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Thread: The Chemical Orign of Life

  1. #1 The Chemical Orign of Life 
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    The question I pose here is directed at the very 'creation' of life forms on Earth.

    Firstly would I be correct in to say
    'Prior to the evolution of all biological matter, there was the evolution of physical matter into biological'.

    So to help me understand the process that occurred within physical particles and the transformation into biological matter, I need a degree of chemical knowledge. As to the reactions that occurred and the conditions that made it all possible.

    In Layman’s terms I hope understand the general concept of why with all the laws of Physics, the exception of life.


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    read this first:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

    for background information on the subject you could probably google "free organic chemistry lessons online" and find yourself pretty basic information. or just buy "organic chemistry for dummies" if you've already got a fair understanding of basic chemistry. if not then either freshing up on chemistry online or buying along with your organic chemistry text, a basic chemistry text as well.

    to explain to you all the complexities of abiogenesis(the prevailing theory, although you could side with creationism or different theories of you really must) would take hours, pages, megabites, and more knowledge than i possess and probably more than anyone on this forum feels like typing out.


    physics: accurate, objective, boring
    chemistry: accurate if physics is accurate, slightly subjective, you can blow stuff up
    biology: accurate if chemistry is accurate, somewhat subjective, fascinating
    religion: accurate if people are always right, highly subjective, bewildering
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    I was going to point you to the abiogenesis article but saul beat me to it... Also check out the article on the Urey-Miller experiment.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urey-Miller_experiment
    "There is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition." -Jorge Luis Borges
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    Although people occasionally speak of "chemical evolution," biologist prefer to refer to the origin of life as abiogenesis so that there isn't any confusion with the theory of evolution. Evolution in biology very specifically refers to the processes of how life changes over time, and doesn't address the origin of life.

    Addressing the hypotheses of abiogenesis in detail is a big task.

    In general the important thing to remember is that the early Earth environment was likely reducing, rather than oxidizing like it is today, so there was a tendency for more complex molecules to form rather than be broken down. Some of the reasons we can know this is because of geological evidence that suggests that iron was oxidized gradually, and the source of atmospheric oxygen on Earth is photosynthetic bacteria, so life had to come around before all this oxygen did.
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    Life really is rather remarkable.

    For molecules to come to life as a result of chemical reactions from amino acids and proteins, for them to conciously comsume energy in order to survive, exchange information at resonate frequencies, then produce replicating products of themselves. Then to evolve into a great variety of lifeforms right up to what we have here on earth today. WOW.

    No wonder people just say God created it all.

    Thanks for the responses anyway... The subject of abiogenesis is one I'll be sure to be learning more of in the future.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commander Cosmos
    for them to conciously comsume energy in order to survive,.
    Consciously? Would you like to rethink that?
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  8. #7 Re: The Chemical Orign of Life 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commander Cosmos
    The question I pose here is directed at the very 'creation' of life forms on Earth.

    Firstly would I be correct in to say
    'Prior to the evolution of all biological matter, there was the evolution of physical matter into biological'.

    So to help me understand the process that occurred within physical particles and the transformation into biological matter, I need a degree of chemical knowledge. As to the reactions that occurred and the conditions that made it all possible.

    In Layman’s terms I hope understand the general concept of why with all the laws of Physics, the exception of life.
    You should read Nick Lane's last two books, particularly the last one, "Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution", which is broken up into 10 accessible chapters. The first two chapters about the origin of life and DNA deal with very early life. The next three, photosynthesis, complex cell, and sex, deal with what happened for most of the period between then and the Cambrian explosion. Movement and sight have their origin before the explosion, but didn't really take off until the increase in size of multicellular organisms post explosion.
    Hot blood and consciousness deal with what's happened since, and death of course is the final chapter in the book as it is in life.

    A shorter abstract written by him:

    http://journalofcosmology.com/Abiogenesis107.html

    The Alkaline hydrothermal vent theory championed by Mike Russell, Bill Martin, Eugene Koonin, Allan Hall, Lane etc. has a lot going for it, though a great deal of work on the details remains to be done.
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    The theories I have recently looked into do not really go into explaining the actual origin of consciousness.

    It is fair to say that all living organisms are ‘conscious’ (to some degree or another). So it is the point in our evolutional history where the transition of physical matter into ‘conscious’ biological matter occurred that I begin to question. (Don’t worry I lay no alternative claims to divine or extra terrestrial creationism.)

    To understand living matter is to understand conscious matter.

    Why consciousness?

    For anyone with great interest in the field of study I recommend you search for a very insightful lecture speech on the ‘primacy of consciousness’.

    I hope to discuss the topic further.
    :wink:

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-p...consciousness/
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commander Cosmos
    I hope to discuss the topic further.
    :wink:
    Very much looking forward to that!
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commander Cosmos
    It is fair to say that all living organisms are ‘conscious’ (to some degree or another).
    this would seem to be true only if you take a very broad view of consciousness, so broad as to reneder it useless.

    Are you claiming consciousness for e.coli, daffodils and engineering students?
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Commander Cosmos
    It is fair to say that all living organisms are ‘conscious’ (to some degree or another).
    this would seem to be true only if you take a very broad view of consciousness, so broad as to reneder it useless.

    Are you claiming consciousness for e.coli, daffodils and engineering students?
    You are indeed correct to use the more relative understanding for ‘consciousness’ but to deem it useless is quite silly on your behalf.

    I ask of any organism, its ability to survive within its environment if it is not conscious of it. Every organism is conscious of its environment. With the more simplistic ones such as e.coli, their ‘conscious’ understanding would be rather limited to the ‘conditions’ they require in order survive and interact with each other.

    Without the light of ‘consciousness’ life would not be capable of surviving let alone respond to its environment and adapting to its changes.

