Step 4: Life Began in the Icy Orbit of Pluto

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“You could say that the universe is in the business of making life – or that God is an organic chemist.”
~ Dr. Cyril Ponnamperuma, “Seeds of Life”, Omni Magazine Interview, 1983

Quoting from Earth Mother Our Womb of Life:

On July 21, 1986, more than 260 scientists from over 20 nations gathered in California to discuss the origin of life on Earth. Dr. Cyril Ponnamperuma, director of the chemical evolution laboratory of the University of Maryland, expressed the opinion of everyone present when he said, “… The processes which led to life on Earth must have started elsewhere in the universe…”

It is common knowledge that the conditions prevailing in the Earth’s present position (approximately 149 ½ million km. from the sun) are unsuitable for the formation of life. Any search for the origins of humanity has to look for a place with much colder conditions, and with an atmosphere of hydrogen and hydrogen compounds. The most plausible explanation is that terrestrial life is a phenomenon which originated in an outlying orbit of the Solar System, where microorganisms were gathered by the convolutions of the Earth and packed into hard ice – conditions perfect for the preservation of organic material.

Screenshot of the BBC webpage on Snowball Earth, which include a number of explanatory videos.

Screenshot of the BBC webpage on Snowball Earth, which includes a number of explanatory videos.

dropstone NamibiaThe scientific theory, “Snowball Earth” says the Earth was once covered in ice.  Geologists Paul Hoffman and Dan Schrag found ‘dropstones’ in Namibia, Africa. Dropstones are rocks and boulders believed to have been dropped into sediment from icebergs. The fact that so many are found in the hot dry deserts of Namibia led them to propose an ice-age existed which extended as far south as the equator. There is a dedicated website by the U.S. National Science Foundation (Geology & Paleontology Division) which explores the theory: Snowballearth.org

Scientists have come to believe the first life forms evolved in ‘Snowball Earth’. Below are extracts from a very informative and fascinating article in Discover Magazine, February 2008, entitled: Did Life Evolve in Ice?  The article brings together the work of chemists, physicists and astro-biologists who all arrived independently at the notion that the “funky properties of frozen water may have made life possible.

Discover Magazine February 2008

Discover Magazine February 2008

“For decades, those studying the origin of life have imagined that it emerged in balmy conditions from primordial soups, tropical ponds, even boiling volcanic vents. Miller [Stanley L. Miller, renowned origin of life chemist] and and a few other scientists began to suspect that life began not in warmth but in ice—at temperatures that few living things can now survive. The very laws of chemistry may have favored ice, says Bada [Jeffery Bada, chemist and astrobiologist], now at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. “We’ve been arguing for a long time,” he says, “that cold conditions make much more sense, chemically, than warm conditions.”

*****

… strange things happen when you freeze chemicals in ice. Some reactions slow down, but others actually speed up—especially reactions that involve joining small molecules into larger ones. This seeming paradox is caused by a process called eutectic freezing. As an ice crystal forms, it stays pure: Only molecules of water join the growing crystal, while impurities like salt or cyanide are excluded. These impurities become crowded in microscopic pockets of liquid within the ice, and this crowding causes the molecules to collide more often. Chemically speaking, it transforms a tepid seventh-grade school dance into a raging molecular mosh pit.

“Usually as you cool things, the reaction rates go down,” concluded Leslie Orgel, who studied the origins of life at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, from the 1960s until his death last October. “But with eutectic freezing, the concentrations go up so fast that they more than make up” for the difference.

“The strong point of freezing,” according to Orgel, “is that you concentrate things very efficiently without evaporation.” Freezing also helps preserve fragile molecules like nucleobases, extending their lifetime from days to centuries and giving them time to accumulate and perhaps organize into something more interesting—like life.

Orgel and his coworkers proposed these ideas in 1966, when he showed that frozen cyanide efficiently assembles into larger molecules. Alan Schwartz, a biochemist at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, took the idea further when he showed in 1982 that frozen cyanide, in the presence of ammonia, can form a nucleobase called adenine.

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Hauke Trinks and wildlife on the beach of Nordaustland

Hauke Trinks and local wildlife on the beach of Nordaustland, far north of the Arctic Circle, where he went to study the evolution of life in sea ice – similar conditions to prehistoric ‘Snowball Earth’. Credit: Marie Tieche

[Pre-historic] Earth may have cooled to an average surface temperature of –40°F and a crust of ice as much as 1,000 feet thick may have covered the oceans. Many scientists have puzzled over how life could have arisen on a planet that was essentially a giant snowball. The answer, Trinks [Hauke Trinks, physicist at Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg in Germany] suspected, involved sea ice.

