… in another universe:
Franklin M. Harold, In Search of Cell History: The Evolution of Life’s Building Blocks (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 164:
Over the past sixty years, dedicated and skillful scientists have devoted much effort and ink to the origin of life, with remarkably little to show for it. Judging by the volume of literature, both experimental and theoretical, the inquiry has thrived prodigiously. But unlike more conventional fields of biological research, the study of life’s origins has failed to generate a coherent and persuasive framework that gives meaning to the growing heap of data and speculation; and this suggests that we may still be missing some essential insight.
Any idea what that could be? Information maybe? Also,
The origin of life is one of the hardest problems in all of science, but it is also one of the most important. Origin-of-life research has evolved into a lively, inter-disciplinary field, but other scientists often view it with skepticism and even derision. This attitude is understandable and, in a sense, perhaps justified, given the “dirty” rarely mentioned secret: Despite many interesting results to its credit, when judged by the straightforward criterion of reaching (or even approaching) the ultimate goal, the origin of life field is a failure – we still do not have even a plausible coherent model, let alone a validated scenario, for the emergence of life on Earth. Certainly, this is due not to a lack of experimental and theoretical effort, but to the extraordinary intrinsic difficulty and complexity of the problem. A succession of exceedingly unlikely steps is essential for the origin of life, from the synthesis and accumulation of nucleotides to the origin of translation; through the multiplication of probabilities, these make the final outcome seem almost like a miracle. – –Eugene V. Koonin, molecular biologist, The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution (Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press, 2011), 391.
A couple of thoughts: What is the question they want an answer to? If the question is, how did life get started randomly in a purely natural way, are they willing to consider the possibility that it didn’t? One suspects they’d rather not have an answer.
That, of course, would mean progress consists in not finding an answer, so in that sense, their work is actually a success.
Here is an example from politics that in no way relates to OOL research except to illustrate how this works: A corrupt teacher’s union at a failing school board faces the problem that the board is trying to fire teachers who have sex with students. The union claims it wants nothing more than the students’ welfare. But actually it does want something more than the students’ welfare: It wants to save its members’ jobs. And in fact that is what a union exists to do. So what the board considers a solution (fire the beggars), the union considers a problem. And vice versa.
It all depends on how we define the problem.
See also: Can all the numbers for life’s origin just happen to fall into place?
Origin of life: Could it all have come together in one very special place?
Maybe if we throw enough models at the origin of life… some of them will stick?
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