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Scientists Create RNA From Primordial Soup

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the that's-notional-primordial-soup-to-you dept.

Biotech 369

Kristina at Science News writes "The RNA world hypothesis proposed 40 years ago suggested that life on Earth started not with DNA but with RNA. Now a team of scientists bolsters this hypothesis, having assembled RNA in the lab from a mixture that resembles what was likely the primordial soup. 'Until now,' Science News reports, 'scientists couldn't figure out the chemical reactions that created the earliest RNA molecules.' The new work started the RNA assembly chemistry from a different angle than what earlier work had tried."

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I thought... (1, Funny)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944217)

I thought that the headline was "Scientists Create RNA From Primordial Soap", which would have been interesting in a completely different way.

Re:I thought... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944545)

Creating life from Alphabet Soup would have been even more interesting.

Re:I thought... (2, Funny)

something_wicked_thi (918168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944615)

GAA TAC ATC GCA CAT TAG TAT ATT GAG ACT

(Yes, I know that's DNA and not RNA, but it's really hard to make words with a U and no T).

Re:I thought... (2, Funny)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944843)

At least with RNA you can make that annoying thing on Vista... UAC.

Primordial Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944221)

Slurp!

Re:Primordial Post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944271)

You failed. Try again in another 3.8 billion years.

Abiogenesis.... (4, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944239)

Abiogenesis.... Take that ID-iots!

Re:Abiogenesis.... (4, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944287)

Shoulda used your troll account, the creationists are going to modbomb you for sure.

Re:Abiogenesis.... (5, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944327)

I was on my netbook... I'm usually logged into my Troll account on that one. Should have checked. Oh, well, got plenty of Karma...

Re:Abiogenesis.... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944603)

Oh yeah, "informative." And my failed "Primordial Post" was offtopic? You mods are tetched in the head.

Re:Abiogenesis.... (5, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944667)

They're just trying to correct injust mods... While I'm there and I'll risk some Karma....The origin of life by cdk007 [youtube.com] . Abiogenesis illustrated.

Ignoratio Elenchi (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944437)

Demonstrating that another link in the evolutionary chain can happen without conscious intervention (spontaneously and mechanically) does not demonstrate the non-existence of an intelligent designer.

It, at best, removes a point that was previously used to defend ID.

But, logically, the inability to prove something does not constitute a disproof (that would be the fallacy of Argumentum ad Ignorantium).

Disclaimer: I am not an ID proponent. I am just a logician.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (5, Insightful)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944507)

Demonstrating (something) does not demonstrate the non-existence of an intelligent designer.

Indeed; nothing can.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (5, Funny)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944593)

God crushing you nonbelievers with rain of sulfur and fire would settle the matter nicely.

I'm not holding my breath though.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944609)

Yes. Why are you not holding your breath?

Exactly. No god.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (0, Flamebait)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944721)

God crushing you nonbelievers with rain of sulfur and fire would settle the matter nicely.

I'm waiting....

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945053)

I can't do it right now - I've got a Hyper-V problem to be sorting.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944731)

No, it wouldn't settle anything. Any being sufficiently more powerful than you can convince you that it is omnipotent. Any being sufficiently more clever than you could convince you that it is omniscient. An advanced alien race, claiming to be God, could determine who believes in God and who doesn't, and rain sulfur and fire on the nonbelievers, so a rain of fire and sulfur from something claiming to be God would not prove God exists, sorry.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (5, Funny)

Polumna (1141165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945169)

Come on, man, this is slashdot. You could have made your whole point with just the words: "Star Trek V" ;D

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (3, Insightful)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945717)

Hmmmm couldn't convince Kirk:

"What does God need with a starship?"

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (4, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945485)

If God exists, and if he's omniscient and omnipotent, he could design an event guaranteed to convince every non-believer in the world of his existence. The fact that he doesn't means either:

a) he doesn't care, so why bother worshiping him?
b) he doesn't exist, so why bother worshiping him?
c) he likes to play mind games, so why bother worshiping him?