Trinks had become interested in sea ice 10 years before, while studying its tendency to accumulate pollutants from the atmosphere and concentrate them in liquid pockets within the ice. He set out to explore whether a layer of ice covering early Earth’s oceans might have gathered and assembled organic molecules.”…

By the time Trinks returned to Hamburg in 2003, he had formulated a theory that ice was doing much more than just concentrating chemicals. The ice surface is a checkerboard of positive and negative charges; he imagined those charges grabbing individual nucleobases and stacking them like Pringles in a can, helping them coalesce into a chain of RNA. “The surface layer between ice and liquid is very complicated,” he says. “There is strong bonding between the surface of the ice and the liquid. Those bondings are important for producing long organic chains like RNA.”

At a lecture in Hamburg in 2003, Trinks met up with chemist Christof Biebricher, who was studying how the first RNA chains could have formed in the absence of the enzymes that guide their formation in living cells. Trinks approached Biebricher with his sea ice theory, but to Biebricher, the experiments to test it sounded messy—more like a margarita recipe than a serious scientific investigation. “Chemists,” says Biebricher, “do not like heterogeneous substances like ice.” But Trinks convinced him to try it in his laboratory at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany.

dna-and-rnaBiebricher sealed small amounts of RNA nucleobases—adenine, cytosine, guanine—with artificial seawater into thumb-size plastic tubes and froze them. After a year, he thawed the tubes and analyzed them for chains of RNA.

For decades researchers had tried to coax RNA chains to form under all sorts of conditions without using enzymes; the longest chain formed, which Orgel accomplished in 1982, consisted of about 40 nucleobases. So when Biebricher analyzed his own samples, he was amazed to see RNA molecules up to 400 bases long. In newer, unpublished experiments he says he has observed RNA molecules 700 bases long.

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That is a good start, but it leaves unanswered the question: How do you get from tiny snippets of RNA to longer, well-crafted chains that could have acted as the first enzymes, doing fancy things like copying themselves. The shortest RNA enzyme chains known today are about 50 bases long; most have more than 100. To work effectively, moreover, an RNA enzyme must fold correctly, which requires exactly the right sequence of bases.

A young scientist named Alexander Vlassov stumbled upon a possible answer. He was working at SomaGenics, a biotech company in Santa Cruz, California, to develop RNA enzymes that latch on to the hepatitis C virus. His RNA enzymes were behaving strangely: They normally consisted of a single segment of RNA, but every time he cooled them below freezing to purify them, the chain of RNA spontaneously joined its ends into a circle, like a snake biting its tail. As Vlassov worked to fix the technical glitch, he noticed that another RNA enzyme, called hairpin, also acted strangely. At room temperature, hairpin acts like scissors, snipping other RNA molecules into pieces. But when Vlassov froze it, it ran in reverse: It glued other RNA chains together end to end.

Vlassov and his coworkers, Sergei Kazakov and Brian Johnston, realized that the ice was driving both enzymes to work in reverse. Normally when an enzyme cuts an RNA chain in two, a water molecule is consumed in the process, and when two RNA chains are joined, a water molecule is expelled. By removing most of the liquid water, the ice creates conditions that allow the RNA enzyme to work in just one direction, joining RNA chains. The SomaGenics scientists wondered whether an icy spot on early Earth could have driven a primitive enzyme to do the same. 

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Miller died on May 20, 2007, but the provocative theory he helped nurture lives on. In the latest twist, Miller’s ideas are influencing not just theories about life’s origin on Earth but also investigations about the potential for life elsewhere in the solar system. 

LIFE UNDER ANTARCTIC’S ICE

In January 2013, a drill cut half a mile through the Antarctic Ice Sheet to Subglacial Lake Whillans.

In January 2013, a drill cut half a mile through the Antarctic Ice Sheet to Subglacial Lake Whillans.

The July 2013 issue of Discover Magazine has the article “Life Under Antarctic’s Ice”, which explains how a group of scientists discovered a subglacial lake half a mile under Antarctica, containing something no one thought was possible – life!

“On Jan. 28, Trista Vick-Majors, one of Priscu’s Ph.D. students, took a long-awaited step: She added DNA-sensitive dye to a sample of lake water — the first attempt to detect life in Lake Whillans. As she viewed it through a microscope, she saw specks of green shining against a background of black — cells glowing in response to the dye — as many as 1.6 million cells in each cubic inch of water. Those cells were the first ever found unambiguously in a subglacial lake.”

They thought life was impossible in the subglacial lake, not just because of the cold, but the lack of sunlight.

The location of subglacial Lake Whillans West Antarctic Ice Sheet

The location of subglacial Lake Whillans West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Credit: Discover magazine

“Only the upper 10 to 30 feet of water in these lakes was frozen as ice, so sunlight filtered through, allowing life to power itself through photosynthesis. But a lake as deeply buried as Vostok [another subglacial lake] would be entirely dark, so any life there would have to use some other energy source. At that time, the question of what life might inhabit Lake Vostok was becoming increasingly relevant to people who were looking for life elsewhere in the solar system.”

pluto_core

Pluto with its Core

This is a common notion – that life requires the Sun. I recently took a university short course on eco-systems and I was surprised at how the literature gave solar energy as the only source for life. Yet this completely overlooks life found in the deep oceans near volcanic vents and the numerous translucent and blind life forms found in deep caves – who have never seen sunlight. Heat and energy coming from the Earth’s Core have been shown to provide the necessary energy for life (see video below). In the orbit of Pluto, where sunlight is limited, the planet’s Core provides the heat and energy for life to develop.

