//I added the following metatags
 
Jul
22
    
Posted (crates) in Uncategorized on July-22-2007

       As the sun begins to slip below the western horizon, the cicadas, which have been shrilling during the heat of the day, gradually slow down.  A discordant clanking arises for a moment as the Green Tree Frogs (Hyla cinerea), impatient for the night, start up and then dies down.  The high pitched trilling of the Narrow Mouth Toads (Gastrophyrne olivacea) began earlier in the afternoon.  They don’t seem to mind calling during the heat of the afternoon and can be heard not only from the aquatic plants floating at the lake’s margin but also in the shallow pools of water left in the woods by the rains.

 

     As the sun sinks lower, the cicadas begin to stop one by one until just one lone individual is left and then gradually it too stops.  There is a short moment of silence, then almost as at a signal, the tree frogs start up their clanking again, joined by the clicking of the Cricket Frogs (Acris crepitans) who have sang half-heartedly during the day, but now swell in full chorus.  The sun sinks below the horizon but the pink of the clouds are reflected in the water of the lake. 

 

     I sit on the dock watching the changing light and listening.  Tree crickets soon begin calling and after a while the katydids begin their loud, almost deafening, calls from the trees. I sit patiently listening to the cacophony around me watching the darkening sky.  It isn’t too long before I see a black flickering shadow overhead, wheeling and darting, a piece of night torn from a darker cloth.  It is soon joined by others and soon the pink reflection of the clouds on the water is shattered and broken by the drinking bats. Off in the woods a Barred Owl begins calling before it begins its night of hunting and is soon answered by another in the trees across the slough.

 

         Finally the mosquitoes become too much, and I make my way across the wooden bridge that my father built, weathered grey by the years.  A Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) decides to join in with its deep call, and the sounds of the creatures continue to grow to almost a frenzy as the darkness becomes complete, and I reach the screen door to my father’s house outlined by the golden light from within.

 

     So passes another wonderful contemplative day at my father’s lake house.  I flew down last Sunday, welcomed by my sister and father who picked me up at the airport and who took me back to my sister’s house where I spent the night, glad to see my sister’s husband and beautiful children.  The next morning my father and I visited my precious mother and spent some time with her before driving out towards the lake, visiting my brother and his wife and daughter and their lovely granddaughter on the way.

 

        My brother and his wife took me and our father to a really nice Mexican Restaurant in Lakewood near the intersection of Abrams and Gaston.  My sister-in-law wanted us to try the delicious chicken friend steak there which they knew was my favorite dish.  It truly lived up to her praises, requiring no knife to cut, and we ate slowly there just before a huge wall mural which depicted many Hollywood icons and well-known Dallas people dressed in western attire.  In the center was this remarkable portrait of this Mexican man, who I assumed was the owner, dressed in western garb and wrapped in the Texas flag!

 

   That was Monday and in the past three days, I have gradually cleaned up the mess in my house left by the latest burglary.  At first I was greatly upset because I thought that these old family photos in antique frames which had been in our family over a hundred years had been stolen, but I found them where I had put them the last time that I had painted the room.  The only thing that I know was stolen was a nice microscope that I had acquired in 1974…oh and the wall air conditioner which my family bought back in 1956 and which had served faithfully all these fifty years.

 

     Today I put up a ceiling fan with lights which we got at Lowe’s yesterday to replace the malfunctioning fluorescent light fixture which had hung there in the living room since 1971 when my grandfather and his identical twin brother had built the house.  As always in any project that I start, the holdup is usually in the simplest things.  In this instance I found it extraordinarily difficult to attach the ceiling bracket to the large beam that runs the length of the cathedral ceiling in the living room.  I had to climb a tall ladder and getting the screws correctly aligned with the bracket, and then screwing them in proved to be the most time consuming part of the entire process.  After that the electrical connections and the actually hanging and securing the fan with its lights was relatively simple.  I also attached a remote control device to the fan which is handy since the fan is so high up.  It works perfectly and also provides lots of light.

 

     Later I rested my aching shoulders by finishing Ernest Hemingway’s A Movable Feast, reading the same book that I had bought and read back in 1967.  I have an entire library of books at my lake house, and I always take great delight in taking down these old friends and rereading them.  For some reason I had always had the impression that Hemingway always pared his writing down to the bone, but today I was struck by some of his long descriptive sentences.  Some of his sentences were over half a page long!  He kept referring to his elimination of adjectives, but his writing belied these claims.

