Origin of Life Made Easy

first_imgAs anyone knows who has been given directions and told “you can’t miss it,” sounding easy and being easy can be entirely different things.  Reporters sometimes make the most difficult step in evolution – the origin of life – look like a cinch through the use of suggestive metaphors, like the commonly-invoked phrase, “building blocks of life.”  The directions in their articles usually lead to dead ends at worst, or, at best, baby steps on a long march, most of the route TBD, a TLA (three letter acronym) meaning “to be determined.” Tool kit:  This metaphor was presented by PhysOrg in an article entitled, “Meteorites: Tool kits for creating life on Earth.”  The main idea was that nucleobases could have been formed in meteorites and come to earth special delivery.  (Science Daily and New Scientist identified these nucleobases as adenine and guanine.)  “The earliest forms of life on Earth may have been assembled from materials delivered to Earth by meteorites,” PhysOrg said.  Jim Cleaves (Carnegie Geophysical Laboratory) added, “This shows us that meteorites may have been molecular tool kits, which provided the essential building blocks for life on Earth.” Plausible precursor:  This metaphor was offered by Science Daily, “Study Builds On Plausible Scenario for Origin of Life On Earth.”  The study, conducted at Scripps, attempted to find precursors to RNA.  The article repeatedly spoke of RNA precursors, not RNA itself, which depends on the difficult-to-synthesize sugar ribose (“Did borax evolve into 20-mule teams?”, 01/09/2004).  What these precursors are was not identified, but the very word precursor uses the power of suggestion to invoke images of progress. Evolutionary force driving simple to complex:  “Is this how simple life got complicated?” an article PhysOrg teased.  Within the article, Andrew Murray invoked the image of an “evolutionary force” that led single cells to leap to multicellular life forms.  But what he studied was how living yeast cells seem to do better in clumps than individually.  Yeast cells already have the cellular machinery that challenges theories of the origin of life.  These analogies vastly oversimplify what goes on in living cells.  For instance, this article on Science Daily used the word machine and machinery 16 times, describing how DNA is acted on by protein machines that provide quality control during cell division.  Without cell division, evolution cannot act, because it needs to naturally select copies, or offspring. Dr. Robert Shapiro knows that a living cell is anything but simple.  He has said that the leap from simple molecules to a cell is greater than the distance between a bacterium and an elephant (cited on aish.com).  In Nature last week (August 4),1 he reviewed David Deamer’s new book First Life: Discovering the Connections between Stars, Cells, and How Life Began (University of California Press, 2011).  Shapiro criticized Deamer’s hypothesis that life began in droplets surrounded by fatty acids.  In fact, all simplistic scenarios overlook the complexity of life as we know it: Today, the simplest living cells depend on molecules that are far more intricate than those that have been isolated from sources unrelated to life (abiotic), such as meteorites. The most noteworthy chemical substances in life are functioning polymers — large molecules made of smaller units called monomers, connected in a specific order. The nucleic acids RNA and DNA, carriers of genetic information and heredity, are made of connected nucleotide monomers. Similarly, proteins are vital polymer catalysts that are made by combining monomer amino acids. Such modern biological constructions were unlikely to have been present on the early Earth. As an example, Shapiro noted that the RNA World hypothesis, while elegantly simple, is “staggeringly improbable.”  It is doubtful he would be impressed by the presence of nucleobases in a meteorite: Nucleotides, for example, are not encountered in nature beyond organisms or laboratory synthesis. To construct RNA, high concentrations of four select nucleotides would be needed in the same location, with others being excluded. If this is the prerequisite for life, then it is an unusual phenomenon, rare in the Universe. Deamer’s dream of a fatty vesicle as a container for the RNA world, Shapiro continued, fails for the same reason: “Unfortunately, his theory retains the improbable generation of self-replicating polymers such as RNA.”  In fact, Shapiro added, “Deamer’s insight deflates the synthetic proofs put forward in numerous papers supporting the RNA world.”  Using that unfortunate word Unfortunately once again, though, he undermined Deamer’s “insight” into spontaneous vesicle formation as essentially useless: Unfortunately, the chemicals that he suggests for inclusion are drawn from modern biology, not from ancient geochemistry. We should let nature inform us, rather than pasting our ideas onto her. Incidentally, Nature News said that the scientific community has largely dismissed last year’s claim that arsenic-based life was possible (see “Arsenic and Old Lake,” 12/02/2010).  Rosie Redfield (U of British Columbia) is trying to replicate the experiment by Felisa Wolfe-Simon, even though it is almost “guaranteed to fail,” according to Erika Check Hayden.  Her article, though, focused more on how blog reporting of attempts to replicate controversial experiments is changing the face of peer review.  Said Jonathan Eisen (U of California), “This is a great case study for open science, because it raises issues about peer review, it raises issues about sharing data and materials, and it raises issues about engaging the public and press more actively in science.”  The Facebook-Twitter age is opening doors of science labs, where both good and bad can be seen in near real time. 1. Robert Shapiro, “Astrobiology: Life’s beginnings,” Nature 476 (04 August 2011), pages 30–31, doi:10.1038/476030a. David Klinghoffer has a better metaphor for these origin-of-life stories.  Saying that molecular “building blocks of life” can form naturally is like explaining Bach’s music by saying natural sources for the ink are readily available (see Evolution News).  One of the best recent collections of quotes on how “staggeringly improbable” the origin of life is, as understood by workers in the field, can be found in Rabbi Moshe Averick’s book Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist (Tradition and Reason Press, 2010).  In Part II, Averick quotes Shapiro and many other leaders in origin-of-life studies, making it abundantly clear from their own writings that evolutionists are completely clueless about how life started.  For instance, on pages 94-95, he quotes five leading astrobiologists admitting that the origin of life seems like a miracle. Those quotes should be kept at hand when reading science news articles with their glittering generalities making it sound like the origin of life is easy as apple pie.  Evolutionists need to make apple pie without first assuming apples.  In fact, as Carl Sagan said in Cosmos, to really make an apple pie from scratch, you must begin by inventing the universe.  Good luck—when all you have to start with is nothing (08/09/2011).(Visited 75 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

