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Earth Science

Transition Metal Catalysts Could Be Key To Origin of Life 145

An anonymous reader writes "One of the big, unsolved problems in explaining how life arose on Earth is a chicken-and-egg paradox: How could the basic biochemicals — such as amino acids and nucleotides — have arisen before the biological catalysts (proteins or ribozymes) existed to carry out their formation? In a paper appearing in the current issue of The Biological Bulletin, scientists propose that a third type of catalyst could have jumpstarted metabolism and life itself, deep in hydrothermal ocean vents."
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Transition Metal Catalysts Could Be Key To Origin of Life

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  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @08:22PM (#33484638)

    But materialists have just as much of an agenda as the creationists, which is why we're subjected to this crap about life emerging from a chemical soup.

    If by "materialists" you mean "scientists", then your claim is true.

    But the two agendas are very different: scientists are trying to figure out what has happened and how stuff works, and creationists are trying to defend an ancient tradition about what has happened and how stuff works.

    As for the L-Field... are you suggesting that electromagnetism has a non-material cause?

  • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @11:52PM (#33485732)
    Uhm, "God" does not exist. In fact, there's no widely accepted definition of the term that's free of contradictions. It's just a word that's a placeholder for broken thinking.
  • by Chrononium ( 925164 ) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @11:53PM (#33485744)

    The philosophy of science, like any philosophy, impacts how a person understands the subject. You can go really wrong if you try to supplant the philosophy with another (e.g. Creationism), but it is important to understand why science has worked so well. It isn't that science necessarily rejects anything metaphysical (such as causality, at least up to quantum physics), but simply minimizes the metaphysical requirements of any theory, since science is supposed to be experimentally verifiable. This is a good way to work, since no reasonable arguments can arise without some way to resolve them ultimately. It is important, however, to distinguish between the evidence and the interpretation of that evidence (theory!). The evidence never, ever, ever explains itself, since that requires some metaphysical interpolation (e.g., invoking objective reality, objective truth, integrity of the senses, perhaps causality, etc.).

    I agree with most of your comments, except that philosophy does not equal history and science is more than a black box model. Indeed, a great temptation in science, especially the venerable physics, is to consider it simply as mathematical modeling. I have found throughout my doctorate the most useful theories are the ones which attempt to give a non-mathematical description of how the universe works in some particular way. In my field, numerical simulations are entirely possible for some complex situations, but one cannot be considered an expert if one simply presses a button to execute a mathematical model. In my opinion (as an engineer), the real test of a scientific theory is whether it can be used for a realistic engineering application. The typical engineering application requires one to assume a vast amount about the problem at hand and therefore becomes a tedious, uninspired exercise if only mathematical models are used to engineer the device. Whether we are ultimately describing epicycles or true orbits can make a really big difference in the difficulty and expense of the engineered device (imagine designing a satellite to keep up with the motions of the planets if they really moved in epicycles!). The closer we are to completely explaining a physical event means that we have a closer mental model of reality, which is the real pursuit of science.

    That said, I am unfamiliar with any necessary interpretations which quantum mechanics places on the student that forces a particular metaphysical result on the question of the existence of God. References?

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian