Upcoming Powwows Reframe Origin of Life

Paul Higgs - 2
(l to r) PAUL HIGGS, RALPH PUDRITZ, MAIKEL RHEINSTADTER at McMaster’s Origins Institute

“There is this general question when the science experiment ends.  Peter Galison has written a book, How Experiments End. Nothing is ever proven in science. At some point the community decides this is no longer the most pressing problem.  That’s it.  The investigation moves on from this to that.”—Steve Benner in conversation with me at Princeton, 2013, The Origin of Life Circus: A How To Make Life Extravaganza

The problem with the origin of life investigation was neatly summed up in two recent articles.  One was published in Life, co-authored by University of Wisconsin-Parkside chemistry professor Vera Kolb, a former protégé of legends Stanley Miller and Leslie Orgel.  The other paper appeared in Nature, co-authored by MRC chemist John Sutherland, a co-coordinator of the Simons Collaboration on Origins of Life (SCOL), and with Matt Powner, winner of Harry Lonsdale’s Origin of Life Challenge in 2012.  Kolb and Sutherland are both on the same page in their assessments of origin of life.

John Sutherland:  “It follows that the sequence of events that led to life must have been highly contingent and the origin of life as we know it could have been a low probability event.”

Vera Kolb: “We proposed the “comet pond” model as a way to create such a pond, even though it would be a very low probability event due to the challenges of landing pristine cometary material. . . .Nonetheless, some organic molecules are expected to survive in their original form.  Over time, with large numbers of cometary impact, a significant inventory of organic material may be delivered.  However, because comets did strike the planetary surface in a stochastic manner, there is a vanishingly low probability of two or more comets impacting the same area in a geologically short time interval.”

With that as backdrop—

Story continued in new bookDarwin Overthrown: Hello Mechanobiology.

darwin overthrown - final - front cover 

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