Theory 6 Life from Clay

Another hypothesis popularized by the media in recent years was Scottish chemist A. G. Cairns-Smith's suggestion that life somehow arose on clays whose crystalline structure had enough complexity to somehow encourage prebiotic chemicals to assemble together.49

"What about that approach?" I asked Bradley.

"In one sense, the clays might help, because molecules don't like to react in water, and the surface of the clay might give them a less-wet environment," Bradley replied.

"But how would the clay be able to impart the information needed to sequence the chemicals together in the right way? The best that crystalline clay can do is provide very, very low-grade sequencing information, and it's going to be very repetitive. It's like the book I talked about a minute ago that's filled with 'I love you, I love you, I love you' over and over again. Is it orderly? Yes. Does it have much information? No. That's what a crystal is-nothing more than redundant information. It's far, far short of the specified complexity that living matter needs.

"Even Cairns-Smith has recognized the problems with his idea. He admitted in 1991, 'No one has been able to coax clay into something resembling evolution in a lab oratory; nor has anyone found anything resembling a claybased organism in nature.'50

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