Hints at the Origin of Life?

 

This truly isn’t meant to be a stick in the eye for creationists/anti-evolutionists. This post is about a scientific breakthrough that is remarkably fascinating.

Scientists have accidentally discovered metabolic pathways mediated by non-organic molecules. The same process that occurs in cells, glycolysis, has been observed being “catalysed by metal ions rather than the enzymes that drive them in cells today.” And “many of these reactions could have occurred spontaneously in Earth’s early oceans.”

This could indicate an important precursor to the same process in cells.

As with any monumental discovery, it’s easy to treat this as overly conclusive. Nonetheless, this is, as far as I know, an unprecedented finding that may provide tremendous insights into the origins of life and inorganic compounds.

The mind reels.

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  1. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    This is really interesting.  

    • #1
  2. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Fascinating.

    • #2
  3. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Huh… Will it help to cure cancer?

    • #3
  4. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Ryan M:

    Huh… Will it help to cure cancer?

     Who cares? The best science has little immediate applicability. Can you imagine someone laughing at Faraday for playing around with electricity. Asking him what use it could possibly have to peoples lives to know that you can generate a magnetic field with an electric current. 

    Understanding how biochemical pathways can be mediated by non-organic compounds not only serves to shed light on one of the most important phenomenon in the universe (the transition from inert matter to life) but can help us also to develop synthetic ways to compensate for failed biochemical pathways or to create biological compounds. The universe is a great mystery every bit of it that we come to understand offers us new possibilities for the improvement of our lives. 

    • #4
  5. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Whoa, I’m vaguely reminded of…  something  I heard about nearly ten years ago now. But I can’t for the life of me remember what! Probably some other important biological reaction naturally catalyzed by something outside of cells?

    I’d say I’m starting to go senile, but really I’ve been going senile since I hit 12. Anyhow, nifty!

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Of what use is a newborn babe?

    – Benjamin Franklin, in response to the question “of what use is it?” at a demonstration of the Montgolfier Brothers’ hot-air balloon. 

    • #6
  7. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    In the popular mind “creationist/anti-evolutionist”=”Young Earth Creationist”=”Someone who thinks the world is 6000 years old” That’s not me, so no offense taken (and those folks would say that metabolic pathways mediated by metal ions were created 6000 years ago anyway).

    The question proponents of purely atheistic, mechanistic evolution have to answer is “Where did the metal ions come from?” Or to take it all the way back “What was here before the Big Bang, and what set it off?”

    Metabolic pathways mediated by metal ions, very interesting. It couldn’t have all just happend by chance.

    • #7
  8. Gary The Ex-Donk Member
    Gary The Ex-Donk
    @

    Nick Stuart:

    “What was here before the Big Bang, and what set it off?”

    I’m guessing God dropped something. 

    • #8
  9. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    Valiuth:

    Ryan M:

    Huh… Will it help to cure cancer?

    Who cares? The best science has little immediate applicability. Can you imagine someone laughing at Faraday for playing around with electricity. Asking him what use it could possibly have to peoples lives to know that you can generate a magnetic field with an electric current.

    Understanding how biochemical pathways can be mediated by non-organic compounds not only serves to shed light on one of the most important phenomenon in the universe (the transition from inert matter to life) but can help us also to develop synthetic ways to compensate for failed biochemical pathways or to create biological compounds. The universe is a great mystery every bit of it that we come to understand offers us new possibilities for the improvement of our lives.

     Yes, the very dirt we walk on will someday stand up and walk and talk, won’t it? You and Teilhard de Chardin would have a lot to talk about.

    • #9
  10. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    The most interesting thing to date is the spacing of RNA molecules and the correspondence to that of clay minerals. These are little tiny tiny tiny steps in the story that must be put together to show how life comes from dirt. It ain’t gonna happen. The more we know about the cell the more clear that Darwinism is a foolish theory and it always was.

