Scientists make enzyme that could help explain origins of life

Mimicking natural evolution in a test tube, scientists have devised an enzyme with a unique property that might have been crucial to the origin of life on Earth.

Aside from illuminating one possible path for life’s beginnings, the achievement is likely to yield a powerful tool for evolving new and useful molecules.

The new enzyme is called a ribozyme because it is made from ribonucleic acid (RNA). Modern DNA-based life forms appear to have evolved from a simpler “RNA world,” and many scientists suspect that RNA molecules with enzymatic properties were Earth’s first self-replicators.

The new ribozyme works essentially in that way. It helps knit together a “copy” strand of RNA, using an original RNA strand as a reference or “template.” However, it doesn’t make a copy of a molecule completely identical to itself. Instead it makes a copy of a mirror image of itself — like the left hand to its right — and, in turn, that “left-hand” ribozyme can help make copies of the original.

No one has ever made such “cross-chiral” enzymes before. The emergence of such enzymes in a primordial RNA world — which the new study shows was plausible — could have overcome a key obstacle to the origin of life.
Biology on Earth evolved in such a way that in each class of molecules, one chirality, or handedness, came to predominate. Virtually all RNA, for example, are right-handed and called D-RNA. That structural sameness makes interactions within that class more efficient — just as a handshake is more efficient when it joins two right or two left hands, rather than a left and a right.


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Wow, how ignorant do they think the public happen to be???

Yes, this is a “documentary” hosted by Michelle Malkin which was produced by THAT Citizens United.  Not that I really need to explain the Citizens United v FEC decision here.

If this doesn’t set off the alarm bells to people that they are being conned, then they are seriously beyond hope.


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What the Voter Doesn’t Know

As I was driving along a rural road yesterday near Lake Erie, farmers were harvesting their beans and corn in the bright October sun. As I entered Erie county, suddenly there was a plethora of campaign signs everywhere. Apparently there is a hot battle there for a judgeship as there were an equal amount of signs Bruce Winter and his opponent Lorraine Crow.

I don’t know either, but it was easy to ID their political party by the other political signs clustered together alongside of them.

Many orange signs had the word Latta- that’s the 9th Ohio congressional district’s current congressman. Although I live in Bob Latta’s district, I have never seen one of his rather ugly signs. In fact, there are very few political signs this year.


Getting back to the rural road, I wonder whether the folks who planted the Latta signs really know the congressman’s agenda. Better yet, they probably don’t know his major political doners. These houses, mainly tiny and in need of paint, clearly do not house people of means; that was clear. Yet, Latta’s big campaign doners are the fossil fuel giants, the pharmaceutical industry, electric and telecommunication industries, health insurance industry, the TV and cable industry and bankers association.

How’s that money impacting the folks along route 163? Everything hunky-dorrie? Bob initiated (well, it was brought to his attention by one of his generous political doners) H.R.1919: Safeguarding America’s Pharmaceuticals Act of 2013. What does a farm boy from rural western Ohio know about the pharmaceutical industry? Hmm.

How much influence does $64,000 buy? That’s what Big Pharm contributed to Bob’s campaigns. For what purpose other than to influence him to sponsor their bill-a bill that protects the industry from outside competition. It does nothing to ’safeguard’ us but, in fact, cuts down on their competition from bulk providers.

But the man who stuck the Latta sign in his front yard along Rt. 163 doesn’t know that. And Bob is thankful that he doesn’t.


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App Does Math Homework with Phone Camera

Launched earlier this week at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in London, PhotoMath is already shooting to the top of the app charts. The software uses optical character recognition technology to read printed equations on a page, then pops up an augmented-reality display that works through captured equations in real time.

One can point your phone at a problem and PhotoMath can solve it for you, most of the time. (The character recognition only works with printed materials — no handwriting.)

But that’s just the baseline tech. Where PhotoMath gets genuinely awesome is in the image capture options. Once you’ve captured a particular equation, PhotoMath can save the image, then generate detailed instructions on how you actually solve the math problem. In other words, with PhotoMath, you can show your work.


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Bill Moyers: The Three Most Pressing Problems we Face

Bill Moyers: 1. We have to figure out how to have a morally-based conversation about politics and economics. If it’s all about money and return on investment and stock shares and all that, instead of what kind of society works best for those who don’t have such “goods”, we’re finished as a democracy, because some people will be able to buy anything they want and vast numbers of others will be unable to afford what they need. 2. The corruption of power and money is so pervasive and systemic that we have to take it on at every level, which requires that (3) There has to be a broad-based movement for democracy that mirrors and exceeds what Bill McKibben, and kindred spirits like Naomi Klein have built to reverse global warming.
Thursday October 23, 2014 1:09

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Oldest Sex Act 385,000,000 Years Ago

The first sex on Earth looked like square dancing — if fish could square dance, of course.

That is the finding of a new study of 385-million-year-old fossils that reveal that the oldest jawed fish on Earth were the first to reproduce by copulation. Later fish would revert to spawning — releasing eggs and sperm into the water to meet — but some have since re-evolved the ability to have coupled-up sex.

The oldest known sex act took place when tiny fish called Microbrachius hooked their jointed arms side by side and linked bony genital claspers with bony genital plates to transfer sperm from male to female.


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Slumbering Lions win Wildlife Photo of the Year


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by | 10/22/2014 · 7:25 PM