You forgot... (5, Funny)

tool462 (677306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945595)

d) God is actually a woman. Powerful, but insecure, and she needs you to show her how much you love her all the time. If you don't, she'll get depressed and eat her weight in mint-chocolate chip ice cream, in which case she'll end up omnipresent in more ways than one.

He didn't forget (4, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945799)

'Likes to play mind games' was option c)

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945819)

d)it's a test of faith.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945825)

d) YOU like to play mind games by laying out ridiculously narrow terms for god to demonstrate his existence.

Thinking that there is no possible evidence for god's existence is retarded and only demonstrates how little ability the person saying it has for stepping back and looking at the situation. Life is complex and it works well. It's not proof, it's evidence. The laws of physics yield a consistent universe. It's not proof, it's evidence.

The ability of otherwise intelligent people to skew this issue by calling the other side stupid and saying PROVE this (which is impossible for both sides) never ceases to annoy and amuse the hell out of me.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945827)

Religion relies on faith. If God somehow proved he exists, then faith would be irrelevant.
The greatest gift Humanity has is the ability to choose its own destiny, i.e. the concept of Free Will.

If God were to be in residence, it would diminish Free Will.

Trifecta! (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945987)

You just made three unsupported and ridiculous assertions as if they were a logical argument. Nice hat trick.

Religion does not need to rely on faith. Buddhism certainly doesn't, but I know some consider that a philosophy, not a religion. Still, it is listed as a major world religion, and it requires no one to take anything on faith.

Predestination and free will are both pointless human speculations unsupported by any human experiences, and if free will were real, it would be a curse, not a gift, especially considering your God's planned punishments for going against arbitrary rules that you have no way of knowing came from Him.

If God were to be in residence and free will were real, God's presence would not diminish free will. So what? At most, nobody would choose to sin anymore. I don't choose to froom, either, and my not being able to choose to froom does not diminish any free will I may have.

But people could still choose to sin knowing God existed, I know I would, just to register my disapproval of God's arbitrary and unjust actions. Infinite punishment for finite transgressions, my ass. Fuck you, God, I'm going out to fuck a guy JUST TO PISS YOU OFF, YOU SHIT! I'm not even gay, I'll probably hate it, but I'm going to do it just because you said you'd torture me forever if I did. I don't negotiate with terrorists.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27946003)

Your idea of religion relies on faith, but the higher goal of saving people has nothing to do with faith.

God revealing himself in an indisputable manner probably would end religion, and millions more people would be saved in return. Why would that be a bad thing?

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945849)

how about:

d) he did, but people say it never happened.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (3, Funny)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945911)

A false... trilemma...

You may be looking for this quote. (5, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945955)

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?

-Epicurus, 300 BCE

The refrain from fundamentalists, Christian and Muslim and Jew alike, is because he is God, and he said so, according to this really old book. Which is usually the inerrant word of God - they just can't agree on which version is the "perfect" word. Once you try to engage someone who firmly believes that they know what God thinks, there's no use in trying to apply logic.

One of my favorite David Cross bits is where he's asking out loud for the name of the television show where there's this guy on stage, and everyone in the television audience believes he can talk to the dead. The crowd in front of David keeps shouting out "Crossing Over!"

And then David says, "Oh no, it was church, it was church."

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945957)

so why bother worshiping him?

I thought this was obvious. He's the baddest mother %$@#er on the block. He'll smack you down if you don't do ____, ____, and _____. (insert for any given religion).

An all-good, omniscient, and omnipotent cannot coexist with suffering (aka problem of evil).

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (2, Interesting)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945001)

No it wouldn't. It certainly doesn't disprove an intelligent designer. One could argue that it would prove the existence of an IDer, however it does not.

It's eminently possible, even under these circumstances, that the universe evolved atheistically, until some asshole god/demiurge decided to take credit for it and toast Sol III.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (0, Offtopic)

doti (966971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945423)

Voce me prometeu!
Voce me prometeu!
Uma chuva de fogo, mas ainda nao choveu!

