Reasons to Believe

Prebiotic Chemistry

  • Metabolism-First Models Can’t Evolve

    Metabolism First: It’s not a new diet plan. It’s how some scientists think life originated. Over the course of the last few years insights into this class of evolutionary models indicate … more

  • Rescuing the RNA World?, Part 2 (of 2)

    Last week I mentioned how much I enjoyed watching Dudley Do-Right on Saturday mornings as a kid. I was also fond of Underdog. This canine parody of Superman battled criminals like Simon Bar Sinister … more

  • Rescuing the RNA World?, Part 1 (of 2)

    I remember watching Dudley Do-Right on Saturday mornings as a kid. A member of the Canadian Mounties, this cartoon hero displayed more heroism than smarts as week after week he took on his archenemy … more

  • Stanley Miller and His Experiments

    Reflections on the World's Most (In)famous Origin-of-Life Experiment

    Some time back, we were recoding a series of new episodes for our podcast I Didn't Know That!. (This is the program where members … more

  • Pieces of the RNA World, Part 2 (of 2)

    New Research Rescues RNA World Scenario for Origin of Life, Or Does It?

    When you're gambling and losing, one quick way to turn your fortunes around (or make matters even worse for yourself) is to bet … more

  • Pieces of the RNA World, Part 1 (of 2)

    New Research Rescues RNA World Scenario for Origin of Life, Or Does It?

    Sometimes bad things happen in life and the best we can do is pick up the pieces and move on. Recently a team of Italian … more

  • Miller-Urey Redo

    Discovery of Old Lab Vials Erupts New Interest in a Famous Origin-of-Life Experiment

    It never ceases to amaze me what turns up when I clean out our garage: forgotten stuff that brings back memories, … more

  • The Oxygen–Antioxidant Paradox

    Advanced life requires the efficient processing of energy to perform work. Only the oxidation of carbohydrates, starches, and fats can deliver the necessary efficiency. However, the presence of oxygen … more

  • Where Did Earth Get Its Phosphorus?

    Phosphates serve as the backbone for all nucleic acids and are the major repository of chemical energy for metabolism. The human body contains about 11,000 parts per million of phosphorus by weight. … more

  • Too Much Sulfur

    Sulfur plays a crucial role in life chemistry. This fact became personal for me a year ago when I was diagnosed as sulfur deficient. Many protein functions crucially depend on sulfur. Fortunately, … more

  • Photosynthesis Is Not Enough

    This event occurred approximately 2.4 billion years ago. The oxygen content of Earth’s atmosphere rose from just one thousandth of a percent (10-5) of its present level (about 21 percent of the … more

  • Life on Titan?

    Members of the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn’s moons have published the first of their findings from the second close flyby by the planetary probe of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. They … more

  • Through the Glass Darkly

    My teenage daughters spend a lot of time in front of the mirror. For my girls, life without a mirror is unimaginable.

    But they aren’t the only ones who feel that way. Origin-of-life researchers … more

  • Is Life Possible on a Moon?

    A team of American astronomers recently announced the discovery of the first known planet outside our solar system to spend its entire orbit within the “habitable zone.”1When astronomers … more

  • Does the Probability for ETI = 1?

    Earlier this fall (September 25) I had a three-minute debate on Mancow’s Morning Madhouse, a nationally syndicated radio show, on the topic “Is there scientific evidence for intelligent … more

  • Ideal Biomarker

    Part of the problem is that in their search for signs of present or past existing life beyond planet Earth, astrobiologists have been attempting to detect biomarker molecules that already are known to … more

  • Natural Nucleobase Synthesis?

    The replicating molecules of life (DNA and RNA) are composed of different nucleobase molecules linked together by phosphates and five-carbon sugars. Without the nucleobase molecules the replicating … more

  • A Fork in the Road, Part 2 of 2

    No Good Options for the Origin of Life

    Origin-of-life investigators adopt one of two fundamental approaches to explain life’s beginning: (1) replicator-first, and (2) metabolism-first … more