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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Turning Chemistry into Biology

Turning Chemistry into Biology

Martin Hanczyc (credit: Hanczyc lab)


How did life start? This has been an existential question in biology, evolution, religion, and philosophy. Did something alive appear from something not alive? Did biology appear in-situ or arrive from space by panspermia? What was the catalyst that turned chemistry into biology and then had the ability to reproduce itself? Was the process fast or slow?

Such origin-of-life studies (Abiogenesis) have been in progress for years, all trying to create and duplicate the right conditions in the laboratory that could help to resolve these questions. The research efforts and recent results from Martin Hanczyc's lab in Italy offer some fascinating insights. He is trying to develop model systems to test and apply them to 'origin studies' that can provide insights into how life might have begun here on Earth and potentially on exoplanets around other stars. Hanczyc presented some of his ideas to an audience at a TED conference and where would be the best places to look elsewhere. WHB

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