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Thread: Between the sheets origin of life

  1. #1 Between the sheets origin of life 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    The reference below from ScienceDaily is a theory into the origin of life.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com:80/relea...0806093104.htm

    The idea is that the earliest life originated in the spaces between sheets of the mineral mica. The reference describes how the mica sheets provide a template for RNA formation, and how they protect the new and vulnerable first 'almost life', while supplying energy.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Fascinating. On this theory, then, cells could have originated in millions, or billions of locations. All life today is thought to have evolved from one such event. One wonders how far, if at all, some of the billions of others might have advanced before being extinguished by some slight incompatibility in their environment; and what a wonder it is that out of billions that did not go on to reproduce and evolve, only one did. Statistically, if there are a billion starts, it seems that either none at all should survive, or many should survive. The chances of one and only one surviving to evolve and create all of life today seems vanishingly small.

    Is it accurate to say that all life evolved from a single event?


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  4. #3  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Bunbury

    I doubt that anyone could answer your question. For example, I see no reason why several of the earliest life forms may not have simply joined together. If one of the simplest life forms had, for example, one RNA molecule as its base, I see no reason why it could not amalgamate with another to form a cell with two RNA molecules. This process may have happened many times, meaning that all life is descended from many originals.

    On the other hand, I may be talking a load of hogwash. When speculating, we need to keep that in mind.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Well, I was actually wondering if there's anything better than speculation to go on.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Answer : not yet. Researchers are accumulating data on possible ways life may have come into being. There is already a wealth of data, but it all needs to be sewn together, and we do not yet have sufficient to build a clear cut overall picture.

    I hope we may see this sometime in the next several decades. But it is possible we may never have the final answer - just a whole heap of possibilities.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Statistically, if there are a billion starts, it seems that either none at all should survive, or many should survive. The chances of one and only one surviving to evolve and create all of life today seems vanishingly small.
    Not really.

    In the first place, we are talking about exponential growth in a simple, unbalanced, competitive situation; a very small advantage or break of the right kind could easily lead to takeover - say, the first one to be able to reproduce in liquid water: would have an utterly huge niche open up, which it would populate not only with itself but with its explosively evolving descendants of various types. From that hyper-evolution and massive population dominance, no mystery if other lines were squelched, eaten, outcompeted for resources, etc.

    In the second, even if many survived there was nothing preventing them from combining geneologies and blurring into one thread - even today, billions of years later, with individual identity so ferociously maintained, we see completely unrelated strains of bacteria picking up each other's DNA, viruses spreading host genetic material along with their own, and so forth.
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  8. #7 Re: Between the sheets origin of life 
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The reference below from ScienceDaily is a theory into the origin of life.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com:80/relea...0806093104.htm
    And yet just months before, they published this theory:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0202101245.htm

    Personally, after the lengthy explanations given by Nick Lane in "Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life" and "Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution", I favor the alkaline hydrothermal vent version.

    You might also want to read this:

    http://journalofcosmology.com/Abiogenesis107.html
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  9. #8  
    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    I think Robert Hazen describes this theory in "Genesis: The Scientific Search for Life's Origins", he goes over alot of hypotheses. But ya, alot of speculation still.
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