One Step Closer To Making Life In The Lab

From Nature.com (requires login), "RNA world easier to make": Ingenious chemistry shows how nucleotides may have formed in the primordial soup. Here's a link from "Wired" that is freely accessible "Life’s First Spark Re-Created in the Laboratory"

36 comments:

beowulf2k8 said...

Even if life could be made in a lab, so what? We live in a world already inhabited by life, so why shouldn't more life be able to be made? It's not like you can really do what God did and bring life out of nowhere.

Lee Randolph said...

You should really read the article and learn the background before you comment.

they are working to bring life out of nowhere, silly.

Jeff said...

For those who can't access the article (since it appears you have to be a subscriber and possibly pay?), it's also mentioned here:

Origins of Life on Earth (and Maybe Elsewhere) Created in a Lab

Lee Randolph said...

Sorry all,
it wasn't like that when I posted the article. I saw the full text.
Now, as Jeff said, its "pay-per-view".

Lee Randolph said...

I added another link option in the article.
Thanks Jeff for the heads up.

Brad Haggard said...

The phosphate levels in this experiment couldn't possibly have existed on the early earth. And they've only got two of the four bases. This is neat, but it only proves intelligent agency.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Brad,
wow, I didn't realize your were an expert in Biochemistry and Planetary science.

I guess that settles that.
Thanks for contributing.

Brad Haggard said...

Lee, I'm no expert, I just know where to find their podcasts and hijack the information ;-)

This does move research forward, but it doesn't prove anything on origins.

Lee Randolph said...

You seem like a good sport Brad. thank you,

and you're right, it doesn't PROVE anything.

that's why I said "one step closer..."

when they finally declare that they've likely made the RNA from the primordial soup, how are you going to react?

Robin said...

Lee,

If life arose from a primordial soup or mineral substrate, a record of such prebiotic activity would be marked by a certain ratio of carbon-13 to carbon-12. No such record is found in the geologic column. There was no primordial soup.

Lee Randolph said...

HI Robin,
that looks like a conclusion based on an inference from data, my compliments.

Where did you get that data from if you don't mind my asking?

Robin said...

Lee,

Minik T. Rosing "C-Depleted Carbon Microparticles in > 3700-Ma Sea-Floor Sedimentary Rocks from West Greenland," Science 238 (January 29, 1999): 674-76.


J. Mojzsis et al., "Evidence of Life on Earth before 3,800 Million Years Ago," Nature 384 (November 7, 1996): 55-59.


John M. Hayes, "The Earliest Memories of Life on Earth," Nature 384 (November 7, 1996): 21-22.

Manfred Schildowski," A 3,800-Million-Year Isotopic Record of Life from Carbon in Sedimentary Rocks," Nature 333 (May 26, 1988): 313-18.

Daniele L. Pinti, Ko Hashizume, and Jun-ichi Matsuda, "Nitrogen and Argon Signatures in 3.8 to 2.8 Ga Metasediments: Clues on the Chemical State of the Archean Ocean and the Deep Biosphere," Geochemica et Cosmochemica Acta 65 (July 1, 2001): 2309.

V. Beaumont anf F. Robert "Nitrogen Isotope Ratios of Kerogens in Precambrian Cherts" A Record of the Evolution of Atmosphere Chemistry?" Precambrian Research 96 (June 15, 1999): 63-82.

Jay A Brandes et al., "Abiotic Nitrogen Reduction on the Early Earth," Nature 395 (September 24, 1998): 365-67.

Lee Randolph said...

Thats a nice list.
So is it the term "primordial soup" that you disagree with or just the concept of life arising naturally out of the interaction of simpler components?

Maybe my use of the term "primordial soup" was too careless.

What do you think about viruses? Do you think viruses are alive?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Robin,
one more thing,
rather than have me trying to find and rooting through all those articles, since you seem to have access to them, would you mind posting the portion of some of them, with the appropriate citation of course, that leads you to state so confidently that there was no "primordial soup"?

thanks in advance.

Robin said...

Lee,

I'm refering to the primordial soup that research has now come to show never existed wheter in oceans, ponds, or on minersal substrates. The carbon signature in Earth's most ancient rocks contradicts the traditional explanation.

Physicists have discovered at least one fundamental reason for the lack of prebiotics on and in ancient earth - the oxygen-ultraviolet paradox. Without prebiotics, no reasonable possibility remains for a naturalistic origin of life. We were created.

Robin said...

