|Library synthesis and the mechanism of self-replication.|
For description, see original source.
The last three years have been dreadful for those who run the creationism industry, but this could be some of the worst news imaginable for them and their willing dupes, and it was only 4 days into the new year when it was published. Scientists led by Jan W. Sadownik at the Centre for Systems Chemistry, Stratingh Institute for Chemistry at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, believe they may have shown how self-replicating structures could have arisen spontaneously.
This is bound to result in hysterical denialism in creationist circles because it is an indispensable article of faith that life could not possibly have come from non-life so a magician must have made it happen. To a creationist, 'life' is of course some ill-defined or undefined magic ingredient that sets living things apart from non-living things and enables them to do things that living things don't do, such as reproducing. To anyone who understands basic biology however, living things are simply things that self-replicate. All the chemistry which goes on to use energy to resist the tendency to disorder is simply a means to that end.
Once a self-replicating molecule arose, imperfect replication, and the natural selection that came from competition for resources, would have ensured those variants that left most copies in that environment became the dominant form. From these small beginnings, the evolution and diversification into the different life forms would have been inevitable.
Using self-replicating peptides - small amino-acid chains - that naturally form rings and catalyse formation of copies of themselves, the team found that when two different building blocks ("food") were available, the population diversified into two different forms, each exploiting one resource, so occupying the two different niches available.
How new species emerge in nature is still incompletely understood and difficult to study directly. Self-replicating molecules provide a simple model that allows us to capture the fundamental processes that occur in species formation. We have been able to monitor in real time and at a molecular level the diversification of self-replicating molecules into two distinct sets that compete for two different building blocks (‘food’) and so capture an important aspect of the process by which species may arise. The results show that the second replicator set is a descendant of the first and that both sets are kinetic products that oppose the thermodynamic preference of the system. The sets occupy related but complementary food niches. As diversification into sets takes place on the timescale of weeks and can be investigated at the molecular level, this work opens up new opportunities for experimentally investigating the process through which species arise both in real time and with enhanced detail.
Jan W. Sadownik, Elio Mattia, Piotr Nowak & Sijbren Otto
Diversification of self-replicating molecules
Nature Chemistry (2016) doi:10.1038/nchem.2419
Copyright © 2016 Nature Publishing Group. Reprinted with permission under licence #3783790596077
So, two species of replicator in just a few weeks following self-assembly of a self-replicating molecule.
Bad news though this is for for creation industry, the major problem for them is that they have written so much confident but ill-informed nonsense about how all this is quite impossible. In doing so, they have stupidly painted themselves into a corner because that claim is refuted entirely simply by showing that it is indeed possible. It isn't necessary for people working on abiogenesis to show the exact mechanism by which a self-replicating molecule arose; it is only necessary to show that it is possible.
This paper appears to show that it is just that. Can we expect one of the various creationist organisations to withdraw their claim and admit defeat? Of course not. The money is far too good to allow truth to spoil things.
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