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Thread: Origin of life - a response

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    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    Origin of life - a response

    Brian Miller responds to Jeremy England:

    Source: Evolution News

    The main points of my argument can be summarized as follows:

    Natural processes tend to drive systems toward higher entropy, lower energy, or both. In direct conflict, the origin of life requires a collection of molecules to move toward dramatically lower entropy and higher energy.

    The only way to overcome the thermodynamic barriers is for an engine to be present at the very instantiation of life that can convert some available source of energy into a form that can fuel the construction and operations of a cell.

    Significant quantities of information must also be present both to steer a highly specific set of interconnected chemical reactions that comprise a minimally viable cell and to direct the generated energy toward powering the otherwise nonspontaneous reactions.
    ...
    In his response, England directly affirms the first and second points...

    Source

    © Copyright Original Source



    And Miller concludes:

    Source: Miller

    In life, the energy produced must be in the form of high-energy (energy-currency) molecules that could power the chemical reactions undergirding cellular operations. The challenge is that the energy requirement is enormous. As I explained in my article, the minimal power production capacity needed for a nascent cell just to prevent it from degrading into simple chemicals approaches, if scaled, that of a high-performance racing car.

    The most promising candidate for a “natural engine” is proton flows across thermal vents that theoretically could generate high-energy molecules. However, simulations of vents under ideal conditions only produce chemical energy at a rate that is at least eight orders of magnitude too small. And the actual product is formaldehyde in concentrations far too miniscule to contribute to any stage in the genesis of a cell. Such meager results simply highlight the fact that no natural mechanism could realistically generate the required energy to power even the earliest stages of any origin-of-life scenario.

    © Copyright Original Source



    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

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    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    Brian Miller responds to Jeremy England:

    [cite=Evolution News]The main points of my argument can be summarized as follows:

    Natural processes tend to drive systems toward higher entropy, lower energy, or both. In direct conflict, the origin of life requires a collection of molecules to move toward dramatically lower entropy and higher energy.
    This fails miserably right off with a ancient Newtonian view of entropy. The origin of life, evolution and the existence of life itself relies on the sun and the internal heat of the earth for energy. There is an abundant source of energy actually billions of years worth for abiogenesis, evolution and life without any concern for your lousy understanding of entropy. Without this abundant source of energy life would not exist.

    In fact it is the internal heat of the earth that is the source of energy for abiogenesis.

    By the way entropy does not remotely apply as a limitation, even when entropy is properly understood.

    The rest I may reply later, but I had to shot down this clay pigeon first.
    Last edited by shunyadragon; 05-16-2020 at 05:49 PM.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

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    tWebber TheLurch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    Brian Miller responds to Jeremy England...
    Who are either of these people and why should we care what they think?
    "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

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    Evolution is God's ID rogue06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLurch View Post
    Who are either of these people and why should we care what they think?
    Miller is a physicist who is the Research Coordinator for the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute.

    England is also a physicist and has proposed what he calls the dissipation-driven adaptation hypothesis of abiogenesis

    I'm always still in trouble again

    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
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    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Source: https://earthsky.org/space/mars-meteorite-alh-84001-1st-discovery-fixed-nitrogen



    A famous Mars meteorite, now with nitrogen
    Posted by Paul Scott Anderson in SPACE | May 15, 2020

    For the first time, nitrogen-containing organic molecules have been discovered in a Martian meteorite. The famous meteorite – Allan Hills 84001 – was picked up in Antarctica in 1984. The discovery provides more clues about habitable conditions on early Mars.

    For decades, scientists have been searching for evidence of organic compounds – the building blocks of life – on Mars. The Mars rover Curiosity first confirmed organics in Martian rocks a few years ago. Then, in late April 2020, more exciting news … researchers at the Earth-Life Science Institute in Japan said they have detected 4-billion-year-old nitrogen-containing organic molecules in a famous Martian meteorite, a rock ejected from Mars, likely via an impact event, which traversed interplanetary space and ultimately landed on Earth. The meteorite is none other than Allan Hills 84001 (ALH 84001), a famous Mars meteorite picked up in the snow fields of Antarctica in 1984. This new work – and the discovery of nitrogen in this meteorite – may be a key to understanding how organics originated on Mars and whether any of them might be life-related.

    The new peer-reviewed findings were published in Nature Communications on April 24, 2020.

    The research team, including scientist Atsuko Kobayashi from the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at Tokyo Institute of Technology and research scientist Mizuho Koike from the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science at Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), found nitrogen-bearing organic material within carbonate minerals inside the meteorite. The organics are estimated to be 4 billion years old. From the paper:

    Understanding the origin of organic material on Mars is a major issue in modern planetary science. Recent robotic exploration of Martian sedimentary rocks and laboratory analyses of Martian meteorites have both reported plausible indigenous organic components. However, little is known about their origin, evolution, and preservation. Here we report that 4-billion-year-old (Ga) carbonates in Martian meteorite, Allan Hills 84001, preserve indigenous nitrogen(N)-bearing organics by developing a new technique for high-spatial resolution in situ N-chemical speciation. The organic materials were synthesized locally and/ or delivered meteoritically on Mars during the Noachian age. The carbonates, alteration minerals from the Martian near-surface aqueous fluid, trapped and kept the organic materials intact over long geological times. This presence of N-bearing compounds requires abiotic or possibly biotic N-fixation and ammonia storage, suggesting that early Mars had a less oxidizing environment than today.

