The Making Of The Cat


------------------------
Soup or Sandwich

IN THE VERY BEGINNING, about 4.6 billion years ago (give or take a few
years), a small ball of rock, water and gas had come to be and immedi-
ately set about the process of combining its atoms into more and more
complex arrangements. Thus began that most wondrous story, the evolu- tion
of life on Earth.

For the first 2.1 billion years of the Earth's existence, the Archeo-
zoic Era, life very slowly evolved. The Earth's crust was still in flux
and covered for the most part by shallow seas. The atmosphere was composed
primarily of methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide and water vapor. From these
primitive chemicals life evolved. There are ...

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radiation, light- ning, volcanic action,
and other forms of heat and energy, this soup was able to slowly combine
the organic molecules into ever more com- plex forms: first simple amino
acids, then organic macromolecules, then single-strand RNA molecules, and
finally simple viruses.

The only trouble with the soup theory is that is almost definitely
wrong! The time required for it to work is statistically greater than the
lifetime of the Earth. The time is only statistically greater, however,
and anything is possible...

Various explanations have been put forth to account for this time
discrepancy. The most popular of these is the seeding of the early seas by
organic molecules from space. This seeding could have been either through
organic molecules present in the original formation of the Earth, or from
later bombardment by meteors or more likely comets containing the organic
compounds (a cosmic soup mix). None of the compensatory theories put forth
are very likely, ...

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with many
life-like properties. Although it is open to debate as to whether or not
they are themselves alive, viruses are definitely right on the edge:
simpler things are clearly not alive, while more complex things clearly are.


One aspect of the sandwich theory is that at undersea volcanic vents
today life may still be evolving from basic components! This exciting
possibility is being carefully investigated and holds great promise for the
future.

The Great Pollution

After the virus, life was off and running. During the next 500 mil-
lion or so years, viruses evolved into simple prokaryotes, single- celled
living beings without a cellular nucleus. In ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 6/27/2004 07:42:36 AM
Category: Miscellaneous
Type: Free Paper
Words: 4550
Pages: 17

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