Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I love this stuff.

“How did a bunch of lifeless molecules transform themselves into living cells, turning the ancient, dead Earth into a planet teeming with life? It's an incredibly difficult question to answer, but a new model might explain part of the story. Before you can have life, complex organic molecules have to start replicating themselves in much the same way that cells reproduce. Molecules that can replicate themselves using only the chemicals around them are what we might call "protocells", a key transitional stage between a fully lifeless world and one dominated by living cells. But explaining how protocells come to be has proven tricky. Even if scientists can come up with a mechanism by which the molecules can reproduce, the process always involves lots of copying errors, or mutations. The occasional mutation will be beneficial for the molecule and increase its ability to reproduce - a rather rudimentary form of evolution, if you will - but the vast majority of these errors are just that, mistakes that leave the molecules unable to replicate properly. There's decades worth of experiments showing that these bad mutations will eventually win out and make impossible any further replication.” Click here for more

1 comment:

Peromyscus said...

That article makes no sense. How can molecules that don't replicate "win out" over molecules that do replicate? By logic alone, the ones that do replicate will accumulate and the other ones won't. The only way the system would inevitably die out as in the article would be if these molecules had discovered sexual reproduction, where even a small percentage of infertile partners can damage a population's growth.

And the paper cited (which I'm not going to pay to read in full)isn't "the first time" we have any clue how all this can be arranged, it's guess number five thousand (or so) and sounds plausible, but then again so do the Just So Stories.