Lee,

I'm not going to type the articles for you. The references are there look them up.

Lee Randolph said...

Robin,
I'm not asking for the whole article and you know it.
oh, come on, not even a little

"Physicists have discovered at least one fundamental reason for the lack of prebiotics on and in ancient earth - the oxygen-ultraviolet paradox. Without prebiotics, no reasonable possibility remains for a naturalistic origin of life. We were created."
Jay A Brandes et al., "Abiotic Nitrogen Reduction on the Early Earth," Nature 395 (September 24, 1998): 365-67.

for example?

That was just cut and paste of your comments as a silly example, but it didn't take up a lot of space, and it doesn't take a lot of time to type in a few sentences.

You know, viruses are a real-time example of chemistry that doesn't have all the characteristics for some definitions of life, yet persists, in some cases they exist together with the first signs of life on the earth unchanged to this day. It is an example of a very simple components, interacting and contributing to the ecosystem.

it challenges and straddles the definition of life.

Lee Randolph said...

Robin,
I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but it seems to me that you are using outdated information because in 2007, the experiment was repeated and it produced amino acids.
Here's a link where you can read about it from scientific american.and here's a link from Sciencedaily.com interviewing Ilaria Pascucci, lead author of the new study from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., talking her article on prebiotic chemistry in the April 10, 2009 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

and here's a link from sciencedaily.com from Mar. 2008 talking about the discovery of organic molecules and prebiotic chemistry on young planets.

Maybe you ought to get a hold of the institutions that fund that research and tell them they are wasting their money since they haven't been able to figure it out on their own.

Fools and their money are soon parted aren't they?
;-)

Brad Haggard said...

Lee, I try to just have fun with this, maybe that's why I don't come across as a jerk (hopefully).

As for experimental design to prove abiogenesis on the early earth, the controls and boundaries necessary for that are just about unfathomable in the lab. The reason you can't use these artificial life experiments as proof is that the chemists are constantly changing the parameters to get the desired conclusion. Of course, that's the point, to find the chemical pathway. But it just can't be any type of coercive argument.

Now if chemistry moved forward enough to accommodate this type of experiment (which with all of the side reactions and initial conditions and controlling outside influence I can't see in the next 50 years), I would happily throw in my hat with theistic evolutionists. I'm a little sympathetic to them as it is.

Jeff said...

Robin,

See also UV effect on early molecules and Oxygen for early earth. They are bite-sized chunks of info, but they have further references at the bottom.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Brad,
I think I see your point when you say
As for experimental design to prove abiogenesis on the early earth, the controls and boundaries necessary for that are just about unfathomable in the lab.
but if they can do it in the lab, and prove they can do it at all, then they can move in the direction of astrobiology (your tax dollars at work, heh, heh) and see how many different ways they can make it happen and then look for planets with those conditions to see whats going on. So you are right to say that we can't prove that it happened this way on the earth, but we can say that it is extremely likely. The only rejoinder the christian has is a refutation by faulty analogy, but they should be careful with that, because Christ and the virgin birth are subject to the same principle.

for example scientists say they've done this therefore this,
christians say no, it can't be proved that it ever happened that way

Christians say that Jesus was god on earth,
Jews say its a misunderstanding of scripture
atheists say all other instances of god on earth were myths
there's no proof that jesus was god on earth

Christians ought to be careful with demanding impossible precision because it is very easy to turn the tables with that strategy.

The reason you can't use these artificial life experiments as proof is that the chemists are constantly changing the parameters to get the desired conclusion.
Thats the nature of acquiring knowledge. That is the process. Humans get information, make conclusions, take some actions, assess the outcomes, gain new information, assess the new information, modify conclusions, take some actions re-assess the outcomes until they have some answers.

Brad Haggard said...

Lee, I don't disagree with much of what you posted, but I want to point some things out.

It seems like you are washing over all of the hurdles necessary for the types of experiments needed to prove abiogenesis. It's like a reverse ontological argument for scientism: "I can imagine these experiments happening and obtaining the desired results, therefore they must be reality." Obviously it's a possibility, but I think that to set up an argument evidentially, you have to go on the evidence we currently have.

Like some of the hype over the CERN collider, that it would revolutionize multi-verse theory (or worse, produce enough anti-matter to destroy the Vatican, Dan Brown), but did you hear that it isn't even operating right now? Science is not pristine and unstopping, it is human and fallible, too. But it has produced a lot of information for us to use as humanity, and it's overall a good thing.

