Can we create life from scratch?

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  • #76
Simon Bridge
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Naturally I would not want anything I wrote to be construed to mean anything else.

i.e. re: http://paleobiology.si.edu/geotime/main/htmlversion/archean3.html
... which suggests life is likely everywhere or that places like the Earth are particularly favored flukes.

The trouble comes from arguments that evolution and known Laws of Nature make Life unlikely - and yet life happened on Earth as soon as Earth could support it. If you spend a lot of time around evolutionists you get sick of it.

Thing is - we need not assume life is likely to get life somewhere.
 
  • #77
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To extrapolate from a sample size of one shows poor judgement.
 
  • #78
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It is obvious that quantum mechanics is valid in the brain (otherwise chemistry would not work)
I just want to mention a fundamental misunderstanding here, I am not talking about quantum phenomenon which is present in every atom of the universe, but I am talking about quantum techniques used by some living organisms, like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jepgOQEvWT0


and used also in photosynthesis.
 
  • #79
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It is obvious that quantum mechanics is valid in the brain (otherwise chemistry would not work)
I just want to mention a fundamental misunderstanding here, I am not talking about quantum phenomenon which is present in every atom of the universe, but I am talking about quantum techniques used by some living organisms, like this:
You quoted that part completely out of its context.
It is obvious that quantum mechanics is valid in the brain (otherwise chemistry would not work), but you would have to prove that it is relevant for the way the brain works.
 
  • #80
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I don't even see how the theory would gain support by those vibrations. It is obvious that quantum mechanics is valid in the brain (otherwise chemistry would not work), but you would have to prove that it is relevant for the way the brain works. And even if that is done, I don't see a special relation to consciousness. There are many things that influence how the brain works, why would you pick one of them and see something special about it?
You quoted that part completely out of its context.
First, I quoted the part where you misunderstood the problem. Second, as I explained before, I am not even a supporter of this theory, it is a theory that predicted the quantum vibrations of microtubules which got harshly criticized from its inception, as the brain was considered too "warm, wet, and noisy" for seemingly delicate quantum processes. But it turns out that the theory was right about those quantum vibrations, if you want to know how this theory explains how the brain works, you just have to read it. I didn't even read it, I am not even interested by this theory of consciousness. I am only interested with the discovery of such vibrations in the brain which are not obvious, contrarily to what you said.
 
  • #81
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How does quantum mechanics have anything to do with biology that happens on a much larger scale (whole cell-tissue-organ-whole organism)? This is reductionism at its finest....when there have been many examples of where and how reductionism in biology has led to failure after failure (just look at the drug industry that tries to reduce problems down to simple canonical signaling pathways to identify targets for hitting with new drugs which has led to ever declining success ). QM and molecular dynamical simulations can barely model ligand-receptor binding, yet we're now trying to explain something as complex as the brain (let alone a single cell) through QM? This makes no sense. Biology is a whole different beast, and one does not need to understand every single molecular underpinning at a quantum level (which is practically impossible for the human mind to do anyway) to be able to do or understand biology.
 
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  • #82
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How does quantum mechanics have anything to do with biology that happens on a much larger scale (whole cell-tissue-organ-whole organism)? This is reductionism at its finest....when there have been countless examples of where and how reductionism in biology has led to failure after failure (just look at the drug industry that tries to reduce problems down to simple canonical signaling pathways to identify targets for hitting with new drugs which has led to ever declining success ). QM and molecular dynamical simulations can barely model ligand-receptor binding, yet we're now trying to explain something as complex as the brain (let alone a single cell) through QM? This makes no sense. Biology is a whole different beast, and one does not need to understand every single molecular underpinning at a quantum level (which is practically impossible for the human mind to do anyway) to be able to do or understand biology.
I think you should update your knowledge, there's even a field called Quantum Biology. I gave a couple of discoveries about that on my other comments.
 
  • #83
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First, I quoted the part where you misunderstood the problem.
No. You quoted some part which is
(a) true
(b) completely irrelevant without the second part.

And then you assumed I would have misunderstood something, which I did not.
I am only interested with the discovery of such vibrations in the brain which are not obvious, contrarily to what you said.
I did not say (or mean, or think) this.
 
  • #84
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No. You quoted some part which is
(a) true
(b) completely irrelevant without the second part.

And then you assumed I would have misunderstood something, which I did not.
I did not say (or mean, or think) this.
Then I am sorry if you see that I misunderstood you, even if I kept reading your comment lot of times to make sure I get your point.
 
  • #85
Simon Bridge
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I suspect you meant something more like:
I [don't want anyone to think I am] talking about quantum phenomenon which is present in every atom of the universe, but I [want to fucus on] about quantum techniques used by some living organisms,...
By which you mean something like :
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/01/quantum-birds/
i.e. How quantum entanglement is postulated as playing an important role in the European Robin's navigation system.

When you see something like this in the pop-science, have a go looking at the literature: eg. http://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.040503
... the clames are often not as sensational as the pop-science shows would make out.

More accessible (New Scientist), but slightly more sensational:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0262407911601280

The role of QM in life on such a scale seems to be off-topic for this thread. I suspect that such approaches would end up in whatever organism ends up being artificially created shout that be possible. See subject line though.

Perhaps your interest in this topic is best pursued in another thread?
There you would be able to start out clean, being able to make careful statements about what it is exactly you want to talk about.
 
