FEEDBACK

The feedback we got in terms of ABSTRACTS, in which researchers responded to one/various question/s (explaining how they would address each of them in an oral contribution for the workshop) will be published in the section ‘program’.

What we would like to include here are the critical remarks of various researchers and potential speakers to the preliminary list of questions circulated last summer. So these are their personal opinions and suggestions on some or all of those 14 initial questions.

::

COMMENTS by ANTONIO LAZCANO

COMMENTS by ANDREW POHORILLE

COMMENTS by ALBERT ESCHENMOSER

COMMENTS by STUART KAUFFMAN

COMMENTS by DAVID DEAMER

COMMENTS by SANDRA PIZZARELLO

COMMENTS by ROBERT SHAPIRO

COMMENTS by MASSIMO DI GIULIO

COMMENTS by KNUD NIERHAUS

COMMENTS by IRIS FRY

COMMENTS by ESHEL BEN-JACOB

COMMENTS by SANDRA MITCHELL

COMMENTS by VICTOR NORRIS

COMMENTS by ANDRES MOYA

COMMENTS by TETSUYA YOMO

COMMENTS by ROBERT PASCAL

COMMENTS by PAUL LINDAHL

COMMENTS by ATHEL CORNISH-BAWDEN and MARILUZ CÁRDENAS

COMMENTS BY PURIFICACIÓN LÓPEZ-GARCÍA

COMMENTS by ROBERT HAZEN

COMMENTS by TAKUYA UEDA

COMMENTS by TAKASHI IKEGAMI

COMMENTS by ATHENA COUSTENIS

COMMENTS by ZBIGNEW ZAGORSKI

COMMENTS by…

[SORRY: still quite a few to be included!!]

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GROUPED COMMENTS (mainly on abstent questions):

1) Eörs Szathmáry, Massimo di Giulio, Knud Nierhaus, Yutetsu Kuruma,… remarked that the origin of the genetic code problem is missing.

2) David Deamer, Iris Fry, M. Christine Maurel,… considered as a very relevant issue the origin of ‘natural selection’ or Darwinian evolution, which is not explicitly included in the list.

———————————-

IMPORTANT NOTE: ALL THESE COMMENTS WERE DIRECTLY REPORTED (with some slight variations) FROM E-MAIL MESSAGES AND FILLED-IN QUESTIONNAIRES BY THE AUTHORS ABOVE MENTIONED. IN ANY CASE, IF ANY OF THESE AUTHORS IS NOT SATISFIED WITH THE CONTENT, DETECTS MISTAKES OR WOULD LIKE TO MAKE AMENDMENTS ON WHAT IS WRITTEN, PLEASE, DO NOT DOUBT TO CONTACT kepa.ruiz-mirazo@ehu.es

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One response

14 05 2009
Hans Kuhn

Question 2: is life an emergent property? An answer can only be given when life is clearly defined. Assume a stage when an oligomer appears de-novo by linking complementary monomers in a distinct and distinctly changing environment. This particular oligomer constitutes a functional unit that has entirely new properties, to replicate, form variations by occasional mismatches, that are exposed to selection. That is, an entity is present with purpose-oriented behavior. This property basically distinguishes animate from inanimate. It makes sense to define the occurrence of that particular oligomer as origin of life. It is an instantaneous, emergent, process. It marks matter that carries information and develops knowledge. The occurrence of such an oligomer in de-novo synthesis is an extremely seldom process, but happening sufficiently often to appear in a millimolar solution of, say, a volume of one cubic millimeter. The oligomer under consideration is assumed to be evolving to entities with a genetic apparatus, a machinery that allows evolution of ever increasing complexity. The appearance of the genetic apparatus is emergent, leading to the explosion of biological life. It makes sense to define the occurrence of the genetic apparatus as origin of bio-life.

Question 12: critical review of the terminology: yes, I suggest the above distinction between origin of life and origin of bio-life.

Question 1: Contingency versus determinism: I disagree with the opinion that the matter “can not be discussed on a rational scientific bases and is a matter of philosophical or religious belief.” I mentioned above the proposed sequence of chemical reactions driven by distinct and distinctly changing environmental conditions, leading from an initial oligomer to the genetic apparatus. It was the result of thorough and systematic thinking on what should be the reason for each step bringing the system to get more and more complex and intricate. Again and again at distinct complexities appears a barrier due to the limited fidelity that is overcome by fundamental change in the machinery. This is a clear scientific consideration showing the contribution of contingency and determinism.

Let us consider an example. A barrier is reached at a critical length of the oligomer. How to overcome that barrier? How to decrease the reproduction-error-probability of the evolutionary entity without having the possibility to further decrease the probability of a mismatch in replicating the single oligomer? The way to reach that goal is the formation of an aggregate of precisely interlocking oligomers that fit into an aggregate of precisely interlocking oligomers. Misfolded oligomers do not fit and disappear(error filter).Such an aggregate, the first supramolecular machine, initiates the evolution of increasingly complex and intricate machines. A similar situation appears again and again in the evolution toward a genetic apparatus and later.

Question 9: compartmentalization landmark? yes, I considered above the early formation of a specific aggregate constituting a first supramolecular machine. The replicated components forming the aggregate must not be lost by diffusion. First compartments might be pores in a rock.

Question 14. Statement: from conceptual point of view the field has not progressed much since the early experiments by Stanley Miller. I do not agree. Stanley’s experiments were fundamental and exciting, but trying to understand why and how life originated and why and how the intricate genetic apparatus evolved is the conceptual question, I think. The only meaningful approach is searching for a theory on the origin of life, that is: inventing a logically consistent sequence of processes that lead to a life-like genetic apparatus.

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