Monthly Archives: May 2011

  • The Countdown: 6/1/2011

    Lots of must-read stuff in today’s issue of Nature Geoscience, including a correspondence on “Biogenicity of Apex Chert microfossils.

    3… There’s also a letter on the origins of Titan’s atmosphere, in which the authors claim the source of N2 in the impacts. They make these claims based on impact simulations that show NH4 could have been converted to N2.

    2… Another Nature Geosciences letter, this one on potential false positives in the search for the earliest life on Earth. This work relates to apatite-associated graphite with low carbon isotope ratios. These pieces of evidence have been used before in the search for

  • The Road Ahead: What Do You Think?

    As some of you know, I am a co-author on the “arsenic life” paper. Given my role as a co-author on that paper and as a co-editor of this blog, the situation presents some complications as we try to cover the story here. There’s much that I would like to say, but for me, personally, the trouble is that anything I write can be twisted out of context by those fishing for controversy about a highly public story (someone will probably twist that sentence out of context).

    Shawn, Betul and I will sort this out as we go as best we

  • Assessing Arsenic (and Beyond): Rules for the Road

    As Shawn noted earlier, the final version of the arsenic paper has appeared online, along with a slew of technical comments and responses, and will soon appear in print. Some back-and-forth has already begun in our comments section, and elsewhere. As that happens, I’d like to make a heartfelt request of the emerging PaleBlueBlog community: Let’s keep our discussions constructive…

    That doesn’t mean holding back on critiques of technical aspects of the arsenic paper or any other, or of making critical comments about “meta” aspects of a science story, such as public relations hooplah. Such discussions are not only tolerated here,

  • The Countdown: 5/31/2011

    Apparently no one told me it was 2011.

    3… Lots of JWST rumors have been floating around lately. No matter what happens, there isn’t a good solution to the problem. I’d prefer to just wait (nervously) and see what news comes out. I feel for those making this call.

    2… Microbiologist Dr. James Lake won this year’s Darwin-Wallace medal. Congratulations, Dr. Lake!

    1… This is a holdover from last week. You know Mars is small, but did you know that new research suggest it formed really, really quickly? In other words, Mars may just be Earth’s older brother.

    … Launch!

  • Primordial Weather Report: Hot, Acidic

    Ancestral Sequence Reconstruction methodology allows us to create ancient life in the laboratory. It’s a neat tool, that combines synthetic biology with bioinformatics in a very unique way. We can analyse and listen to the story of these ancient molecules and then use these stories to understand conditions that hosted ancient life.

    Here is a recent ASR study. By resurrecting ancient thioredoxin biomolecules, researchers show that ancient life was not only hot, but was acidic too. So here goes our first primordial weather report showing that if a time machine that allows us to go all the way bak to primordial

  • Monday Brainstorm: Site layout

    We’ll eventually get into brainstorms on science research and communication ideas… but as we’re just starting out here at, it would be good to get input from all of you on what else we could have on the site.

    Thus far, the blog contains four main components:

    1.) This section, where the main authors’ contributions will appear

    2.) The comments under individual posts. Comments are handled by Disqus. You can use their engine to sign on our posts using a variety of sign-in credentials: disqus, Facebook, google, Twitter, Yahoo!, and openID.

    3.) The sidebar, where you can see the blog’s Twitter feed, like