    • #10
  11. raycon and lindacon Inactive
    raycon and lindacon
    @rayconandlindacon

    Larry Koler:

    The most interesting thing to date is the spacing of RNA molecules and the correspondence to that of clay minerals. These are little tiny tiny tiny steps in the story that must be put together to show how life comes from dirt. It ain’t gonna happen. The more we know about the cell the more clear that Darwinism is a foolish theory and it always was.

    The very idea that man was formed from dirt is clearly preposterous.  Only a young earth troglodyte would believe such an idea;

    “Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.”  —  Genesis 2:7

    Man’s body was formed from dirt, but God gave man life!

    • #11
  12. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    raycon and lindacon:

    Larry Koler:

    The most interesting thing to date is the spacing of RNA molecules and the correspondence to that of clay minerals. These are little tiny tiny tiny steps in the story that must be put together to show how life comes from dirt. It ain’t gonna happen. The more we know about the cell the more clear that Darwinism is a foolish theory and it always was.

    The very idea that man was formed from dirt is clearly preposterous. Only a young earth troglodyte would believe such an idea;

    “Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” – Genesis 2:7

    Man’s body was formed from dirt, but God gave man life!

     Wonderful correction to my complaint. Thanks. I should not denigrate the idea that dirt will walk but rather say that dirt unaided will not do so.
    (I must say that when I read that familiar quote from Genesis just now the hair stood up on the back of my neck — really thrilling to read it in the present context. Thanks again.)

    • #12
  13. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Nick Stuart:

    The question proponents of purely atheistic, mechanistic evolution have to answer is “Where did the metal ions come from?” Or to take it all the way back “What was here before the Big Bang, and what set it off?”

     

    So long as the question is the unknowable “what are ultimate first causes?” theists will always be able to appeal to ignorance and say “You don’t know or can’t answer this, Therefore: God.”

    I reject your untestable hypothesis and return it in an equally valid form:
    ancient-aliens

    Now, because I am a conservative and I believe in the limits of knowledge I have no illusions that mankind will ever satisfactorily solve the question: “Where did the universe come from?”  I am satisfied however with explanations that carry us back to the barest instant after the Big Bang, and I am confident that a rational explanation for a purely mechanistic origin of life will be produced.

    Not that this will ever satisfy people who are insistent upon finding perfect answers via revelation.

    • #13
  14. Lavaux Inactive
    Lavaux
    @Lavaux

    If I’m not mistaken, cells need lots of advanced DNA code and raw materials to produce enzymes whereas metal ions can simply be harvested from the environment – no coding or other raw materials necessary. So why would cells switch to a vastly more complex glycolysis process when a simple one is available? This illustrates one of my problems with Darwinism: Increased complexity isn’t necessarily improvement. The best adaptation in this case would be to use the metal ions for glycolysis.

    • #14
  15. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Majestyk:

    So long as the question is the unknowable “what are ultimate first causes?” theists will always be able to appeal to ignorance and say “You don’t know or can’t answer this, Therefore: God.”

    I have never liked this reason for believing in God, as it suggests that, as knowledge increases, faith must decrease. That is either an argument for ignorance or eventual atheism, take your pick.

    To me, seeing God only in those things you can’t explain is a rather weak form of faith. If God really is creator of  all,  including that which we  can  explain, shouldn’t believers also rejoice over phenomena that are well-explained in scientific terms as examples of God’s handiwork?

    • #15
  16. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    Majestyk:

    Nick Stuart:

    The question proponents of purely atheistic, mechanistic evolution have to answer is “Where did the metal ions come from?” Or to take it all the way back “What was here before the Big Bang, and what set it off?”

    So long as the question is the unknowable “what are ultimate first causes?” theists will always be able to appeal to ignorance and say “You don’t know or can’t answer this, Therefore: God.”

    I reject your untestable hypothesis and return it in an equally valid form:

    Now, because I am a conservative and I believe in the limits of knowledge I have no illusions that mankind will ever satisfactorily solve the question: “Where did the universe come from?” I am satisfied however with explanations that carry us back to the barest instant after the Big Bang, and I am confident that a rational explanation for a purely mechanistic origin of life will be produced.