    Allow me to compare consciousness to a ‘where’s Wolly picture puzzle’. Where you could replace the primary target ‘Wolly’ with whatever the primary focus of mind is aiming to gain concentration over. Of course this is done whilst also having to contend with many of Wolly’s friends and other characters or in the case of living consciousness, the functions of our bodies.

    Firstly the picture would vary from organism to organism, where upon the content would remain the same. However its obviousness (or how blatant it is to the mind of the organism) would also vary. I.e. slight change in the oxygen content of a given atmosphere would be highly ignored by a human, but to a micro organism whose life depends on minute changes I would suggest becomes quite aware. Likewise with heat and other atmospheric conditions that its sensory cells are fully capable of registering.

    So with a where’s wolly puzzle, you could say we humans are presented with a rather complicated picture, where upon we have to find within our consciousness, the brains connection with say finger movement or speech.

    So within our picture puzzle of say bodily consciousness we are constantly making searches in our brain of developing synaptic nerves and cells for control and response of bodily cells. Thus ‘where’s ‘eye blinking’ or where’s left calf muscle. Relatively easy subjects for the mind to find, particularly so if pain is inflicted upon the nerves in a given area. I.e it becomes more obvious to the mind so I would say we become more blatantly conscious to what is obvious to our minds. What is not so obvious would be the minute scale of the oxygen content in our atmosphere. However this is not to say we are not conscious of it, what happens to our brain is that in the absence of drastic abnormalities its obviousness is lacking and so becomes rather hidden within the puzzle

    I know this sounds rather vague but please try and grasp what I am meaning here. It does of course contradict the current understanding of consciousness, but consciousness within organisms is limited to what is obvious to it. Again its obviousness does vary and so it could be said that the consciousness would follow suit.

    In other words we are most conscious to what is most obvious to us. Ie the computer screen we are now looking at. For a daffodil it is light, moisture, etc, for e.coli, perhaps minute variances in temperature.
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    You are confusing automatic responses with consciousness. My heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and other organs have been functioning reasonably well for six decades. Apart from occassionally thinking gently thoughts to lower my heart rate, or deliberately alter my breathing in order to 'catch my breath' they have done so with absolutely no conscious inout on my part.

    I have often driven for miles, on crowded highways, lane changing, overtaking, handling intersections, etc, with absolutely no conscious awareness of the drive, my nind being taken up with other things.

    I repeat consciousness of is not the same as reacting to. To claim that it is, is a serious error on your part.
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    Can't it be said the conciseness is just a very complex automatic response? A concious brain is just determining what would be best for it, and because of the brains reward system, sometimes it deems choices that might seem questionable as correct.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tau Neutrino
    Can't it be said the conciseness is just a very complex automatic response? A concious brain is just determining what would be best for it, and because of the brains reward system, sometimes it deems choices that might seem questionable as correct.
    Nick Lane devotes a whole chapter on consciousness in his "Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution", which just won the Royal Society prize for science books.

    The latest speculations he tried to explain in the chapter was that human consciousness is the latest master program laid on top previous programs. The relative slowness of conscious thought may be that the top most master program must operate at a slow enough rate that it can "handshake" with all other programs running immediately underneath.
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    To anyone in the know, it is fair to ask of any biological matter that it is self responsive. In this I mean, the functions it carries out and chages it may make where condtitions warrent.

    Perhaps its answer moves towards more accurately defining consciousness within living matter.

    We humans are not unique in our ability to process brain power towards making active decisions, indeed it is our ability to think through choices and subjective matters that define us as been unique in our ability to obtain higher states of consciousness.

    Just a thought
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    You are confusing automatic responses with consciousness. My heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and other organs have been functioning reasonably well for six decades. Apart from occassionally thinking gently thoughts to lower my heart rate, or deliberately alter my breathing in order to 'catch my breath' they have done so with absolutely no conscious inout on my part.

    I have often driven for miles, on crowded highways, lane changing, overtaking, handling intersections, etc, with absolutely no conscious awareness of the drive, my nind being taken up with other things.

    I repeat consciousness of is not the same as reacting to. To claim that it is, is a serious error on your part.
    In this case Ophiolite I would claim there exists concentration..

    A concentrated effort requires the mind to operate in the desired way within its concious enviornment. I mean surely you were not driving along with your eyes closed?
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commander Cosmos
    In this case Ophiolite I would claim there exists concentration..

    A concentrated effort requires the mind to operate in the desired way within its concious enviornment. I mean surely you were not driving along with your eyes closed?
    From the point of view of my consciousness I might just as well have my eyes closed. In the example I gave it is true that part of my brain must be concentrating on the driving process. However, it is not, on those occassions, the conscious part of my brain - it is concentrating elsewhere. So I disagree with what you imply in your statement that I must be concentrating within my minds conscious environment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    Although people occasionally speak of "chemical evolution," biologist prefer to refer to the origin of life as abiogenesis so that there isn't any confusion with the theory of evolution. Evolution in biology very specifically refers to the processes of how life changes over time, and doesn't address the origin of life.

    Addressing the hypotheses of abiogenesis in detail is a big task.

    In general the important thing to remember is that the early Earth environment was likely reducing, rather than oxidizing like it is today, so there was a tendency for more complex molecules to form rather than be broken down. Some of the reasons we can know this is because of geological evidence that suggests that iron was oxidized gradually, and the source of atmospheric oxygen on Earth is photosynthetic bacteria, so life had to come around before all this oxygen did.
    Actually, you can see a very pronounced strip of iron oxide in the geologic record recording the change from a reducing atmosphere to an oxidizing one. It is referred to as the oxygen catastrophe.
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  20. #19  
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    However, the data are ambiguous. Some can be used - and have been used - to 'prove' both a reducing environment and an oxidising environment. The issue is not clear cut.
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