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  • Radioactive Beach Led to Origins of Life on Earth

    Posted on May 22nd, 2009 Vadim 4 comments Link to post

    A leading astrobiologist has added another hypothesis to the existing long and varied list of the theories for the origins of life, by claiming that the basic building blocks of life on Earth began on a radioactive beach.

    According to Zachary Adam, an astrobiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, life on our planet first evolved through the collection of radioactive material on a beach.

    He suggests that the more powerful tides generated by the moon’s closer orbit billions of years ago compared to today could have separated radioactive material from other sediment.

    With the help of computer models, Adam points out that sufficient amounts of radioactive deposits accumulated at a beach’s high tide mark triggered the self-sustaining fission reactions.

    Demonstrating his theory in lab experiments, Adam showed that such a deposit could generate the chemical energy which is required to produce some of the molecules in water that create amino acids and sugars, the key building blocks of life, when irradiated.

    Adam added that a deposit of a radioactive material called monazite would also discharge soluble phosphate, another important ingredient for life, into the gaps between sand grains, thus making it available to react in water.

    “Amino acids, sugars and [soluble] phosphate can all be produced simultaneously in a radioactive beach environment,” New Scientist quoted him, as saying.

    Other hypothesis explaining the evolution of life on Earth includes English geneticist J. B. S. Haldane and Russian biochemist Alexander Oparin’s “primordial soup” theory.

    The theory, devised in 1920’s, proposed that life on Earth emerged from a “primordial soup” of simple organic chemicals accumulated on the surface of bodies of water within the hydrogen-rich early atmosphere.

    Others include early life forming in inorganic clay, the initial energy coming not from chemical reactions but from sunlight or lightening and the influx of microscopic seeds of terrestrial life on chunks of meteorites or comets, and the intervention of a divine, intelligent designer.

  • Forms of Radiation

    Posted on May 21st, 2009 Vadim 2 comments Link to post


    Radiation takes many forms, including both electromagnetic waves and sub-nuclear particles. The electromagnetic spectrum consists of light waves ranging in length from very short (10−16 meters, or 3.937 × 10−15 inches) to very long (108 meters, or 621,400 miles). The product of the velocity of electromagnetic waves and their wavelength is a constant equal to the velocity of light, 3 × 108 meters per second (m/s); therefore, as the length of waves increases, the frequency decreases. Thus, if the waves were 1 meter(3.3 feet) long, the frequency would be 3 × 108 hertz (Hz) or 300,000,000/s (meaning 300,000,000 light waves would pass by each second). The electromagnetic spectrum consists of light waves ranging in length from very short γ (gamma) rays through x rays, ultraviolet (UV) rays, the spectrum of visible light, infrared (IR) rays, and microwaves, to very long radio and television waves.

    The shortest electromagnetic waves are classified as γ rays. One of the forms of energy emanating from natural sources of radioactivity here on Earth and also from energy sources in space, γ rays can be thought of as very short x rays. Discovered by the German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1895, the remarkable penetrating effect of rays and x rays results from their very short wavelength (from about 10−12 to 10−8 meters, or 3.28 × 10−11 to 3.28 × 10−7 feet). The waves are so small that they can pass through many substances with little interaction. X rays pass through skin and organs with little effect but are diffracted somewhat when they pass through denser materials such as bone; the resulting pattern enables technicians to make xray images of bones and of the contents of packages in airport scanners.

    The energy of electromagnetic radiation is directly proportional to the frequency. Since both x rays and γ rays have very high frequencies, they carry large amounts of energy, and high intensities of x rays and γ rays can damage many materials (including living tissue). The rays may be focused by special lenses and used to kill cancer cells or organisms that might cause disease or hasten spoilage in food.

  • Radioactive Vitamins?

    Posted on May 18th, 2009 Vadim 2 comments Link to post

    I wish I could say we are the first ones to break the story that Ikaria is perhaps the world’s premier health destination but I’m afraid I’ve been beat to the punch—by at least two thousand years.

    Since at least the 500 BC. Ikaria has been known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as a place for rejuvenation and healing.  The nexus of all of this health was found on the southwestern tip of the island in a town of Therma and the famous radioactive baths that flank the town on both sides.

    During Week One, our team focused heavily on diet and lifestyle as explanations to why people are reaching age 90 in higher proportions here than just about anyplace else.  We explored role of purpose, religion and even taking afternoon naps.   Today, we’ll explore Ikaria’s famous baths and see if they might still be imparting health to the 10,000 hearty souls on this island.

    First off, the baths are found only in the southwestern corner of the island, near the town of Arghios Kiliioso.  To the east, steaming water burbles out of the ground in a series of caves that billow with steam.  Local opportunists have enclosed the caves and commercialized the waters.  For a few dollars, you can buy your way in and sit enveloped in “healing” vapors.

    Just west of town, anyone with the courage to descend the steep switchbacks down a precarious cliff can bathe for free, right where rocky beach meets the cobalt blue waters of the Aegean.   A crescent of boulders encloses a small pool where hot mineral water and cold seawater mix to create a tepid bath.

    As Dr. Anthony Papalas, wrote in his book, “Ancient Icaria”, Romans, were the first recorded visitors to the baths.  They believed that these waters relieved pain as well as cured partial paralysis.  Today, they mostly draw people who suffer from rheumatism, arthritis and skin ailments.  We interviewed an orthopedist on the island who cited hundreds of cases wherein patients found relief from bone and joint pain.  (I should also note that a therapist of traditional Oriental medicines sent me an email claiming that consecutive bath soakings cured her of several cancers and tumor and bettered her eyesight.)

    But of course, our big question is: do the baths have anything to do with Ikaria’s longevity?

    Radon is the key ingredient in these baths.  Radon is a hugely dangerous radioactive mineral that the earth emits constantly.   When inhaled, it can penetrate the lung’s lining and “ionize” cells—essentially scrambling the DNA and potentially provoking cancer.  In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.  Radon not only issues from the baths but from the entire island.  Several schools and houses in the northeastern part of have been tested for radon and they all report high levels.

    How could high levels of radon explain longevity?  A few papers published in the The British Journal of Radiology [both in Issue 78 (2005)] argue that constant low level exposure to radiation can actually be helpful in repairing out DNA—a process call radiation hormesis.   The argument is complicated but it is essentially analogous to how trace elements in small amount are good for us (copper, zinc, selenium, etc.) but are toxic in high dosages.

    So, if Ikarians are constantly dosed with low levels of Radon radiation, could it explain healthier DNA?   Most nuclear scientist would say no, that radiation at all levels is bad.   But you never know.  For many years, scientists believed that the world was flat.