Intelligent Design Origin Of Life

New organic compounds “could have” formed the first cells

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Has anyone noticed the role that “could have” now plays in Correct science?

Chemists studying how life started often focus on biopolymers like peptides and nucleic acids, but modern biopolymers don’t form easily without help from living organisms. A possible solution to this paradox is that life started using different components, and many non-biological chemicals were likely abundant in the environment. A new survey of a diverse set of such compounds under primitive environmental conditions found many of these easily formed polymers and some spontaneously formed cell-like structures …

Scientists have found many ways to make biological organic compounds without the intervention of biology, and these mechanisms help explain these compounds’ presence in samples like carbonaceous meteorites, which are relics of the early solar system, and which scientists don’t think ever hosted life. These primordial meteorite samples also contain many other types of molecules which could have formed complex folded polymers like proteins, which could have helped steer primitive chemistry. Proteins, by virtue of their folding and catalysis mediate much of the complex biochemical evolution observed in living systems. The ELSI team reasoned that alternative polymers could have helped this occur before the coding between DNA and protein evolved. “Perhaps we cannot reverse-engineer the origin of life; it may be more productive to try and build it from scratch, and not necessarily using modern biomolecules. There were large reservoirs of non-biological chemicals that existed on the primeval Earth. How they helped in the formation of life-as-we-know-it is what we are interested in,” says co-author Kuhan Chandru.

The ELSI team did something simple yet profound: they took a large set of structurally diverse small organic molecules which could plausibly be made by prebiotic processes and tried to see if they could form polymers when evaporated from dilute solution. To their surprise, they found many of the primitive compounds could, though they also found some of them decomposed rapidly. This simple criterion, whether a compound is able to be dried without decomposing, may have been one of the earliest evolutionary selection pressures for primordial molecules …

“We didn’t test every possible compound, but we tested a lot of possible compounds. The diversity of chemical behaviors we found was surprising, and suggests this kind of small-molecule to functional-aggregate behavior is a common feature of organic chemistry, which may make the origin of life a more common phenomenon than previously thought,” concludes co-author Niraja Bapat.

Tokyo Institute of Technology, “Scientists discover new organic compounds that could have helped form the first cells” at ScienceDaily

What does it mean to say “the origin of life a more common phenomenon than previously thought.” Can we point to other specific examples? It’s an interesting idea in principle but the wheels will probably come off fairly quickly.

6 Replies to “New organic compounds “could have” formed the first cells

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Coulds are dominant in both regular media and “science” media. Half of the headlines at RCS or PNAS are coulds. Real science is about what is, not what could be.

  2. 2
    doubter says:

    We didn’t test every possible compound, but we tested a lot of possible compounds. The diversity of chemical behaviors we found was surprising, and suggests this kind of small-molecule to functional-aggregate behavior is a common feature of organic chemistry, which may make the origin of life a more common phenomenon than previously thought,” concludes co-author Niraja Bapat.

    The usual tenuous speculation touted in the guise of science. Like my being able to swim the length of a swimming pool indicates that I may eventually, with enough training, swim the Atlantic to England.

  3. 3
    jawa says:

    Dr Cronin and Dr Szostak better watch out… maybe they should keep and eye on Kuhan Chandru, Tony Z. Jia, Irena Mamajanov, Niraja Bapat & H. James Cleaves, who could win the coveted Evo2.0 OOL $10M prize much sooner.
    It seems like Dr Denis Noble and Dr George Church will be busy reviewing so many candidates to the prize. They are popping up all over the map.
    Can’t wait for that thrilling moment when they will announce the winner. I get goosebumps just imagining how close we are to witnessing that breakthrough achievement.

    🙂

  4. 4
    Querius says:

    Currently, the difference in evolutionary biology between “could have” and “musta” is simply consensus on one of the “could have” speculations.

    -Q

  5. 5
    Belfast says:

    “ To their surprise, they found many of the primitive compounds could, though they also found some of them decomposed rapidly.‘
    To their surprise?? We mixed A and B to see if it got C – and, to our surprise, we were right!
    How many hundred times have I read the same guff -“to our surprise we got the result we were looking for.”

  6. 6
    BobRyan says:

    When belief is more important than science, the tests are rigged in favor of belief. Belief is not reason.

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