The origin of life?!
I heard from an authority in molecular biology today that a group of researchers funded by the Carnegie Institution and NASA believe they've discovered the origin of RNA
, and with that, the origin of life.
This new discovery grew out of NASA's Deep Impact
mission to study the composition of comets. Specifically, they started investigating a kind of carbon that forms in layers, with each layer slighly offset from the previous one in a helix shape. Significantly, the thickness of these carbon layers corresponds with the thickness of each twist in a strand of RNA.
It turns out that the individual building blocks of RNA are capable of bonding to this layered carbon when exposed to UV radiation. Once this has happened, apparently formaldehyde
can then bond to the building blocks of RNA on the carbon "pattern", allowing the bonded RNA to slough off into the primordial soup. Over time, some of these RNA strands could fold and bond to themselves, forming DNA. Formaldehyde, the initial bonding material, would eventually be replaced by a more chemically sophisticated substance, creating the chemical bond that we observe today in DNA.
Expect a paper on it to be released in approximately three months with all the details.
posted by insomnia_lj
on Nov 6, 2005 -
Death as we know it will die.
If you wish to be a prophet, first you must dress the part. No more silk ties or tasseled loafers. Instead, throw on a wrinkled T-shirt, frayed jeans, and dirty sneakers. You should appear somewhat unkempt, as if combs and showers were only for the unenlightened. When you encounter critics, as all prophets do, dismiss them as idiots. Make sure to pepper your conversation with grandiose predictions and remind others of your genius often, lest they forget. Oh, and if possible, grow a very long beard.
By these measures, Aubrey de Grey is indeed a prophet. The 42-year-old English biogerontologist has made his name by claiming that some people alive right now could live for 1,000 years or longer. Maybe much longer. Growing old is not, in his view, an inevitable consequence of the human condition; rather, it is the result of accumulated damage at the cellular and molecular levels that medical advances will soon be able to prevent — or even reverse — allowing people to go on living pretty much indefinitely.
posted by sharksandwich
on Oct 30, 2005 -
The 2004 International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' Red List
of Threatened Species.
posted by Gyan
on Oct 20, 2005 -
“The real world is
simply too terrible to admit; it tells man that he is a small, trembling animal who will decay and die." “The defenses that form a person’s character support a grand illusion, and when we grasp this we can understand the full drivenness of man. He is driven away from himself, from self-knowledge, self-reflection. He is driven toward things that support the lie of his character.” Words of Ernest Becker
, here summarizing Gestalt therapy and his own existential perspectives in Growing Up Rugged
posted by semmi
on Oct 4, 2005 -
"If time has to end, it can be described, instant by instant," Mr. Palomar thinks, "and each instant, when described, expands so that its end can no longer be seen." He decides that he will set himself to describing every instant of his life, and until he has described them all he will no longer think of being dead. At that moment he dies.
In memoriam of Italo Calvino
, who died exactly 20 years ago
by his friend Gore Vidal. Calvino's obituary
by Vidal, il maestro William Weaver
's essay on Calvino's cities
, Jeanette Winterson on Calvino's dream of being invisible
, and Stefano Franchi
's philosophical study on Palomar's doctrine of the void
. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Sep 18, 2005 -
Temperance. Silence. Order. Resolution. Frugality. Industry. Sincerity. Justice. Moderation. Cleanliness. Chastity. Tranquility. Humility. Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues
. "He committed to giving strict attention to one virtue each week so after 13 weeks he moved through all 13. After 13 weeks he would start the process over again so in one year he would complete the course a total of 4 times."
posted by nthdegx
on Sep 10, 2005 -
Did the discovery of evolution lead to Darwin's agnosticism, as claimed
? Carl Zimmer wonders
. More importantly, can evolution be reconciled
posted by daksya
on Aug 11, 2005 -
"He is profane, uneducated, impious, lecherous, and unwashed.
He doesn’t care much about the war. In most cases, he misses his mother badly. But the American combat infantryman in Iraq is doing just fine." An in-depth (and apolitical) profile of day-to-day life in the 506th Infantry; "the same regiment that immortalized itself as the Band of Brothers in Normandy and Bastogne during World War II."
posted by kirkaracha
on Aug 9, 2005 -
M. Scott Peck: I'm a prophet, not a saint M. Scott Peck, author of the ultimate self-help manual, has Parkinson’s and his wife of 43 years has walked out.