SA author wins best world children’s book award

first_imgKiki, the big-haired hero of Anita Poupouroulis’s award-winning children’s book, ‘Oh, What a Tangle!’ (Image: www.AnitaPoupouroulis.com) By Anne Taylor26 November 2013South African author Anita Pouroulis has won a top international award at the China Children’s Book Fair in Shanghai for her picture book, Oh, What A Tangle! The book is illustrated by Monika Filipina Trzpil.The book fair, the first to be held in China, was held over two days in Shanghai earlier this month, and was attended by some of the biggest names in children’s publishing. Published by UK company Digital Leaf, Oh, What a Tangle! was awarded the Golden Pinwheel prize for best International original Picture Book.“These days there are many challenges facing small presses and it was a great thrill to show the rest of the world what we’ve achieved.” – Neil Jeffries, publisherA spokesperson for the Golden Pinwheel Awards said the prize was founded to encourage excellence in children’s publishing and promote cultural diversity and international exchange “while at the same time showcasing the leading edge of the children’s publishing industry, spreading the latest international children’s reading materials and raising the overall quality of children’s reading materials”.The story is about a young girl called Kiki, who has beautiful hair. “But she’s not really into brushing it and prefers to do more fun things like draw on her shoes or paint designs on her hands,” Pouroulis writes on her blog. “And so the usual tangle develops … But the things that happen as a result of this tangle are highly unusual and rather funny!”Digital Leaf, a children’s digital publisher, was formed in 2011 by Neil Jeffries and Dustin Brooks. It only started publishing books last year.Pouroulis grew up in Johannesburg, but now lives in Spain with her family. Oh, What a Tangle! has been translated into Spanish and Catalan.Oh, What A Tangle! has also been developed as an animated interactive app and is available from  iTunes and the Google Play store.last_img read more

Nine young South Africans jet off to World Cup

first_img13 June 2014 Nine young South Africans jetted off to Brazil on Thursday night to attend one of the matches at the 2014 Fifa World Cup, courtesy of South African Airways (SAA). The nine youngsters, each representing one of South Africa’s nine provinces, will be in the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba on Monday – South Africa’s Youth Day – to witness the Group F clash between Iran and Nigeria. The group of “born-frees” – people born in or after South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994 – were selected from a “Freedom Flyers” competition on radio station Metro FM in which they had to leave a creative message in the format of a pilot’s in-flight welcome announcement, motivating why they deserved a seat on the flight to Brazil. “This initiative is in line with South Africa’’s 20 years of democracy and SAA’s 80th anniversary,” SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said in a statement on Friday. “Before 1994, the youth played a pivotal role in changing the history of South Africa, and today we are part of the global community. This trip will give the lucky winners a glimpse of what democracy has heralded: taking Africa to the world. It is for this reason that they are referred to as Freedom Flyers.” Tlali said the youngsters were travelling to Brazil as “ambassadors of democracy”, adding that the trip would contribute towards their growth as future leaders “who will become the voices of change, contribute towards the betterment of their communities, and share their experiences from what they learned in Brazil”. Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, speaking at a send-off event in Kempton Park, east of Johannesburg on Thursday, said: “It is not a moment of adventure, but it is exposure to the world to help these Freedom Flyers have a broader perspective on life.” Eighteen-year-old Phemelo Pooe from North West province, who is completing her four matric subjects and living with her single mom, said she was excited to be part of the trip. “It almost seemed impossible that one day I would be boarding an aeroplane to an international destination. I am grateful for this opportunity,” Pooe said. Pooe’s eight travelling companions are: Winnie Skhosana (Gauteng province), Matshediso Mohono (Limpopo), Ayanda Manoka (Mpumalanga), Njabulo Shange (KwaZulu-Natal), Buyelwa Xundu (Western Cape), Zandisile Nimbama (Eastern Cape), Ursula Moalahi (Northern Cape), and Lebogang Mosime (Free State). Mango, SA Express and Airlink supported the initiative by flying the winners from their respective provinces to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, and will return them from there back home on their return to the country on 18 June. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Four Months Later, Apple Still Censoring Drone Strike App