Voce me prometeu!
Voce me prometeu!
Escuridao eterna, e nada ainda escureceu.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (0)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945603)

a believer, as God's servant, shall smite thee by launching and lighting a beer-fart onto you

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (2, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944849)

if the ID/Creationists claim there is a god then the burden of proof is on the ID/Creationists to prove god exists, until then i remain a devout atheist...

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (2, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944535)

Demonstrating that another link in the evolutionary chain can happen without conscious intervention (spontaneously and mechanically) does not demonstrate the non-existence of an intelligent designer.

As a logician, what are your thoughts on the minimum description-length principle? The MDL principle suggests that it's a mistake to add a God to the equation if there's no specific need for one.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945111)

It's an empirical question, like: does Occam's Razor shave closer than Remington Microscreen?

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944567)

Original poster here... (Anonymous because I know I'm going to get a beating) I did not want to disprove the existence of God, but one of the typical arguments for Intelligent Design is the fact that "this could not have happened by accident". Frankly, nobody can prove of disprove God.... I tell you that as a Computer Scientist who had plenty of exposure to Logic. (Mandatory philosophy class for CS people.... At least where I did my studies)

That said, if you add in probabilities, God (the Chistian one) gets a tough beating... but that has nothing to do with your post.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944755)

"does not demonstrate the non-existence of an intelligent designer."

Of course. That's because nothing can prove the non-existence of a sufficiently powerful intelligent designer. When Newton proposed that universal gravitation could predict the motion of the planets, did that prevent the Hand of God itself, or some other immensely powerful intelligent designer, from actively guiding the planets around in their orbits in accordance with what we perceive as gravitation?

No. But that's because it is not really a scientific question in the first place.

And that's the whole problem with "intelligent design". There's really no scientific observation that can negate it if that is how broadly it is defined. Even if you try to appeal to "incompetent design", like some of the crazy, Rube Goldberg-like features of living systems, such that it looks like life was tweaked and tinkered with by re-using old designs for new purposes rather than inventing something brand new, you could still claim that a "designer" meant to do all that for some arcane reason. They could "coincidentally" make it look like the product of biological evolution. An "intelligent designer" of that class (i.e. not bound by the same sort of physical laws as us) is practically impossible to scientifically test.

So, yeah, it "does not demonstrate the non-existence of an intelligent designer", but so what? Nothing ever will. It's always possible to imagine a designer powerful enough to explain absolutely anything, which is why it is so useless as a scientific explanation in its generic form. If you can place some practical limits on what the designer can or can not do (e.g., if you're stuck with only a human designer), then maybe you might be able to start doing something scientific (e.g., differentiating stone tools from ordinary rocks), but you can't scientifically test "intelligent designer" in some general fashion. If you allow "snap their fingers to do anything", then all bets are off, and you aren't operating in a scientific realm of study anymore.

And you call yourself a logician?

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945921)

What you've said is that the existence of a deity isn't a scientific question, which is true. Science doesn't deal with proving anything, though. Science deals with observation, experimentation, and ultimately devising a theory that can predict future observations. Mathematics deals with proofs. Proving that a deity exists is orthogonal to science.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945125)

If you were truly a logician, you would know that we abandoned that line of thinking a long time ago, bringing in prior plausibility as a major factor. You can prove a negative in essence (i.e. disprove something) by showing a complete lack of evidence plus extremely low prior plausibility.

Logically the god hypothesis fails.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945517)

If there is a superior being, wouldn't logic dictate that there would also be a supreme being?

I'm asking because I honestly believe most people to be inferior to myself; with a select few living and deceased to be and have been superior.

I'm also completely comfortable using the word "God" as the name and/or description of the supreme being, regardless of its capability to be omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent.

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (1)

dsinc (319470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945837)

What about Occam's Razor? what would be the logical choice between ID and a now proven scientific hypothesis?

