At Physorg , Lisa Zyga reports on a new origin of life theory, “RNA reactor could have served as a precursor of life” (July 11, 2011):
The biggest piece of support for RNA molecules as pre-life forms is that RNA can act as both genes (to store information) and enzymes (to catalyze chemical reactions). Like DNA, RNA is made up of a long chain of nucleotides. However, scientists do not know how a self-replicating RNA system could have arisen from a pool of random polynucleotides.
Some researchers have turned to natural selection among precursors to RNA replicators.
As described in previous research, RNA replicators can transmit information from one molecule to another so that the information survives even when the original carrier molecules have become degraded. Here, the researchers have investigated how RNA replicators may have arisen from simpler RNA reactors billions of years ago.
[ … ]
Most importantly, the computer simulations showed that the RNA reactor can perform weak replication based on information transmission by hybridization of the RNA strands. As the researchers explained, evidence of information transmission appears as an unexpected increase in the lifetime of certain sequences.
Now they hope to try it in the lab.
Question: If any of these origin of life these scenarios work, why isn’t life spontaneously generating all around us? The only answer so far encountered is that Darwinian natural selection would immensely favour the more complex, developed life forms, so no new ones could start.
But that’s not very convincing. Darwinian natural selection does not necessarily favour the more complex over the less complex – humans and horses over bacteria and viruses, for example. It’s not that we seldom see it. We don’t see it at all.
Another response is that the conditions on Earth are no longer right. Okay, so they are favourable to the preservation of life but not to its origin. In that case, we should see many failed attempts at origin. Do we?
Zyga informs us that “Nobody knows quite how life originated on Earth, but most scientists agree that living cells did not abruptly appear from nonliving cells in a single step.”
Here’s a thought: If after all this time, “most scientists” (scratch that, all scientists) have produced only a mass of conflicting theories, maybe we shouldformulate a new principle:
When what “most scientists agree” on produces no progress, most scientists are probably wrong at a basic level.
Follow UD News at Twitter!