News Origin Of Life

Clay crystals theory of life 50 years old

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From Martha Henriques at BBC Earth:

Chemist Graham Cairns-Smith has spent his entire scientific career pushing a simple, radical idea: life did not begin with fiddly organic molecules like DNA, but with simple crystals

It is now 50 years since Cairns-Smith [1931–2016] first put forward his ideas about the origin of life. Some scientists have ridiculed them; others have, cautiously or wholeheartedly, embraced them. They have never become mainstream orthodoxy, but they have never quite gone away either. Was there any truth to Cairns-Smith’s daring proposal? Did life really come from crystals? More.

Life is information in motion. Looking for something uninformative that life “comes from” is a guarantee that we will still be in this rut in fifty years.

See also: Origin of life: Clay was the birthplace of life on Earth?


What we know and don’t know about the origin of life

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2 Replies to “Clay crystals theory of life 50 years old

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    On The Backs of Crystals – Michael Ruse, Expelled

  2. 2
    Querius says:

    In college, I ran across an article by Cairns-Smith, and found it fascinating! However, I later learned that there were two major flaws with his article:

    1. He quickly and convincingly demolished Oparin’s “primordial soup” theory. Not advisable.

    2. Cairns-Smith’s theory was disturbingly close to Genesis, thus making his theory obviously unacceptable.

    As a result of these ideological issues, Cairns-Smith’s theory was suppressed for the general good and glacially slow and proper advancement of science in acceptable directions.


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