Re:Ignoratio Elenchi (3, Insightful)

atraintocry (1183485) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945891)

Capital-I-capital-D Intelligent Design is a political movement based on getting anti-evolution viewpoints brought into science curricula.

The mere belief in a God who created and designed the universe is not what this is about. If it were, then every religious scientist would call themselves IDers. It's not, and they don't.

These people are not interested in logic. If they were, they would know that the burden of proof was on them and not the other way around.

Godless Science loses *another* battle! (5, Funny)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945047)

"Sutherland says [...] 'The key turned out to be the order that the ingredients are added and the way you put them together -- like making a soufflé.'"

How much clearer does it need to be made to you amoral materialists that cooking dinner needs *a Chef*?

The only thing I regret is that Sutherland compared God's Work to making a "soufflé". Couldn't he have used a good Christian American recipe?

Like omelette!

Re:Godless Science loses *another* battle! (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945121)

a) A soufflé isn't an omelette....
b) Most hilarious comment I ever read....

Re:Godless Science loses *another* battle! (4, Funny)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945315)

"Those Frenchmen don't even have a word for entrepreneur"

Re:Godless Science loses *another* battle! (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945809)

Hmm, -1 Troll. Must be a lot of religious nuts with Mod points this evening. (o:

Do you know what that word means? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945419)

I don't really see the point of this in the argument. We already know that there must be SOME way to form all the biochemicals, or they wouldn't exist to begin with, whether there's a Designer or not.

Then again, I don't waste my time arguing about ID to begin with...

Also: abiogenesis refers to life coming from nothing. This is RNA, not a living organism. It's one step closer, but it is not, in fact, a demonstration of abiogenesis.

Re:Abiogenesis.... (3, Interesting)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945431)

Abiogenesis.... Take that ID-iots!

Scientists stitching together molecules like a chemical zipper to recreate a simple RNA sounds a lot more like "Design" and a lot less like "abiogenesis" to me, actually...

Quoting Sutherland's team from TFA:

It's not as simple as putting compounds in a beaker and mixing it up. It's a series of steps. You still have to stop and purify and then do the next step, and that probably didn't happen in the ancient world.

Seriously, watching Abiogenesis fiends bickering with "Intelligent Design" supporters over who is more wrong makes me think I'm back on Digg when it was used as Richard Dawkin's RSS feed.

Re:Abiogenesis.... (2, Insightful)

rezalas (1227518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945615)

So after reading the article, here is what I gathered:

1) A bunch of scientists who know what RNA looks like found a complex way or mixing and meshing chemicals together and purifying the process then repeating until they artificially created RNA.
2) They admit it wouldn't have worked in nature on its own...
3) People suddenly claim it disproves ID. Hell, all they DID was PROVE ID. The whole fucking article says "we, a bunch of intelligent people, used advanced chemistry to make something that we admit wouldn't have occurred on its own." That IS ID.

Re:Abiogenesis.... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945845)

Only if they are God.

Re:Abiogenesis.... (1, Insightful)

hahn (101816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945815)

Abiogenesis.... Take that ID-iots!

I'm not an ID proponent at all and I realize you're at least half-joking, but this research finding doesn't do anything to disprove ID. In fact, if anything it somewhat favors it. ID asserts that there are certain aspects of the universe and life forms that require a directed force by an intelligent being. IOW, it requires planning. This research demonstrates that a lot of steps and manipulation that are NOT present in nature, were required to end up with RNA. It didn't happen "naturally". Ergo, "intelligent design" was required to create it.

Primordial Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944247)

Primordial Post!!!11!one!one

w00t! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944251)

Thus proving that life must have been created by some form of intelligence.

One word.... (-1, Troll)

pugdk (697845) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944265)

Contamination.

'Nuff said.

Re:One word.... (5, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944401)

That they accidentally got RNA and thought they created it themselves? Did you read the article?

