The activation of amino acids and the formation of peptides under primordial conditions is one of the great riddles of the origin of life.
K1 = [H2NCHRCONHCHR’COOH][H2O]/[H2NCHRCOOH][H2NCHR’COOH]
Some evolutionary scenarios
Did scientists create life, or did the media create hype?
‘To hell with the news! I’m no longer interested in news. I’m interested in causes. We don’t print the truth. We don’t pretend to print the truth. We print what people tell us. It’s up to the public to decide what’s true.’25
- Huber, C. and Wächterhäuser, G., 1998. Peptides by activation of amino acids with CO on (Ni,Fe)S surfaces: implications for the origin of life. Science 281(5377):670–672. Return to text.
- Miller, S.L. and Lazcano, A., 1995. The origin of life—did it occur at high temperatures? J. Mol. Evol. 41:689–692. Return to text.
- Miller has also pointed out that the RNA bases are destroyed very quickly in water at 100°C—adenine and guanine have half lives of about a year, uracil about 12 years, and cytosine only 19 days. Levy, M and Miller, S.L., 1998. The stability of the RNA bases: Implications for the origin of life. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95(14):7933–38. Return to text.
- Matthews, R., 1997. Wacky Water. New Scientist 154(2087):40–43. Return to text.
- Fox, S.W. and Dose, K., 1977. Molecular Evolution and the Origin of Life, Marcel Dekker, New York. Return to text.
- Glycine, the simplest amino acid, is by far the commonest amino acid formed. See Ref. 13 for some typical yields. Return to text.
- For more information on chirality and life, see Sarfati, J.D., 1998. Origin of Life: The chirality problem. CEN Tech. J. 12(3):263–266. See online version. Return to text.
- Such criticisms and more are found in Thaxton, C. B., Bradley, W. L. & Olsen, R. L., 1984. The Mystery of Life’s Origin, Philosophical Library Inc., New York. See online version (off site). Return to text.
- Steinman, G., Kenyon, D.H. and Calvin, M., 1966. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 124:339. D.H. Kenyon, also co-author of the evolutionary book Biochemical Predestination, has since become a creationist. Return to text.
- Gish, D.T., 1972. Speculations and Experiments Related to Theories of the Origin of Life: A Critique, ICR Technical Monograph No. 1, Institute for Creation Research, San Diego, CA. Return to text.
- Streitwieser, A. and Heathcock, C.H., 1981. Introduction to Organic Chemistry, 2nd Ed., Macmillan, NY, ch. 29. Return to text.
- Volmert, B., 1985. Das Molekül und das Leben, Rowohlt, pp. 40–45. Cited in: Wilder-Smith, A.E., 1987. The Scientific Alternative to Neo-Darwinian Theory: Information Sources and Structures, TWFT Publishers, Costa Mesa, CA, p. 61. Return to text.
- Dickerson, R.E., 1978. Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life. Scientific American 239(3):62–102. A chart on p. 67 shows a typical yield from one of Miller’s experiments. 59,000 mmol carbon in the form of methane yielded as the main unifunctional products: 2,330 mmol formic acid, 310 mmol lactic acid 150, mmol acetic acid and 130 mmol propionic acid. Four amino acids found in modern proteins were produced: 630 mmol glycine, 340 mmol alanine, 6 mmol glutamic acid, and 4 mmol aspartic acid. Return to text.
- Horgan, J., 1991. In the beginning. Scientific American 264(2):100–109. Quote on p. 106. Return to text.
- Horgan, ref. 14, p. 102. Return to text.
- Vogel, G., 1998. ‘A sulfurous start for protein synthesis?’ Science 281(5377): 627–629 (Perspective on Ref. 1). Return to text.
- Huber, C. and Wächterhäuser, G., 1998. Activated acetic acid by carbon fixation on (Fe,Ni)S under primordial conditions. Science 276(5310):245–247. Return to text.
- The West Australian, 11 August 1998. Return to text.
- Fraser, C.M., et al. 1995. The minimal gene complement of Mycoplasma genitalium. Science 270(5235):397–403; Perspective by A. Goffeau. Life with 482 Genes, same issue, pp. 445–6. Return to text.
- The West Australian, 12 August 1998. Return to text.
- Scott, E.R.D., Yamaguchi, A. and Krot, A.N., 1997. Petrological evidence for shock melting of carbonates in the martian meteorite ALH84001. Nature 387:377–379. Return to text.
- Bradley, J.P., Harvey, R.P. and McSween, H.Y., 1997. No ‘nanofossils’ in martian meteorite. Nature 390(6659):454–456. Return to text.
- Holmes, R., 1996. Death knell for Martian life. New Scientist 152 (2061/2):4. Return to text.
- Kerr, R.A., 1998. Requiem for life on Mars? Support for microbe fades. Science, 282(5393):1398–1400. Return to text.
- Bradlee, B., 1989. Reported by Brooks, D., 1989. The Wall Street Journal, 10 October. Return to text.
- S. Robert Lichter, S.R., Lichter, L.S. and Rothman, S., 1992. Watching America: What Television Tells Us About Our Lives. Referenced in Ray, D.L. and Guzzo, L., 1993. Environmental Overkill, Regnery Gateway, Washington DC. Return to text.