27 October, 2009

The Cradle of Life - New Scientist is at the vents again...

Hydrothermal vents again - why are scientists convinced that life started off extremophile?

The Cradle of Life?
(Comments on the recent New Scientist article)

1. “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”, but you also need the Funding!
An article entitled The Cradle of Life in New Scientist (2730) is an interesting contribution to this discussion, but in a rather surprising way. Throughout the piece the author, Nick Lane, of University College, London brings forward the works of Peter Mitchell, along with those of Mike Russell, of NASA, to explain the Origin of Life! But, he repeatedly uses the verb “to evolve”, which is a surprising choice for the transition from inanimate Matter to Living Things, and you might think that these contributors are finally moving towards an Emergentist position.But, that turns out NOT to be the case! The use of “evolve” is well within the generally agreed use because the contributions detailed in the article do not actually address the Origin of Life. The title The Cradle of Life gives it away, because what is presented here are the earliest developments inLife after its Origin. Surely, a site for the actual Origin would be called something like the “Crucible of Life”. A Cradle is aprotective environment for a Life already born!

Now, I have been arguing for many years against that School of explanation on the Origin of Life, which looks solely to pre-existing processes within the preceding non-Life Level, and I argue against their whole approach and “revealed causes”, because they do NOT explain the actual Origin at all. Even the contributions of Miller and Oparin were NOT the causes of the Origin but merely pre-requisites for when the real and appropriate causes did finally appear.

Here we encounter a similar approach, but this time working downwards from within the Life Level, and burrowing as deep as possible towards the actual Event of Life’s Emergence. But, in both these approaches there is a basic assumption which prevents them ever unearthing the actual causes.They assume the usual banker of Reductionism - that continuous links which connect each and every phenomenon with its causes, are appropriate right through this revolutionary transition also...

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