The origin of life II: How did it begin?

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.

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