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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

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987