DailyDirt: More Clues To The Origins Of Life On Earth

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The beginnings of life on our planet aren't well known because we simply don't know the exact conditions that were present billions of years ago. However, experiments under lab conditions that try to simulate the early solar system could shed some light on how early life developed, and there are some researchers looking into prebiotic chemical reactions to see if we can narrow down the possibilities and rule out any pathways that are unlikely to have contributed to our present thriving ecosystem. These experiments could lead to a better understanding of what life is and how we might detect other kinds of life elsewhere in our solar system or galaxy. After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.
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Filed Under: astrobiology, biology, biomolecules, dna, jack szostak, life, meteorites, prebiotic molecules, rna, seti


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2015 @ 6:35pm

    Zap some inanimate chemicals and create life already.. It should only take a few zillion tries or so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      eye sea ewe, 28 Apr 2015 @ 6:50pm

      Re: Self replicating protein structures

      Just only the other day I was looking at a discussion of this very subject and the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types is so low as to be non-existent. And these calculations by researchers that believe it happened that way.

      Go figure.

      If we can't replicate in the lab or can't observe it in the field then we aren't going to know how it happened. But we will have the standard fall-back - belief.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 28 Apr 2015 @ 6:55pm

        Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

        Over a time period somewhat longer than 7 days, and a space bigger than one small planet, the likelihood approaches certainty.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 12:22am

          Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

          That's the 'belief' he was talking about. The math isn't there, but you believe, like most scientists and rational thinkers, that it does approach certainty. There's too many variables and unknowns to actually derive a formula at this time, but we have 'faith' that scientists will unravel the exact sequence of events and figure it out in time. :)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 29 Apr 2015 @ 3:26am

            Re: but you believe

            OK, let’s stop beating about the bush and confront the question head-on. If life is too complex to have arisen by itself, then what about its presumed intelligent creator? Surely that would have to be even more complex--too complex to have arisen by itself. So where did this creator come from?

            At this point, you can hear the audible snap as the religionists’ brains shut down. You see, the difference between Science and Religion is that Science is not afraid to confront the awkward questions that Religion would rather not think about.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              eye sea ewe, 30 Apr 2015 @ 12:56am

              Re: Re: but you believe

              Oh sigh, another small minded person who can't see past the end of his bulbous nose.

              The basic assumption you are trying to argue from is that you are able to understand all things. If a simple understanding (with no dichotomies) of an electron can't be achieved then how can you even think you understand the infinite. Try to comprehend 1,000,000 grains of sand and if you say you understand fully this number of grains then we all will know that you are deluded and foolish.

              For someone who espouses that science confronts the awkward questions, you forget that "science" has very little understanding of the world about us. It can't even face the question about good and evil (which is not a question for science anyway).

              Science (or should we be more accurate and say the scientific method) is one tool in our arsenal to try and understand the world about us.

              It puzzles me that specific groups of people have made science their religion above anything else and that they cannot see just how foolish and close-minded they actually are.

              Science today is so full of dogma that any competing theories/models/hypotheses are treated as though they are heretical. I pity today's young people because they have not been taught the scientific method and the limits therein.

              When you come to the point that you actually don't have a clue, then you are at the start of maybe getting one.

              I have seen your (as in Lawrence D’Oliveiro) particular arguments before and you are so circular that I still don't know why I am even bothering to respond to your lack of insight.

              To finish, try expanding your reading and you'll discover that many people have looked at your question head-on and have delivered well reasoned discussions about this and the limits of our understanding.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 30 Apr 2015 @ 2:28am

                Re: The basic assumption you are trying to argue from is that you are able to understand all things

                But you were the one trying to reason about “the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types”, were you not? And it was your understanding that this would be “so low as to be non-existent”. So if we cannot understand things, then you cannot either. Which means your reasoning is nonsense. QED.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 5:16am

                Re: Re: Re: but you believe

                Wall-O-Text going off on tangents not addressing the point it is trying to refute - lol.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 30 Apr 2015 @ 6:08pm

                  Re: going off on tangents not addressing the point it is trying to refute

                  Not to mention personal attacks: “can't see past the end of his bulbous nose”.