    Two images: rough, chunky dark rock on left and lighter-colored rocky texture on right.
    A fragment of the Martian meteorite ALH 84001 (left). Enlarged area showing the orange-colored carbonate grains (right). Image via Koike et al. (2020)/ Nature Communications/ ELSI.

    Small square photo of rock and two large graphs with many wavy lines and blue bars.
    Analysis of carbonates in Martian meteorite ALH 84001, which contain the nitrogen-bearing organics (blue bars). Image via Koike et al. (2020)/ Nature Communications/ ELSI.

    Colored illustrations of rock, ocean and volcano, with text annotations.
    Possible abiotic ways that nitrogen-containing organics could be created on ancient Mars. Image via Koike et al. (2020)/ Nature Communications/ ELSI.


    The carbonate minerals themselves are significant, since they typically precipitate from groundwater on Earth. This adds even more evidence, along with all of the data from various Mars rovers and orbiters, that Mars was once much wetter than it is now, with plentiful organics. Such an environment could have been ideal for life to get a start on the planet.

    The researchers used state-of-the-art analytical techniques to determine the nitrogen content inside the carbonates.

    So why is the nitrogen important?

    First, the team found that the amount of nitrogen in the form of nitrate was insignificant, meaning that early Mars had a much less oxidizing environment than it does today. (Oxidizing is when a substance combines chemically with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. A good example is iron or steel metal rusting in the presence of oxygen and water.) That’s good news for the possible emergence of life, since nitrate is a very strong oxidant. Also, as noted in the paper, these nitrogen-bearing compounds require either abiotic (non-biological) or biotic (biological) fixation. The paper discusses various possible abiotic sources, but unfortunately not the biotic ones.

    Mechanical rover sitting on red terrain with inset graphic of a molecule in thought bubble shape.
    The Curiosity rover has also found organics in Martian rocks. Image via NASA/ Mars Exploration Program.

    While the findings show even more evidence for organics on early Mars, scientists still don’t known exactly how those organics were created. They could be either abiotic, biotic, or both. Meteorites and comets are thought to have delivered at least some of them to the surface of ancient Mars, but other organics are thought to have formed directly on the planet itself.

    The researchers also had to make sure that the organics were truly Martian and not terrestrial contamination. To do this, they used silver tape in an ELSI clean lab to pluck off the tiny carbonate grains, which are about the width of a human hair, from the host meteorite. The grains were then prepared to further remove any possible surface contaminants with a scanning electron microscope-focused ion beam instrument at JAXA. In addition, they used a technique called Nitrogen K-edge micro X-ray Absorption Near Edge Structure (µ-XANES) spectroscopy, which allowed them to detect nitrogen present in very small amounts and to determine what chemical form that nitrogen was in. As a comparison, control samples from nearby igneous minerals in the meteorites showed no detectable nitrogen, indicating that the organic molecules were only in the carbonate.

    Surface conditions on current Mars are extremely hostile to the preservation of organics, but as this study, and ones based on findings from Curiosity, have shown, organics can still be preserved quite well inside rocks. There also might be plenty of organic compounds in the near-surface of Mars, still waiting to be found. The organics found by Curiosity are in mudstones – composed of clay and silt-sized particles of ancient mud – that used to be at the bottom of lakes in Gale Crater. Future missions, such as the upcoming Perseverance rover, will be able to further determine the abundance of organics still on Mars now.

    Smiling woman with trees in background.
    Atsuko Kobayashi at ELSI, one of the researchers involved in the new study. Image via ELSI.

    From the paper:

    Whatever the origin, the presence of the organic and reduced nitrogen on early/ middle Noachian Mars indicates the importance of Martian nitrogen cycle. If considerable amounts and variations of organic matter were produced and/or delivered and preserved at the Martian near-surface system over geological time scales, these compounds have a chance to evolve into more complicated forms. It is expected that additional hidden records of the Martian nitrogen cycle will be acquired by future investigations, including a sample return mission from the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX), Mars Sample Return missions, and exploration of the Martian subsurface, as well as further advanced studies of Martian meteorites.

    The discovery of nitrogen in some Martian organics is another significant step toward understanding how organic compounds formed on ancient Mars, how abundant they might be and whether any of them could be evidence of life itself.

    Bottom line: Researchers have discovered 4-billion-year-old nitrogen-containing organic molecules in Martian meteorites.

    Source: In-situ preservation of nitrogen-bearing organics in Noachian Martian carbonates.

    © Copyright Original Source

    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

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    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Where does the energy come from for the chemical reactions that lead to the basic organic chemicals of life in abiogenesis?

