Mystery about origin of life solved?
(Top Posts - Science - 022009)

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February 20, 2009

The Times of India  
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TORONTO: Canadian scientists claim to have
solved a major mystery about the origins of life
on earth. The claims come at a time when the
world is celebrating the bicentennial anniversary
of the Father of Evolution, Charles Darwin.

Two Montreal University scientists have pro-
posed a new theory to show how a universal
molecular machine, called ribosome, self-assem-
bled or self-organized itself to become a critical
step in generating all life on earth.

"While the ribosome is a complex structure, it
features a clear hierarchy that emerged based on
basic chemical principles'' ... He said his theory
explains what people imagine as "unseen forces
at work when such complex structures emerge
in nature.''

The Canadian scientist said the ribosome is an
enormous molecule responsible for translating
the messages (carried in the genetic code of all
organisms) into proteins that carry out all func-
tions, including replicating the genome itself.

Compared to biological molecules, he said, ribo-
somes are immense and very complex.

"Though visible only through lenses of the most
powerful microscopes, comparing most other
biological molecules to this behemoth (ribosome)
is like comparing a tricycle to a jumbo jet,'' said
Steinberg. He said he spent years pondering how
a complex ribosome could have assembled itself
from smaller building blocks that existed on the
early earth.

His work, he said, led to the discovery that the
ribosome must have assembled itself from basic
building blocks "in a very specific order; other-
wise it would have fallen apart. Though chemists
have observed examples of self-organizing behav-
ior in simple molecules, there has been no such
explanation about the complex self-assembly of
ribosomes to this date," he said.

"Thanks to the research ... scientists now have
a glimpse of one key event that emerged spon-
taneously out of the primordial chemical soup
of the early earth.'' ...  

"Perhaps in the near future we may look forward
to more discoveries that will take us beyond the
world of Darwin into an understanding of the
basic chemical principles that drove the emer-
gence of life on our planet and perhaps beyond.''

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Origin of Life On Earth: Scientists Unlock
Mystery of Molecular Machine
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