THE ORIGIN OF LIFE ON EARTH AND ELSEWHERE. II

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The synthesis of relatively complex organic molecules by ionizing and radical mechanisms (induced by high energy radiations, ultraviolet and electric discharge) from methane, ammonia, water, and hydrogen is described, both theoretically and experimentally. It is shown that the molecules which tend to be formed under such random conditions are the very ones which today are the common building blocks in the biological reconstruction of organic material. Such molecules are the amino acids, the simple carboxylic and hydroxy acids, purines, pyrimidines, etc. The appearance of order among such random molecules is induced by two forces, namely, autocatalysis and crystallization. The latter ... continued below

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Calvin, Melvin October 19, 1960.

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Description

The synthesis of relatively complex organic molecules by ionizing and radical mechanisms (induced by high energy radiations, ultraviolet and electric discharge) from methane, ammonia, water, and hydrogen is described, both theoretically and experimentally. It is shown that the molecules which tend to be formed under such random conditions are the very ones which today are the common building blocks in the biological reconstruction of organic material. Such molecules are the amino acids, the simple carboxylic and hydroxy acids, purines, pyrimidines, etc. The appearance of order among such random molecules is induced by two forces, namely, autocatalysis and crystallization. The latter is particularly important in the appearance of highly efficient macromolecular structures and arrangements which are so characteristic of present-day living organisms. Points of contact of these theories with experiment are indicated, and where confirmation has been obtained it is described, and the areas of ignorance, requiring further experimentation, are defined. A first step in a possible test of these prebiotic organic syntheses on other astral bodies has been made by examining the organic material found in meteorites. The nature of the structures appearing therein is indicated.

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  • Report No.: UCRL--9440
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • Grant Number: W-7405-Eng-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/928398 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 928398
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc902288

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

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Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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Creation Date

  • October 19, 1960

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Oct. 31, 2016, 2:47 p.m.

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Calvin, Melvin. THE ORIGIN OF LIFE ON EARTH AND ELSEWHERE. II, report, October 19, 1960; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc902288/: accessed December 10, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.