                  But that’s typical of the religionists, isn’t it? All they have to offer, when faced with the Truth, is just vicious, mindless, irrational hatred.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2015 @ 11:06am

            Re: Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

            "The math isn't there"

            I have read that some do not consider statistics to be math, not sure how they explain Vegas.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          eye sea ewe, 29 Apr 2015 @ 2:17am

          Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

          Just a question - are you saying that life on earth came from elsewhere?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 5:05am

            Re: Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

            I believe his comment was pointing out that over the course of billions of years, and with countless planets, even if the odds of an event happening are infinitesimal on a given planet at a certain point in time, with that much time and space they become all but certain to occur at some point.

            As an example, say you had a die with 100 trillion sides to it. Assume you rolled it once every day, and you were trying for a particular, set number. Under those circumstances, the odds of you rolling that set number would be minuscule, even if you rolled it every day for your entire life, because each roll would have it's own 1-in-100 trillion chance of you succeeding.

            Now, say that everybody on the planet got to roll that die once a day, all 7 billion plus people, all trying for that same number. Odds still aren't good, but they're drastically better that someone will roll the number, simply due to how many rolls are being made.

            Now, in addition to that, change it so that the time period is much, much larger. It's no longer 'will a certain number be rolled this century and a half(assuming the previous time limit was 'the life-span of everyone current rolling), but instead it's now being rolled by every human alive, now and in the future, for however long the human race survives.

            Extend that time period for a couple million, and especially a couple of billion years(maybe an E.T. found the magical die and in the interests of xeno-archaeology decided to keep the tradition alive with it's race), and that 1-in 100 trillion chance, which was so incredibly tiny beforehand, becomes all but certain to happen, simply due to how often it's being rolled for, and how many times it's rolled in the course of all those years.

            Even tiny, 'all but impossible' odds become almost dead certainties with enough time and space added to the equation, so saying that the odds of those proteins forming that way are 'so low as to be non-existent' doesn't really mean much when you add in those two factors.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              eye sea ewe, 30 Apr 2015 @ 3:08am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

              The base figures that were being bandied about for viable active (reproducing) protein formation started at 1 in 10e70 out to 1 in 10e160 (this value based on the requirement for fully left-handed or fully right-handed protein structure) based on protein formation being of a size of 151 amino acids. The number of 1 in 10e14 (your 100 trillion) is far more significant by some 56 to 109 orders of magnitude.

              The significance is that there hasn't been enough time in all the universe for even one viable protein to have been randomly generated. The argument then goes to that the universe "must have" a predisposition to creating these proteins and as such the process is not random because ....

              Even tiny, 'all but impossible' odds become almost dead certainties with enough time and space added to the equation, so saying that the odds of those proteins forming that way are 'so low as to be non-existent' doesn't really mean much when you add in those two factors./blockquote>Only true if the probability is large enough for the estimation of the age of the universe. What we tend to think of as small is extremely large in comparison to the probabilities of some events when left to random chance.

              Just look at the estimated size of an electron to the estimated size of the observable universe as a comparison, we have about 40 orders of magnitude.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 5:22am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

                "there hasn't been enough time in all the universe for even one viable protein to have been randomly generated."

                and this is based upon research and data analysis showing the conclusion to be correct - right?

                Rather than whine and moan about how vast and overwhelming everything is, why not sit back and examine with an open mind the work of others?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  eye sea ewe, 30 Apr 2015 @ 6:14am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

                  Don't you have any surprise and amazement at how big and small things are? Don't you just get excited to see what is around us? I stand in wonderment at the universe around us and want to know more about it, how it came into being, what its made of, how it works.

                  Have you never sat down and looked at what is happening in a semiconductor junction or the root system of a tree? Or even just watching the birth of lamb or the hatching of a chicken? Or have you sat and looked at what time is or free will? Or tried to work out why a thermosiphon works or why specific timbers just machine so well and why they are so beautiful? Or why Damascus steel gives such incredible etching patterns when worked into a tool?

