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No. 81: May-Jun 1992

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Mutant Molecules Fight For For Survival

Under ASTRONOMY, we saw how universes might mutate and evolve. Shifting dimensions by just a few-score orders of magnitude, from the cosmological to the molecular, we find that molecules, too, may mutate and evolve. A group of scientists at MIT, led by J, Rebek, believes that it has discovered the chemical equivalent of biological evolution. This is the same team that claimed the synthesis of the first self-replicating molecule in 1990.

"Now the same chemists have carried out experiments with two more selfreplicating molecules, and discovered that they can cooperate, catalysing each other's formation. Furthermore, when one of the molecules is exposed to ultraviolet light and is 'mutated', it becomes 'aggressive' and takes over the system. According to Rebek and his colleagues, this is evidence that evolution can be modelled at the molecular level."

(Emsley, John; "How 'Mutant' Molecules Fight for Survival," New Scientist, p. 22, February 29, 1992.)

Comment. We wonder if the "passive" molecules are "uphappy" about being bullied in this way!

From Science Frontiers #81, MAY-JUN 1992. 1992-2000 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