October 12, 2017
“…A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is frank about some of the problems facing the prebiotic synthesis of organics on the early earth. Here’s something amusing from the Abstract:
We find that RNA polymers must have emerged very quickly after the deposition of meteorites (less than a few years).
Really? That sounds amazingly good for origin-of-life research, until you grasp their reasoning:
[T]he rapid losses of nucleobases to pond seepage during wet periods, and to UV photodissociation during dry periods, mean that the synthesis of nucleotides and their polymerization into RNA occurred in just one to a few wet–dry cycles.
In other words, a “warm little pond” (as Darwin quaintly called it) is actually a very hostile environment for generating nucleotides. Why? Because within a year or two they’ll (a) lose their nucleotides due to “pond seepage” or (b) dry up, causing nucleotides to photodissaociate. So you must generate them very quickly before one of these terrible things happens and kills your nucleotides…”