Re: Life in the Lab -- Fox and the Nobel Prize

Massie (
Fri, 07 May 1999 07:09:11 -0700

Arthur V. Chadwick wrote:
> Thew absurdity of the proteinoid microsphere route to a living cell begins
> not with the proteinoid microsphere for which Kevin claims living
> properties, but with the very idea that proteinoids could ever have been a
> part of the prebiotic world. In order to make proteinoids you must have
> essentially pure amino acids, with a great proponderance of Glu and Asp.
> Then you must heat the purified amino acids in the absence of water, then
> dump them into water to make the microspheres. Before you get too excited
> about the outcome, note:
> 1) Proteinoids are not proteins; they contain many non-peptide bonds and
> unnatural cross-linkages.
> 2) The peptide bonds they do contain are beta bonds, whereas all biological
> peptide bonds are alpha.
> 3) His starting materials are purified amino acids bearing no resemblance
> to the materials available in the hypothetical "dilute soup." (estimated
> between .0001 and .000001 g/l -about the range of concentrations in the
> mid-atlantic today). If one were to try the experiment with condensed
> "prebiological soup," tar would be the only product.
> 4) The ratio of 50% Glu and Asp necessary for success in these experiments
> bears no resemblance to the vastly higher ratio of Gly and Ala found in
> nearly all primitive earth synthesis experiments.
> Now lets examine the claims of those who feel they are on the track of
> creating a living cell
> >> 1. "Delineate itself from its environment through the production and
> >> maintenance of a membrane equivalent, most probably a rudimentary or
> >> quasi-active-transport membrane necessary for selective absorption of
> >> nutrients, excretion of wastes, and overcoming osmotic and toxic
> gradients,
> This is something a simple membrane of cellophane can do. That does not
> make cellophane alive.
> >>
> >> 2. Capture, transduce, store, and call up energy for utilization (work),
> Capturing energy is something any soap bubble or cellophane membrane can
> do. Transducing that energy is what happens when it is carried across the
> membrane to the inside, where it can be stored, and used for work
> (expansion of the bubble). Anyone who has carried out experiments on
> osmosis in high school biology class has done all of these with a passive
> cellophane membrane.
> >>
> >> 3. Actively replicate, not just passively polymerize or crystallize, and
> If you can explain what you mean by "active" and "passive" process is, I
> will understand what the difference between the growth of a crystal and the
> growth of a proteinoid microsphere is, in physical terms. The crystal is
> supplied with elements externally that then accrue to the crystal and
> increase its size. It may also bud off into new crystals as well. The
> proteinoid microspheres are supplied with elements externally that accrue
> to the microcell and increase its size. It may also bud off into new
> microspheres as well. The difference is.....?
> >>
> >> 4. Write, store, and pass along seemingly conceptual information that
> >'gives
> >> orders' for what is to be manufactured in the future, and to actually
> bring
> >> to pass those processes and "factory products" out of linguistic-like
> coded
> >> (codon) messages ('recipes') into physical biochemical, biological, and
> >> thermodynamic reality."
> Here absurdity reaches new heights. Certainly in every sense that
> proteinoid microspheres are capable of these things, inorganic crystals are
> also. They are capable of giving 'orders' about what is being added in the
> future, and actually bringing to pass those processes and products out of
> linguistic-like coded messages (ordered arrays of molecules that are part
> of the crystal surface) into reality.
> Are the cellulose membranes or soap bubbles or crystals alive according to
> the above definition?
> Art


Beyond absurdity. I used to purchase canisters of bubbles made of
organic molecules. They were not alive and they came from a major
chemical company.

WOW, like to smoke what Li is smoking.

Bert Massie