David Deamer’s comments

General remark:

Some questions sound pretty philosophical to me. Any discussion on these will be voicing of opinions, rather than testing by observation or experiments.

I have two additional questions to suggest:

Does Dobzhansky’s dictum apply to the origin of life?

Premise. Theodosius Dobzhansky famously noted that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” The word evolution has multiple meanings. The most general sense of the word is “change over time”, so we have stellar evolution, chemical evolution, cultural evolution and so on. But biological evolution is clearly different, in that not only have the inhabitants of the biosphere changed over time (witness the fossil record) but they became more complex.

The question. Would you agree that evolution began when life began? If so, what was the mechanism by which the first forms of life evolved? Was there competition? Was there natural selection in the Darwinian sense?

Complexity, systems and life’s beginning.

Premise. During the half century since Miller’s experiment, origins of life research has largely dealt with the origin of simpler molecules that are incorporated into polymers, and to a lesser extent with the polymers themselves. And yet, life today is not just a replicating molecule, but instead is a system of polymeric molecules with multiple functions that include catalysis, energy transduction, polymerization and replication.

The question. Can the origin of life be described as the chance self-assembly of a system of molecules, or will we be satisfied to understand it as the chance synthesis of a specific kind of molecule such as catalytic RNA that is capable of replicating itself?

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One response

13 02 2009
TESSERA

I think your first question is very interesting:
“Would you agree that evolution began when life began? If so, what was the mechanism by which the first forms of life evolved? Was there competition? Was there natural selection in the Darwinian sense?”
However I would propose to reverse the terms:
“Would you agree that life began when evolution began?”
As it is my thesis that life began when evolution began.
But, of course, the conditions and the mechanism of such “evolution” should be specified:
– first, the system which would evolve should be in a state far from its thermodynamic equilibrium and, in addition, should remain so during its evolution,
– it should be capable of auto-replication,
– there should be a chance for the apparition of variants which should be capable of auto-replication too.

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