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Hunting The Replicators: How Did Life Begin?

Amoebas are alive but rocks are not. What is the difference?

For many people, one of the greatest difficulties in understanding the scientific narrative of cosmic evolution is how nature took the path from non-life to life. This question of "abiotic genesis" haunts many a science and religion debate with advocates of scriptural literalism unwilling to grant that natural processes, unmediated by a higher intelligence, could have taken "dead" matter and created living material.

Now the path from "just" molecules to "something more" has gotten a bit more clear as researchers take a crucial step toward building the holy of holies: a self-replicating molecule.

Part of this story, however, is the funny thing that happened to scientists studying the origin of life over the last 80 years. Their perspectives were profoundly rewired.

In the 1950s, chemists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey performed a brilliant and brilliantly illustrative experiment. Miller and Urey created a simulated version of the early Earth in a test tube. An "atmosphere" of hydrogen, ammonia and methane was created in one flask. An "ocean" of liquid water was held in a separate flask. The two were connected and a high voltage discharge was set up in the atmospheric flask to act as lightening (and a source of UV light).

After running the experiment for a week, Miller and Urey found a brown goo had formed in their test-tube ocean. When they analyzed the goo they found it formed a rich soup of pre-biotic molecules. Amino acids, sugars and lipids (the basis of fat) had all been generated. The Miller-Urey experiment was hailed as instant classic of biochemistry and proof that, in principle, non-living material along with the natural processes of physics and chemistry could create the molecular basis of life. All that had to be added, scientists argued, was time and then life would have its start.


A key bottleneck in the process was finding examples of RNA with the "software" to process large sets of instructions and fully replicate themselves. This step is crucial because, for example, if you have a robot that can only build a hundredth of a robot then the dreaded robot apocalypse is probably still a long way away. Likewise, getting that first truly self-replicating molecule is the first true step towards evolution. Scientists have, up till recently, had a hard time finding an example of RNA that had the self-replicating chops.


Long live the replicators — whatever and wherever they are.


Please click HERE to see the whole article...

What the authors fail to understand is that all-important "spark of life" that animates the lifeless "brown goo."

Now, have a look at The Urantia Book's teachings on the origins of life on Earth: Suddenly, it all makes sense...

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