In this post I have provided evidence that:
  • Earth was once covered in ice,
  • life is believed to have evolved in ice, and
  • present day icy conditions on Earth show an abundance of simple life forms, in particular single-cell organisms – even when there is no sunlight.

But it is not enough to say that life began on an icy cold Earth – but rather the Earth was icy cold because it was once in the orbit of Pluto. Perhaps it is best to look at the Pluto itself to see if it can offer us any information:

The video above from Space Telescope Science Institute was published in 2010. I include it here because astronomers have unexpectedly discovered that Pluto is not “ just an over sized snowball, but a dramatically dynamic world”. Quoting from the video:

“Pluto got redder, markedly redder, just over that very short time span [1994-2002].” ~ Marc Buie, astronomer Southwest Research Institute. “I was expecting that if we would see any change at all it would be very, very subtle and instead it seems like Pluto is changing perhaps a little faster than I would have expected.” ~ Will Grundy, astronomer, Lowell Observatory. What Pluto’s changing landscape means is anybody’s guess.

“We can no longer interpret what we are seeing as the result of a static surface that’s just changing in the direction we’re looking at it. We really have to have change taking place on the surface to explain the observations.” ~Buie “Observations that hint the Pluto is not just an over sized snowball, but a dramatically dynamic world on the solar system’s final frontier.”

New Horizons - an unmanned Pluto-Kuiper Belt probe

New Horizons – an unmanned Pluto-Kuiper Belt probe

The more we learn about Pluto the more we discard old ideas – the difficulty is figuring out new explanations to replace our old ones. In 2015 an unmanned space probe, New Horizons, will pass by and photograph Pluto and hopefully provide new information. Quoting from a BBC article entitled: “Pluto’s dynamic surface revealed by Hubble images“:

“Alan Stern, who is principal investigator on the mission, said that with every great planetary reconnaissance mission “we have always learnt that when we get there, we are blown away by how primitive our ideas were from blurry images taken from Earth.

He told BBC News: “When we get there, the odds are very high that we will have so much more information and rich detail that all our views circa 1990 and 2000 and 2010 will appear antiquated. That’s why I don’t like to make predictions.”

He added: “No one predicted river valleys on Mars, or volcanoes on the Galilean satellites, or that Mercury was mostly a core and little else. It’s entirely likely that Pluto will be something so surprising that everything we’ve done so far looks quaint in comparison.”

I hope the evidence I presented here gives you cause to think that there is more to our Solar System than we currently believe. Quoting the last paragraph from “Did Life Evolve In Ice?“:

“If life arose in ice on Earth, then why not on Mars, Europa, or Enceladus? “You’ve got to keep an open mind in this business,” Bada says. “If I were going to make a bet about what we’d find if we discover life elsewhere in the universe, I would suspect it would be more cold-adapted than hot-adapted.” “

This is the most detailed view to date of the entire surface of the dwarf planet Pluto, as constructed from multiple NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken from 2002 to 2003. The center disk (180 degrees) has a mysterious bright spot that is unusually rich in carbon monoxide frost. Image released - February 2010. Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Bule (Southwest Research Institute)

This is the most detailed view to date of the entire surface of the dwarf planet Pluto, as constructed from multiple NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken from 2002 to 2003. The center disk (180 degrees) has a mysterious bright spot that is unusually rich in carbon monoxide frost. Image released – February 2010.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Bule (Southwest Research Institute)

Step 3: The Mystery of the Appearing Turtle

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The turtle is a mystery of evolution. Its body shape first appears in the fossil record fully formed. But how? If life evolves in small incremental steps where are all the fossils showing the development of the turtle? Quoting from the textbook ‘Explore Evolution:

“The very first time turtles appear, their body plan is already fully developed, and they appear in the fossil record without intermediates. Furthermore, turtle and tortoise shells contain more than 50 bony “scutes” that appear in no other vertebrate order, nor anywhere else in the fossil record. What’s more, the turtle scapula is positioned underneath its ribs and scutes, unlike any living or fossilised vertebrate. Scott Gilbert, an evolutionary biologist who works on this puzzle, says that “the turtle shell represents a classic evolutionary problem: the appearance of a major structural adaptation”. According to Gilbert, this problem is made even more difficult by “the ‘instantaneous’ appearance of this evolutionary novelty.” Because “the distinctive morphology [form and structure] of the turtle appears to have arisen suddenly.” Gilbert and his colleagues argue that evolution needs “to explain the rapid origin of the turtle carapace [shell].” They are studying turtle embryology to investigate how this might have happened.