âoeBut while this is a step forward, itâ(TM)s not the whole picture,â Ferris points out. âoeItâ(TM)s not as simple as putting compounds in a beaker and mixing it up. Itâ(TM)s a series of steps. You still have to stop and purify and then do the next step, and that probably didnâ(TM)t happen in the ancient world.â

Sutherland and his team can so far make RNA molecules with two different bases, and there are still another two bases to figure out.

Re:One word.... (3, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944427)

... and holy Unicode-less Slashdot, Batman. :-(

Re:One word.... (1)

pugdk (697845) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944455)

So in other words: Even more chance of contamination.

Re:One word.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945015)

So in other words: Even more chance of contamination.

No. Even less chance of contamination, because until you reach the final step ANY contamination would cause an immediate failure of the process.

Re:One word.... (1)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944473)

Contamination.

'Nuff said.

Obviously. I'm sure they never accounted and corrected for that possibility. After all, it's not like these people are the type who would know anything about basic experimental science or anything.

Re:One word.... (1)

pugdk (697845) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944541)

From what I know plenty of previous attempts or rather "succesful" attemps have been shown to be due to contamination.

Now, I'm not saying these people don't know what they are doing, I'm saying the chance of contamination with discrete amounts of RNA / RNA bases / whatever in my eyes are probably far greater than the chance of actually making RNA.

(and no, I'm not some sort of creationist bastard heh)

Re:One word.... (1)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944797)

What are your credentials, and why should we believe your arbitrary assertion? Could you give examples of past failures due to contamination? Could you tell us, given the particular set up of this experiment, what the possible vector of contamination is? Could you tell us why you think this particular experiment could not have created RNA? What are the difficulties that this set up does not address?

Or maybe you could just admit that 'contamination' is a total shot in the dark with no evidence to back it up.

Re:One word.... (2, Funny)

pugdk (697845) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944995)

I earn a living (well, if you can call it that) doing biochemical research, but frankly I don't care if you believe me (RTFA, it pretty much speaks for itself).

Sorry, not bored enough to give examples, but using google scholar will most definitely help you (if you are that bored ;-).

Possible vector of contamination? Are you serious? Try just about everything they may have come into contact with.... removal of "all things resembling RNA" is much easier than it sounds... destruction of RNA strands, yes... quite easy (however that may introduce yet more contamination ;-). Removal of all nucleotides... good luck.

Contamination is actally quite a good shot as to what may have brought on at least the start of the process...

Did I mention I'm not that worried if you don't believe me? :-)

Re:One word.... (2, Informative)

panthroman (1415081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945083)

Contamination. 'Nuff said.

Obviously. I'm sure they never accounted and corrected for that possibility. After all, it's not like these people are the type who would know anything about basic experimental science or anything.

Sometimes even the researchers think it's contamination, but the story's too good for journalists to pass up. A memorable example:

"Scientists at University of Alabama sequenced a 130-nucleotide long mitochondrial DNA sequence from dinosaur vertebrae, and found that it was 100% homologous to mitochondrial DNA from turkeys. However, the scientists themselves 'remain quite sceptical of our own work' and noted that they had been consuming turkey sandwiches in the laboratory."

Even though the triceratops-turkey 'finding' was never published and eventually dismissed by the researchers, the false result was leaked onto the internet, where it can still be found today [enchantedlearning.com] .

This RNA synthesis paper [nature.com] , however, has no such caveats.

Re:One word.... (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945285)

Frank N. Furter: It was an ACCIDENT!

mmmmm (2)

nih (411096) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944289)

with extra croutons!

Clearly... (3, Funny)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944297)

A wizard did it.

Re:Clearly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944403)

No, it was the Q [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Clearly... (1)

zulater (635326) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944423)

oblig "I put on my robe and wizzard hat..."

not that big of a deal (5, Informative)

anticlone (1245294) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944409)

they found a reaction pathway - that does not prove it happened that way - I too thought the article title indicated spontaneous generation of RNA from primordial soup.

Re:not that big of a deal (4, Insightful)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944577)

they found a reaction pathway - that does not prove it happened that way - I too thought the article title indicated spontaneous generation of RNA from primordial soup.

