Thursday, April 12, 2007

Prebiotic News: Creating Amino Acids

This recent news is relevant to the continuing series of posts and discussions on the Origin of Life by Resty of Expectorants, the latest of which discuss the Prebiotic Soup and the Krebs cycle.

"Chemist Jeffrey Bada was able to conduct a laboratory experiment, the results suggest that Earth's early atmosphere could have produced chemicals necessary for life—contradicting the view that life's building blocks had to come from comets and meteors."

Bada's experiment produced amino-acids, building blocks of proteins. While this represents significant progress towards recreating life under realistic early-earth conditions, the article cautions that this still falls short of the entire process:

"But James Ferris, a prebiotic chemist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., doubts that atmospheric electricity could have been the only source of organic molecules. 'You get a fair amount of amino acids,' he says. 'What you don't get are things like building blocks of nucleic acids.'

It goes on to explain that "Meteors, comets or primordial ponds of hydrogen cyanide would still need to provide those molecules."

BTW, i'm surprised to learn from the linked article that most scientists in the field believe that the building blocks of life originated from comets and meteors. I've read about this years ago, but did not realize that this has since become the majority view.


Resty Odon said...

i started with the slime mold as an illustrative example of the life-nonlife puzzle. this particular species proves that even the area of cellular communication (within a cell and between cells) is still full of mysteries :)

cvj said...

I think the above article agrees with you on that point although their way of resolving it is via comets & meteors (panspermia) instead of intelligent design (directed panspermia). I hope they resolve this next step (one way or the other) within our lifetimes.