A fossil of one of the world's oldest-known turtle shells with a limb bone discovered in clay deposit northwest of Krakow. Credit: PhysOrg Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-world-oldest-turtle-shells.html#jCp

A fossil of one of the world’s oldest-known turtle shells with a limb bone discovered in clay deposit northwest of Krakow. Credit: PhysOrg

Excerpt from "At last, the hard facts on how the turtle got its shell" The Times 31 May 2013

Excerpt from “At last, the hard facts on how the turtle got its shell” The Times 31 May 2013

The image on the left is from a Times 2013 newspaper article called “At last, the hard facts on how the turtle got its shell“. I read with great interest thinking that the title was true. But I was disappointed. Nowhere in the article does it say how the turtle got its shell. The article starts its explanation with a fully formed shell – without saying how it formed. Instead the article focuses on the next steps in the turtle’s evolutionary journey.  However the conclusion of the article did not disappoint:

“The team also revealed that the sequence of evolutionary events resembles the steps seen as turtle embryos develop their shellsIt might not be the solution that Kipling would have dreamt up, but as Dr. Lyson [paleontologist Yale University and the Smithsonian] said: “The development data and the fossil record now align and are pointing towards the same answer.” ‘

The turtle’s evolutionary cycle resembles its embryonic growth cycle! This is an important realisation, yet I don’t think the author of the Times article or the very scientists studying the fossils grasp the implications. Even those who wrote the ‘Explore Evolution’ textbook (which is basically a criticism of Darwin’s theory) show a lack of understanding of what they are saying.

Vertebrae in one of the world's oldest-known turtle fossils.

Vertebrae in one of the world’s oldest-known turtle fossils

The turtle’s evolution looks like an growth cycle because evolution is a growth cycle!

If we want to know how Nature evolves life then we should look at how Nature develops life. This would lead us to look for cyclical transformative stages: tadpole to frog, sapling to tree, foetus to baby – an organism changes its body shape during its growth cycle (and often changes the environment it inhabits – tadpole in water to frog on land, chick in egg to hen on land, foetus inside a body to human on land).

Embryonic development of different species.

Embryonic development of different species

What if – if only for philosophical contemplation on this windy spring morning – what if Nature did evolve life the way Nature develops life? What would we expect to find? Life begins with the seed. Well, life on Earth began with single-cell organisms… seeds? One seed is often indistinguishable from anther, but once fertilized, life begins to take its distinctive shape (as shown in the image on the left).

The same procedure appears in our fossil record: first single-cell organisms, then the Cambrian Explosion in which we find that species began to take their distinctive body shapes. In fact, the vast majority of body types that exist on Earth today began during the Cambrian Explosion.

Sample of Cambrian fossils.

Sample of Cambrian fossils body types

I know that analogy is not proof. I am not offering this comparison as proof. But rather as a thought experiment. As Dr Lyson (from the Times article) said: The development data and the fossil record now align and are pointing towards the same answer.

It may not be what paleontologists “would have dreamt up” but the answer is that evolution is a system of growth, a process of development – as delineated and as reliable as any growth cycle in Nature.

We can’t see it because we’re in it – we can’t see the forest for the trees.

Fossil of the Icaronycteris, earliest known bat.

Fossil of the Icaronycteris, earliest known bat.

As a final note: the turtle is not the only animal to make its first appearance fully formed in the fossil record. The first bat looks very much like the modern day bat with fully functional wings (see above).

This is also true of many flowering plants which appeared during the “angiosperm big bloom”. As a National Geographic article “”The Big Bloom—How Flowering Plants Changed the World” asks: “Just when and how did the first flowering plants emerge? Charles Darwin pondered that question, and paleobotanists are still searching for an answer.”

A South African monkey beetle burrows deep into the center of a Gazania flower to feed on flower parts. The beetle then emerges with a luxuriant coat of pollen, which it carries to other flowers. Credit: National Geographic "The Big Bloom—How Flowering Plants Changed the World"

A South African monkey beetle burrows deep into the center of a Gazania flower to feed on flower parts. The beetle then emerges with a luxuriant coat of pollen, which it carries to other flowers. Credit: National Geographic “The Big Bloom—How Flowering Plants Changed the World

Step 3: Punctuated Equilibria

God's Evolutionary Process: The Sacred Path of Migration and Punctuated Equilibria

4 Steps to Evolution introduces a 4 step process to the formation of our Solar System and all life in it:

Step 3: Punctuated Equilibria and Step 4: The Sacred Path of Migration describe how evolution works. Quoting Earth Mother Our Womb of Life:

Present day ideas about evolution arise from those of Charles Darwin, who envisioned many, small transitional changes in organisms, with off spring varying slightly from their parents. As a small change proved advantageous, it was implemented. As later changes brought further improvements for survival and reproduction, they were carried into future generations. However, all efforts to trace the origin of man are dependent upon a fossil record which is unable to provide an unbroken series of transitional forms. Rather than supporting an unbroken pattern of development, fossil evidence strengthens the case for punctuated equilibria.