  • #86
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Hasn't this already been done, by some lab in Australia? From what I recall, they selected various strands of DNA, assembled them, and had a new life form. I don't remember which lab it was, sorry.
 
  • #87
Simon Bridge
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Hasn't this already been done, by some lab in Australia? From what I recall, they selected various strands of DNA, assembled them, and had a new life form. I don't remember which lab it was, sorry.
You may be thinking of
http://genetics.thetech.org/original_news/news75
(2008)

... but it was not "life from scratch" - they reproduced a bacterium genome by a process being described as "from scratch" but I don't think that's what post #1 means somehow.

There's also projects like:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.201105068/abstract
... inorganic chemical "cells" intended to, eventually, imitate organic biology.
Also see: http://www.gizmag.com/bringing-life-to-inoganic-matter/19855/

Australia gets mentoned a lot in connection with the introduction of new species because of the disasterous introduction of rabbits there. NZ has similar problems with Opossums, rabbits, rats,... mind you, introducing humans has been no picnic for the native wildlife either.
 
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  • #88
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The role of QM in life on such a scale seems to be off-topic for this thread. I suspect that such approaches would end up in whatever organism ends up being artificially created shout that be possible. See subject line though.

Perhaps your interest in this topic is best pursued in another thread?
There you would be able to start out clean, being able to make careful statements about what it is exactly you want to talk about.
I think I just mentioned the need of mastering at least quantum physics in order to be able to "create life from scratch", and I gave examples of organisms using quantum tricks. I don't see how this is off-topic. But you are right, the field of quantum biology needs its own topic. I am thinking about creating it one.
 
  • #89
Evo
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I think I just mentioned the need of mastering at least quantum physics in order to be able to "create life from scratch", and I gave examples of organisms using quantum tricks. I don't see how this is off-topic. But you are right, the field of quantum biology needs its own topic. I am thinking about creating it one.
Just remember that if you start a new thread, you need to first provide the peer reviewed research in an accepted journal, otherwise it will be deleted.

Notice how Simon, Ygggdrasil and other Science Advisors and Homework Helpers always link to proper sources, learn from them. :smile:
 
  • #90
Simon Bridge
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Well, assertions should be backed by such citations - but questions are just questions.

There are some intreguing effects that we resort to details of modern physics to explain:
like: how it is that L-protiens and D-sugars are what life uses. Stuff like that.
... may provide a place to start.

This is nitty-gritty stuff, looking for a reference found:
http://www.righthandlefthand.com/html/notes6.htm
(citations within and bibliography below)

But we can synthesize these things for use in our artificial life form without knowing why it is a good idea to do so. We may not need to use QM to make life, we need only that Nature knows how to use QM.
 
  • #91
Probably many many times 3.5-4.5 billion years ago.... and wait for a long long time ;)
Do we have any reason to believe abiogenesis ever ceased and that is not happening even today?
 
  • #92
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All known species use the same genetic code to translate DNA/RNA to amino acids (sometimes with tiny modifications). If there would have been completely independent evolutions, we would see many different ways.
Life needed a long time to get as competitive as today. I doubt new life would have any chance to survive against current life - it just lacks billions of years of evolution.
 
  • #93
All known species use the same genetic code to translate DNA/RNA to amino acids (sometimes with tiny modifications). If there would have been completely independent evolutions, we would see many different ways.
Life needed a long time to get as competitive as today. I doubt new life would have any chance to survive against current life - it just lacks billions of years of evolution.
I would expect abiohenesis of today would be based on the same principles, guided and limited by the same or similar external factors, so I don't think it would be able to produce anything fundamentally different, on this planet.

Simple self-replicating molecules could have an advantage of being more robust and existing in large quantities. I'm not suggesting it would be possible for flying snake to evolve in today's and the world of tomorrow, but perhaps a new virus, very much similar to those that already exist, yet not quite the same. Of course it would be hard or impossible to tell whether this virus is just a mutation or indeed evolved from something simpler than itself.
 
  • #94
Ryan_m_b
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Do we have any reason to believe abiogenesis ever ceased and that is not happening even today?
It's unlikely abiogenesis is still ongoing because extant organisms are likely to fill any niche where it could occur.
 
  • #95
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Do we have any reason to believe abiogenesis ever ceased and that is not happening even today?
The theory is that if some new kind of life sprang up it would be VERY poor at competing for resources and in fending off the more advanced microbes that would see it as food.

Also, before there was life on Earth, the Earth was a different place. There was no O2 in the atmosphere and so on. The lifeless Earth was a better place for life to develop but now the air is reactive (with O2) and the nutrient-soup is gone.

Life might have arisen many times only to fail until finally life RNA based on four bases happened and then we had RNA based life for a billion years before DNA came along. The first life to survive and multiply "wins" and would prevent anything else from following. It changes the environment so radically while at the same time adapting to the changes, nothing else can follow it
 
  • #96
I agree. However, if something like those self-replicating polymers and fatty acids from Szostak's experiments can occur naturally in large numbers and in an environment sparse or devoid from things that would consume them. Then they could perhaps merge just due to sheer luck and consequently divide like in the experiment.

And then, maybe, just maybe, some of them would turn into something a little bit more robust, something a little bit more likely to merge and divide, and so on... Perhaps at some point external factors would not allow for any further grow in complexity, but it's just a matter of our semantic definition whether we are willing to call those things "alive".
 

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