The Origin of Life--The Cellular Perspective

Well, Darwin's evolution theory begins with the first cell on Earth. It does not explain how this first cell was created. It is necessary to be very humble before this question and don't explain fast progress in its explanation.

In Göteborgs-Posten one reads today that Nobel Prize laureate Jack Szostak, who got the prize for his work on telomers, now have switched to origin of life work. So has Ada Yonath, who got this years Nobel Prize in Chemistry for research on the ribosome, according to Dagens Nyheter some days ago.

They have apparently different approaches. Szostak work in recreating simple life forms that would mimic early cells not present any longer on Earth. Yonath work on the possibility that protein biosynthesis might have started as an RNA story all together. Ribosomes have a core that seems to be standing alone in its task of synthesizing proteins. RNA has also been shown to act as an enzyme, so called ribozymes. Yonath and her team is trying to recreate this active principle.

The question is if we don't need an Einstein of Biology for solving this question. A person that will offer a totally new perspective. Because solving the riddle of how Nature created the first cell seems impossible. It can be compared to sitting down in a comfortable chair and waiting for a Boeing 747 to materialize in front of you by itself. You would not want to be in a hurry.

It might be that our present mechanical paradigm for how cells and how our bodies work, that we acquired at the outset of the scientific revolution, somehow is not going to take us all the way. What is comfortable to know, however, is that since we are here it must have happened. There must be a way to explain the creation of life.

Perhaps someone will find out how a chemical "evolution" occurred. Finding a today unknown principle for how the components of a cell where created in Nature. Such a principle would reduce the problem of creating the first cell to one of waiting for the Boeing 747 to materialize from its parts. That would not take as long time as would waiting for both the construction and the production of its parts.

So who would you bet your money on for having the largest impact, Szostak the geneticist or Yonath the chemist? The above reasoning would lead to the origin of life being solved more likely in the chemical domain. However, there are problems in the evolution theory that are unsolved as well. We don't know, for example, how the human brain became so large, so fast, a few million years ago. When it started to think like a human, ie, when human life began.

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