Our fossil record doesn’t match our explanation for evolution. The quote below from the textbook: “Explore Evolution” explains how “punctuated equilibria” (or equilibrium) came about:

“Many paleontologists are well aware of the conflict between the fossil record and neo-Darwinian theory [Darwin’s theory is now known as ne0-Darwinism since the inclusion of genetics]. In the traditional view, the fossil record was always to blame for the missing pieces of the evolutionary puzzle. Darwin, himself, had said the fossil record was ” woefully incomplete”.

By the early 1970s, some scientists including paleontologists Niles Eldredge and the late Stephen Jay Gould, began to become dissatisfied with this explanation. “We paleontologists,” wrote Eldredge, “have said that the history of life supports that interpretation [of gradual adaptive change], all the while really knowing that it does not.”punctuated_snails8

Eldredge and Gould decided to take a different approach. Instead of blaming the fossil record, they accepted the fossil data at face value. They agreed that the fossil record really does show many groups of organisms appearing abruptly, continuing for millions of years and then going extinct. “Stasis is data,” they insisted. Eldredge and Gould advocated a new evolutionary theory, called “punctuated equilibrium”.”

“Punctuated equilibria” means that evolution takes place in a series of sudden and repeated changes. According to punctuated equilibria, our solar system is the scene of regular changes, where long periods of equilibrium (relative uniformity) are interrupted by brief periods of excitation (punctuation). This throws a very different light on evolution.

“Punctuated Equilibrium was immediately attractive to many paleontologists because it described the fossil record more accurately than neo-Darwinism had done. However, many critics of the theory pointed out that punctuated equilibrium has never explained how the major changes recorded in the fossil record could have taken place in such a short time.”

The last sentence is important – although punctuated equilibria (or equilibrium) matched the fossil record, it proved problematic because:

  • paleontologists could not provide an explanation for the punctuations; and
  • how could life evolve so dramatically and so quickly after the punctuations?

This post answers the first problem: What event occurred on Earth to cause global extinction?

My next post will answer the second problem: How did life evolve so dramatically and quickly after the punctuations?

Mk's bk pg 116-117 - The end is nigh

The end is nigh – iridium marks evolutionary jumps.

First I want to look at two of the most interesting and dramatic ‘punctuations’ in our fossil record:

Fossils from the Cambrian Explosion

Fossils from the Cambrian Explosion

The first is the Cambrian Explosion which is when, as the name suggests, complex life forms burst onto the scene. Before the Cambrian Explosion, the Earth was covered in single-cell organisms – bacteria. Then a global event occurred and life changed into multi-cellular structures – many with eyes, limbs, dorsal nerve chords and hard bodies – in fact, all of the 26 body types that now exist on Earth started during the Cambrian Explosion.

The second ‘punctuation’ is when dinosaurs became mammals.

Both of these punctuations were dramatic and rapid. Both of these punctuations share something in common: a thin layer of rock between the ‘before’ and ‘after’ fossils. And that thin layer of rock contains an abundance of a particular chemical that is very rare on the surface of Earth – iridium. Quoting Wikipedia:

Iridium

Iridium

“Iridium is the second-densest element (after osmium) and is the most corrosion-resistant metal, even at temperatures as high as 2000 °C…  It is thought that the total amount of iridium in the planet Earth is much higher than that observed in crustal rocks, but as with other platinum group metals, the high density and tendency of iridium to bond with iron caused most iridium to descend below the crust when the planet was young and still molten.”

Iridium is not only found in abundance deep within the belly of the Earth, but also in meteors. So why is this important in the study of evolution?

The red arrow indicates the thin iridium rich layer which separates the fossils of dinosaurs from the mammals

The red arrow indicates the thin iridium-rich layer which separates the fossils of dinosaurs from the mammals, known as the Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T) boundary. Credit: Armstrong 2011 – Glendive, Montana.

The importance of the iridium-rich layers (known as iridium anomalies) in explaining evolution was first noted by a research team at UC Berkeley campus in the 1970s, headed by physicist Luis Alvarez. There is a wonderful article published in 1979, by the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL), entitled “Berkeley Scientists Report First Evidence That Dinosaur Extinction Caused By Meteorite Impact” which describes how Alvarez and his team arrived at the theory that a giant meteor hit the Earth and caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. Their theory (published in 1980) is now the standard explanation for the extinction of the dinosaurs – but few people understand on what they based their proposal. Quoting from the article:

“If there was an increase in the deposition rate of iridium-rich material, a source on the earth would be unlikely, since iridium is one of the least abundant elements in the earth’s crust,” comments Asaro. “If, on the other hand, the source is extraterrestrial, it would be naturally enriched in iridium and would be compatible with our measurements. So we believe the extraterrestrial hypothesis is more likely.”

Mass extinction/impact research group (left to right) Helen Michel, Frank Asaro, Walter Alvarez and Luis Alvarez (969)

Mass extinction/impact research group (left to right) Helen Michel, Frank Asaro, Walter Alvarez and Luis Alvarez (1969)

In other words, they claim the high levels of iridium found in the K-T boundary came from a meteor because: “a source on the earth would be unlikely”. A source from Earth is not ruled out by evidence, but rather, they couldn’t think of how the Earth could be the source.