 

     Tomorrow my father and I are going back to town to visit my beloved mother, before setting out for the panhandle of

Florida.  We are going along the Gulf Coast through areas which I have never been but have always wanted to visit.

 

    



 
Jul
11
    
Posted (crates) in Uncategorized on July-11-2007

     In this area of Washington there are many native americans and many still retain a vestige of their land.  I pass through some of this land almost every day, and every time that I do am faced with a dissonance…something that rankles, something that is an apparent contradiction.

     Many of us are familiar with the “noble savage” concept of the American Indian, the idea that the aboriginal people of America, have an innate dignity and way of life that tends to ennoble them, but there is also another conception of the American Indian that is also widespread–the idea that they have a natural respect for “Mother Earth” and that they show this respect in the way that they have lived in harmony with the environment.

     I think of this when I travel through a section of Fife and Milton, Washington that is owned by a local group of native Americans. There are zoning laws in Washington that ban large billboards except on the reservations.  The highway in this stretch of Indian land is lined with huge billboards advertising the usual products.  Some of them are so tall that they loom above some of the tallest trees which have been topped so the passing motorists can see them better.   There are also large billboards with flashing displays and moving pictures similar to large tv screens.  These are placed along the highway and at night the flashing of the lights can be quite dazzling.  These apparently are placed here to make money for the local tribe despite the state environmental laws.

     The aboriginal people of American have been mistreated so long, that I do not begrudge them the income from the numerous gambling establishments that they have established in the same area.  I say more power to them!    I also do not begrudge them the tobacco shops where they sell tobacco products that are cheaper because the tax burden is less.    However looking at what has happened on some of their lands I have to say that I wish that they had made some different decisions.  This involves not only the billboards but the commercialization of this strip of Interstate five (see earlier posting: Fife, Washington, the city that sold its soul to the devil).

     

                Seeing this apparent contradiction to the image of the ecologically responsible red man, made me wonder if the image wasn’t just another romantic notion made up by our media, that perhaps the American Indians were just people like everybody else, and who possibly have adopted the media’s version of themselves in order to find some sort of way to establish a cultural identify, one that differentiates itself from current American society, or possibly for some other agenda.

     The Ecological Indian: Myth and History by Shepherd Krech III of Brown University  puts a little perspective upon this conception of the Indian:

A. It is a well known fact that the Pleistocene extinctions of North Amercian Megafauna coincided with the appearance of man in the New World.  The same thing happened in Europe and Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia, Madagascar, and many other areas.   It seems very likely that early man in North America were at least partly involved in these extinctions. Note: this perfectly reasonable hypothesis has aroused absolute storms of controversy…the more politically correct investigators vehemently claiming that it was climate only not ancient man that caused the extinctions.

B. The early aboriginals often set fires to improve hunting, to use against trespassers, and for various other reasons.  Some of these fires according to early settlers got out of control.

C. Some indian groups stampeded hundreds or thousands of buffalo over cliffs and were only able to utilize a small amount of the meat.  The Cree called these sites “deep blood kettles” where 200-300 people lived for weeks near 200,000 kgs. of meat slowly rotting in the sun.

D. Some of the religious beliefs of the Cree and Piegan thought that if any buffalo escaped from these hunts they would warn the other buffalo, so it was necessary to kill any escapees.

 E. Krech also talks about how some tribes over hunted white-tailed deer and beaver in some areas.

F. He also says that overall the preColumbian indian population was too small and primitive technologcally to do widespread damage to the environment and that’s why when European man arrived the area appeared relatively pristine.

For a refutation to this viewpoint see here.  This site quotes many indians (before the modern environmental movement) who express a deep and abiding love for the land.

     I remember reading of the Lewis and Clarke expedition and the statement that in one area which was in contention between two tribes, the game was extremely plentiful because it was rarely hunted by the indians, in contrast to more heavily hunted areas where game was scarce.

     I think there is no doubt that preColumbian indians impacted the environment, perhaps triggering the Pleistocene megafauna extinction, but their numbers and technology were never that great to cause other severe disruptions.  I also would think that even if these early indians weren’t ecological paragons, that because of their lifestyle and their dependence upon the natural world, they would tend to have a greater empathy for the environment than western Europeans.



 
Jul
09
    
Posted (crates) in Uncategorized on July-9-2007

     I’m getting into my trip mode now.  I leave Sunday for Texas (a reverent pause) for a 26 day visit that I make every summer.  I’ve been making this  pilgrimage every summer since 1980 come hale or high water.  I get to see my father, mother, brother and sister and all their numerous family members.  It’s hard to be so close to one’s family and yet live so far away.

