Tag Archives | Life

The Preformationist Explanation Of Reproduction And The Creation Of Life

Preformationism—one of the dominant scientific theories of the 18th century—is the belief that a tiny tree is hidden inside every seed, and a tiny person curled up inside every sperm. Via Wikipedia:

In the history of biology, preformationism (or preformism) is the idea that organisms develop from miniature versions of themselves. Instead of assembly from parts, preformationists believe that the form of living things exist, in real terms, prior to their development. It suggests that all organisms were created at the same time, and that succeeding generations grow from homunculi that have existed since the beginning of creation.

Pythagoras is one of the earliest thinkers credited with ideas about the origin of form in the biological production of offspring. It is said that he originated “spermism”, the doctrine that fathers contribute the essential characteristics of their offspring while mothers contribute only a material substrate.

The groundbreaking scientific insights provided by Galileo and Descartes seemed to support preformationism.

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On The Price Of Increasing Your Capital

Consider getting drunk and going to the movies this weekend. From 1844’s Human Requirements and Division of Labour Under the Rule of Private Property, Karl Marx says:

The less you eat, drink and read books; the less you go to the theatre, the dance hall, the public house; the less you think, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, etc., the more you save – the greater becomes your treasure which neither moths nor dust will devour – your capital. The less you are, the more you have; the less you express your own life, the greater is your alienated life – the greater is the store of your estranged being.

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NASA Planning Mission To Search For Life On Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Mars gets the attention, but apparently a moon in the far reaches of our solar system is the spot with the greatest chance of harboring extraterrestrial beings. Via the Sydney Morning Herald:

US astronomers looking for life in the solar system believe that Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, which has an ocean, is much more promising than desert-covered Mars, which is currently the focus of the US government’s attention.

“Europa is the most likely place in our solar system beyond Earth to possess …. life,” said Robert Pappalardo, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “Europa is the most promising in terms of habitability because of its relatively thin ice shelf and an ocean … And we know there are oxidants on the surface of Europa.”

The JPL and the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland developed a new exploration project named Clipper with a total coast of two billion US dollars minus the launch.

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Scientists Create Nearly-Living Crystals

Meet your new pets, via Wired:

Three billion years after inanimate chemistry first became animate life, a newly synthesized laboratory compound is behaving in uncannily lifelike ways. The particles aren’t truly alive — but they’re not far off, either. Exposed to light and fed by chemicals, they form crystals that move, break apart and form again.

“There is a blurry frontier between active and alive,” said biophysicist Jérémie Palacci of New York University. “That is exactly the kind of question that such works raise.” Palacci and fellow NYU physicist Paul Chaikin led a group of researchers in developing the particles, which are described Jan. 31 in Science as forming “living crystals” in the right chemical conditions.

Some scientists think that life’s building blocks once existed in such a form, bouncing back and forth for millions of years until coalescing in configurations that possessed the ability to copy themselves.

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Some advice to those who have lost loved ones

via chycho

I had not planned on getting involved in the following discussion, however, a conversation was started online which I felt inclined to participate in, and since my initial reply was well received, I thought it would be worthwhile floating the information here as well. Some of what I have posted were extremely hard-learned lessons and I hope the information finds its way to those who seek such advice.

The following question was posted on AskReddit:

    “My parents just lost their son of 27 years. I am now an only child. Will it ever get easier for them, or will this bear on their soul until the eventual day where I must say goodbye?

    “I guess I’m not exactly sure what I’m asking for. Stories, anecdotes, puns, and assholes maybe. I want to be there for my mom and dad but I’m unsure of what may even help. What in this world can help someone overcome the grief of having to lose a child?

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Scientists To Put Genome-Sequencers On Mars To Find Alien DNA

The hunt for extraterrestrial DNA is on, Technology Review writes:

Two high-profile entrepreneurs say they want to put a DNA sequencing machine on the surface of Mars in a bid to prove the existence of extraterrestrial life.

In what could become a race for the first extraterrestrial genome, researcher J. Craig Venter said Tuesday that his Maryland academic institute and his company, Synthetic Genomics, would develop a machine capable of sequencing and beaming back DNA data from the planet. Separately, Jonathan Rothberg, founder of Ion Torrent, a DNA sequencing company, is collaborating on an effort to equip his company’s “Personal Genome Machine” for a similar task.

Venter said researchers working with him have already begun tests at a Mars-like site in the Mojave Desert. Their goal, he said, is to demonstrate a machine capable of autonomously isolating microbes from soil, sequencing their DNA, and then transmitting the information to a remote computer.

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A Genetic ‘Mistake’ 500 Million Years Ago Led To Advanced Life

Live Science on the fluke that eventually led to our current situation:

Over 500 million years ago a spineless creature on the ocean floor experienced two successive doublings in the amount of its DNA, a “mistake” that eventually triggered the evolution of humans and many other animals, says a new study.

The good news is that these ancient DNA doublings boosted cellular communication systems, so that our body cells are now better at integrating information than even the smartest smartphones. The bad part is that communication breakdowns, traced back to the very same genome duplications of the Cambrian Period, can cause diabetes, cancer and neurological disorders.

“Organisms that reproduce sexually usually have two copies of their entire genome, one inherited from each of the two parents,” co-author Carol MacKintosh explained. “What happened over 500 million years ago is that this process ‘went wrong’ in an invertebrate animal, which somehow inherited twice the usual number of genes.

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Alien Life May Resemble Giant Jellyfish

A compelling if fantastical vision of soft pod creatures floating on gas currents through the soupy atmospheres of exoplanets. Via India Today:

Aliens may not actually resemble the little green creatures Hollywood loves to portray them as. Rather, they are more likely to look like ‘giant jellyfish’, if a leading British space scientist is to be believed.

“My vision of aliens is an inhuman, silicon-based life form that looks much more like a jellyfish… It is likely that there is extra-terrestrial life – it is just more alien than you’d imagine,” Maggie Aderin-Pocock, satellite expert and government adviser in UK, said.

“But while they might resemble jellyfish, they will live not in the sea but in the atmosphere of a Jupiter-like planet, where they float around,” Aderin-Pocock said. Rather than surviving on carbon, which is the basis of all life, the “silicon generated” creatures are able to live off light absorbed through their ‘skin’ and chemicals sucked in through their giant mouths.

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Russian Project Offers Immortality To Billionaires

Interested in a second life as a robot? The goal is to achieve the ability to upload an individual’s mind into an artificial surrogate, and offer it as a service to the planet’s richest individuals in a decade or so. Via the Daily Mail:

A Russian entrepreneur who heads a hi-tech research project called ‘Avatar’ has contacted billionaires to offer them immortality. Dmitry Itskov claims he will personally oversee their immortality process, in exchange for an undisclosed fee. Itskov, a media entrepreneur, claims to have hired 30 scientists to reach this goal – and aims to transplant a human brain into a robot body within 10 years.

“You have the ability to finance the extension of your own life up to immortality. Our civilization has come very close to the creation of such technologies: it’s not a science fiction fantasy. It is in your power to make sure that this goal will be achieved in your lifetime,” says Itskov in a letter delivered to billionaires listed in Forbes magazine.

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