Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This summer's fashion in origin of life theories is - diamonds!

Well, diamonds go with everything. And what would summer be without another brand new theory of the origin of life? So far, I have heard at least fifty (soup, stew, pizza, sulphur, clay ... ) - now diamonds.

Yes, the latest is that diamonds are a swirl's best friend, as Robert Roy Britt notes in "Diamonds May Have Jump-Started Life on Earth" (Fox News, July 28, 2008):

When primitive molecules landed on the surface of these hydrogenated diamonds in the atmosphere of early Earth, a few billion years ago, the resulting reaction may have been sufficient enough to generate more complex organic molecules that eventually gave rise to life, the researchers say.

[ ... ]

The new research does not conclusively determine how life began, but it lends support to one possible way.

Well, here are a few other possible ways, as per recent stories:

Could life on Earth be much older than supposed? (700 million years older?)

"Sci-fi writer reminds us that life from outer space is not life from Roswell" (= an extraterrestrial origin of life is a respectable hypothesis)

"Origin of life a perfect circularity" (Even the concept can be difficult to define.)

"Why the origin of life is such a difficult problem" (because the many theories are in fundamental conflict with each other)

"Origin of life: Tangled skein continues to tangle"

Oh, and let's not forget "Talking to origin of life scientists: Like giving a bobcat a prostate exam?"
It's nobody's fault. Origin of life probably isn't a solvable problem.

Remember, even if someone creates life in a lab, that does not prove life started that way - only that that way is possible. It is somewhat like the Crown prosecutor showing that the defendant "might have" committed the murder. That won't get the defendant convicted; it only means that the trial continues. (If the prosecutor cannot show that the defendant's guilt is at least possible, the trial must end.)