Origin of life scenarios: between fantastic luck and marvelous fine-tuning

09/03/2012


Tommaso Bellini
tommaso.bellini@unimi.it

Department of Biochemistry, University of Milan, 20090 Segrate (MI), Italy

Marco Buscaglia
Marco.Buscaglia@unimi.it

Department of Biochemistry, University of Milan, 20090 Segrate (MI), Italy

Andrea Soranno
andrea.soranno@gmail.com

Department of Biochemistry, University of Milan, 20090 Segrate (MI), Italy

Giuliano Zanchetta
giuliano.zanchetta@unimi.it

Department of Biochemistry, University of Milan, 20090 Segrate (MI), Italy


 

Euresis Journal, Volume 2 (2012)  pages 113-139

The unequivocal sign of creativity in science is the emergence of previously unrecognized links between facts, concepts, strategies and goals. Observations and speculations become real discoveries as they partake in a network of conceptual implications, thus becoming significant to knowledge. The anticipation of acquiring new beneficial knowledge has always motivated the work of scientists and spurred unconventional thinking, often leading to scientific discoveries that have affected our perception of reality, nature and life. The desire of new revolutionary, paradigm-breaking understanding pushes science toward topics relevant for our metaphysical or even religious perspective on reality: the boundaries of the cosmos, consciousness, the constituents of matter, the destiny of the universe and so on. In this article we offer a short description of the state of the art in the origin of life research and describe examples of creative thinking in this field. We will also discuss the far reaching implications of the direction underlying the most recent research efforts and visions. The occasion for this discussion is given by the recent finding involving the authors, of a new mechanism of molecular self-association: namely, the self-assembly of extremely short fragments of DNA or RNA into large scale ordered structures which could help explaining the prebiotic formation of polymers.