I have always thought that spontaneous was the wrong word for this theory. Spontaneous implies *NO* external force. There could have been (I think there probably was) forces such as comets, lava, boiling water, glass, wind, fire, water, and mixture of those or just about anything else. To show that it is possible, with what was known to exist at that time is not proof that it happened exactly that way, but it could have. And I highly doubt we will ever figure out how it actually happened.

Re:not that big of a deal (1)

anticlone (1245294) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944651)

I disagree - spontaneous in this sense would indicate self-assembly of RNA - under the right conditions. All the other things you mention is simply part of the "pot" - be it a very large and chaotic pot.... I would think no human chemist was around to play with the soup to nudge things in the right direction. That is what is happening here.

Re:not that big of a deal (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944739)

I disagree - spontaneous in this sense would indicate self-assembly of RNA - under the right conditions. All the other things you mention is simply part of the "pot" - be it a very large and chaotic pot.... I would think no human chemist was around to play with the soup to nudge things in the right direction. That is what is happening here.

Oh I see... for you to believe in this theory we can't try to speed along the process with all these scientist and chemist doing things with things and stuff, right? Just wait a few billion years to study the next go-round?

Re:not that big of a deal (1)

anticlone (1245294) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944927)

why yes! if it worked once it should work again. no, you misunderstand - the original conditions DID spontaneously develop life.. unless you are a figment of my imagination.... and no I don't think the reactions required billions of years (once again you'd probably not be here). the key to this experiment imho is finding the right conditions/mixture. and that IS difficult.

Re:not that big of a deal (1)

Guido von Guido (548827) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945943)

I suspect that whatever happened, happened pretty quickly. The thing is, "pretty quickly" might mean "tens of thousands of years."

Re:not that big of a deal (1)

virmaior (1186271) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944859)

in chemistry at least, you can modify the thermokinetics without having the reaction fail to be spontaneous. but to call a complex reaction system spontaneous seems contrived.

Re:not that big of a deal (2, Insightful)

anticlone (1245294) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945005)

I don't know how much reading you've done on this... industrial chemistry is in general very simple using, in general, pretty pure components. However, there are systems, such as catalytic reforming of petroleum that does use complex mixtures. - For this theory to be correct (and belief doesn't have -anything- to do with it) the synthesis has to occur in a very complex mixture with nothing more than energy input and available building blocks. Nothing else was there - right? Unless you want to bring down God to the soup with a labcoat, safety glasses and a fleaker of pixie dust... (my favorite God is George Burns...)

Re:not that big of a deal (1)

Deosyne (92713) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944819)

Possibly not, but it is still nice to see a proof of concept actually carried out for a theory. Now if only the detractors would do the same.

Mmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944443)

Soup...

Deja vu (3, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944475)

a mixture that resembles what was likely the primordial soup.

Deja vu: I just had primordial soup for lunch.

Re:Deja vu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944523)

I hope it was low-sodium primordial soup.

Re:Deja vu (3, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944823)

Deja vu: I just had primordial soup for lunch.

Great, just great. Do you know how many potential species you just wiped out? The right to lifers are going to have you up against the wall in a nanosecond.

Re:Deja vu (3, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945227)

> I just had primordial soup for lunch.

Isn't that what was in that fridge in San Jose?

That's Nothing! (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944539)

I've assembled a Windows XP kernel from Campbell's cream of leek soup.

Re:That's Nothing! (2, Funny)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945321)

Would that be "cream of memory leek", "cream of resource leek", or "cream of taking a leek" soup?

Witchdoctor (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27944549)

In other news :
Witchdoctor creates soup from scientists who were studying primordials .

Man you scared me there (1)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944551)

I thought the headline said that scientists create RIAA ...see, being from primordial soup...oh nevermind. No soup for you!

