Everyone is excited that organic molecules have been detected by the probe Philae on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This, people say, could explain the origin of life on Earth: the planet was seeded by the carbon-containing molecules on comets, and those organic seeds help create the first replicators that eventually became things that were indubitably “alive.”
But wait: we already had carbon-containing molecules on Earth, and we have no idea what molecules Philae found. The cometary compounds could, for example, be methane (a simple molecule with one carbon and four hydrogen atoms)—a molecule unlikely to have played a major role in the origin of life. Ditto for carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide (CO and CO2 respectively). The early Earth alreadyhad carbon in those molecular forms in the atmosphere, so why did we need to get them from a comet or asteroid? There were also physical forces on Earth, like heat and pressure around thermal vents, that could…
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Here’s a repost from one of my favorite science authors Sean Carroll from his blog “Preposterous Universe”:
Five stars! I loved this book – it should be mandatory reading in our High School curriculum.
Nye narrates his own audiobook, which I found particularly enjoyable as his vocal nuances and inflections help to communicate his intent behind the text as only the author can deliver with authenticity. Not only is the science presented in an easy to digest format, but it is laid out logically and with the tongue-in-cheek humour for which The Science Guy has become renown. I like that he respects peoples beliefs but does not remain silent when it comes to the influence of our children, for whom science MUST be correctly taught in our schools.
Nye covers every topic, describing the scientific process behind evolution (DNA heredity through natural selection), how much “deep time” it would take, and how we know through radioactive processes that the earth is more than old enough to allow for these processes to have occurred EXACTLY as we observe them.
This book is a powerhouse of irrefutable information that inexorably leads the reader to an unavoidable conclusion: Evolution is real, it happened, it “is” happening. I highly recommend this book to ANYONE who wants to learn something about the natural world we all live (and evolve) in.