So I think hijacking science for either side makes for a weak argument. Science by itself is blind, it needs philosophy (and maybe theology) to be useful for us.

In the end, God of the Gaps is weak, of course, but that doesn't mean we can let science and theology inform each other. I know I'm not alone in this.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Brad,
Nice Try.
It seems like you are washing over....It's like a reverse ontological argument for scientism:I can imagine these experiments happening and obtaining the desired results, therefore they must be reality."
Science has a better track record than oh, let me see.....prayer.

I don't think I'm overselling it as much as prayer gets oversold.

Science makes Useful Quality Knowledge that you no doubt have benefitted from. It reduces suffering. In some cases thats what its all about, and it is extremely successful.

A lot of people die suffering waiting on God, like the Hauser kid, and christians perpetuate it, enable it and facilitate it. They try to ease suffering using low quality information and low quality knowledge. It leads to less successful outcomes.

its all about successful outcomes.

More people subscribe to scientific ideology than any one religion, which is verifiable, because science is more convincing for some reason.

Brad Haggard said...

I don't think you're getting my point, Lee. I'm saying you're talking like science is going to eventually affirm something you already believe to be true, even before the experiments are done. That is science with an agenda. How useful is a drug company's research on its own products.

Neither you nor I have any idea what scientists are going to discover. For some reason you think they will inevitably find a chemical pathway from non-life to life. Bare science is more neutral than that. It may happen, it may not, but where science's track record is good is finding out something.

Do I have to cite the alternative Steady State theory in the 60's to the Standard Model, proposed by atheists working on their own presuppositions? Who would have known the Big Bang theory would have even been discoverable? There's a difference between science advancing information and it proving what you want to prove.

Philosophy informs science before it gets started, and it utilizes the knowledge afterwards. There is no useful experiment that isn't dreamed up by someone using their worldview and convictions to design it. That's just how it works. Science is only a tool, we can use it however we want.

It's not something that we worship as the answer to all our problems, without the humanities, science is effete.

Gus said...

"There's a difference between science advancing information and it proving what you want to prove."

That's the great thing about science. It doesn't matter what you believe. If your hypothesis isn't supported by the data and evidence, you must form a new hypothesis. That's why scientific consensus is possible, while there are thousands of branches, sects, and denominations of every major world religion.

Lee Randolph said...

HI Brad,
I think I do get your point and I think it is misrepresenting my position and mischaracterizing me and some kind of Atheist that has replaced religion with science.

I am an optimist where science is concerned, based on the many successful outcomes I observe. Kind of like the "go-to" guy or gal in an office. Typically, there is a person that facilitates more successful outcomes than others, for some reason, and they become the "go-to" guy or gal. If they don't know the answer, they know how to find it, they don't make excuses, they find a way where others can't, surely you know someone like that.

I see science as the "go-to" guy, and I'm optimistic that if it can be done, the "go-to" guy will do it.

I may be wrong and get disappointed, but if the "go-to" guy can't do it, well at least I'm confident that due care and diligence was applied and it may really not be possible.

But as I pointed out above, life and consciousness has no definitive definition, and viruses are like little naturally occurring chemical robots, and plenty of other life forms straddle the definition of consciousness.

Emergence is the concept at work here. Properties emerge from the interaction of simpler components.

And life in the lab seems reasonable based on these observations, therefore I'm optimistic, since it seems to be consistent, so far, with established knowledge.

Brad Haggard said...

Lee, in other words, you have faith in science.

Lee Randolph said...

yea,
the same way I love beer.

Brad Haggard said...

Hey, Lee, I'm not judging you ;-)

Lee Randolph said...

Brad,
That never entered my mind,
what did enter my mind is how far you are willing to equivocate the meaning of faith in an attempt to mischaracterize me. You are practically shoving "faith in science" down my throat and claiming its coming out of my mouth.

Brad Haggard said...

Lee, this one might put you over the edge, but I'm going to press it.

Dawkins' now famous definition of faith is "belief in the absence of evidence, or even contrary to evidence." You are happy to believe that abiogenesis occurred and that science will figure it out even though there is absolutely no evidence for it. It's not even close, but you still believe it's going to happen.

I'm not saying you're unreasonable, but if there is currently no evidence, then believing it will happen is, by definition, faith. I just don't think faith is that unreasonable. I happen to believe that science will advance, too, but I just don't want to stake a claim on where the evidence will eventually lead.

