Friday, March 28, 2008

Did Life Really Originate From THIS?

The tenets of many religious faiths hold that life sprung from clay. Science has now backed that up. Researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have shown that materials in clay were key to some of the initial processes in forming life, reports Reuters.

The essential material is a clay mixture called montmorillonite that not only helps create little bags of fat and liquid, but also helps cells use genetic material called RNA--one of the key processes of life. Earlier research showed that clay could catalyze the chemical reactions needed to make RNA from building blocks called nucleotides. Reuters reports that scientists Jack Szostak, Martin Hanczyc, and Shelly Fujikawa have now figured out that clay speeds up the process by which fatty acids form vesicles, tiny bag-like structures. In addition, the clay carries RNA into the vesicles.

"Thus, we have demonstrated that not only can clay and other mineral surfaces accelerate vesicle assembly, but assuming that the clay ends up inside at least some of the time, this provides a pathway by which RNA could get into vesicles," Szostak said in a statement announcing the findings. "The formation, growth, and division of the earliest cells may have occurred in response to similar interactions with mineral particles and inputs of material and energy."

What does this mean? First, Szostak emphasizes the team is not saying this is how life started. "We are saying that we have demonstrated growth and division without any biochemical machinery. Ultimately, if we can demonstrate more natural ways this might have happened, it may begin to give us clues about how life could have actually gotten started on the primitive Earth."

But the faithful have long believed that life formed from clay and the dust of soil. In the Old Testament there are multiple references:

Book of Genesis 3:19
God speaks to Adam in the Garden of Eden and says: "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Job 34:14-15
"If he should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath,
all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust."

Psalm 104:29
When thou hidest thy face, they are dismayed; when thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

The research findings were published in the journal Science.