Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

The origin of life?

Posted by metaphorical on 17 December 2006

Harry at the Infinite Bliss factory found this the other day. From the current Journal of the American Chemical Society:

New insights into the origin of life on Earth

In an advance toward understanding the origin of life on Earth, scientists have shown that parts of the Krebs cycle can run in reverse, producing biomolecules that could jump-start life with only sunlight and a mineral present in the primordial oceans.

The Krebs cycle is a series of chemical reactions of central importance in cells — part of a metabolic pathway that changes carbohydrates, fats and proteins into carbon dioxide and water to generate energy.

This is potentially a very big deal. Scientists and philosophers have worried for quite some time about the paradox that you need enzymes to make enzymes.

Jacques Monod, who won the the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1965, wrote a book in 1971, Chance and Necessity, that convincingly laid out the case against all design arguments and in favor of chance, or randomness, as the basis of evolution. In it, he carefully and inconclusively considers the enzyme question as the last remaining puzzle about the origin of life.

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