That was a mean trick getting you to say that, wasn't it?

BTW, have fun in your cave as you work on your next article. I'm looking forward to it :)

RichD said...

(your tax dollars at work, heh, heh)Great, that's just what I need, more fools parting with my money, as if I'm not good enough at it myself. :)

ok so I've been quiet for some time, but it's like the commercial says, "life comes at you fast".

I have to admit that all this is fascinating to me, really. I had read this article before reading this post, great stuff.

Lee, I wouldn't get too wound up about someone throwing out faith in science. While it doesn't really fit, I usually say I have faith in God but I trust science. So you'll most likely leave out the first part, I think you'll agree with the later.

So some short thoughts on the tread. I watch a show that is done by a magician letting us in on the secrets of magic tricks. We know they have some explination, we're just not sure what it is. Before knowing what a magician does, magic looks very convincing. This is probably a terrible connection to make but, for me who believes God created life, I don't know how he did it. So while it may seem like God must have used magic or some supernatural means for creation, maybe its just that we don't understand what he did. So before we get uptight about science showing chemicals can be put together and bring forth RNA, then thinking this somehow completely excludes God from the picture, we ought to step back and say, I actually have no idea how creation works so maybe I'll just leave the door open to scientific discovery showing us the vast possibilities that could answer the how question.
So maybe we are one step closer to discovering how a god could ceate life. I guess I should add that I don't think creation was an event but a process.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi RichD,
glad to see you back.
It seems I've got a new christian friend. Maybe you guys can double-team me!
;-)

Nice thought about creation rich, but then that makes scripture take a hit in the free-of-error dimension, which impacts the believability dimension in a negative way, and the IDQ rating drops like a rock.

;-)

Yea Brad, why are so spun up about "abiogeneis"? So what?
;-)

Rich, i'm almost ready to start using the IDQ metrics I promised months, and months ago. That ought to give you guys something to pick apart!

Lee Randolph said...

Brad,
you've pushed me one step beyond! aaaaaaggggghhhhh!

anyway,
back to biznez,

Don't flatter yourself, in your zeal to label me as religious, you are committing at least the base-rate fallacy by focusing on your definition of faith and your assessment of my beliefs while ignoring MY assessment of MY beliefs.

That was a mean trick getting you to say that, wasn't it?
what did you get me to say? my flippant "beer" comment meant to illustrate how exaggerated your claim to my faith in science is?

my definition of faith doesn't include "likely to have happened" and "is likely to be shown to be done in the lab". I'd drop that in a heartbeat if a better theory came along with the appropriate criteria of course.

if thats faith to you, more power to you, and I guess the love for my beer is equal to the love for my wife, and your love for your god is equal to my love for my beer, and my viewpoint that its likely that life evolved from simpler unliving components is equal to my faith that the sun will come up tomorrow.

If I have faith, and you want to define it for me, please don't forget to include "precedent", and "consistency with established knowledge", if you don't mind, otherwise your not defining my type of faith.

Heres a clue in thinking Brad. Usually things come in percentages other than 100%. Faith, love, respect, motivation, gas tanks, beer cans, all exist with parameters that are measured in degrees other than 100%. Not all things are equal. Some beer cans have a little more that 12oz's some beer cans have a little less. Perfection is a goal not a reality. Its called scope or range of acceptable parameters. What other percentages are acceptable other than 100%? When is a beer can Empty? When is it full? When is a bunch of sand a heap?

Once you get out of the habit of assigning everything the same value or degree, it gets easier to generate successful outcomes and understand people.

my love for my beer is of a lesser degree than for my wife, if you didn't guess by now.

and my degree of "faith" in "abiogenesis" of (which I think is a misnomer by the way) is less than my degree of faith that this comment will wind up posted in two seconds from now.

Ta Ta for now.
(TTFN)or (FNTT depending on your outlook).

RichD said...

Nice thought about creation rich, but then that makes scripture take a hit in the free-of-error dimension, which impacts the believability dimension in a negative way, and the IDQ rating drops like a rock.Thanks, but I don't think that scripture is fee from error.In fact my beliefs depend on the bible not being complete or free of error.

It seems I've got a new christian friend. Maybe you guys can double-team me!You can count on that! ;)

Lee Randolph said...

Hi all,
for some reason, now, the italics and bold formatting runs together with the default formatting.

if you want to format your comments a little better,
you can end your formatted text with a <br>

for example
if you want to make
this
look like this
then you need to do
<i>this</i><br>