     For some reason I usually get a bit stressed out before leaving.  There are always last minute things to do, and so I make a list and check it off.  I always catch the shuttle, buying a round trip ticket and catching it at a nearby hotel.  The problem this time I’ll be getting home at 2 am and the shuttle leaves at 4 am. The plane leaves at 6 am.  I don’t like cutting it that close, but I had no choice this time.  If traffic is light I should reach the airport about 5 am which should give me enough time to go through security.  I usually get there way too early and end up sitting around a long time.  In fact that is usually my habit for all appointments–get there in plenty of time.

     After I check in, I usually become less tense. The stress comes from just getting there, and the flight is always a breeze.  I have decided to never check luggage any more, which makes things much more convenient and faster.  Of course it also involves taking only a small carry-on piece.  This time I have a small duffel bag and a small pack.

     Usually my cameras are what take up the most room, but I am keeping the camera equipment to a minimum also.   I always try to get a window seat and keep my nose plastered up against the window, watching every detail of the passing landscape below.  I simply can’t imagine how people travel and have no desire to look out the window. I see them sitting by the window reading or sleeping, paying no attention to the amazing view.  Even traveling in a bus or car, I must be staring out the window taking it all in.  Sometimes  when I leave at odd hours I can hardly keep my eyes open, but I force myself to do so.  However, when it’s cloudy and I can’t see the ground, I welcome the chance to grab a bit of shut-eye.

     There is one thing about flying that really, really irritates me.  Most companies have in-flight movies, which is ok with me, although I never spend the five bucks or so to see them (i.e. rent the earphones to listen to them since nobody has a choice about seeing them since the screens drop down in front of everybody).   What really galls me is when the stewardesses (wait, some are male, what is the male term-steward?) come by and tell me to lower the window shade.  I always indignantly refuse to do this since flying along in semi-darkness looking at soundless movies doesn’t appeal to me, and their assumption that I would like to do this strikes me as curiously inconsiderate. 

      I always want to know where I am when flying.  Usually I can look outside and tell about where we are; sometimes I can tell exactly by certain landmarks.  The flight into Dallas parallels Hwy 287 and passes over my father’s birthplace, my birthplace, the towns where my father and mother lived while growing up, and the towns where my grandparents lived, and where I visited them numerous times.  There have been many times when I could look down and tell which towns are which even to the point of finding a swimming  pool in this one town that I went to as a kid.  Certain landmarks are always easy to find in the other states also, and I always look for them.

     Once on a return flight which tends to swing further west and south after take off, we passed over an area of Texas that I absolutely could not recognize.  It was like a different part of the world.  I was totally disoriented and confused, and to this day I have no idea where we were.



 
Jul
08
    
Posted (crates) in Uncategorized on July-8-2007

     A surfer riding a wave finds the best position in order to most efficiently move along with the wave knowing there is a fine line here between success and failure.  In thinking of various human activities, I think there is often an area where two conflicting endeavors come together to create an area of tension, where one must position oneself in order to most effectively deal with the situation.

     There are  many variations of this “edge effect.”  Often in sports there is a zone of tension, the edge, where one can venture, pushing until the absolute edge of safety is reached, then drawing back, often repeating this over and over.

  

     We also often encounter the phenomenon in dealng with people.  At first there is a back and forth interplay between two people when they meet until each becomes familiar with the boundaries of the other person.  We learn where we can venture and where we can’t.  We learn where we need to tread lightly and where there is no need to do so.   When we find ourselves in this position, we can simply take things easy and keep away from those boundary areas where the tension is greatest, or we may deliberately skirt near these areas, knowing that possible trouble might result, but somehow taking satisfaction in riding the edge.

    One can encounter this edge effect or zone in many human endeavors.  For example, in cooking, some cooks tend to experiment and push the taste possibilities, learning the boundaries of taste sensation, and often adding or subtracting ingredients to enhance this edge.   Ecologists are aware of this edge effect, realizing that in this ecotone is often found the greatest species diversity.  

     This area of tension is where we seem to be most alive, most aware of our existence.  Somehow at this knife’s edge,  life can seem sweeter as our perceptions step into overdrive; everything is more real, enhanced with the realization that all can be lost or all can be gained right here, right now.

