Feeds

Harvard goes hunting for life's origins

Causes a ruckus, stateside

Seven Steps to Software Security

Harvard University has set aside an annual million dollar budget for research into the origins of life. The project will bring together physicists, chemists and biologists to take a multi-disciplinary approach to unraveling exactly how life arose on Earth.

Creationists and proponents of the "intelligent design" hypothesis in the US have said the move demonstrates the science of evolution is far from proven, and have renewed calls in the US for alternatives to evolution to be taught in science classes.

"This is ... a stunning admission that the current theories do not explain [the origin of life], and [have] not refuted the idea that things are the product of intelligent cause," John West, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a thinktank that backs intelligent design, told Reuters.

It is probably worth noting here that West holds no scientific qualifications. He has a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University and a BA in Communications from the University of Washington.

Intelligent design holds that life and its origins are too complex to have come about through natural selection alone. The US president has given his backing to the school of thought, but others in the States argue that it would be letting religion into science classes by the back door.

The university has dismissed suggestions that it is involving itself in the political row, instead focussing on what it expects to learn from its research.

David R. Liu, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard, is quoted widely as saying: "My expectation is that we will be able to reduce this to a very simple series of logical events that could have taken place with no divine intervention."

Meanwhile B D Colen, a spokesman for the university, told The Guardian that the project was not a response to any political or public debate: "The origins of life in the universe initiative was started several years ago before questions about the existence or non-existence of some kind of intelligent design became part of the national debate.

"This is a long-term purely scientific exercise looking at questions about the basic chemical molecular beginnings of life," he said. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket
Space Launch System would need another $400m and a lot of time
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.