Synopses & Reviews
The year 2003 was the 50th anniversary of the seminal experiment of Stanley Miller. This was a unique opportunity for highlighting the current interest in this most interdisciplinary subject. The leading space agencies: the European Space Agency (ESA) as well as NASA, the American Space Agency, have planned missions that will elucidate some of the still unknown questions underlying research in the origin of life. New results are surpassing our ability to keep well informed: the reviews that we were presented at the Trieste meeting will bring the readers of this well-documented and timely book up to date in this fast-moving area. An important component of the conference was the review of the Cassini-Huygens mission due to arrive in the Saturn system just one year after the conference convened in Trieste. There was particular interest in the status of the experiments that will take place inside the atmosphere of Titan, the large satellite, which is a testing ground for the theories and experiments in the field of chemical evolution. The Jovian system is currently under study with the view of investigating the possibility of life underneath the frozen surface of the Galilean moon Europa; the ESA mission "Mars Express" and Mars Odyssey received special attention. Some of the world leaders in the field gathered in Trieste in September 2003 - that was a most timely date for reviewing recent data and discussing the prospects of future research.
Table of Contents
Dedication Biodata of editors Preface by the editors Acknowledgements Group photograph and List of Attendees I. Opening Introduction to Life in the Universe; T. Johnson The Abdus Salam Lecture; H. Baltscheffsky The Beginning of Chemical Evolution Experiments; S. Miller, J.L. Bada and A. Lazcano An Overview of Cosmic Evolution; George V. Coyne Physical Phenomena underlying the Origin of Life; Juan Pérez-Mercader II. Where did the Chemical Elements Come From and When did Life Begin? The Origin of Biogenic Elements; F. Matteucci and C. Chiappini Thermochemistry of the Dark Age; D. Puy Searching for Oldest Life on Earth: A Progress Report; S. Moorbath and B.S. Kamber The European Exo/Astrobiology Network Association; Andre Brack III. Physical Constraints on the Origin of Life The Origin of Biomolecular Chirality Salam Hypothesis and The Role af Phase Transition in Amino Acids; W. Wang, N. Yao, Y. Chen and P. Lai A Mechanism for the Prebiotic Emergence of Proteins; H.P. De Vladar, R. Cipriani, B. Scharifker and J. Bubis Functional, Self-Referential Genetic Coding; R.C. Guimarães and C.H.C. Moreira Importance of Biased Synthesis in Chemical Evolution Studies; A. Negron-Mendoza, S. Ramos-Bernal and F.G. Mosqueira When Did Information First Appear in the Universe; J.G. Roederer IV. From the Miller Experiment to Chemical and Biological Evolution Prebiotic Organic Synthesis and the Emergence of Life; L. Delaye, A. Becerra, A.M. Velasco, S. Islas and A. Lazcano Origin and Evolution of Very Early Sequence Motifs in Enzymes; H. Baltscheffsky, B. Persson, A. Schultz, J.R. Pérez-Castiñeira and M. Baltscheffsky The Lipid World: From Catalytic and Informational Headgroups to Micelle Replication and Evolution without Nucleic Acids; A. Bar-Even, B. Shenhav, R. Kafri and D. Lancet Coenzymes in Evolution of the Rna World; M.S. Kritsky, T.A. Telegina, T.A. Lyudnikova and Yu.L. Zemskova The Role of Heat in the Origin of Life; P.R. Bahn, A. Pappelis and R. Grubbs A Possible Pathway for the Transfer of Chiral Bias from Extraterrestrial C_ Tetrasubstituted _-Amino Acids to Proteinogenic Amino Acids; M. Crisma, A. Moretto, F. Formaggio, B. Kaptein, Q.B. Broxterman and C. Toniolo Prebiotic Polymerization of Amino Acids. A Makov Chain Approach; F.G. Mosqueira, S. Ramos-Bernal and A. Negron-Mendoza The Electrochemical Reduction of Co2 to Formate in Hydrothermal Sulfide Ore Deposit as a Novel Source of Organic Matter; M.G. Vladimirov, Yu.F. Ryzhkov, V.A. Alekseev, V.A. Bogdanovskaya, V.A. Otroshchenko and M.S. Kritsky Towards a Chronological Order of the Amino Acids; W.J.M.F. Collis Origin and Evolution of Metabolic Pathways; M. Brilli and R. Fani Conserved Oligopeptides in the Rubisco Large Chains; P.B. Vidyasagar, P. Shil and S. Thomas On The Question of Convergent Evolution in Biochemistry; A.A. Akindahunsi and J. Chela-Flores Diversity of Microbial Life on Earth and Beyond; J. Seckbach V. Alternative Scenarios for the Origin and Evolution of Life Mineral Surfaces as a Cradle of Primordial Genetic Material; E. Gallori, E. Biondi and M. Franchi Adsorption and Self-Organization of Small Molecules on Inorganic Surfaces; D.G. Fraser Studies on Copper Chromicyanide as Prebiotic Catalyst; Kamaluddin and S.R. Ali Phosphate Immobilization by Primitive Condensers; F. De Souza-Barros, M.B.M. Monte, A.C.P. Duarte, J.A.P. Bonapace, M.R.D. Amaral Jr., R.B. Levigard, Y.A. Ching-San Jr., C.S. Costa and A. Vieyra Adsorption and Catalysis of Nucleotide Hydrolysis by Pyrite in Media Simulating Primeval Aqueous