Interesting profile of M. Scott Peck, the best-selling self-help author who preached self-discipline and delayed gratification despite being a smoker, a drinker, and an adulterer.
Via Bookslut. (Possibly nsfw drawing of nude woman.)
posted by callmejay
on May 11, 2005 -
An Objective Legal Look (and more) on Schiavo-- As a Florida law blogger, I have created this page to help people understand the legal circumstances surrounding the Terri Schiavo saga. In my view, there continues to be a need for an objective look at the matter. There is an unbelievable amount of misinformation being circulated.
Links to all court decisions, timelines, questions and answers
(some shocking)...you name it. All the info available on this tragic situation.
posted by amberglow
on Mar 19, 2005 -
Ghosts in the Machine.
How many email addresses do you have? How many forums have you joined? How many people do you speak to online? Where does the trail of your Internet life take you--and what would happen to it when you die? MyLastEmail
haven't been available for a while now. Executors' jobs may get a lot more complicated.
posted by schroedinger
on Mar 6, 2005 -
A pair of NASA scientists
told a group of space officials at a private meeting here that they have found strong evidence that life may exist today on Mars. Spirit
has also recently taken a very intriguing photo.
Of course this is just making things official, since we've known
the truth for years.
posted by jikel_morten
on Feb 16, 2005 -
Why haven't you settled down yet?
(impermanent no-login link
) Time has discovered that people are no longer graduated, married, and parenting by 22.
are using their 20s to jump between jobs, apartments and cities instead of becoming adults. The reasons? Colleges
seriously out of step with the real world,
the ubiquity of choice, declining wages and plenty more. Personally, I blame the Toys-R-Us ad song for conditioning a generation to not
wanna grow up.
posted by revgeorge
on Jan 22, 2005 -
[Java]. Mirek's Cellebration is an beautiful applet for exploring all sorts of cellular automata. Source code and standalone version also available.
posted by Wolfdog
on Jan 4, 2005 -
The Foundation For A Better Life.
A non-profit, non-partisan, non-religious, organization that doesn't want your money, but that simply believes, "the values we live by are worth more when we pass them on
." What kind of values? Strength
. Hard Work
, Class & Courage
, and more. Their billboards
and TV ads
are all around, but if you're like me, you probably had trouble figuring out who they were from...
posted by NotMyselfRightNow
on Nov 5, 2004 -
"We have [a substance]
that extends the life of every species it's given to. We're 50 years ahead of where I thought we would be 10 years ago." While Harvard Medical School rules prevent David Sinclair
from recommending product
, "I know a number of scientists who think [it]
is their best shot. Others satisfy themselves with a glass of red wine
," which contains the compound. Too good to be true?
posted by stbalbach
on Oct 6, 2004 -
The Meaning of Life
according to various rather famous people (Dennett, Fukuyama, etc). I'm watching the Dennett video at the moment and it starts rather weakly, but, by midway through, is rolling along nicely. With topics like "being good without god" and "the anthropic principle" it struck me as relevant to a couple of recent askmefi threads
Dennett: [pause] i guess i'll say it again, more slowly...
(oh, and the player interface is rather delicate - give it time to load and click play a few times...)
posted by andrew cooke
on Oct 1, 2004 -
How long til you buy the farm?
• "The Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator
© was designed to translate what we have learned from studies of centenarians and other longevity research into a practical and empowering tool for individuals to estimate their longevity potential." Wasn't this on a Futurama episode?
posted by dhoyt
on Sep 8, 2004 -
Miles has put his whole life up online for us to look at pictorially. It's actually quite a poignant exercise, as we see the sweep of a life within a few clicks of a mouse -- like a weblog telling his story over a greatly extended period.
posted by feelinglistless
on Aug 9, 2003 -
Ever since I became a TiVo addict, I've found myself wanting to use its features in real life, wishing I could rewind & replay moments of random comedy & chaos, usually involving my pugs. Soon, thanks the good folks at Deja View, I will be able to, with the help of a head mounted micro video camera unit
that is always on, recording a 30 second buffer of real time, and up to four hours of manually recordable space for once you activate the record button. The scourge of ephemera will be wiped out in our lifetime.
posted by jonson
on Jun 19, 2003 -
is an online help desk for everyday life. It operates like a tech support web site (with tickets, responses, etc.), but the issues are about religion, love, and politics instead of printers and device drivers. I got some interesting and/or entertaining responses to the issues I posted.
posted by oissubke
on Jun 5, 2003 -