With random chance being soundly rejected as an explanation for the origin of life, scientists turned to another theory: that there must be some inherent attraction that would cause amino acids to spontaneously link up in the right sequence to create the protein molecules out of which living cells are made. This idea was popularized in a 1969 book, co-authored by Kenyon, which argued that the emergence of life actually might have been "biochemically predestined" because of these chemical bonding preferences."
In fact, researchers studied the Atlas of Protein Sequence and Structure to determine whether certain amino acids preferentially positioned themselves next to a particular neighbor. They looked at ten proteins and performed a supporting experiment that seemed to suggest there was merit to this hypothesis.
"That sounds like a plausible explanation," I said to Bradley. "What's wrong with it?"
Although I didn't know it at the time, I was asking the scientist who was part of a team that refuted that hypothesis in 1986.
"We wrote a computer program to analyze not just ten proteins, but every one of the two hundred and fifty proteins in the Atlas," Bradley replied. "The results demonstrated conclusively that the sequencing had nothing to do with chemical preferences. Consequently, that theory bit the dust. 36 Even Kenyon, one of its biggest proponents, has repudiated the idea."
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