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No. 70: Jul-Aug 1990

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Artificial molecule shows 'sign of life'

A synthetic molecule has been found that apparently replicates itself. This seems to be a step on the road to artificial life.

"Julius Rebek, Tjama Tjivikua and Pablo Ballester of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say that their compound, an amino adenosine triacid ester (AATE), acts as a "template" which combines molecular fragments to make a copy of the original compound. This process is very similar to that used by DNA. The difference is that the biological copying usually needs an enzyme to make it work."

(Emsley, John; "Artificial Molecule Shows 'Sign of Life,'" New Scientist, p. 38, April 28, 1990.)

Comment. No one can say that replication is a "spontaneous" property of inorganic matter. It is truly remarkable that base matter is intrinsically self-organizing and replicating. We know! It is all because the universe just happens to be anthropic.

From Science Frontiers #70, JUL-AUG 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss