[ExI] Chemical Origins of Life (was Re: Panbiogenesis)

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Fri Feb 3 22:03:16 UTC 2012


On Fri, Feb 3, 2012 at 4:43 AM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:
> Chemists Synthesize Artificial Cell Membrane
> ScienceDaily (Jan. 25, 2012)
>
> <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120125132822.htm>
>
> Chemists have taken an important step in making artificial life forms
> from scratch. Using a novel chemical reaction, they have created
> self-assembling cell membranes, the structural envelopes that contain
> and support the reactions required for life.
> ------
> The real value of this discovery might reside in its simplicity. From
> commercially available precursors, the scientists needed just one
> preparatory step to create each starting lipid chain.

Hi Bill, this is fun stuff. According to Hazen, David Deamer and
Richard Pashley found lipids in the Murchison meteorite (which fell in
Australia 1969), and when they isolated it, it naturally formed two
layered spheres in water, just like cell membranes. This was
apparently in 1988. While I'm sure this new work adds something to
that of Deamer and Pashley, we have apparently known that cell
membrane type spherical structures form spontaneously from lipids when
there is just the right amount of agitation (not too much, not too
little) of lipid containing water. When you see that a lipid is
hydrophobic on one end and Hydrophilic on the other end, and that they
tend to clump side to side, it's really easy to see how this
spontaneous sphere construction happens.

Anyway, the headline grabbing news of spontaneous cell wall generation
is apparently decades old... From the article you sent, I couldn't
quite make out what was new here, though I'm sure there is something.

So while the entire cell might not have come from outer space, it is
possible that the Lipids did. Along with the water, of course, and
possibly a lot of amino acids as well. In the final analysis,
everything came from space of course, but the fascinating part is how
much of it came pre-assembed from space.

Of course, if a whole cell is found inside of a meteor found on the
surface of the moon, for example, then panbiogenesis will have a big
boost. But all meteors get infected with life as soon as they hit the
ground here. The nice thing about the Murchison was that it was
recovered quickly enough to avoid too much contamination with organics
from earth.

-Kelly


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list