first_imgjohn paul titlow Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Tags:#Apple#drones#iOS#iPhone#Online Censorship Related Posts This is admittedly not as scary as a government censoring a news outlet. But iOS is a very widely-adopted platform and millions of customers instinctively turn to the App Store to load their devices with content and functionality. In some countries, iPhone apps play a pivotal role in popular protests against despotic governments, who undoubtedly find the content of those apps to be “objectionable.” Why not give them the boot, too? Apple, some will argue, is free to make decisions like this. And they are. It’s not a government after all, and consumers are free to go elsewhere or access whatever information they want via the Web browser. This is true. But what business rationale could Apple possibly have for blocking apps based on their content? As far as I can tell, there isn’t any. In fact, stuff like this makes iOS less attractive compared to alternatives like Android. Why not just stop censoring apps? There would be no discernible degradation in the user experience and many of us would feel less creeped out. If Apple wants to draw a line at pornography and obscenity, fine. We’ll get our porn elsewhere and the App Store will remain a spotless, kid-friendly place. But beyond obscenity and adult material, the content of apps shouldn’t factor into whether or not an app is accepted into the App Store. Apple has not officially responded to Congressional calls to reinstate the Drone+ app. But we’ll find out if the company has had a change of heart as early as late January. That’s when Begley says he’ll resubmit the app for approval. Around the same time, he’ll submit an Android version as well.  What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … At the end of August, Apple made a disheartening decision. After NYU grad student Josh Begley submitted Drone+, an iPhone app that maps U.S. drone strike in Pakistan, the company decided that the content was too “objectionable” to be granted shelf space in their App Store.Begley’s app didn’t contain graphic images of dismembered children or even classified information. In fact, the same data could be found, in one form or another, within other readily-available apps and on the Web. The decision made little sense, but it smacked of a sort of censorship that left many – myself included – feeling uneasy. Some called for Apple to reverse its decision. Four months later, they haven’t said a word. The news cycle may have moved on from the Drone+ controversy, but others haven’t. In mid-November Congressman Dennis Kucinich called on Apple to unblock the app, citing the need for more transparency about how drones are used by the U.S. military. Apple Needs To Get Out of Censorship GameApple’s customers pay a toll when they enter the company’s mobile ecosystem. When we purchase an iOS device, we willingly cede some freedom and control, allowing Apple to call most of the shots. In exchange, we get a highly polished, hyper-intuitive and very functional user experience. And we love it. But sometimes Apple’s control goes too far. Every now and then, it outgrows its original intent – to maintain a superb user experience – and enters territories that can actually hamper that same experience. Even worse, it can turn a beloved technology brand into a type of censor.  Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

The Best Salespeople Are Combative and Collaborative

first_imgThe salesperson speaking to their team was direct, and just a little combative. Not the kind of combative that would make someone not want to work with them, but combative in the way of not accepting that his company couldn’t accommodate his client’s need.What they client needed wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t something that the company doesn’t routinely do; in fact, what the client needed is the company’s core business. It didn’t require a discounted rate or some radical change to their approach. The conflict that the salesperson and his peers in operations were working through was a scheduling issue.The operations team said it couldn’t be done. He offered to move the time, including coming in on the weekend to make sure he was there to oversee the project. He offered Friday, Saturday, Sunday, day or night. When that failed, he pushed to move the job to another one of the company’s locations, knowing that one of their many locations would be able to help.The salesperson was adamant about succeeding for his customer. He was working to be resourceful, finding a way to get something done. He was pushing his team, and he was pushing himself to get something done. It was clear he felt a sense of responsibility to the client and that he did not intend to fail. He was still working on the problem when I stopped eavesdropping on his phone call.If you sell your client something, you own that outcome. That doesn’t mean you own the outcome only when it’s easy, when it suits you, or when you don’t have to push internally to get things done. What it means is that you do what is necessary, occasionally pushing and prodding your team, and occasionally being a bit of pain to ensure that your client succeeds.When there is conflict between you and your operations team, don’t focus on people, focus on the problem (exactly what I witnessed here). The general rule is that you need to answer one question and one question only: How do we take care of this client now? Get the Free eBook! Learn how to sell without a sales manager. Download my free eBook! You need to make sales. You need help now. We’ve got you covered. This eBook will help you Seize Your Sales Destiny, with or without a manager. Download Nowlast_img read more