Origin of Life:by Chance or by Design? Chris Macosko Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science University of Minnesota
Biology G.B.Johnson and R.H.Raven, 1996 • Biology • Biggs et. al. • Glencoe Pub. 2004. • Chap 14.2
Heat Sunlight Electricalenergy Proteins and nucleic acids Simple Cells Biochemistry D. Voet & J.G. Voet Wiley 2004
Chinese Scientists Searching for Origin of Life in Space "We have obtained some positive results," said Pei Chunchuan, chief scientist at the Qinghai Station of the Purple Mountain Observatory (PMO) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the top research body for natural sciences in the country. The researchers have detected some minor organic molecular lines, which could indicate that life might exist in interstellar space. Pei explained that if, for example, lines of organic molecules such as amino acids were found, the discovery could mean that stars carried some bigger organic molecules during their formation process. These organic molecules could directly evolve into life under suitable conditions," said Pei. Peoples Daily (English) December 12, 2001
Molecules of aspartic acid with a left-handed orientation, shown in crystal form, could be the "ancestral Eve" of all amino acids -- the building blocks of proteins -- in life on Earth. The Origin of Life and the Crystallization of Aspartic Acid in Water Tu Lee* and Yu Kun Lin Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, National Central University, Taiwan, R.O.C. Cryst. Growth & Design 2010
Fossils provide more evidence that ocean floor bore living beings A crosscut of one of the 1.43 billion-year-old black smoker fossils of deep-sea microbes recovered from an exploratory mine in northern China. They provide more evidence that life began on the bottom of the ocean. Timothy Kusky / Gondwana ResearchAugust 6, 2007 Deep-sea discovery reinforces origin of life
Autobiogenesis: Spontaneous Origin of Life Oparin, Haldane, 1930’s
Stanley Miller, 1953 Chemistry graduate student at University of Chicago
Adapted from • “A Production of Amino Acids under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions,” Stanley L. Miller, Science, Vol. 117, (May 15, 1953), pp. 528-529.
Autobiogenesis: Spontaneous Origin of Life Research into 1970’s supportive Oparin, Haldane, 1930’s
First photograph ever taken from the surface of Mars. Viking 1 Lander July 20, 1976. Primary objectives of the Viking missions - obtain high-resolution images of the Martian surface, - characterize the atmosphere and surface - search for evidence of life on Mars. http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/ABSTRACTS/GPN-2003-00061.html
“…recent advances…have thrown serious doubts on the anoxic [oxygen free] model…” —H. Clemmey and N. Badham “Oxygen in the precambrian atmosphere: An evaluation of the geological evidence.” Geology 10(3), 145 (March 1982). “No geological or geochemical evidence collected in the last 30 years favors a strongly reducing primitive atmosphere…Only the success of the laboratory experiments recommends it.” —R.A. Kerr “Origin of life: new ingredients suggested.” Science 210(4465), 42 (October 3, 1980).
Autobiogenesis: Spontaneous Origin of Life Oparin, Haldane, 1930’s
Can Random Reactions Produce a Protein? Typical protein N = 100-300 How many ways to arrange 100 amino acids, 5 of each type? W= # arrangements = 10115 different peptides <105 useful for life
(1041)(1014 rearrange/s)(1017s) = 1072 polypeptides age of Earth? fastest chemical reaction Can Random Reactions Produce a Protein? How long will it take to create a particular polypeptide? vs. 10115 possible structures
Do We Know Enough to Reconstruct Life In Vitro? M.L. Shuler Department of Biomedical Engineering School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Cornell University Ithaca, NY 14853 September 9, 2010
Metabolic Features of the Minimal Cell Model External Medium (31 chemicals)
How to Create a Minimal Cell Model Proposed Reaction Rates Si = species i S = all species p = all parameters Ej = enzyme j • Computational Chromosome • Gil, et al. gene set (207 protein coding genes) • Removed “poorly characterized” genes • Added rRNA, tRNA, transporter genes • 241 genes total (102 single genes, 19 gene clusters) • smallest real cell = 454 genes • 600 nucleotides/gene
Minimum Model Requires: 4 Compartments 241 Genes 408 Chemical Species 570 Reactions 1,176 Reaction Parameters 36 Events and still could not survive in nature temperature, no cell wall must feed 31 chemicals
The Enigma of the Origin of Life “The largest stumbling block in bridging the gap between nonliving and living still remains. All living cells are controlled by information stored in DNA, which is transcribed in RNA and then made into protein. This is a very complicated system, and each of these three molecules requires the other two--either to put it together or to help it work. DNA, for example, carries information but cannot put that information to use, or even copy itself without the help of RNA and protein.” Kenneth R. Miller and Joseph Levine, Biology: The Living Science (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall), 1998, p.406-407.
Did life arise on another planet? Theory of Panspermia – Hoyle and Wickramasinghe 1980’s
Father of 'Origin of Life’Chemistry Dies May 21, 2007 …But despite the brilliant beginning, neither he nor others were able to take the next step, that of providing a plausible mechanism by which these chemicals could have been assembled into living cells or the macromolecules — DNA and proteins — on which cells depend. NY Times Stanley Miller: the chemical origin of life is a lot more difficult than we first imaged National Geographic 1998
The world looks more complex to a scientist. The world looks more beautiful to a scientist. Science teaches humility. This comes from an understanding of what we do not know. Belief in a Creator has energized the greatest scientists. DNA to proteins http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dMlde9akBk Mitosis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFWelOJ7fW0
Antony Flew, a British philosophy professor and leading champion of atheism for more than half a century, changed his mind and became a deist at the age of 81. • He said it was a result of “my growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists” • In an interview with ABC News Flew indicated that a "super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature."
Did life begin by chance or by design? • Huge amount of information in the molecules of life • No naturalistic theory for origin of life • We know that intelligence can create molecules of life • Design is not an argument from ignorance • Is a “super intelligence the only good explanation for the origin of life (A. Flew)” ?
Questions for discussion • 1. Growing up, what were you taught about the origin of life? • This presentation argues that life could not have arise apart from some sort of design. What do you think about the reasons given? • Do you have any questions from this sharing?