Monday, May 18, 2009

This Will Get The Creationists Going...

One of the often repeated saws out of creationists is that science has never successfully produced life in a laboratory experiment.

There is a certain amount of reasonableness to that argument. Although science in general has a pretty good idea of how life got started on this world, those ideas have been largely unprovable, since the most that scientists have seemingly been able to do is form some of the basic proteins that are part of RNA.

But then again, unlike scripture, science isn't standing still for anybody. Sure enough, someone has put aside the "you can't do that" rulebook, and done some very interesting experiments that we should take note of.

However, though researchers have been able to show how RNA’s component molecules, called ribonucleotides, could assemble into RNA, their many attempts to synthesize these ribonucleotides have failed. No matter how they combined the ingredients — a sugar, a phosphate, and one of four different nitrogenous molecules, or nucleobases — ribonucleotides just wouldn’t form.

Sutherland’s team took a different approach in what Harvard molecular biologist Jack Szostak called a “synthetic tour de force” in an accompanying commentary in Nature.

“By changing the way we mix the ingredients together, we managed to make ribonucleotides,” said Sutherland. “The chemistry works very effectively from simple precursors, and the conditions required are not distinct from what one might imagine took place on the early Earth.”

Is this life created in a lab? No. But it has established one more piece of the picture, and as you add pieces to the picture, the number of unknowns drops off, until you are left with a fairly coherent sense of the possibilities.

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