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Seven Clues to the Origin of Life

rbr at biochemistry.oxford.ac.uk rbr at biochemistry.oxford.ac.uk
Thu Aug 22 03:32:47 EST 1991

I've  recently read A.G. Cairns-Smith book "Seven Clues to the Origin of Life",
which I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the subject.  One of 
his ideas is that the existence of polymers of nucleic and amino acids in 
all living systems today is like the existence of an arch of stones that 
was once constructed with a scaffolding that has long since disappeared.  
He further suggests that we should seek a possible "scaffolding" for 
DNA/RNA/proteins rather than remain convinced that the first evolving 
entities were necessarily composed of nucleic and amino acids.

I don't know whether I buy his suggestion that the "scaffolding" was some form
of inorganic crystal, but I'm intrigued in the general idea.  I'm somewhat
naive on the subject, and I'm curious if anyone is aware of results or 
research into other candidates for such a scaffolding.  In other words, does
anyone attempt to arrive at self-replicating molecules that are not composed
of nucleic (or amino) acids?

Robert B. Russell
Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics
rbr at uk.ac.oxford.biochemistry

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