Environments; A. Vieyra, A.C. Tessis, M. Pontes-Buarque, J.A.P. Bonapace, M. Monte, H.S. De Amorim and F. De Souza-Barros VI. Cosmological and Other Space Science Aspects of Astrobiology Dust and Planet Formation in the Early Universe; G. Vladilo Quasar Absorption-Line Systems and Astrobiology; G. Vladilo A New Search for Dyson Spheres in the Milky Way; D. Minniti, F. Capponi, A. Valcarce and J. Gallardo Space Weather and Space Climate; M. Messerotti VII. Planetary Exploration in our Solar System: The Interstellar Medium, Micro-Meteorites and Comets Spontaneous Generation of Amino Acid Structures in the Interstellar Medium; U.J. Meierhenrich Experimental Study of the Degradation of Complex Organic Molecules. Application to the Origin of Extended Sources in Cometary Atmospheres; N. Fray, Y. Benilan, H. Cottin, M.-C. Gazeau and F. Raulin Fate of Glycine During Collapse of Interstellar Clouds and Star Formation; S.K. Chakrabarti, S. Chakrabarti and K. Acharyya Formation of Simplest Bio-Molecules during Collapse of an Interstellar Cloud; K. Acharya, S. K. Chakrabarti and S. Chakrabarti Chemical Abundances of Cometary Meteoroids from Meteor Spectroscopy; J.M. Trigo-Rodríguez, J. Llorca and J. Oró VIII. Earth Analogues of Extraterrestrial Ecosystems Viable Halobacteria from Ancient Oceans; H. Stan-Lotter, C. Radax, S. Leuko, A. Legat, C. Gruber, M. Pfaffernhuemer, H. Wieland and G. Weidler Mars-Like Soils in the Yungay Area, the Driest Core of the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile; R. Navarro-González, F.A. Rainey, P. Molina, D.R. Bagaley, B.J. Hollen, J. De La Rosa, A.M. Small, R.C. Quinn, F.J. Grunthaner, L. Cáceres, B. Gomez-Silva, A. Buch, R. Sternberg, P. Coll, F. Raulin and Ch.P. McKay The Discovery of Organics in Sub-Basement Fossil Soils Drilled in the North Pacific (Odp Leg 197): Their Model Formation and Implications for Astrobiology Research; R. Bonaccorsi and R.L. Mancinelli Silica-Carbonate Biomorphs and the Implications for Identification of Microfossils; A.M. Carnerup, S.T. Hyde, A-K. Larsson, A.G. Christy and J.M. Gracía-Ruiz Some Statistical Aspects Related to the Study of Treeline in Pico De Orizaba; L. Cruz Kuri, C.P. McKay and R. Navarro-Gonzalez IX. On the Question of Life on Mars and on the Early Earth The Beagle 2 Lander and the Search for Traces of Life on Mars; A. Brack, C.T. Pillinger and M.R. Sims Minimal Unit of Terraforming an Alternative for Remodelling Mars; H.O. Pensado Díaz Early Archaean Life; F. Westall Extraterrestrial Impacts on Earth and Extinction of Life in the Himalaya; V.C. Tewari Palaeobiology and Biosedimentology of the Stromatolitic Buxa Dolomite, Ranjit Window, Sikkim, Ne Lesser Himalaya, India; V.C. Tewari X. Searching for Extraterrestrial Life, Europa, Titan and Extrasolar Planets Searching for Extraterrestrial Life; T. Owen Search for Bacterial Waste as a Possible Signature of Life on Europa; A.B. Bhattacherjee and J. Chela-Flores Sulfate Volumes and the Fitness of Supcrt92 for Calculating Deep Ocean Chemistry; S. Vance, E. Shock and T. Spohn The Case for Life Existing Outside of our Biosphere; R.S. Gatta Application of Molecular Biology Techniques to Astrobiology; R.S. Gatta and J. Chela-Flores Titan; F. Raulin, J-P. Lebreton and T. Owen Chemical Characterization of Aerosols in Simulated Planetary Atmospheres; S.I. Ramirez, R. Navarro-Gonzalez, P. Coll and F. Raulin Observation, Modeling and Experimental Simulation: Understanding Titan's Atmospheric Chemistry Using These Three Tools; J.-M. Bernard, P. Coll, C.D. Pintassilgo, Y. Benilan, A. Jolly, G. Cernogora and F. Raulin Exobiology of Titan; M. Simakov XI. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Seti-Italia; S. Montebugnoli, J. Monari, C. Bortolotti, A. Cattani, A. Maccaferri, M. Poloni, A. Orlati, S. Righini, S. Poppi, M. Roma, M. Teodorani, C. Maccone, C. B. Cosmovici and N. D'Amico Seti on the Moon; C. Maccone Proposing a United Nations Secretary General Seti International; Advisory Board: G. Picco, G. Genta, P. Galeotti and D. Noventa Some Engineering Considerations on the Controversial Issue of Humanoids; G. Genta XII. The Search for Evolution of Intelligent Behavior and Density of Life The New Universe, Destiny of Life, and the Cultural Implications; S.J. Dick Evolution of Intelligent Behavior; J. Chela-Flores Evolution of Language as Innate Mental Faculty; K.T. Shah How Advanced is Et? P. Musso XIII. Epistemological and Historical Aspects of Astrobiology Chance or Design in the Origin of Living Beings; R. Vicuña and A. Serani-Merlo Astrobiology and Biocentrism; R. Aretxaga Analysis of the Works of the German Naturalist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) on the Origin of Life; F. Raulin-Cerceau A Reexamination of Alfonso Herrera's Sulfocyanic Theory on the Origin of Life ; E. Silva, L. Perezgasga, A. Lazcano and A. Negrón-Mendoza Determinism and the Proteinoid Theory; A. Pappelis and P.R. Bahn Glimpses of Trieste Conferences on Chemical Evolution and Origin of Life; M.S. Chadha List of Participants Index