Misleading Article Title (5, Insightful)

ThistleForce (1554011) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944619)

Anyone that only scans the synopsis is going to get the wrong idea. Read the article...it's more than likely that this never occurred in nature. Since when do organisms add material and cleanse and add and cleanse? Who threw the sugar in the first primordial soup? Where would RNA get it's instructions? There are too many holes... this isn't a breakthrough in science, It's an episode of "The Frugal Gourmet"

A flowchart might be helpful (5, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944635)

This is the reaction sequence that's being proposed here: link [nytimes.com] .

Previously, the sticking point was that there was no logical way for the sugar (ribose) to spontaneously attach to the base. Organisms use enzymes to transfer a ribose phosphate group to a base, but of course, in the time before enzymes could be coded for, that wouldn't be possible. This sequence neatly sidesteps that, and also provides a more logical reason for phosphate to be involved; it is the reagent that attacks that tricyclic pyrimidosugar, breaking the bond to form ribocytidine phosphate.

Coincidentally, UV light deaminates cytosine to form uracil, which is where that second base comes from. This is why DNA uses thymine instead of uracil, by the way- as the archival storage medium for our genetic information, it would be unwise to have one base easily interconvert into another. The shorter expected lifetime of RNA means the interconversion is not a concern, though.

Re:A flowchart might be helpful (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945367)

Nice summary. Better than the summary. More interesting stuff on RNA as the precursor to life here [rockefeller.edu] .

THIS JUST IN: (1)

mikek2 (562884) | more than 5 years ago | (#27944829)

Flying Spaghetti Monster [venganza.org] unimpressed.

Is this Nobel worthy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945157)

Looking at the flow chart I get the idea that these folks have done a good job of showing succinctly their novel idea. It doesn't look so terribly difficult or different. But nobody else seems to have come up with it in forty years. And even if it does not truly represent what happened it is a big step towards and inspiration for those who would propose a better idea. It also provides an opportunity to research many other of life's puzzles.

Well done!

A still-unanswered question (0, Redundant)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945171)

Was it Campbell's or Progresso?

rna vs dna (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945455)

can someone give a quick explanation on how RNA is different from DNA? why is it relevant?

Re:rna vs dna (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945721)

DNA ? well the answer is obviously 42

Re:rna vs dna (5, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945803)

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is generally double stranded (classic double helix) and is more robust than RNA (ribonucleic acid) which is generally single stranded. Both use a base 4 code of triplets of certain additions to contain information (normally denoted C,G,A and T). However, RNA has a slightly different set of bases (having uracil in the place of thymine so U instead of T). Almost all life on earth uses DNA to store information in its long-term form and makes RNA when it needs to make proteins. This is a process known as transcription http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcription_(genetics) [wikipedia.org] .

The primary reason why this discovery is a big deal is that there is a hypothesis that all life started out as using RNA and only later evolved to use DNA. This is known as the RNA world hypothesis- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RNA_world_hypothesis [wikipedia.org] This is a very popular idea in abiogenesis research. There are number of avenues of evidence for thinking this: Essentially, the major problem with a DNA first model of abiogenesis is that DNA cannot normally reproduce itself without proteins. Moreover, DNA cannot produce proteins without the aid of RNA. However, properly chosen RNA strands can reproduce themselves without protein assistance. Moreover, RNA can directly mediate the synthesis of proteins. So if one can find a procedure that can plausibly produced RNA then one can handle most of the problems of abiogenesis in one fell swoop.

Yet again, with the shitty article names (0, Flamebait)

rezalas (1227518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27945675)

This is like saying "Scientists find a way of creating diamonds from carbon." Its easy to say you figured out how to do something when you get to guess what the materials really are in the first place. They don't really know what "primordial soup" would have been. They just said "hey, we can make RNA out of this random shit we figured would be laying around... using this expensive equipment and a method that requires accurate timing and purification and controls."

don't get me wrong, I'm willing to look at "random accident" as a method for the creation of life, but this article is bullshit. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go write an article showing that a copper mine with sand in it can evolve into a circuit board for a car stereo with a few simple steps and a bunch of human intervention...

If scientists are successful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27945715)

Will that prove abiogenesis or ID? ;-)

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