Life Origins

Life Began Between the Sheets … of Mica, Expert Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 10, 2007   View Article

Hot action between the sheets has given many human lives their start. Now a scientist says chemical comings and goings between sheets of the mineral mica may have gotten all life on Earth going.

The layered, flaky mineral could have provided support, shelter, and an energy source to jump-start formation of the first complex organic molecules, according to the new theory.

Odd Star Sheds Cometlike Tail

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 15, 2007   View Article

The star Mira sheds a cometlike tail of rich material as it streaks through space—something that has never been seen before—astronomers announced today.

Acting sort of like a cosmic Johnny Appleseed, the star is leaving behind carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and other important “seed” elements needed for new stars, planets, and potential life to form.

Alien Life May Be “Weirder” Than Scientists Think, Report Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 6, 2007   View Article

Think life on Earth is weird? It might be even weirder on distant planets and moons, according to a new report.

Instead of thriving on water, extraterrestrial organisms might live in a sea of liquid methane. Or instead of getting energy from the sun, they might thrive on hydrochloric acid.

Heat-Loving Microbes Offer Clues to Life’s Origins

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 26, 2004   View Article

Over the past 20 years scientists have warmed up to the idea that the majority of life on our planet lives not on Earth’s surface but beneath its crust. The theory has spurred new ideas about life’s origins on Earth and where to look for life on other planets.

Earth’s crust gets warmer the closer it is to the molten iron-nickel believed to be at our planet’s core. One question that scientists who study life beneath Earth’s crust face is, at what temperature is it too hot for life to survive?

Rust-Breathing Bacteria: Miracle Microbes?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 12, 2004   View Article

They breathe rust, clean up polluted groundwater, generate electricity, and may harbor clues to the origins of life. That’s a lot for one family of microscopic bugs, but don’t be surprised when Derek Lovley wows the world with another wonder from the Geobacter genus of bacteria.

“When we think we have hit the last of the big discoveries, something else comes along,” said Lovley, a microbiologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

New Theory: Universe Created by Intelligent Being

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 11, 2004   View Article

On any given starry night thousands, perhaps millions, of people crane their necks skyward and allow their minds to swirl around two fundamental questions: Are we alone, and why are we here?

According to a lawyer and science enthusiast in Portland, Oregon, not only is the universe full of life, but some of it may be intelligent beyond our wildest imagination. He also says that collectively as intelligent beings we are entwined in our ultimate destiny: to give birth to another universe.

High Lakes May Yield Clues to Life on Mars

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 27, 2003   View Article

Next month Nathalie Cabrol and colleagues hope to slip into drysuits, don masks, and dive, without the aid of an oxygen tank, into a lake tucked into the crater of a 19,734-foot (6,014-meter) tall volcano on the border between Chile and Bolivia.

If they succeed, they will tie a world record for the highest “free dive.”

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach