Robert Pascal’s comments

On Q01: Contingency versus determinism in the origin of life/origin of proteins.

If we agree that any question that is not harmful to human beings in a physical or ethical way is open to scientific investigation, science has no reason to ignore the question of the origin of life. However, the belief that these researches will be successful in reproducing a new form of life is a matter of personal philosophy. As soon as a scientist is involved in origins of life studies, his or her simple work is intended at reproducing life in the long term, which means that he or she assumes that determinism has been involved in the process in a more or less important way. On the other hand, the simple fact that living organisms require information – accumulated during the evolution – show that non-deterministic choices have been made at bifurcation points and that contingency is then a necessary ingredient of the origin and development of life.

On Q02: Emergence and emergent properties: is life an emergent property?

An alternative possibility in asking this question would be: Do you think that reconstituting life by merely associating the different constituents of a minimal living organism – prepared independently by chemical synthesis – would constitute a real breakthrough in our way of thinking in the beginning of the 21st Century? – Or do you consider that it would unambiguously illustrate the current view that life is an emergent quality?

On Q03: Heterotrophic vs. autotrophic scenarios

See Abstract

On Q04: On the origin of catalytic cycles

See Abstract

On Q06: About the RNA world

The hypothesis of a solution of activated nucleotides in which ribozymes may grow and evolve has been characterized as a dream of molecular biologist or a nightmare for a prebiotic chemist (Joyce and Orgel in RNA world). A more realistic view is that RNA and ribonucleotides or other genetic polymer or monomer analogues may be considered as a subset of the large diversity of molecules that were present on the early Earth and that we consider as important simply because they led to the modern information storage system. Although alternatives to genetic polymers such as compositional genomes have been proposed, it is improbable that the first living organism was constituted of only one of the three subsystems defining life (genetic, metabolic and compartiment-making). It is also likely that a living organism constituted of a genetic polymer only would be highly dependent of its environment. Definition include the environment or the environment may include the metabolic subsystem providing activated materials required for replication. The precise origin of life: when replication + retroaction = Darwinian. Question 10, 11 and 12 ecology

On Q09: Proto-cellular world (b) – lipid type dichotomy

See Abstract


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