Skip to main content

Exobiology



According to a new calculation by Alexei Sharov and Richard Gordon, life must have pre-existed the planet Earth.

You can find the study here.  You can find some of my own earlier uncredentialed speculations about related matters here.

Sharov and Gordon are both properly credentialed. Each is a Ph.D. with a research role with prestigious (though non-academic) institutions. Nonetheless, there is a good deal of speculation in their work, as one might imagine given the subject.

The gist is that they infer that genetic complexity increased at an exponential pace: it doubles every 376 million years.  If that is right, then life originated roughly 9.7 billion years ago (give or take 2.5 billion). And if that is right then it could not have originated on earth. Radiometric dating puts the age of the earth at roughly 4.5 billion years.

So on their guesstimations, life must have been already 5 billion years old before the earth was formed.

Their calculations also indicate that it would have taken life 5 billion years to reach the degree of genetic complexity present in a bacterium. Five billion years, counting forward from the hypothetical date of origin 9.7 billion years ago, allows for the possibility that bacteria drifted onto the new planet Earth and began their history of development/adaptations here.

I applaud the direction of their thinking, as it confirms my prejudices, which is always the best test of science.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

England as a Raft?

In a lecture delivered in 1880, William James asked rhetorically, "Would England ... be the drifting raft she is now in European affairs if a Frederic the Great had inherited her throne instead of a Victoria, and if Messrs Bentham, Mill, Cobden, and Bright had all been born in Prussia?"

Beneath that, in a collection of such lectures later published under James' direction, was placed the footnote, "The reader will remember when this was written."

The suggestion of the bit about Bentham, Mill, etc. is that the utilitarians as a school helped render England ineffective as a European power, a drifting raft.

The footnote was added in 1897. So either James is suggesting that the baleful influence of Bentham, Mill etc wore off in the meantime or that he had over-estimated it.

Let's unpack this a bit.  What was happening in the period before 1880 that made England seem a drifting raft in European affairs, to a friendly though foreign observer (to the older brother…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

Francesco Orsi

I thought briefly that I had found a contemporary philosopher whose views on ethics and meta-ethics checked all four key boxes. An ally all down the line.

The four, as regular readers of this blog may remember, are: cognitivism, intuitionism, consequentialism, pluralism. These represent the views that, respectively: some ethical judgments constitute knowledge; one important source for this knowledge consists of quasi-sensory non-inferential primary recognitions ("intuitions"); the right is logically dependent upon the good; and there exists an irreducible plurality of good.

Francesco Orsi seemed to believe all of these propositions. Here's his website and a link to one relevant paper:

https://sites.google.com/site/francescoorsi1/

https://jhaponline.org/jhap/article/view/3

What was better: Orsi is a young man. Born in 1980. A damned child! Has no memories of the age of disco!

So I emailed him asking if I was right that he believed all of those things. His answer: three out of …