April 9, 2015 at 9:36 am #9383
The Selfish Ribosome theory argues that long before the onset of cellular life on Earth, ribosomes could have been simple replication robots. These non-living amalgamations of proteins and short genetic sequences would have been capable of making copies of their own features, and of the genes which encode those features. The protein machinery made new copies of genetic sequences, then used those new copies as blueprints to build another set of proteins just like itself.
But there’s a glaring hole in this plot: ribosomes themselves are made up of proteins. If ribosomes also make proteins, then what made the first ribosome? In a pre-biological, pre-evolutionary age, how could a ribosome have come to be so complex?
It’s possible that each of the individual functions of a self-replicating ribosome might have been formed formed spontaneously from simpler molecules on ancient Earth.
That idea does naturally lend itself to a bit of experimentation. If a ribosome really did begin evolving as a singular unit, long before the development of cellular life, then its internal genetic material would have to have contained all blueprints needed to replicate those genes and build its own proteins—and that could be a testable hypothesis!
I am reminded of Tim Conway’s “Game Of Life”, which is a computer program that applies simple rules over and over to data shown on the screen as points, or pixels.
The cool thing about this is the simple rules suggest a boring universe. By universe, in this case, I mean the results seen on the computer.
But, more complex things actually happen! Structures, appear, move, reproduce, eat one another, which is quite unexpected when just looking at the rules and the simplicity of the program.
You can run the game of life. Scribble some stuff on the screen and hit the evolve button.
One of the nagging questions about evolution is, “how did it all get started?”
Totally fair question too.
Maybe this line of inquiry will connect some of those dots for us.April 9, 2015 at 10:01 am #9385duxruleParticipant
Very interesting. That piece kind of goes along with NASA’s announcement that we’re not far away from finding ET.April 9, 2015 at 12:53 pm #9394Alfredo_TParticipant
I am a bit confused in that I had understood the definition of a living organism to be one that can reproduce on its own or with the assistance of an organism of the same species. Viruses are not considered living organisms because they must hijack the workings of a host cell in order to reproduce. However, the ribosomes are described as non-living, yet they are able to reproduce themselves.April 9, 2015 at 1:42 pm #9395
Yeah. I thought that too. Living might be a somewhat murky twrm, depending.April 9, 2015 at 10:27 pm #9424Chris_TaylorParticipant
Might be a game changer.April 10, 2015 at 10:39 am #9450Alfredo_TParticipant
Certainly, at the end of the day.April 10, 2015 at 11:22 am #9451jr_techParticipant
No, Totally !April 10, 2015 at 12:35 pm #9452
I’m itching to use no, totally in conversations
It threw me for a loop. Maybe next week.
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