In support of Alvarez’s theory a large crater was found off the east coast of Mexico, known as the Chicxulub crater, and it was deemed to be the crash site. But there are problems with this site – scientists have found that the crater pre-dates the extinction of the dinosaurs – fossils that shouldn’t be there have been found above the crater.

“Research, led by Gerta Keller of Princeton University in New Jersey, and Thierry Adatte of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, uses evidence from Mexico to suggest that the Chicxulub impact predates the K-T boundary by as much as 300,000 years… “We found that not a single species went extinct as a result of the Chicxulub impact,” says Keller. New Blow Against Dinosaur-killing Asteroid Theory, Geologists Find, Science Daily

Other scientists question the validity of using iridium as evidence of a meteor impact:

“Recent theoretical studies (Vickery and Melosh, 1990) suggest that large impacts may produce relatively weak iridium anomalies, because most of the vaporized impactor is blown off the Earth in the energetic collision.” ~ Future Climates of the World: A Modelling Perspective (1995)

An inherent problem with Alvarez’s asteroid impact theory is that it always remains theoretical – a best guess scenario – like trying to figure out a car crash from long ago when there are no witnesses and the crash site has degenerated over time.

Mk's bk pg 126-127 - Car Crash Cosmos

Car Crash Cosmos

Yet the asteroid impact theory remains ensconced in evolutionary science. As long as the source of iridium from Earth is denied, then we are left with little or no choice other than meteoric impact.

It is easy to claim ‘a truth’ when there is no alternative on offer.

Earlier I mentioned the Cambrian Explosion. It links to the punctuation between dinosaur and mammal through iridium. In the abstract of a scientific article entitled: “Explosive bolide impact designates the Cambrian Explosion, terminating the Cambrian event in New York” the author Gerald Friedman describes a conference he chaired in 1980, in which Louis Alverez and his son first announced that an asteroid 10km wide struck the Earth, causing a series of global catastrophes which killed the dinosaurs. Friedman was blown away by Alverez’s claim and checked for iridium in his Cambrian fossils samples in NY, his neck of the global evolutionary woods. Friedman too found iridium. He wrote:

“From these iridium anomalies I concluded that an extraterrestrial source, namely an asteroid, produced the iridium anomalies in the Cambrian of New York.”

If we look past Friedman’s conclusion – his interpretation of the data, and simply look at the data, then we find striking similarities between both evolutionary jumps in our fossil record – something happened which left a marker of iridium, that resulted in life transforming into greater complexity and diversity. Not only animal life but plants and the environment. Whatever the event was – it changed the very body of the Earth at a global level.

And it was not the only time this happened. The BBC webpage on pre-historic Earth gives a very good illustration of the different stages in Earth’s development – each stage marked by a global extinction/transformation event.

butterflylifecycleuse-300x208We tend to look at these stages as ‘mass extinction events’, but that is only half (or less) of the story – like saying the cocoon marks the mass extinction of caterpillars. It is true in one sense, but it completely negates the other side of the story – that the cocoon is a necessary step in the transformation of caterpillar to butterfly. Perhaps a better way to look at the punctuations are ‘periods of excitation’.

The mechanism the Punctuates our Equilibrium

Thank you for reading this far! Now that I’ve provided the background I will explain Step 3. As I described in an earlier post the Core of a planet forms through process of planetary differentiation. Differentiation is a process of separation that happens over time – heavier materials sink towards the core of a planet and lighter materials rise. This is how the heavy metal Core forms in the centre of a planet. The video below from the University of Nebraska describes the process.

As shown in the video, differentiation can take time – but it is also a continual process which only stops when the materials are properly separated. And this is the key!  The Core of a planet keeps growing and eventually it outgrows its home – eventually the Core becomes too large and heavy for the planet to contain and it is ejected.

Ejection of the Core

Ejection of a planetary Core

The ejection of the Core explains the sudden extinction of life – the punctuations in our fossil record. And it also explains the presence of iridium as a marker in the fossil record. Iridium exists in great quantity in the belly of the Earth – the Core’s birth would bring it to the surface and into the atmosphere to be spread around the Earth.

The image below includes 2 photos that are meant to illustrate a giant meteor hitting the Earth and causing the mass extinction of life. But perhaps a better way to view them is as the ejection or birth of a Core – a ‘period of excitation’ – the catalyst for the evolution of life.

IMG_1404

Meteor impact or Core ejection?

Once a Core is ejected it settles close to the body of a planet as a satellite – a moon. I examine the evidence in great depth in the post: A Core Becomes a Moon.

