Model Sheds Light On Chemistry That Sparked Origin of Life

10

The question of how life began on a molecular level has been a longstanding problem in science. However, recent mathematical research sheds light on a possible mechanism by which life may have gotten a foothold in the chemical soup that existed on the early Earth.


Researchers have proposed several competing theories for how life on Earth could have gotten its start, even before the first genes or living cells came to be. Despite differences between various proposed scenarios, one theme they all have in common is a network of molecules that have the ability to work together to jumpstart and speed up their own replication — two necessary ingredients for life. However, many researchers find it hard to imagine how such a molecular network could have formed spontaneously — with no precursors — from the chemical environment of early Earth.

“Some say it’s equivalent to a tornado blowing through a junkyard and assembling the random pieces of metal and plastic into a Boeing 747,” said co-author Wim Hordijk, a visiting scientist at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina, and a participant in an astrobiology meeting held there last year.

In a previous study published in 2004, Hordijk and colleague Mike Steel of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand used a mathematical model of simple chemical reactions to show that such networks might form more easily than many researchers thought. Indeed, biochemists have recently created such networks in the lab.

Written By: Science News
continue to source article at sciencedaily.com

10 COMMENTS

  1. At this rate, it might not be long before there will be no “gaps” for religious belief to hide in.  People who want to keep religious belief and also want to live in the modern world will be forced to make a choice and declare that their belief has no rational support.

  2. “Some say it’s equivalent to a tornado blowing through a junkyard and
    assembling the random pieces of metal and plastic into a Boeing 747.”

    Do they indeed? Surely that is the infamous remark made by Fred Hoyle, not about the origin of life, but about Natural Selection.

  3. Boy that’s going to take 200 years to be accepted by the Pope, and 300 for Jehova witnesses.

    Not only that would make life non-miraculous, but it would make it not even unlikely. Quite systematical, in fact. That would be a kind of statistical evidence for life about everywhere in the univers.

    Let’s wait and see.

  4. Watched Attenborough’s recent program. Absolutely fascinating stuff , it showed a simple experiment where electrical charge was passed through a chamber of gasses that are commonly found on earth. The result: ameno acids : Amazing

  5. “It turns out that if you look at the structure of the networks of molecules [in our models], very often they’re composed of smaller subsets of molecules with the same self-perpetuating capabilities,” Hordijk explained.

    Makes absolute sense to me. Just as in evolution, the complex end result (here: DNA) is the product of a lots of small steps, each one slightly increasing the ability to survive and replicate.

    Or so I would assume.

  6. Jay G
    At this rate, it might not be long before there will be no “gaps” for religious belief to hide in.

    It would be nice to think so, but the personal gaps in individual believer’s knowledge, will always be with us, due to the dogged determination of the know-it-alls, to refuse to learn – even when conclusive evidence is readily available.

  7. “We exist in a universe filled with an
    array of beautiful structures ranging from the molecular organization of living
    things upwards to the galaxies, and science must ultimately explain why. In so doing,
    science will give us a picture of the universe in which the occurrence of
    novelty, indeed the perpetual birth of novelty, can be understood.” (Lee Smolin)
    Or maybe Hawking is right. It’s all just a big crap shoot.

Leave a Reply