    Not that this will ever satisfy people who are insistent upon finding perfect answers via revelation.

     This will talk you out of the background radiation support for the Big Bang theory. It stunned me: Pierre-Marie Robitaille: The Cosmic Microwave Background

    • #16
  17. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Was the fact that this discovery followed our discussion last week:

    http://ricochet.com/the-sweet-smiling-face-of-the-totalitarian-mind/

    coincidence?  Or did Ricochet make this happen?  

    • #17
  18. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Larry Koler:

    This will talk you out of the background radiation support for the Big Bang theory. It stunned me: Pierre-Marie Robitaille: The Cosmic Microwave Background

    Strangely, it didn’t.

    The vast majority of the data gathered regarding the cosmic background radiation was gathered by the COBE Satellite and its measurements (taken from orbit, and not on the planet where you’ll experience the interferences of oceans and whatnot) agree perfectly with the predictions of gravity waves which must have caused the fluctuations and irregularities in the early universe as expansion began.  Interference from the ocean wouldn’t produce such a pattern.  Other satellites far outside of the earth’s orbit have detected the identical signal as well.

    Of course, it would also be an incredible coincidence to have the signal that we see coming from COBE match so precisely the calculations for the age and expansion of the universe, the red-shifting of the light from deep space, and various other forms of background radiation (X-rays and Gamma Rays) which agree with the microwave background.

    • #18
  19. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    Majestyk: It all falls apart if the image is not stable over time. It’s that simple. Three lousy years and there are huge differences at the smallest resolution.
    And regarding other measurements at different locations, the galactic foreground dominates (swamps out) the data of interest.

    • #19
  20. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Lavaux:

    If I’m not mistaken, cells need lots of advanced DNA code and raw materials to produce enzymes whereas metal ions can simply be harvested from the environment – no coding or other raw materials necessary. So why would cells switch to a vastly more complex glycolysis process when a simple one is available? 

     A good question. The explanation I can offer is two fold. While evolution does not necessitate complexity it may serve to fix it when it occurs so long as it is viable. Thus there is a kind of built in ratchet system into the natural world. Furthermore while complexity seems costly and unnecessary it may provide long term benefits in increased robustness. So while in the present a more complicated biochemical mechanism is inefficient in a variable world, over time, it could prove to be more stable. Don’t forget the Earth has changed drastically over it’s 4 billion years. 

    I think it is important to keep in mind that the theory does not necessitate any specific outcome for life. It describes a process that is ongoing which offers the ability of life to change and adapt to a dynamic environment. 

    • #20
  21. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Larry Koler:

    Majestyk: It all falls apart if the image is not stable over time. It’s that simple. Three lousy years and there are huge differences at the smallest resolution. And regarding other measurements at different locations, the galactic foreground dominates (swamps out) the data of interest.

     Even if that were the case Larry, it doesn’t explain the red shifting of the absorption spectra of distant galaxies which speaks to the fact that they are moving away from our relative position, and have accelerated over time.

    One doesn’t have to be a genius to run time backwards and see that in the distant past all of the objects which we observe in the universe were once in the same place.  The cosmic background radiation is nothing more than evidence of the explosion that the big bang consisted of – which at that time was basically nothing more than energy, as the temperatures of the early universe were too high for atomic matter to even exist.

    • #21
  22. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    Majestyk: I understand that part of the theory — what happened to me is that Mr. Pierre-Marie Robitaille blew the background theory (not the whole Big Bang but just this one) to smithereens that formerly I assumed was good science. What he shows is that a person like him who is an expert in these very sensors knows how they work, what contaminates them and how to interpret the imaging results. He works in a field that has to provide real and stable images so that when surgeons cut into a head that surgeon actually finds what was in the image. Mr. Robitaille takes these “scientists”‘ whole data set and throws it on the ground and stomps on it.

