Reasons to Believe

Prebiotic Chemistry

  • 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

  • A Fork in the Road, Part 1 of 2

    No Good Options for the Origin of Life

    The hall-of-fame catcher Yogi Berra is reputed to have said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Origin-of-life researchers have been … more

  • Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls

    Reflections on Stanley Miller's Death and Life

    Chemist Stanley L. Miller died in late May (March 7, 1930-May 20, 2007).

    Even if you don't recognize the name, you are probably familiar with his … more

  • Natural Sugar Synthesis?

    Compulsory features for the replicating molecules of life (DNA and RNA) include five-carbon sugars, namely deoxyribose for DNA and ribose for RNA. These sugars form the backbone of DNA and RNA. … more

  • Biology Textbooks Get It Wrong on Life’s Origin

    If you don’t recognize the name, you are probably familiar with his famous experiment. Virtually every high school biology text describes the work Miller performed in the early 1950s. He filled … more

  • Search for Reservoirs of the Building Blocks of Life

    Even the simplest life-form is orders of magnitude more complicated than anything on display at Legoland. Nevertheless, like the Legoland structures, life molecules are assemblages of a relatively … more

  • Why We Need to Return to the Moon

    The Apollo missions were more than just television spectaculars, however. The Apollo program helped us solve the mystery of the moon’s origin and helped establish how amazingly designed the moon … more