Late Heavy Bombardment put under the microscope

The article goes over the case against the cataclysm scenario, and it turns out the case isn’t as rock-solid (sorry, had to put a pun in here somehow) as previously thought. It turns out that what we previously thought was evidence for the Late Heavy Bombardment was actually a sampling error, as the article attests to in the quote below:

Yet just when the idea of the LHB finally seemed unimpeachable, holes began to appear. Apollo data and ‘crater counting’, which estimates the order in which craters were laid down on the basis of how they overlap, had indicated that three of the largest crater basins on the Moon’s near side — Imbrium, Nectaris and Serenitatis — might all be about 3.95 billion years old (see ‘Sampling the Moon’). But high-resolution maps from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which started circling the Moon in 2009, spotted rays of debris extending from Imbrium5. This suggested that the impact that formed the crater might have knocked rocks into nearby Serenitatis, contaminating the Apollo samples picked up there. In 2010, a reanalysis of rocks thought to have been ejected from Nectaris indicated that they were also chemically and geologically similar to Imbrium material6. “We started realizing that maybe we were sampling Imbrium over and over,” says Zellner.

The article goes on further, saying that “we find no evidence of a large spike in impacts occurring around the 3.9 billion year mark” (slight paraphrasing). It also mentions the existence of crystals dated to 4.1 Ga that “demonstrate the existence of relatively calm pools of liquid water,” which would’ve been supposedly evaporated from the surface of the Earth from that period of if the LHB hypothesis is correct.

The article concludes by saying that at the most the evidence indicates a “more prolonged period of bombardment, as opposed to the sudden spike in impact events as predicted by the cataclysm hypothesis.” Others are skeptical of even that, instead believing that there was one single rapid spike that occurred very shortly after the solar system formed, whereas others believe there was no spike nor period of bombardment at all.

Sulfur played vital role in the development of life on earth

Sulfur played a vital role in the history of life on earth a new study says, and the fact that sulfur was abundant in the early earth, meaning plenty of material for microbes to metabolize to serve as fuel for photosynthesis, means that the abundance of sulfur in the early earth played a vital role in the oxygenation of the earth’s atmosphere.

However, because sulfur quickly degrades in an oxidized environment, the sulfur chemistry of early life on earth was “quickly lost to time,” as the article says.

Because sulfur is quickly oxidized in an oxygen-rich environment, and then removed from the atmosphere by precipitation and run-off into the ocean, the sulfur chemistry of early Archean life was phased out and lost to time. However, by understanding the mass independent fractionation process, it should be possible to learn more about the atmosphere of the pre-oxygenated Earth and the conditions in which the first life on Earth lived.

The process behind the mass independent fractionation of sulfur remains uncertain, but the two most popular hypotheses are either photolysis (the breaking apart of molecules) by ultraviolet light from the Sun, or reactions between elemental sulfur. “However, the actual phenomenon, reaction or mechanism is still to be identified,” says Dmitri Babikov, a Professor of Physical Chemistry and Molecular Physics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The article says that sulfur isotopes could serve as potential indicators of environments similar to that of the early earth’s, but that today’s technology is too limited to be of any help in identifying such indicators in potential exoplanets. Let’s hope the Jim Webb telescope is launched soon, for much is yet to be learned about the universe at large.

10 Mysteries of Titan

The excellent as always Mr John Michael Godier has come out with a new video, I suggest giving it a watch. Mr Godier here explains ten mysteries of Titan, the only moon in our solar system with a substantial atmosphere, and the only other terrestrial body in our solar system with surface liquids, specifically lakes and rivers of liquid methane. It’s also becoming more and more evident that prebiotic chemistry of sorts is occurring on Titan, and what’s happening their may hold clues for the origin of life here on earth as well, as the early earth is believed to have been very similar to Titan.

It’s even possible we may find life there, however such life would be totally alien to our own, utilizing an entirely different, and also entirely hypothetical, biochemistry than the water based one that is used on earth. Titan also quite likely has a subsurface ocean of liquid water, and that subsurface ocean may very well have hydrothermal vents, meaning that it’s quite likely that even if no life is found on Titan’s surface, that life may still be found on Titan irregardless of its surface conditions.

Abiogenesis and evolution

I’ve had to deal with this particular piece of creationist claptrap so many times I’ve decided to write this refutation once and for all and be done with it. Abiogenesis is not evolution, it never was, it never will be. Evolution only deals with how living beings change over time, note that in order to qualify as “living,” one has to be alive. The theory of evolution does not concern itself with abiogenesis, that’s a completely different field of study not even belonging to biology, abiogenesis is properly chemistry, not biology.

If one happens to feel the need to make believe that a god created life on earth but allowed life to evolve after that, go ahead, evolution does not conflict with such a belief because it only deals with what happens after life has originated, not before it. One final thing, cars are irrelevant and bringing up how cars need to be intelligently designed and how they don’t evolve is a strawman, cars aren’t living beings that reproduce, metabolize, and possess a genetic code. Piss off.