THE ORIGIN OF LIFE ON EARTH AND ELSEWHERE. II [electronic resource].
- Washington, D.C. : U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 1960.
Oak Ridge, Tenn. : Distributed by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Dept. of Energy.
- Additional Creators:
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
United States. Department of Energy. Office of Scientific and Technical Information
- The synthesis of relatively complex organic molecules by ionizing and radical mechanisms (induced by high energy radiations, ultraviolet and electric discharge) from methane, ammonia, water, and hydrogen is described, both theoretically and experimentally. It is shown that the molecules which tend to be formed under such random conditions are the very ones which today are the common building blocks in the biological reconstruction of organic material. Such molecules are the amino acids, the simple carboxylic and hydroxy acids, purines, pyrimidines, etc. The appearance of order among such random molecules is induced by two forces, namely, autocatalysis and crystallization. The latter is particularly important in the appearance of highly efficient macromolecular structures and arrangements which are so characteristic of present-day living organisms. Points of contact of these theories with experiment are indicated, and where confirmation has been obtained it is described, and the areas of ignorance, requiring further experimentation, are defined. A first step in a possible test of these prebiotic organic syntheses on other astral bodies has been made by examining the organic material found in meteorites. The nature of the structures appearing therein is indicated.
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