Re: More Proteinoid Information
Mon, 31 May 1999 18:45:02 EDT

In a message dated 5/31/99 11:53:04 AM Mountain Daylight Time, writes:

> Fox originally used a mix that predominated in glutamic and aspartic acids
> (1 Asp : 1 Glu : 1 other 18 aa), because these were the only amino acids
> that melted. All other combinations that he tried were destroyed by the
> heating required to thermally polymerize the mix.

We've discussed this before, Art. The only requirement for making
proteinoids is that you have nonneutral amino acids present, either
glutamate, aspartate or lysine. Any mixture of amino acids that contains at
least one of these amino acids, even in amounts less than 1% of the total,
will produce proteinoids. The only situation in which proteinoids cannot be
formed is in the total absence of either glutamate, aspartate or lysine. So
it is incorrect that only a mixture of 1 Asp : 1 Glu : 1 other 18 aa will
work and that "all other combinations" are destroyed.

> While other workers have
> by careful manipulation of the reaction conditions been able to do what Fox
> could not....

On the contrary, Fox was able to obtain proteinoids from a wide variety of
mixtures of amino acids under a wide variety of reaction conditions, as he
reports in the book he coauthored with Dose and in his various papers. Maybe
you should read them like I'm doing.

> ...they still used as starting materials, pure amino acids. This is the
telling point.

We've discussed this before as well. This is for the sake of convenience;
it's not a requirement. I have provided at least two references that
describe how people have deliberately mixed "pure" amino acids with other
materials -- including sand and ground basalt -- and have still obtained
proteinoids. Obviously purity is irrelevant.

> If they could get the mix produced by Miller to make
> proteinoids (as opposed to pure amino acids in the ratio found by Miller et
> al) then they might have something to talk about....

What difference does it make whether you use the amino acid solution produced
by Miller or use a "pure" mixture of the exact same amino acids in the exact
same proportions? From a purely biochemical standpoint it makes no
difference. Please tell me your justification for why it does make a

> ...(like maybe, how to synthesize the difficult amino acids they needed).

I don't understand what you mean by this. What difficult amino acids? Who
needs them, and for what? Please explain what this has to do with making

> Also check out the
> methodology of their experiment and tell me if you think that could ever
> have happened on the primitive earth....

The basic methodology is that you have an aqueous mixture of amino acids, you
evaporate the water and dry out the amino acids, you heat them for a length
of time depending upon the temperture (the lower the temperature the longer
you heat them), then you rehydrate them. What part if any of this scenario
would have been impossible on the primitive earth?

> ...(i.e. without the chemist).

The chemist is irrelevant. All he does is substitute for the environment.
If heating an anhydrous mixture of amino acids could NOT make proteinoids,
then nothing the chemist could do would change that.

> Then you
> can begin to address the question of the concentration of amino acids on
> the primitive earth. The most optimistic estimates give concentrations of
> .0001 and more realistic estimates are between .00001 and .000001 grams per
> liter in the prebiotic sea, even assuming a reducing atmosphere.

We've discussed this before also. The methodology for making proteinoids
does not assume an aqueous solution but an anhydrous mixture. Even a dilute
solution will become highly concentrated as the solvent evaporates, and by
definition solute in a dry state is at infinite concentration. Fox and Dose
report on experiments in which dilute solutions of amino acids were heated to
dryness; they still polymerized into proteinoids.

> There are lots of other problems to be solved as well.

Please list them; I need to know what they are so I can discuss them in my
review paper. And if you can provide references I would appreciate it. I
can't find any such problems in the scientific literature, and when I asked
Koichiro Matsuno if he knew of any he said he didn't. People may ignore Fox,
but they don't seem to be critiquing him either.

> But keep on searching. There
> is a Nobel prize just waiting for you or someone who solves the
> macromolecules to cell transition....

Funny you should bring that up. I found a list of all the people who won a
Nobel Prize in chemistry or medicine and compared it with a list I have of
the people who could be rightly called the fathers of modern biochemistry.
Of the three dozen or more people who would fit that decription, only 10 ever
received a Nobel Prize, and only about half got it for their biochemical
research; that's roughly 6:1 odds against. So it is possible that someone
could solve that problem and never get the recognition necessary to receive
the prize.

But this is a specious argument in any event. You know very well that the
validity of an individual's research is not determined by whether they win
the Nobel Prize.

> ...(assuming someone first is able to solve
> the monomers to macromolecule problem outside the laboratory).

What do you mean, "outside the lab"? Are you implying that unless someone
can make proteinoids outside the lab in the wild that all the in-lab research
is invalid? Are you further implying that scientists in a lab can create new
physiochemical mechanisms that do not exist in nature, and thus are able do
something that nature never could?

> Good. Now let them try it with a pinch of Miller's product or a bit of
> sugar added.

The sugar mixture experiment has been done; you still get proteinoids. Why
would sugar prevent the formation of proteinoids if sand and basalt cannot?
And why would you believe that a mixture of the exact same constituents
produced by Miller in the exact same proportions would make proteinoids, but
"a pinch of Miller's product" would not?

> Who has worked with impure amino acids?

What do you mean by "impure amino acids"? Do you mean mixtures of amino
acids that also contain other non-amino-acid compounds? Fox and Dose
describe several experiments of that type and Rohlfing describes two that he
has done; they all get proteinoids. Do you mean that the amino acid
molecules themselves are somehow impure? That's chemically impossible. This
objection makes no sense.

> Sand may be viewed as an impurity
> if it is added to your food, but hardly from a biochemical standpoint.

Then why would you consider sugar to be a biochemical impurity if sand is
not? Are you saying that a mixture of amino acids that contains sand is
still a mixture of pure amino acids? If so, explain how. If not, then
explain how this doesn't count as working with impure amino acids.

Kevin L. O'Brien