Was There Once an RNA World of Life?

Daniel A Ashlock danwell at IASTATE.EDU
Tue Aug 18 10:37:03 EST 1992

In article <1992Aug18.124417.7726 at alw.nih.gov>, des at helix.nih.gov (David E.
Scheim) writes:
> I've heard some theories that RNA/DNA type molecules were the first forms
> of life.  It seems more intuitive to me, however, that life began as
> bubbles on the beach, evolving into primitive cells with membranes whose
> division into new cells was initially propelled by simple osmotic forces.
> One could speculate that genetic material evolved later, allowing for more
> complex characteristics to develop and be stably maintained in the cell
> line.
> The seminal work of C. Don Cone during the 1960s and 1970s in fact has
> demonstrated how considerations of membrane voltage and ionic composition
> are critical to understanding mitosis, and that in fact you can make adult
> neural cells divide by manipulating the ionic environment to induce cell
> depolarization (and also block cell division using a similar technique).
> It seems to me that biology has become overly infatuated by the recent
> discovery of genetics, trying to explain everything from the origin of life
> to cancer in these terms.  I would appreciate any comments as to what
> current knowledge indicates as to whether the "bubble on the beach"
> hypothesis for the origin of life may have been possible.  --David Scheim.

   As I recall the bubble on the beach hypothisis suffers from an inconvienient
observation, to wit that the beach was undergoing intense bombardment by
planitesimals and hence was not a calm enough environment.  The deep sea vents
have more shielding.  The guy in experimenting Sweeden with the idea that oil is
of non-biological origin claims to have found life five kilometers down in the
crust and is pushing a "life originated and still is mostly miles down" idea.

Danwell at IASTATE.EDU

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