A genuine discussion between Helen Hansma and Brian Miller in the Letters Section:
In response to “Hot Wired,” a discussion between Brian Miller and Jeremy England, both experts, on fluctuation theorems and the origins of life. (Vol. 5, No. 2).
According to Miller, moving mica sheets could not “have generated more than a tiny fraction of the required free energy.” He offers no evidence to support this claim. If the mica sheets move even one angstrom closer together and have a spring constant stiff enough to provide 170 piconewtons of force, they can push together two molecules to form a covalent bond.6 The equation for a spring constant, F = kx, shows that a spring constant of 1.7 newton-meters would suffice. The spring constant of the mica depends on the number of mica sheets in the layer that is opening and closing. Each mica sheet is approximately one nanometer thick. Only about seven mica sheets are needed to provide this spring constant.7 Mica does indeed provide an endless energy source with more than enough energy to create the molecules of life.Helen Hansma, “On the Origins of Life” at Inference Review
To which Miller replies:
Hansma envisions that spaces between adjacent mica sheets embedded in rocks along the ocean floor could serve as the staging ground for the formation of the first cell. In her model, the relative motion of one sheet toward a neighboring one mechanically forces molecules together. Either the repulsive electrostatic force is overcome and a covalent bond is formed between the molecules, or the motion breaks them apart. The mechanical energy of the sheets is converted into chemical energy. The critical flaw in this scenario is Hansma’s claim that mica might potentially provide sufficient mechanical energy for such a process. The efficiency of energy conversion in an ancient marine environment is far too low for the model to be plausible.Brian Miller, “On the Origins of Life” at Inference Review
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See also: New edition of Inference review features Richard Buggs, James Shapiro, and Larry Krauss. Imagine! Serious discussions. And none of that “we’re the voice of Science!” bilge. Hey, it’s all free too. Read, think, and make up your own mind while you still can.