Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is Life Simple or Complex? (The Answer is Yes.)

I've read four interesting papers over the last week or so that I keep thinking about. I don't actually have them in front of me but I think together they show what is so great about science.

Paper #1 maps all the genes from a small microbe with compartments. From this it concludes that the first microbe with compartments must have been really complex, more complex than previously believed.

Paper #2 finds that a simple element (silicon) can help piece carbon together to make small sugars, some of the building blocks of life.

Paper #3 addresses a problem in making DNA: because DNA is a long line, it's much easier for it when forming to make small circles rather than large lines. The problem is that large lines are needed to store a reasonable amount of information. By itself, DNA will make small circles. But add a small simple carbon molecule and it lines up in the DNA to push it into a long line, something that can hold enough information to support life. A small molecule makes a big difference and lets DNA fulfill its potential.

Paper #4 finds that the complex molecule tRNA that we use to make proteins might still work if it's reduced to just five RNA bases in a row, much more simple then I would have thought.

Paper #1 = life is complex and wonderful.
Papers #2-4 = some parts of life might be simple (or simplifiable) and wonderful.

If creation is a gift then I want to see that gift clearly and truly. If you're tempted to ignore any of these papers by preconceived notions of how simple (or how complex) life must be, I encourage you to take them on, debate them, and doubt them, as you doubt your jumping to conclusions about them. The one thing I ask is that you don't ignore them. They're just too interesting on multiple levels.

No comments: