The function of rocks as containers, and as scaffolding is very easy to grasp. As the concept of protective and supportive structures is something which is very much a part of everyday life, this line of argument is very understandable. The fragile, unstable, simple carbon molecules are sheltered from the extreme conditions of the primitive earth by the tiny compartments in the mineral structure. The rocks serve as support structures for the assembly of these molecules and their clustering into more complex molecules. This reminds me of the scaffolding in construction, which acts as a support for the building blocks.
It also brings to mind the rocks which provide firm surfaces which are conducive to the growth of sponges in the oceans. The concept of ‘ chirality, ’ is rather confusing. The selectivity exhibited by the faces of crystals for left-handed amino acids, and their active preference for this is difficult to understand. Anyway, the theory that the first self-replicating protein molecule formed on the surface of a crystal face, which preferentially selected left-handed amino acids, seems to be just conjecture.
If both kinds of amino acids ‘ line up’ on the calcite faces based on their chirality, why is it that it is only the left-handed amino acids which build up into proteins? The author does not support this argument as well as he does his other theories. Hazen’ s article is fascinating to read. His easy-to-understand language, clear explanation of concepts, the illustrations, and examples make his writing appealing and very informative. Any reader who is curious about the origins of life on earth will find the information presented interesting. This article has changed my entire way of thinking about the origin of life on earth.
This has been my earlier picture of the origin of life: an enormous primordial ocean teems with the ingredients of life, as a kind of primordial ‘ soup’ ; the stormy atmosphere flashes with lightning, which strikes the waters; life originates from this interaction of the atmosphere and water!
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