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Free Content The origin of life II: How did it begin?

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Abstract:

The problem of how a mixture of chemicals can spontaneously transform themselves into even a simple living organism remains one of the great outstanding challenges to science. Various primordial soup theories have been proposed in which chemical self-organization brings about the required level of complexity. Major conceptual obstacles remain, however, such as the emergence of the genetic code, and the ``chicken-and-egg'' problem concerning which came first: nucleic acids or proteins. Currently fashionable is the so-called RNA world theory, which casts RNA in the role of both chicken and egg. Other theories assume that protein chemistry and even clay crystal life came before nucleic acids. To be fully successful, a theory of biogenesis has to explain not merely the emergence of molecular replication and chemical complexity, but the crucial information content and information processing capabilities of the living cell.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3184/003685001783239096

Affiliations: Science Review, PO Box 314, St. Albans, Herts AL1 4ZG, UK

Publication date: February 15, 2001

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  • SCIENCE PROGRESS has for over 100 years been a highly regarded review publication in science, technology and medicine. Its objective is to excite the readers' interest in areas with which they may not be fully familiar but which could facilitate their interest, or even activity, in a cognate field. Science Progress commissions world authorities to contribute articles on the most interesting, important and meaningful topics - ranging from cosmology to the environment - and ensures that they are presented for the most effective use of those in both academia and industry.

    Truly, Science Progress publishes an eclectic mix of articles that no library can afford to be without.

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