Mk's bk pg 92-93 - A Core Becomes a Moon

A Core Becomes a Moon

The majority of this post focused on iridium as a marker of the punctuations in our fossil record, but there is actually a more common marker – volcanic ash and lava. As Gerta Keller pointed out in her case against meteoric impact in the extinction of the dinosaurs:

None of the other great mass extinctions are associated with an impact, and no other large craters are known to have caused a significant extinction event.”

Keller suggests that the massive volcanic eruptions at the Deccan Traps in India may be responsible for the extinction, releasing huge amounts of dust and gases that could have blocked out sunlight and brought about a significant greenhouse effect.” ~ New Blow Against Dinosaur-killing Asteroid Theory

Volcanic eruptions are linked time and time again to the extinction events in our fossil record. And this is exactly what we would expect if a Core were ejected – because the Core is nestled in the heart of the Earth in an ocean of magma (1400 miles thick at last count), so its ejection would bring the magma to the surface. As noted in an article from Columbia University (see below) which looked at the extinction of the pre-dinosaurs – the link between the mechanism of extinction and volcanism “is pretty much ironclad”:

“Scientists examining evidence across the world from New Jersey to North Africa say they have linked the abrupt disappearance of half of earth’s species 200 million years ago to a precisely dated set of gigantic volcanic eruptions… “This may not quench all the questions about the exact mechanism of the extinction itself. However, the coincidence in time with the volcanism is pretty much ironclad,” said coauthor Paul Olsen, a geologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who has been investigating the boundary since the 1970s.” ~Mega volcanoes Tied to Pre-Dinosaur Mass Extinction

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4 Steps to Evolution

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The Southwest Pueblo sunflower sand painting represents our solar system. (I coloured it in before I knew there are specific colours for each orbit. I’m sorry but the colours are wrong.)

According to a process unfolding in Nature, known to some as “The Sacred Path or Pattern of Migration,” our Earth has been progressively evolving life, stage-by-stage, from our Solar System’s most outlying orbit to where we are now, one step from the loftiest place of our system – the Morning Star-Fifth World. Our Earth has long been carrying us as we have evolved from our earliest stages of life, to our present Homo sapien forms. But this is not our final form, which is received at the end of the Earth’s journey through our solar system toward the sun.

Wooden gear clock

Wooden gear clock

The book, Earth Mother Our Womb of Life, tells the story of the Sacred Path of Migration – the Hopi explanation for how our Earth Mother creates  and develops life. It’s a wonderful and inspiring description for two reasons.

First it explains evolution as a natural process – a progressive system of development. This is not just a philosophical idea, but a step-by-step instruction as to how it works, like explaining how the gears on a clock work.

Which leads me to the second reason why the story is so amazing: it offers hope for our future – scientific, rational hope!

At its heart, its a very simple 4 step procedure (though the book does not divide it into 4 steps) but it’s simplicity belies its vast explanatory powers – 4 steps to explain the creation and development of our Solar System and all life in it!

As the book says:

Perhaps the greatest difference between native religions and others, is this: we believe in God and evolution. We believe God’s greatest work is through evolution. God is the Divine Artist, evolution is the divine art; we are His clay; death is His kiln.

Creation and Evolution are best seen as one process – one wonderful, measurable and reliable system in Nature – like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

Everything I’m going to write is known in science and I’ll give you the links. All of the pieces of the puzzle are there – this explanation puts them together.

I had intended to write the 4 steps in one post. After all they are very simple. The difficulty is not the 4 steps themselves, but overcoming our current beliefs. As the book says:

After being raised within a particular worldview, it is difficult to step out of it, seeing the world in an entirely new light; one in which the Earth is a great living being filled with the life, consciousness, and power of God, from whom we are given life and all we possess; one where the Earth has been carrying us through the ages, evolving us from stage-to-stage toward a perfected form in the heavenly orbit of the Morning Star. But this understanding is what we need to safely travel through this Purification Time.

When approaching new and different knowledge, it is best to keep our minds open, as we did as children, permitting new information to find its rightful place in our minds and hearts. We are being asked, “who has ears to hear?”

So with that in mind, for the next few posts, I present:

Creation & Evolution in 4 Easy Steps

Ouroboros drawing from a late medieval Byzantine Greek alchemical manuscript (1478)

Ouroboros drawing from a late medieval Byzantine Greek alchemical manuscript (1478)

A solar system is self-propagating: it is produced by the sun, then consumed by the sun, and reproduced by the sun. This pattern perpetuates infinitely. The Egyptian symbol of the snake consuming its own tail was intended to illustrate the self-propagating nature of a solar system. Integral to this system is the evolution of species from raw material into their final form.

The first step is creating a Solar System. Without a solar system there is nothing – without a Sun and the the planets rotating around it, there is no environment and energy for life. So how did it all begin?

in the beginning

A ‘Spooky’ Structure in the Universe

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Aug 2012 issue of New Scientist magazine: “The spirals that don’t make sense”

More and more scientists are discovering surprising structure and order in the universe. The pic above shows a 2012 New Scientist article entitled, The spirals that don’t make sense. It says that scientists have identified an unexpected pattern to the universe – namely it spins to the left! I quote:

“It is the kind of mystery that could keep a cosmologist up at night: the discovery of a non-random pattern in the structure of the universe. Now fresh evidence for an ‘axis of asymmetry’, along which many more spiral galaxies seem to spin one way than the other, threatens to undermine our understanding of the cosmos.”   