     People vary in their reaction to this edge.  Some find it frightening, and stay far back in the safe zone, sticking to the tried and true, whereas others tend to push the boundaries, skating on the edge, reveling in the excitement that is intimately intertwined with the tension.  I often see women who always seem to choose the most inappropriate abusive partners, snubbing the “nice guys” for some inexplicable reason.  I suspect they tend to be excitement junkies, preferring the dangerous edge for the safer middle ground.

     Personally I always like to hold back as long as possible before the denouement, slowly reading a good book, unwilling to reach the end, or eating a delicious meal slowly, savoring the taste as long as possible.  

     A dog will gobble his food down immediately, and then look around for more, licking his chops, whereas a cat tends to eat slower and more fastidiously.  I think that I tend to identify with the cat more than the dog in this sort of situation.  I like to take it slow and easy, savoring each moment until the crest is reached and then…riding the edge.



 
Jul
07
    
Posted (crates) in Uncategorized on July-7-2007

     Have you ever read something about a subject and found it hard to follow?  There are some papers and articles that leave me totally confused and somewhat chastened.  When it is about a subject that I know nothing about I assume that my confusion is simply due to ignorance, but when the article is about something that I am familiar with, I realize that my confusion is usually due to bad writing.  This has happened often enough to make me suspect that my inability to follow some articles is not due to ignorance of the subject but due to the author’s inability to write clearly.

     These articles are often unnecessarily filled with jargon and convoluted syntax.  It is as if the author thinks that obfuscation is a direct reflection of his erudition, forgetting that the purpose of writing is to communicate and not to preen.  I have even heard people accuse one another of being mentally deficient because they are unable to comprehend the meaning of some obscure and pedantic piece of writing.

     When this type of writing is inadvertent, I can sympathise with the author who apparently is unable to present his ideas in a coherent and easily understood manner.  However, I suspect that often such writers have bought into the idea that obscurity somehow reflects the depth of their thinking.

       

     The ability to write in an obfuscatory and confusing manner is not difficult.  On the contrary, it is much easier to sprinkle one’s diction with obscure references and oddly specialized bits of jargon, trying to impress people with one’s profundity, than it is to write spare, concise prose which presents even difficult subjects in a clear, understandable manner.

      Personally, I find it extraordinarily difficult to write in a clear and precise manner.  Almost inadvertently I find that I tend to throw in tortuous ways of saying something that with a little bit of effort, a modicum of attention, can avoid the serpentine, almost labyrinthine, style, reminiscent of bald-pated academics, squatting in their towers of ivory, poring over ancient, crumbling tomes of some bygone age with liver-spotted hands, absorbed in the rapt contemplation of their umbilicus…::cough::

Hey, the date is 07-07-07!



 
Jul
06
    
Posted (crates) in Uncategorized on July-6-2007

I just saw a study claiming that the common perception of women talking more than men is false.  The study said they talk about the same amount.  I simply don’t believe this.  Although I have known a few garrulous men in my time, when I think about the talkers that I have known they have always been women.  In this  case I believe that the stereotype is basically true.

     In my family I know this is true, especially on my father’s side.  My father’s father almost never spoke.  I remember visiting my grandparents as a child in the small town of Odell, Texas.  It had this wonderful creek that ran near the outskirts of town, and as soon as we reached their house, I always wanted to immediately run down to the creek and start fishing.  However, my parents always said that to run off like that without visiting a bit would be rude.  So I would sit in the living room with my grandparents and my parents to put in my mandatory appearance.

     My grandfather usually didn’t say a word, and neither did my father.  My mother would talk a bit, but the conversation was almost solely carried on by my grandmother.  I loved my grandmother dearly, but how she did talk!  Over the years I noticed that at the breakfast table or anywhere else, she did 99.9% of the talking, whereas my grandfather would very rarely say a word…and when he did talk it was usually just that, a word, maybe two.

     So we would be sitting in the living room, my grandmother would talk and soon my grandfather would nod off.  To give him credit he worked hard all day as the foreman of a Santa Fe railroad track crew, and I’m sure the drowsy atmosphere and the talking of my grandmother, would simply lull him to sleep.  After a while my grandmother would gradually wind down and the next thing you knew, she was asleep.

     So there we would sit, me, still a small boy with lots of nervous energy, raring at the bit to run down to the creek to go fishing, and my mother and dad, and my sleeping grandparents…all sitting without a word in the living room.  I remember it was almost all I could bear.  

   

     This interlude usually didn’t last too long before my grandmother would wake with a start and begin talkng where she left off.  In later years I don’t remember my grandparents dozing off, but the same scenario always held, my grandfather sitting quietly, saying not a word and my grandmother doing all the talking.

