Friday, February 04, 2011

Origins of Life: I Did Not Know That

Many miles away....

I love to learn something new. From Larry Moran's Sandwalk blog, we get a brief explanation of the Metabolism First hypothesis of the origin of life on Earth.
In this scenario, the first steps involved the establishment of simple oxidation-reduction reactions across a "membrane" using inorganic molecules. Once this supply of energy was in place the first pathways led to synthesis of simple organic molecules like acetate and glycine.
The MF hypothesis (see here also) is contrasted with the better-known but less reasonable Primordial Soup hypothesis:
According to this widely believed scenario, life originated in a soup of organic molecules that supplied most of the molecules of metabolism such as glucose and amino acids (and nucleotides?). Presumably once life got underway these molecules were used up and only then did metabolic pathways evolve to synthesize these molecules.
Moran ends with an appeal for healthy skepticism
The real problem is not that metabolism firstists such as Bill Martin are right and soupists are wrong—although that's a very real possibility. The problem is that most scientists are not thinking critically about the origin of life. There are several possibilities and none of them are particularly convincing. However, the Primordial Soup Hypothesis has a number of glaring weaknesses that need to be addressed honestly and it doesn't do anyone any good if scientists sweep these weaknesses under the rug.
And many miles away, something crawls to the surface of a dark Scottish loch, almost singing "What about 'God did it!' That's a hypothesis, too."

Get back to the lake, fucker!

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