RE: Origin of Life

Peter Vibert (
Tue, 9 Apr 1996 15:29:12 -0400

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- back again...with apologies, having forgotten to send an ascii version of
my attached file...


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Dose, Klaus. "The Origin of Life: More questions than answers"
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews; 13, 348-3455 (1988) J.W. Arrowsmith, Ltd.

"More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields
of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the
immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth rather than to its
solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments
in the field either end in stalemate or in a confesssion of ignorance. New
lines of thinking and experimentation must be tried".

Pace, Norman R. "Origin of Life - Facing up to the physical setting"
Cell 65, 531-533 (1991)

"There has been an enormous amount of speculation on the origin of life,
with little heed to constraints that might be imposed by the physical
"the description of the universal ancestor as a chemo-synthetic thermophile
differs fundamentally from classic notions..."
"The origin of life seems inconsistent with fully aqueous chemistry,
particularly at high temperature"
"If it ever existed, the RNA world was not exposed to free solution..."
"we have little grasp on thenature of the organic chemistry that gave rise
to the first self-replicating entitities and their environment"...

Joyce, Gerald.F. "RNA evolution and the origins of life"
Nature 338, 217-224 (1989)

"enthusiasm ..has to be tempered until there is experimental evidence that
such an entity [a combination of minerals and associated organics]... can
both replicate and code for specific catalytic behaviors"
"as scientific models of planetary formation have become more
sophisticated, it has become increasingly clear that we do not really know
whether the prebiotic atmosphere was strongly reducing, mildly reducing or
even non-reducing, although it seems certain that there was no free oxygen"
"It is difficult to imagine how a genetic message could be transferred to
complementary product in the face of [all this] isomeric interference. The
most reasonable interpretation is that life did not start with RNA"

Brenner, Sydney. Review of "The RNA World", ed. R.F Gesteland & J.F.Atkins,
CSH Lab Press 1993
in Nature 367, 228-229 (1994)

"Although, in principle, these discoveries with RNA molecules, both natural
and artificial, narrow the gap between primitive genetic systems in which
function and information were carried and copied within the same molecule
and the modern bilingual systems, they do not help much with the origin of
life itself. In a sobering first chapter, G. Joyce and L. Orgel point out
that there are still enormous difficulties in going from a mixture of
purine and pyrimidine bases to any kind of self-replicating system. We seem
to have crossed the gap between molecular biology and genetics, but that
between chemistry and molecular biology remains wide and deep. In fact,
some people have worried that there may not have been enough time to have
done it all in our solar system:.

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Peter J. Vibert
Senior Scientist Interim Pastor
Rosenstiel Basic Medical The Congregational Church
Sciences Research Center in North Chelmsford
Brandeis University 15 Princeton Street
PO Box 9110, Waltham, MA 02254 N. Chelmsford, MA 01863

tel: (617) 736-4947 tel: (508) 251-1261
fax: (617) 736-2419