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Response to Loki Liesmith (Reply #4)

Sun Jun 24, 2018, 08:26 AM

5. Well, it's probably a matter of semantics but...

...the chemical machinery of cancer - in which I have some career involvement - tends to disorder and dysfunction. Cancer's not really "hijacking" so much as it is breakdown and loss of function and control. Cancer cells, particularly in the genomic sense, are higher entropy than normal cells. They are about disorder, not order, and one of the problems of treating advanced cancers is the control machinery continues to degrade even after the initial genetic breakdown occurs.

I get your point, I suppose, but I still like "an eddy in thermodynamics" better to describe life. Life, as far as we can tell, is rare, and is certainly not in a position to take over the universe and destroy it. We might destroy this planet, but not the universe, which is a comforting thought.

It is therefore comforting, if still speculative, to think that life is an inevitable property of matter, at least on a scale that seems to involve infinities.

I haven't thought very much about the origin of life in many years, although it's a fascinating subject in which I invested some time to think about years ago, and I probably read Kaufmann's "Origin of Order" close to the time it came out.

I was inspired to think about it again though because I've been thinking about certain molecular machinery involved in the proteomic control of the genome, specifically proteins that control PTMs.

In normal cells, this machinery is awe inspiring, and one wonders how it arose, so it drove me to look again.

I was also inspired to look again because this consideration coincided with some organizational work I was doing in my files whereupon I came across papers I'd collected in 2010 on the subject of the Murchinson Meteorite.

One of the points made in the review involves mechanisms of energy flows and combinatorial diversity and the stabilization of intermediates against degradation.

While reading the review, I learned about a set of experiments about which I knew nothing, John D. Sutherland's work on pyrimidine ribonucleotides from a systems chemistry perspective, which suggests a way through the difficult thermodynamic problem of coupling sugars to nucleobases.

I'm definitely going to pick up this paper, which is now nearly ten years old: Synthesis of activated pyrimidine ribonucleotides in prebiotically plausible conditions (Sutherland et al, Nature volume 459, pages 239242 (14 May 2009))

I'm definitely going to collect some of this guy's more recent papers, as well as citing papers for the original. I would not be surprised to hear of this guy getting a Nobel some day, although I'm personally nowhere near the level to offer input about who does and does not get that prize.

It's very cool.

Thanks for your comment.

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NNadir Jun 2018 OP
Loki Liesmith Jun 2018 #1
defacto7 Jun 2018 #2
NNadir Jun 2018 #3
Loki Liesmith Jun 2018 #4
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