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Eden on an Astroid or Eden in RNA World?

Vivien Chen's picture

 On Tuesday's class, Professor Grobstein mentioned a couple of interesting NYTimes articles. One of them discussed the "threatening scent of fertile women" and the other, "A Romp Through Theories of the Cradle of Life" talks about the theories of the origins of life. This article in particular struck me as very interesting - not only does it challenge Darwin's conceived thoughts, but it also brings me back to Dennett's book. The article begins by stating, "Lately other scientists have suggested that the magic joining of molecules that could go on replicating might have happened in an undersea hot spring, on another planet or inside an asteroid." In fact, on page 314 Dennett actually mentions an astronomer , Fred Hoyle who argues that "life did not originate-could not have originated - on Earth, but has to have been "seeded" from outer space." This idea or controversy, Dennett adds would not have overthrown Darwinism, even though Dennett believes this theory is not an "incoherent idea" at all. 

Also, the article later talks more in depth about RNA. RNA is different from DNA in that it has the ability to not only store information, but also uses that information to catalyze reactions. Dr. Sutherland, a biochemist actually succeeded in synthesizing one of the four nucleotides that make up RNA in a jar in his lab. If RNA can catalyze reactions and if it can be replicated, would it have the potential to appear naturally on its own on Earth? So, many other biochemists question if the "RNA world" can be the origin of life. Still, scientists are hovering over this notion and believe that in order to understand life, they first must make it themselves. 

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