“The observation is so strange that it’s difficult to interpret its meaning,” says Shamir [Lawrence Technological University]. “A pattern in the structure of the universe at such a large scale is not something that we expect to see.

This implies a net spin for the universe – but what set it spinning, and what is it spinning relative to?” 

Nature is no stranger to surprise asymmetries. Amino acids are more often left-handed than right, while all subatomic neutrinos that have been observed have a left-handed spin.

It’s good to look outside the bound of accepted ideas.” ~ James Peebles of Princeton University, a pioneer in the field of physical cosmology.

If the universe does contain such an axis, it would contradict our current view of the cosmos.

[Read the full New Scientist article in full by clicking on the image below:]

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Aug 2012 issue of New Scientist magazine: “The spirals that don’t make sense” Full article

This discovery may not seem important, but it is one of many recent discoveries of unexpected order and structure in the universe. For example: on 19 November 2014 the European Space Agency discovered a ‘spooky’ alignment of super-massive black holes:

New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to be aligned with the vast structures in the cosmic web in which they reside.

“The first odd thing we noticed was that some of the quasars’ rotation axes were aligned with each other — despite the fact that these quasars are separated by billions of light-years,” said Professor Hutsemékers.

The alignments in the new data, on scales even bigger than current predictions from simulations, may be a hint that there is a missing ingredient in our current models of the cosmos,” concludes Dominique Sluse.

The researchers estimate that the probability that these alignments are simply the result of chance is less than 1%.

Have found secret of DNA, love Daddy

Have found secret of DNA, love Daddy

Could the universe be more than just left-over debris from the Big Bang?

 

james_jeans1Sir James Jeans, Opening paragraph, Physics and Philosophy (1943):

“Science usually advances by a succession of small steps, through a fog in which even the most keen-sighted explorer can seldom see more than a few paces ahead. Occasionally the fog lifts, an eminence is gained, and a wider stretch of territory can be surveyed—sometimes with startling results. A whole science may then seem to undergo a kaleidoscopic rearrangement, fragments of knowledge sometimes being found to fit together in a hitherto unsuspected manner. Sometimes the shock of readjustment may spread to other sciences; sometimes it may divert the whole current of human thought.”

Quoting from an earlier post: The Birth of a Solar System:

Solar systems originate from the material which is ejected out of a supernova, an exploded sun. I use the word “explosion” as a “burst of life,” and not as an uncontrolled explosion of a human device. A sun explodes and material is hurled into space. This material, or “solar ejecta,” forms a colorful halo, a living cloud, a luminous radiance of microorganisms, vapor, and rarified gas – a nebula.

God’s invisible hands gather the material in the nebula into planets. The exploded sun forms a powerful vortex at the center of the nebula which sucks back some material, and a new, smaller sun is formed.

And now in a November 2014 article entitled “Autopsy Of Supernova’s Aftermath Yields Surprising Results” that is exactly what scientists have discovered – a small young star forming in the centre of a supernova!

Pictured is an outline of the and inner structure of the supernova SN1987A, as seen with the Hubble Space Telescope (green/blue contours), on top of Almaa observations of the remnant at 345 GHz (red/orange).

Pictured is an outline of the and inner structure of the supernova SN1987A, as seen with the Hubble Space Telescope (green/blue contours), on top of Almaa observations of the remnant at 345 GHz (red/orange).

Quoting from the article:

Giovanna Zanardo of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth, Western Australia said: “Our observations with the ATCA and ALMA radio telescopes have shown signs of something never seen before, located at the center of the remnant. It could be a pulsar wind nebula, driven by the spinning neutron star, or pulsar, which astronomers have been searching for since 1987.”

It’s amazing that only now, with large telescopes like ALMA and the upgraded ATCA, we can peek through the bulk of debris ejected when the star exploded and see what’s hiding underneath.

As written in Earth Mother Our Womb of Life:

After being raised within a particular worldview, it is difficult to step out of it, seeing the world in an entirely new light; one in which the Earth is a great living being filled with the life, consciousness, and power of God, from whom we are given life and all we possess; one where the Earth has been carrying us through the ages, evolving us from stage-to-stage toward a perfected form in the heavenly orbit of the Morning Star. But this understanding is what we need to safely travel through this Purification Time.

When approaching new and different knowledge, it is best to keep our minds open, as we did as children, permitting new information to find its rightful place in our minds and hearts. We are being asked, “who has ears to hear?”

"Whatever divinity he [Einstein] saw in the universe, he saw in the sense of order manifested in nature."

Einstein’s description of God: “Whatever divinity he [Einstein] saw in the universe, he saw in the sense of order manifested in nature.”