Leslie Orgel

Prebiotic Chemistry and the Origin of the RNA World

Crit. 1 Rev. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: 39, 2004, p99-123.

"The problem of the origin of life is the problem of the origin of the RNA World, and that everything that followed is in the domain of natural selection."

The RNA World

With Joyce: Gesteland, Cech, Atkins, Cold Spring Harbor, "Prospects for Understanding the Origins of the RNA World", 1999

"In our initial discussion of the RNA World we will accept The Molecular Biologist's Dream: 'Once upon a time there was a prebiotic pool of Beta-D-nucleotides ...' We will now consider what would have to happen to make the dream come true. This discussion triggers the Prebiotic Chemist's nightmare: how to make any kind of self replication system from the intractable mixtures that are formed in the experiments designed to simulate the chemistry of the primitive earth." p50

"After dreaming of self-replicating ribozymes emerging from pools of random polynucleotides, and having nightmares about the difficulties that must have been overcome for RNA replication to occur in a realistic prebiotic soup, we awaken to the cold light of day ... It must be said that the details of this process remain obscure and are not likely to be known in the near future." p72-73

"Scientists interested in the origins of life seem to be divided neatly into two classes. The first, usually but not always molecular biologists, believe that RNA must have been the first replicating molecule and that chemists are exaggerating the difficulties of nucleotide synthesis .... The second group of scientists are much more pessimistic. They believe that the de nova appearance of oligonucleotides on the primitive earth would have been a near miracle. The authors subscribe to this latter view. Time will tell which is correct."

Windows of Creation
Evidence from nature Is the universe designed?
Reasonable faith
  Reasonable Faith Go Back