In This World, We Are, But Perhaps Not of It … October 21, 2013

Abiogenesis, the creation of life from non-living materials, is presently undergoing much scientific work. It is my understanding that presently scientists have been ablecells to:

  1. manufacture the amino acids necessary
  2. produce RNA
  3. Cell walls

They have yet to produce a cell that is self-replicating. It would seem that something is missing. Though scientists have life in abundance to study, they have yet been unable to ascertain the steps that led to it. I DNAthink they are stuck at the point where there was a world within which RNA existed.

It is at this point that the theists would exhort that the scientist to throw up his/her hands and accept that a god did it. Thank Godgoodness that scientists are only about seven percent religious, which is why their work continues.

volcanicMuch to do has been made about the conditions that prevailed upon the world early in its existence. Scientists so far have tried so hard to manufacture life following guidelines from the information we have about the early earth. So far, it seems, attempts have failed (Though this could change without a moment’s notice).

What if the conditions necessary for the formation of life from the bare constituents was never present on this earth? Suppose instead that the conditions existed at some point that only allowed the formation of life from previously manufactured materialsmeteor - earth arriving on meteorites? In this case the materials having been formed on some distant site under unknown conditions.

Perhaps it would be better to seek ways that life could have formed under any condition rather than limiting those conditions to what earth might have transiently offered. Scientists might look into the possibility of manufacturing the ingredients and then life in any way they can. Perhaps more than one way is possible. The likelihood of which way it actually occurred can then be derived. Perhaps from this we can also deduce where the process first began.

question markAs far as life on earth, the problem becomes more complex as we cannot be sure what arrived and when, though we do have a pretty good idea when life began. Not only what arrived is a problem to deduce, but also what the conditions were on earth that could at the time carry on from the materials received. At this point it is thought, that anaerobic conditions prevailed at the beginning. Aerobic life, like ourselves, could not have come into being until life forms developed that exhaled the oxygen necessary for respiration. Anaerobic life still exists today deep beneath the soil. Maybe this is what we will find on Mars, Titan, and others.

Anyone out there think, seriously, that we as a species should give up this endeavor? Should we return to a time of accrediting some deity for every thing that is not yet question markknown? It does seem that science generates more questions than answers. It is the questions, however, that is the food of science, not the answers.

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6 Responses to In This World, We Are, But Perhaps Not of It … October 21, 2013

  1. john zande says:

    It’s of course possible that this process is going on all the time but it doesn’t take hold and isn’t around long enough for us to observe.

    Interestingly, in 2012 Phil Holliger and his team at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge announcedin made the first synthetic RNA and DNA molecules which they called, XNA: xeno-nucleic acids. They achieved this mind-jarringly colossal leap in constructing artificial life by building synthetic versions of RNA and DNA’s nucleobase ladder rungs. By synthesizing enzymes (what they’ve called, polymerases) they could then bind the XNA molecules to DNA or reverse the process back to a single RNA strand; passing genetic information between the natural and synthetic molecules at will, leading MRC scientist, Victor Pinheiro, to observe “Thus heredity and evolution, two hallmarks of life, are not limited to DNA and RNA.”

  2. drenn1077 says:

    Isn’t this a wonderful time to be alive?

  3. john zande says:

    Hell yeah! Have witnessed more change in technology and understanding of the universe in my life than the last 100 generations combined. Hell, at university i was writing papers on what the “information superhighway” (pre the word “internet) might look like! All my research was done in libraries! 🙂

  4. drenn1077 says:

    Was your representation of the internet accurate?

  5. john zande says:

    Not even close! 🙂 I went off on a full immersion, caves of Lascaux, William Gibson, virtual reality Jaron Lanier type adventure. I didn’t suspect for a moment this thing we call social media. I did predict citizenry journalism (blogs), but that was about it.

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