    Volcanism from the internal heat of the earth.

    Source: https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-stumbled-upon-a-possible-missing-link-that-explains-the-origins-of-life



    Scientists Think They Found Missing Evidence That Explains How Life Started on Earth

    As they indicate in their study, considerable research in the past has been dedicated to finding out how peptides first formed and allowed for the emergence of life. However, all previous research has focused on amino acids, rather than the reactivity of their chemical precursors (known as aminonitriles).

    Whereas aminonitriles require harsh conditions to form amino acids (typically strongly acidic or alkaline), amino acids need to be recharged with energy to form peptides. However, the researchers found a way to bypass both of these steps by demonstrating that peptides could be made directly from energy-rich aminonitriles.

    Their method took advantage of the built-in reactivity of aminonitriles with the other molecules that were a part of Earth's primordial environment. The process consisted of combining hydrogen sulfide with aminonitriles and the chemical substrate ferricyanide ([Fe(CN)6]3?) in water, which yielded peptides.

    What this demonstrated was that aminonitriles are capable of achieving peptide bond formation in water all on their own, and with greater ease than amino acids.

    In addition, it showed that this could take place amid conditions and chemicals that are outgassed during volcanic eruptions and which were likely present on Earth billions of years ago. Said Pierre Canavelli, the first author of the study:

    "Controlled synthesis, in response to environmental or internal stimuli, is an essential element of metabolic regulation, so we think that peptide synthesis could have been part of a natural cycle that took place in the very early evolution of life."

    "This is the first time that peptides have been convincingly shown to form without using amino acids in water, using relatively gentle conditions likely to be available on the primitive Earth," added co-author Dr Saidul Islam.

    These findings could have significant implications for the study of abiogenesis, as well as the search for life on extrasolar planets. They may also be useful to the field of synthetic chemistry since amide bond formation is essential to the manufacture of synthetic materials, bioactive.

    Compared to conventional chemical processes that are used commercially, this new method is more efficient and much more cost-effective.

    Looking ahead, the research team is looking to further their studies by finding other ways in which aminonitriles can lead to peptides. They are also currently investigating the functional properties of peptides that their experiment produced in the hopes of better understanding how they could have helped trigger the formation of life on Earth ca. 4 billion years ago.

    After many generations of trying (and failing) to recreate the building blocks of life, could it be that scientists have simply been going about it backwards? And does this mean that organic technology could be right around the corner?

    Only time will tell…

    This article was originally published by Universe Today.

    © Copyright Original Source

    Last edited by shunyadragon; 05-17-2020 at 05:32 AM.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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    tWebber TheLurch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogue06 View Post
    Miller is a physicist who is the Research Coordinator for the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute.

    England is also a physicist and has proposed what he calls the dissipation-driven adaptation hypothesis of abiogenesis
    The only thing worse than a physicist trying to talk about the biology is two physicists talking about biology. Perhaps the only thing worse than that is when one of them also has an engineering background.

    You can see the problem just in these excerpts. While actual researchers in the field are thinking in terms of "what molecules would have been present on the early earth?", these guys head straight to spherical-cow-level abstractions and start talking about the entire process as if there were no intermediate steps.
    "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

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    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLurch View Post
    The only thing worse than a physicist trying to talk about the biology is two physicists talking about biology. Perhaps the only thing worse than that is when one of them also has an engineering background.

    You can see the problem just in these excerpts. While actual researchers in the field are thinking in terms of "what molecules would have been present on the early earth?", these guys head straight to spherical-cow-level abstractions and start talking about the entire process as if there were no intermediate steps.
    . . . and one has an over riding religious agenda that determines his view over science,
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shunyadragon View Post
    In fact it is the internal heat of the earth that is the source of energy for abiogenesis.
    I must repeat:

    Source: Miller

    The most promising candidate for a “natural engine” is proton flows across thermal vents that theoretically could generate high-energy molecules. However, simulations of vents under ideal conditions only produce chemical energy at a rate that is at least eight orders of magnitude too small. And the actual product is formaldehyde in concentrations far too miniscule to contribute to any stage in the genesis of a cell. Such meager results simply highlight the fact that no natural mechanism could realistically generate the required energy to power even the earliest stages of any origin-of-life scenario.

    © Copyright Original Source


    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

  10. #10
    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    I must repeat:

    [cite=Miller]The most promising candidate for a “natural engine” is proton flows across thermal vents that theoretically could generate high-energy molecules. However, simulations of vents under ideal conditions only produce chemical energy at a rate that is at least eight orders of magnitude too small. And the actual product is formaldehyde in concentrations far too miniscule to contribute to any stage in the genesis of a cell. Such meager results simply highlight the fact that no natural mechanism could realistically generate the required energy to power even the earliest stages of any origin-of-life scenario.
    Whose simulations? No scientific references. I reject this assertion based on the lack of references. I cite references, and will cite more, that clearly refute this. The energy available is over a 'billion race cars.'

    Still waiting . . .
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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