David Deamer, author of First Life, did something again that may be remembered in five hundred years. I choose my Probaway Person on the Year by projecting into the future and making the rather speculative assessment of what those people would consider the most memorable thing that happened in the previous year. Armstrong landing on the Moon will certainly be remembered in five hundred years, but it is unlikely that President Kennedy will be remembered.
David Deamer has made attempts to create living things out of natural organic materials, and if he had succeeded he would have made the Probaway Person of the Year. He did succeed in layering surfaces with organic molecules between the layers at a volcanic spring, and those molecules did have some prebiotic qualities. It is probable that life originated in some similar situation, but Deamer didn’t bring it off. Of course, the life processes had a whole Earth to experiment with and perhaps a billion years to play with the various materials, and perhaps it only took a single event to get the positive feedback we call evolution to get going. The challenge to make the list is seven billion to one, the single person challenging the whole population of planet Earth.
Deamer nearly made it again with his invention of a method for sequencing DNA in a device that ultimately can be attached to an iPhone. When that happens everyone will be able to do DNA testing on almost anything, and five hundred years from now it will possibly be a common practice. It is hard to know.
Check back the first week of January 2018 to see what event was so important that it will be remembered in five hundred years by sentient beings.