From the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research

On the Origin of Life

       The energy required for life is ultimately derived from the light of the sun with the aid of photosynthesis which takes place in chlorophyll-containing membranes. A molecular biological version of the origin of life runs something like this.

       On the first day God said “Let there be light,” and there was light.

       On the second day God said “Let there be water,” and there was water.

       On the third day God said “Let there be membranes which contain chlorophyll and which can utilize the energy of light.”

       On the fourth day the chlorophyll-containing vesicles made a ~ and the squiggle generated ATP, GTP, UTP, and CTP. (The squiggle (~ ), or tilde, refers to an energy-rich, or high-energy bond, a concept that was introduced by Fritz Lipmann, and which he said was his most significant contribution to biochemistry – even more significant than the discovery of coenzyme A).

       On the fifth day God polymerized ATP, GTP, UTP, and CTP and created ribonucleic acid, and God saw that it was good.

       On the sixth day the Lord said it was not good for RNA to be alone and he caused a deep sleep to fall upon RNA (he incubated at 0 degrees centigrade), and he took a rib out of (rib)onucleic acid and made DNA from it (the rib was later named oxygen). And RNA and DNA were both naked but they were not ashamed.

       On the seventh day God rested and that’s when all the trouble started.

       There was the ~ with its bad influence that persuaded DNA to do what it was not supposed to do. DNA and RNA made hybrids and afterwards they felt ashamed because they were naked. So they covered themselves by making a coat protein and this is how the first virus was created. God was very angry when he saw it and blamed RNA, and RNA blamed DNA and DNA blamed the ~ (this was the first case of passing the buck). But God did not like to have viruses float around in Eden and he banned RNA and DNA onto Earth where they lived unhappily ever after.

       You may wonder why all this is not better known. Actually a paper on it was submitted to the Journal of Biological Chemistry but it was rejected on two grounds.

         (1) Nobody can repeat the experiment

         (2) Francis Crick had thought of it before.

From Ephraim Racker, A New Look at Mechanisms of Bioenergetics, Academic Press, 1976.

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26 November 2008