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No. 58: Jul-Aug 1988

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Preternaturally rapid development of photosynthesis?

"An increased ratio of 12 C to 13 C, an indicator of the principal carbon-fixing reaction of photosynthesis, is found in sedimentary organic matter dating back to almost four thousand million years ago -- a sign of prolific microbial life not long after the Earth's formation. Partial biological control of the terrestrial carbon cycle must have been established very early and was in full operation when the oldest sediments were formed."

(Schidlowski, Manfred; "A 3,800-MillionYear Isotopic Record of Life from Carbon in Sedimentary Rocks," Nature, 333: 313, 1988.)

Comment. Photosynthesis is not a simple biological process. To discover that it and life forms using it developed so quickly on the primitive earth is surprising. Did this complexity and "biological control" arise so quickly: (1) by chance; (2) by inoculation from extraterrestrial sources (See Astronomy above.); (3) by act of God; or (4) by Gaia in nascent form? (Note that Gaian overtones emanate from the "Biological control" phrase above.)

From Science Frontiers #58, JUL-AUG 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987