                  And you advise to just sit back and examine the work of others. Man, get out there and do your own research as well. Get fascinated with the universe around you. It will surprise you at every turn. In addition, do this in the company of children, they see things that we don't.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 10:58am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

                    "do your own research"

                    Like you obviously have? Let's see your work then.

                    It is apparent that your bewilderment has blurred your perception.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 5:44pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

                    So you do have research and data analysis proving your assertion that "there hasn't been enough time in all the universe for even one viable protein to have been randomly generated."

                    This is good news because I would like to see it.

                    I did not suggest one mooch off of others research, I implied that because you were so bamboozled by the immense scope of the universe that you might benefit from reading up on attempts by others to understand the universe.

                    And how modest you must be, insinuating your research is just as good as that of well known scientists throughout history.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 5:23am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

                Oh wait - I get it. You claim this because the universe is only 6000 years old - right?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  eye sea ewe, 30 Apr 2015 @ 5:57am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

                  Well Marvin,

                  The documentation I was looking at was basing the age of the universe at about 13 billion years. You know, that is about 10 orders of magnitude greater than our year (which ever version you want to use: solar, sidereal, draconic, julian, lunar, etc).

                  It appears you don't seem to have any understanding of what an order of magnitude is, but then again maybe you do and/or the numbers are just too small for your brain the size of a planet to appreciate.

                  Oh dear, have I just infringed on somebody's copyright?

                  I don't know how old the universe is. I wasn't around when it came into being, though sometimes I wish I had - it would have been spectacular.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 11:00am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

                    Yes, I'm sure you are the only one who understands anything.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 5:46pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

                    Keep digging that hole.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Doug (profile), 6 May 2015 @ 7:40am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types

                    "I don't know how old the universe is. I wasn't around when it came into being"

                    I wasn't around when they made the pizza they delivered, but that doesn't strengthen the argument that it was forged by goblin wizards inside a volcano. I.e., I really hate that cop-out answer as it conveys a complete disdain for deducing anything about the world.

                    Also, there is absolutely no reason to assume that caring about the scientific method somehow removes a person's sense of wonder about the vastness and beautiful complexity of the universe. This whole argument has been absurd.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 29 Apr 2015 @ 7:37am

        Re: Re: Self replicating protein structures

        "the likelihood of random protein formation of the correct types is so low as to be non-existent."

        No such thing. Either the likelihood is extremely low or it's nonexistent. If the likelihood is extremely low, it still means that if you roll those dice enough times, the unlikely thing will happen.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          eye sea ewe, 30 Apr 2015 @ 3:19am

          Re: Re: Re: Self replicating protein structures

          See my note above in terms of orders of magnitude.

          And if the current age of the universe is many, many orders of magnitude too short for the event to have occurred yet?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 5:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Self replicating protein structures

            I would like to se your math.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              eye sea ewe, 30 Apr 2015 @ 6:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self replicating protein structures

              Do as I did and have a look around yourself and make up your own mind about the specific arguments being made by the various scientists.

              If it doesn't interest you to look about that's fine. I have simply shared some information that I came across recently in the probability of random protein formation. You can follow up or not, you can challenge it or not. But I'll give you the freedom of doing your own investigation, if you are interested.

              But at the moment, I am more interested in developing a method of solar tracking for a thermosiphon than doing any more about this particular subject on this forum tonight.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2015 @ 11:06am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Self replicating protein structures

                "make up your own mind about the specific arguments being made by the various scientists."

                Previously you told someone else they should do their own research rather than read what others have done, did you not?

                So, tell us of this research where it is postulated a certain amount of time is required in order to form various chemical bonds.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 30 Apr 2015 @ 8:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Self replicating protein structures

            "And if the current age of the universe is many, many orders of magnitude too short for the event to have occurred yet?"

            While possible, there's no reason to think that this is the case. The comment that you made and refer to here doesn't provide such a reason.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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