     It wasn’t just my grandfather that didn’t say anything, none of his brothers talked either.  I never saw his oldest brother, so I can’t really say much about him, but if he was like his other brothers, then he too was a non-talker.  I saw three of my grandfather’s brothers, and I never heard two of them say a single word.   This was at my grandparent’s fiftyeth wedding anniversary though, and perhaps there wasn’t much for them to say.  I also saw my grandfather’s sister there for the occasion, and yes, she said nothing the entire time.  I did see two of his brothers on other occasions, however.  Uncle Wes seemed to talk more than the others, but Uncle Lloyd…well, let’s say that Uncle Lloyd was unusual.  He stayed with my grandparents a while (they often had a relative living with them), and I would see him when I visited.  He actually stayed in the adjoining bunkhouse, but would come over for meals and would sit a while in the living room where the water cooler made it so nice.  I would be in there, reading a book or something, and he would come in, sit down, put his head on his hand, and would sit there until supper time never saying a word.

     At breakfast I remember that he mixed his jelly up thoroughly with the butter before applying it to his biscuits.  I was fascinated by that and thought it was a great idea.  However he never spoke at mealtimes.  In fact the entire two weeks that I was there, he spoke not a word.  I never heard him speak.

     Now my father wasn’t that silent.  He did speak a bit more, however as a child I thought that he was a mite quiet, and I remember my mother talking about how quiet he was.  However, now he seems quiet loquacious and is very easy to talk to.

    I was always quiet also, but I think that the expression of the “gene of silence” has been diluted in me, and I tend to be the most talkative.  However, there are many times in company, where I don’t seem to feel much of a need to say anything, and so I sit there, silent…but hardly inscrutable.



 
Jul
05
    
Posted (crates) in biology, Ecology on July-5-2007

      For a long time I have been wanting to start some sort of water garden in two half whisky barrels that I have.  Unfortunately the water always fills up with mosquito larvae.  In fact it’s almost impossible to go outside in the evening at my home for any length of time because of the clouds of mosquitoes.  This has always been the case here even before I got the whisky barrels.  I have gotten more concerned with the problem because West Nile Virus has been reported in the state.  I have emptied all the various buckets and jars, etc. that I have found and now have only the barrels to contend with.

      Back in Texas the mosquito fish, Gambusia affinis, is ideal for controlling mosquitoes and can often be seen just under the surface of the water in almost all bodies of fresh water.  They have a particular distinctive curl to the tail and a silvery triangle on their head (brain?) when view from above.  I see these fish swimming around unconcernedly at the lake where my father lives, and they seem to not be bothered by the various predator fish (sunfish, bass, crappie, etc).  I’m sure this impression can’t be accurate since I can’t think of anything that would give the fish any sort of immunity to this sort of predation.  They are live bearers and can live in extremely brackish water.  I remember doing a project study on them in a Comparative Physology class and found they could tolerate an extremely hypertonic medium. Unfortunately the  species has been introduced worldwide in a mistaken attempt to control mosquitoes when the native fish are perfectly capable of doing this.

     Since there are no Gambusia in this area, I have been trying to figure out what is best to put into the barrels for mosquito control.   I was going to try some guppies since they resemble Gambusia very much, but I balked at their price ($4 apiece).  I finally settled on some feeder goldfish ($.35).  When I introduced the fish to the barrels last week, the barrels were full of mosquito larvae–now there are none.  Not a single solitary one.

It looks as if I shall get no sleep tonight.  I won’t get home until four am, and I have to go to the airport at 5 am.  I’ll try for a few hours in the late morning perhaps.



 
Jul
02
    
Posted (crates) in Uncategorized on July-2-2007

Some teachers stand out above the rest. I’ve already written of my geology professor, Dr. L. F. Brown, but there was one other teacher that had a lasting effect upon my life. I have to give credit to my second grade teacher, Mrs. Baird, for the following:

  • A lifelong interest in Conservation.
  • A through knowledge of the Old Testatment.
  • An abiding hatred of baseball.

I remember the indomitable Mrs. Baird as being one of the oldest teachers that I ever had. Of course to a second grader at Dean Highland Elementary School in Waco, Texas, old was almost certainly extremely subjective. I mean almost everybody was older than me, but it seemed that Mrs. Baird was really old. She had grey hair and spectacles, but she seemed to have a backbone of titanium steel.

