October 19, 2009 10:48 PM Subscribe
While evolution is one of the best-supported theories in science, one lay criticism is that it doesn't explain the creation of life from non-life, or abiogenesis
. This is a different problem domain, of course, as survival of the fittest hardly applies if there's nothing alive yet. There have been many guesses over the years: the most commonly accepted is "the primordial soup". That's probably what you learned in school, the Frankenstein's Monster approach to cell creation. Start with a random chemical bath, throw enough lightning at it, and mysterious magic happens, somehow resulting in life.
Dr. William Martin of the University of Düsseldorf, working with geochemist Mike Russell, has presented an actual theory of abiogenesis. It neatly explains both bacteria and archaea
, describes fairly closely why they function the way they do, and shows why we don't see new life being created now. Their suggestion: our original ancestor wasn't lightning-zapped soup, but rather a proton-powered rock
posted by Malor (75 comments total)
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