Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 81: May-Jun 1992

Issue Contents

Other pages











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