Can Science Explain the Origin of Life?






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Darwin’s theory of biological evolution helps us understand how simple life forms can give rise to complex lifeforms, but how did the first reproducing creatures come about? The origin of life needs its own explanation.

Scientists don’t currently have a complete explanation for life’s origins, but different labs around the globe are looking into the idea that life may have emerged from chemistry. In this animation you will learn why they are studying this idea, and you’ll get to see a few of the fascinating things they have discovered.

Here are some links for further learning (organized by topic):

OVERVIEW OF CURRENT RESEARCH

Here David Deamer gives a wonderful overview of our current understanding of the origin of life. This hour long lecture is presented in clear language for all to follow:

SELF-ASSEMBLY

News article on the self assembly of gene-like columns: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/12/origin-of-life-rna_n_2670326.html

Video series on the self assembly of primitive cell membranes:
http://exploringorigins.org/fattyacids.html

Video interview with chemist Jack Szostak. In it he goes over his work on self-assembling membranes and genes.

Scientific journal exploring molecules with self-assembly properties. (You need a subscription to the journal to get past the abstract)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19879180

RNA SYNTHESIS

Video on John Sutherland’s production of RNA nucleotides
http://youtu.be/nVnAYDdM1iM?t=15m31s

EARLY FOSSILS

David Attenborough explores the lives of early organisms found in the fossil record. This video explores the evolution of early organisms but does not go over the origin of the first living things.
http://youtu.be/leLpFwjjn8M

METABOLIC PATHWAYS

This research explores a primitive metabolic pathway which could have easily formed through chemical evolution on the ancient earth (you need a subscription to the journal to get past the abstract) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11084-006-9059-9

Websites for further learning:

This Interactive website outlines many of the discoveries made by life origin researchers. http://exploringorigins.org/

This website explains the research goals and findings of the Center for Chemical Evolution at Georgia Tech: http://centerforchemicalevolution.com/

CORRECTIONS:
In this animation I drew the meteorite sugars incorrectly. See this paper for accurate molecular diagrams of the sugars and sugar derivatives found in meteorites: https://www.pnas.org/content/113/24/E3322

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21 thought on “Can Science Explain the Origin of Life?”

  1. Really? Vital force? 200 years later and there is still nothing clearly postulated.
    Replicators and polymer chemistry is a century old.
    Thee are statistical & thermodynamic limits.
    Whoever produced it is simple minded or just lying about what is known.

  2. The truth does not require your belief. It IS the truth. It's out there.
    All we have is observations and reactions.
    What you should know, dear "atheist", dear "christian", whatever you like to call your self,
    No one has this thing figured out. (Thing – this reality)
    The Bible is not reality, it is a book. (Which has been edited throughout time, albeit the inherent message persists)
    Science is not reality, it is a study of patterns.
    Reality is your experiences, and whatever else is out there.
    The word of Jesus Christ is given by God.
    But God is not who/what you think he is/might be.
    Your mind has a hidden world inside of it. It is not just your immediately apparent thoughts, feelings and memories.
    And there is a hidden world that we all share, of energy our biological sensors do not see.
    There are VERY strange things looking us in the face. Things which do not line up with the logic of our current way of material investigation.
    Many of us have been ignorant.
    I think we will start seeing soon.
    Keep an open mind.
    A TRULY open mind.
    We know very little about this world.
    I love you.

  3. Recently I saw some papers about stromatolites on Shelley Craton, AU.

    After a while, I have a theory about crystals being pre-organic compounds.
    When we take DMT or psylocibin, we see fractal shapes and self-assembled inorganic forms (what psychonauts call Machine Elves). Maybe we have records in our genetic ancestry that remembers where we come from.
    Some studies shows that fungi were the first organic terrestrial forms. They are not plants, not animals, but something between.

    Just curious about it 🙂

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