from the urls-we-dig-up dept
The classic question of “which came first: the chicken or the egg?” is not that easy to answer. There are a lot of unanswered (and perhaps unanswerable) questions about the origins of life. What came first: DNA, RNA or proteins? How did chirality start? We have a few clues, but without a time machine, we can’t quite observe what actually happened. Here are just a few scientific probes that could help us understand the early stages of our biosphere.
- Re-creating the conditions under which life began isn’t easy because no one knows exactly what was around way back then. Maybe lightning stuck some organic molecules and formed amino acids in a pre-biotic soup, or maybe there were localized electrical fields on the surface of minerals that helped synthesize the chemicals that formed early life forms. So far, zapping lifeless soup hasn’t created self-replicating molecules…. [url]
- The biology of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells is still mysterious in many ways — such as how mitochondria came to exist or how prokaryotic cells might have evolved into more complex cells with internal membrane compartments. Perhaps it may be possible to genetically engineer a “missing link” cell that isn’t more complex than a prokaryote, but less complex than a eukaryote. [url]
- A ribozyme made in a lab from ribonucleic acid (RNA) could help explain how RNA replication might have worked in a primordial RNA world. The early primordial RNA soup might have contained a mixture of RNA isomers, and researchers have created a ribozyme that could be useful for test tube evolution experiments. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.