Thursday at Texas A&M University, Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Paul Nelson will extract scientific insight from a famous nursery rhyme. Really. In his talk, “The Origin of Life, the Humpty-Dumpty Effect, and God,” Dr. Nelson will ask why a bacterial cell subjected to sterilizing sonication — or death by sound — will never come back to life. Ever.
(Death by Sound is a good name for a heavy metal band, come to think of it. It’s yours, if you’d like, free of charge.)
Here is Nelson’s talk summary:
Why don’t dead cells come back to life? “Because they’re dead!” is the obvious answer, sometimes followed sotto voce by “What a stupid question” — but the obvious answer conceals a remarkable fact. The material or physical components of a cell, even when present in their entirety, do not constitute the living state. Moreover, there is no known causal pathway from the physical components alone, no matter how complete, to a functioning cell, an abiogenesis conundrum we can call “the Humpty-Dumpty Effect.” For decades, origin-of-life researchers have observed the Humpty-Dumpty Effect, drawing from the phenomenon conclusions that range from “It’s trivially true, but so what?” to seeing profound consequences about the direction of future investigations into the origin of life. This talk will review the nature and history of the Humpty-Dumpty Effect, looking at the spectrum of scientific reactions to its reality, and conclude with possible implications about the existence of an intelligent cause for life, usually named God — although Neil deGrasse Tyson says it could be a computer simulation.
While Paul cannot promise you an omelet, he would be happy to say hello to any friends or skeptics of intelligent design in the neighborhood. His lecture will be held at 8 pm in Room 2406 of the Memorial Student Center, Texas A&M University, 275 Joe Routt Blvd., College Station, TX 77843.