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L. C. Hill (Broward Community College (Florida))
The emergence of the largely silicate earth from a presumably cosmically normal, H-rich solar nebula 4.5 eons ago is an obviously important issue relevant to many disciplines of the physical sciences. The emergence of terrestrial life is an equally important issue for biological sciences. Recent discoveries of isotopically light carbon (i.e. putative chemical fossils) in 3.85+ Ga Issua, Greenland sediments have reopened the issue of whether terrestrial life may have emerged prior to the earliest known rocks so that one might use biological records to deduce early terrestrial environments. In addition, recent advances in molecular genetics have suggested that all known ancestral life forms passed through an early hydrogen-rich environment which is more consistent with the now rejected Urey hypothesis of a early jovian atmosphere than with contemporary geological and planetological paradigms. In this essay, then, we examine possible limitations of contemporary paradigms of planetary science since a prima facie case will be made that life could not emerge in those environments which those paradigms now allow. Of necessity, the discussion will also address some hidden conflicts embedded in various disciplinary methodologies (e.g. astronomy, biology, geology).