Science Day: Thoughts on origins of life–snottites and all

(I’m continuing to repost earlier blog posts until I am ready to being new postings – soon. So, in honor of my snotty cold – eww – I repost this that includes Cave Snottites in Mexico. Hoping in the months to come to have some science, some book/writing related, some health related; whatever strikes my wittle fancy)


134Where did life come from? I am here to explore. I am here to say what if and wow and imagine and Can you believe that? And could that have really happened and–to Discover!

Did we come from outer-space? Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Well, aren’t we now in “outer space?” Isn’t Earth a celestial body? We’re hanging about in the air just like all the other planets, stars, moons.

Imagine Early Earth as this fiery ball bombarded with meteorites and comets. What if the basic beginning of life was deposited here by those meteorites and comets?

download (1)Look at the oldest fossils found, a few billion years ago, and there were microscopic “life forms” that caused our earth to change from that uninhabitable ball of fire and raging heated lifelessness to one like we now know.  And how did they survive on the earth that was so roiling and boiling?– I like the scientist character’s assessment on Jurassic Park: “Life Finds A Way . . . . ” So, here are these tiny forms of life Finding Their Way, and what they did was transform our Earth! These microscopic entities created the oxygen that sustains the life forms inhabiting our Earth.

Sometimes I wonder: what if I were suddenly transported back a thousand years, or two or three thousand, how would my breathing be? What would the earth smell like? How would my feet feel upon the ground, my eyes see color and texture? My blood circulate? And if someone were transported forward to thousands of years from now, evolving instantly along the way, how would they breathe? How would their lungs and circulation work? What would the earth smell like to them?

evolutionIf one took the soft tissue of someone from a thousand years ago and compared it to my soft tissue, what would the differences be? How have we evolved because of the changes to our atmosphere, and what we eat, how we move about or don’t move about, and how we live our everyday lives in response to happiness and having things and not having things, to the stresses and joys and overwhelming possibilities of just where are we headed and how life is lived now and our responses to each other as humans with varied thoughts and beliefs—how would we differ from the earliest “intelligent life?” How has Earth Evolved? Are we only a big Circle of Life and Destruction? To begin and end and begin and end and begin and end, round and round and round we go.

So, evolution doesn’t happen in a sudden way where we can look and say, “Hey, I have an extra vein that leads from my brain to my spinal cord because . . . . ” Instead, the changes are insidious. Human Animals and Non Human Animals adapt to our environments. Some become extinct, some alter they way they fit in the world–survival versus extinction. We can’t remain as we are, and hundreds of years from now, what will our bodies be like? What will our brains be like—how will we see and hear and think and discover? Who will we be?

But, I digress; don’t you love to hate my digressions?

These tiny micro-organisms were creating the oxygen to change the atmosphere of our Earth to one where A Life Form would simply be vaporized if they stood upon the earth’s surface to one where we can walk along a garden and pick a fresh tomato and eat it while a rabbit sniffs the carrots and a butterfly sips from a flower and a tree shades a dog and a cat eats a mouse and a child is born and it is protected (or it is not), to where we can be arrogant about the very air we breathe.

In Ancient Earth, meteorites bombarded—carbon arrived. Things began to change.

downloadIf you imagine our sun as weaker, and that light from it was weaker, if you imagine the hydrogen sulfide and stinky fumes and the amount of carbon dioxide, this inhabitable fiery place—this sounds more like a Biblical apocalypse, doesn’t it? As if the End of The World in the book of the Bible is not really the End of the Earth, but the beginning of it. So, here’s this Earth with a stifling atmosphere and a red-orange color, and oceans that were a weird slug green color. Comets and meteors pounded the crap out of our Earth, vaporizing waters, creating this noxious rain, and it is in this environment that Life Finds A Way.

300px-Dscn1976aIn Mexico, an example can be found as to how Life Finds A Way. In the tropical rain-forest, in the cave Cueva de Villa Luz. In this cave is a nasty smelling place of hydrogen sulfide—much like scientists believe the earth was a few billion years ago, maybe four billion. Scientists study this cave, since they think it represents Early Earth for clues to how Life began. Inside the cave (and to enter this cave, you have to wear gas masks, for it is deadly), are these single-cell bacteria that dribble this slimy ick that the scientists call snottites—because, yes, they look like snot. How original! Those silly ole wacky scientists have a sense of humor! But, the snottites are “alive” and they are in that hostile environment, thriving.

Bacteria. The most ancient form of life on our Earth. They adapt to what they need to adapt to (and isn’t that a scary thought—think about it: we spend millions in attempts to be bacteria free—well, if these little organisms are that tenacious, if they are the origins of life, if they stubbornly insist on BEING HERE, then don’t you think they will Find A Way? Dang.)

So, the bacteria begin to thrive, grow, adapt, reproduce. In the single-cell bacteria there is a molecule of DNA—and we all know that DNA is the Code of Life—allowing them to multiply. Inside the snottites are millions of bacteria. And in this cave, which represents Earth billions of years ago, there are towns and cities and continents of bacteria, which depend on their environment instead of being consumed by it.

Neil deGrasse Tyson says, “Conditions on early Earth may have been far worse, but these bacteria suggest that primitive life could have thrived in extremely hostile environments . . . For more than a century, scientists have known that life is the result of chemistry, the combination of just the right ingredients in just the right amounts.”

downloadAnd those ingredients, folks, for every living organism, are: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus—elements that are common in the universe, with our buddy CARBON as the Main element, good ole flexible Carbon (you’ve all probably heard our “carbon footprint” environmental stuff, right?).

imagesLife Is Chemistry—we are a chemistry experiment created by whatever you choose to believe: Chance or God or Both or All or Some or Chaos or Design or Science is God or God is Science or Big Bangity Boom Boom Boom—but we are chemistry, y’all. Beautiful gorgeous lovely interesting fascinating chemistry experiments.

Now go live the wonderful Earth life those bacteria worked so hard on creating for you.