    • #22
  23. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Valiuth:

    Ryan M:

    Huh… Will it help to cure cancer?

    Who cares? The best science has little immediate applicability. Can you imagine someone laughing at Faraday for playing around with electricity. Asking him what use it could possibly have to peoples lives to know that you can generate a magnetic field with an electric current.

     haha – not really my point.  Personally, I don’t believe in the spontaneous eruption of life, followed by the evolution of all things leading up to man.  There will always be discoveries (and observations) that support that general theory, just as those same discoveries will always fit perfectly well within plenty of other frameworks.  That said, if you make a discovery, feel free to use that in support of whatever idea you want – feel free to poke a stick in my eye all day long if you wish, that happens anyway.  If you’re ultimately able to do something useful, I don’t much care whether you also happen to declare the death of God.  He’ll do perfectly well without your support, so go right on studying.  If you help to cure cancer, then more power to you.

    • #23
  24. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Larry Koler:

    what happened to me is that Mr. Pierre-Marie Robitaille blew the background theory (not the whole Big Bang but just this one) to smithereens that formerly I assumed was good science. What he shows is that a person like him who is an expert in these very sensors knows how they work, what contaminates them and how to interpret the imaging results. 

     His theory doesn’t sound convincing to me in the slightest, and here’s the reason why: Extraplanetary observatories are capable of independently reproducing the image of the cosmic background radiation; any distortion due to planetary interference would likely be very different looking from different locations and different instruments measuring in different wavelengths.  But that’s not what we see.  They all seem to look similar no matter what energy spectrum you look at.  

    And you can’t get around the fact that the microwaves that constitute the background radiation are red-shifted – this isn’t some sort of spoofed observation.  There’s no possible way for those red-shifted microwaves to have been emitted by the earth – we would see them as non red-shifted.

    • #24
  25. user_928618 Inactive
    user_928618
    @JimLion

    It seems like overreach to suggest this might answer questions about the origin of life.

    • #25
  26. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Jim Lion:

    It seems like overreach to suggest this might answer questions about the origin of life.

    That was more my point.  Virtually every little scientific discovery that comes along will inevitably support one’s preconceived notions – little different from global warming in that regard.  So we observe something that really is quite interesting, then we jump forward about a billion steps to see how it could fit into the framework of something we want to believe…  at that point I’m a little less impressed.  But not particularly surprised.  When you only speak one language, you will continue to speak it.  That doesn’t prove it wrong – but many scientists only speak the language of macro-evolution.  So when they observe literally anything, it is then explained in highly plausible terms as ultimately going to fit in their preferred scheme.  Some day, we will laugh at how little we knew… in the meantime, we end up accomplishing a lot of useful stuff, so, as I said:  more power to ’em.

    • #26
  27. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    Majestyk: Galactic foreground.  Explain that criticism.

    • #27
  28. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Jim Lion:

    It seems like overreach to suggest this might answer questions about the origin of life.

    This is why I was trying to frame it more as a purely unexpected scientific discovery rather than confirmation of anything. I was trying to head off the debate that ensued and failed miserably.

    Can’t we simply bask in the awesomeness of the unexpected? The best types of discoveries are the ones that were never predicted.

    • #28
  29. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Mike H:

    Jim Lion:

    It seems like overreach to suggest this might answer questions about the origin of life.

    This is why I was trying to frame it more as a purely unexpected scientific discovery rather than confirmation of anything. I was trying to head off the debate that ensued and failed miserably.

    Presupposition strikes again? For instance, if you started a thread by saying, “This isn’t about Troy’s giraffe, but…”  everybody  would be thinking about Troy’s giraffe.

    Can’t we simply bask in the awesomeness of the unexpected?

    To be annoyingly sanctimonious for a moment, yes, I hope religious people are capable of exactly that.

    • #29
  30. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    And… this is the ad I’m getting for this post:
    Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 3.10.35 PM

    • #30
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