Perhaps it is a testimony to my sensitivity to some things back then, when you consider how I reacted to her stories about trees. She talked eloquently of how America was covered with tall beautiful trees when the first settlers arrived. And then she would recount sorrowfully how these same settlers would cut the trees down, pile them in stacks and then burn them! Her voice would become grave when she talked about this, and I could just imagine vast tracks of trees being cut down and burned. Of course being in central Texas we didn’t have large forests. We did have trees but nothing like those that she described. It wasn’t until many years later that I saw miles of clear cut forest in the northwest with trailing plumes of smoke from the burning slash; I immediately thought of Mrs. Baird when I saw these horrors.

She went on to recount the story about a farmer that she knew who had these two huge beautiful oak trees at the entrance to his drive way. They shaded the place in the hot summers and provided homes for the birds, and food for the squirrels in the fall and winter. One spring she went by the farmer’s house and noticed that the two beautiful trees were gone except for the stumps. She asked the farmer what had happened, and he said that he had cut them for firewood. When she asked him why he didn’t cut the other dead trees on his property, he said that it was cold and he didn’t want to go that far. Her voice then dropped to an indignant whisper when she recounted the story to us, “He cut those beautiful trees because he was too lazy to go out onto his acreage and cut the already dead trees.” Her eyes flashed fire, and her voice was full of disgust. This and other stories that she told made a lasting impression on me, and always since then I have been an ardent conservationist.

Mrs. Baird also did something that today would get her ridden out of town on a rail, but back then nobody thought anything of it. She read to us from Hurlbert’s Stories of the Bible! Perhaps in deference to the one jewish boy in the class she only read from the stories of the Old Testament. I was given this book when I was in the second grade, possibly because of her reading these stories. I still have the book and keep it in the section of my book case where I put my most valued books.

She read one story each morning until she had progressed through all the stories on the Old Testament, and I remember being enthralled with the bloodthirsty nature of the Jews of this time. I thought it was full of adventure with great stories. I learned more from her readings than I ever did later in Sunday School.

Mrs. Baird also taught the boys baseball. We didn’t have any bats or baseballs but we had these big red rubber balls that we used for baseballs and used our arms and fists for bats. I hated the screaming and arguing that ensued amongst the little boys. It seemed that they would argue and fight over every little thing about the game, and I developed an intense hatred for it which lasted me into adulthood. The rules seemed absolutely incomprehensible. I was the designated pitcher since I could get the ball over the plate at the right height better than anybody else, and I remember getting the ball and stepping on third base to put a fellow out, which caused Mrs. Baird to grab her grey hair and scream “Nooooo!” I still don’t know what I did wrong…

I wondered later if Mrs. Baird had had any military training because she would get the entire class out on the play ground and run us through an exhausting regimen of calisthenics. The worst that I remember was having to duckwalk the length of the playground.

There were other stories about Mrs. Baird that I could recount, like the time she almost quarantined me because she thought I might have had Scarlet Fever, and the time she held me after school in my cub scout uniform and lectured me until I felt knee high to a mushroom because I had talked during the rest period.

I must have learned my academic lessons also, but the lessons that I remember learning from Mrs. Baird were never gotten from any textbook.



 
Jul
01
    
Posted (crates) in biology, Evolution on July-1-2007

    Talking about Iron Pyrite in yesterday’s post got me interested in its origins.  I came across this interesting article in Astrobiology Magazine that said that some forms of iron pyrite may have acted as a template that led to reactions that led to the formation of amino acids, proteins and other ingredients of life.

When pyrite absorbs sunlight, a weak electrical current is generated which would have been enhanced in the early Earth’s anaerobic environment.  Matthew Edwards of the University of Calgary said that this photoelectric quality could have led to carbon and nitrogen fixation which could have led to a  primitive metabolism at these fixation sites.

     It is suggested that a biofilm could have formed on the surface of the iron pyrite. The surface of iron pyrite would have protected the organic molecules from not only wave action, but also against the harmful effects of ultraviolet light.  If the organic molecules were to form further than ten nanometers from the surface of the iron pyrite, then the molecules would tear themselves apart when excited by the UV, but if they were within ten nanometers of the surface then the iron pyrite would absorb the energy and then release it as heat (Tributsch).

     Tributsch also suggested that chlorophyll may have originated within this ten nanometer area on the surface of pyrite and may have supplied energy to primitive cells.  The first life forms appeared at least 3.8 billion years ago, and it appears that photosynthesis may have appeared by 3.7 billion years ago.