shown to be a greenhouse gas, then I would consider them as a cause. And if I engage in predictions, I might even suggest that we limit the amount of bicycles we dump into the atmosphere. Paradoxically, more bicycles would reduce the number of cars, which would reduce CO2 emissions from autos. Quite the quandary. There are quite a few areas of science that require proper applications of statistics. Biological sciences rely on them very heavily. Many biologist collaborate with statisticians and the biologists themselves must have a very good understanding of statistical application. There are biology degrees that are really statistics degrees with a focus on biological science. So, the thought that someone cannot be proficient in both is a flawed assumption; they are inseparable fields of study. Its rare, but it happens. There is no removing the human factor. But that is the point of the scientific process, to prevent and reveal these problems.
  5. My comprehension of the actual NASA report, not some news headline, is that the melt is unprecedented within the scope of the observation period. As in, we haven't observed an event like this before. It may be bad choice of words for those who are lazy, but if you actually include the context, which is the key to reading comprehension, then "right on time" and "unprecedented" are not contradictions. Same type of thing can be said of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. They typically occur in a cyclical fashion, but the magnitude of the events can vary greatly. And you are, like many others, ignoring the fact that NASA explicitly stated in the report that they are not making any correlation to GW or AGW. Why are you leaving that out? So you shift from AGW to problems with predictions and prediction models? This is about CO2 and AWG. Nice diversionary tactic, but I don't think that discussion belongs here. Stay on topic. Again this is not about any future predictions of the "doom and gloom" merchants. For someone who is hung up on the terminology of others, your choice of words are interesting. It speaks volumes about your objectivity. As far as extreme weather, there is one heck of a drought through the majority of the United States right now. But again, this is not about predictions, and I am not making any statements about predictions. Its about the conclusion of the Berkeley paper. Can you separate the two? Can you keep on topic? So in case you got clouded, the Berkeley paper has found that the best fit for the increase in temperature is the increase in CO2. The increase in CO2 is attributed to human activity. In other words, AGW. So, in order for this result to be invalidated, you need to produce something else that is a better fit. Can you do that? Do you have a better fit correlation? Moreover, its not just the paper and its findings, as these results have been demonstrated in many other papers. Its the fact that one of the major denialist tactics, to try to demonstrate that climate science is corrupt due to outside influences, is now shown to be an invalid argument against AGW. Its always been an invalid argument against AGW. The whole Berkeley project was started to remove this perceived bias from the equation and to increase transparency. The project was initiated from the skeptics corner.
  6. I don't really understand people who can't be objective, who are unable to truly see multiple sides to things. They accuse others of not being able to use "common sense". The reality is that their "common sense" is misleading them. They somehow think that AGW is anti-american and anti-liberty. They think this because in order to make change, government must be involved to enforce the change. I think that the denialist are fearful, they are afraid of things they don't understand and are too afraid to admit they don't understand. How did this country become so anti-intellectual? I think I am pretty good at understanding multiple topics. I do not claim to understand it all. I do not claim to be an expert in anything. I don't like being wrong and not being able to understand something frustrates the hell out of me. But I'll admit it. Its not just a measure of humility that I know that I am not omniscient, but rather that I have a connected sense of reality. Why do some people fail at this? Anyway, I quick survey of the web has already uncovered the same old rhetoric. The data has been "cooked". FYI, the people I have had this discussion with are engineers and/or people with interest in the "tech" industry. Face to face I actually had I guy with a claimed engineering degree say; "Thats the problem with scientist, they think they know everything". All I could do was shake my head.
  7. Since I am always getting into discussions (arguments really) regarding various science related topics, I decided I would join a real science forum for discussion. Its seems that many people have a very difficult time understanding what science is, how it works, what it does and does not do, ect. So I thought that the new paper from the Berkeley Earth Project was very interesting. http://berkeleyearth...aper-july-8.pdf It is interesting not only because of the results, but because of who funded the project. The project was funded by the Koch Brothers, who as most know, have lobbied against evidence for manmade climate change. I recently got into a heated discussion with some skeptics (denialists really) regarding the NASA report of a substantial melt of the Greenland ice sheet. The report was immediately labeled as BS and "alarmist". They accused NASA of being unscientific and biased by a hidden agenda. It didn't matter how many times I pointed out that NASA had explicitly stated in the report that they were in no way making any conclusion about the melt or drawing any relation to climate change, the report was still viewed as biased. It did not matter how many times I pointed out that NASA was skeptical of the data and sought adjunct observations from multiple sources before the report, it was still somehow"alarmist". I could not get through the idea that NASA made a report of a simple observation, of a substantial ice melt, nothing more nothing less. But somehow that observation was biased in the skeptics view. Sadly,these skeptics come off as educated and intelligent people and draw others to their side through shallow logic. By in large, they believe that all scientist are somehow only concerned with self legitimizing their work and career. They think that scientist are driven by a hidden agenda and by greed. They think that they fully understand how science is supposed to work, and that reports like the NASA observation of the Greenland ice sheet, are obviously biased. So, I find that this report which comes out from a scientist and former skeptic (Prof Richard Muller),which is funded by a lobby group that denies man made climate change, very interesting. In fact, I even remember many skeptics (denialists) anxiously awaiting reports from the Berkeley Earth Project so they could prove the bias and corruption of climate science. So you have a true skeptic scientist ( I say a true skeptic because a true skeptic keeps an open mind and actively pursues counter evidence, denialist don't do that)in a program funded by a powerful anti AGW lobby, which in fact found evidence in support of AGW. This absolutely contrary to the denialist agenda to vilify climate scientist (and all scientist really) So what do you think of the report? What do you think about the ramifications? Can't wait to see the denialist spin out on this one.
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