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What information is greatly lacking which does not allow us to propose a solid theory for origin of life ?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by David, Bryan Krause, kmm, John, Charles Oct 23 '17 at 4:40

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ The problem is not that scientists are baffled as to how life could have arisen. Rather, the problem is that scientists have many explanations as to how life could have arise, to the point that the appearance of life seems almost trivially obvious; it's just unclear which of the many possible routes was actually followed, and it's difficult to find clues that sort that out. It's as if you found a quarter at the bottom of a hill. The question isn't "Could that quarter have possibly rolled down the hill?" It's "Which path did the quarter follow when it rolled down the hill?" $\endgroup$ – iayork Oct 11 '17 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ I think this greatly overstates our understanding of the origin of life. I'm certainly not an expert on this, but as far as I know there are large gaps in all current hypothesis. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Oct 11 '17 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ The first animal must have produced only 1 simple protein/product in large numbers... like mucus for example... in a long chain with no end, and then the second animal must have been when the long chain of mucus incorporated a copy of the first animal in it. they would have had no cells, no nucleus, just a complex molecule that made a huge amount of mucus, or another simple product which served as protection and food simultaneously. that's a fairly good theory for the first animal. the first animal was perhaps just a 50 atom molecule that made mountains of mucus out of heat and co2 and water. $\endgroup$ – com.prehensible Oct 13 '17 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ Because the planet was sterile, the first animal didn't have to defend itself against anything, it just required the right PH of pure water, and an energy source, like sulphur, or volcanic vent compounds, it didn't need an outer shell that much, because everywhere was pure minerals and water. $\endgroup$ – com.prehensible Oct 13 '17 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "solid theory" because supported theories do exist. $\endgroup$ – John Oct 22 '17 at 22:49
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First of all, we do have some solid theories to explain the origin of life. That said, the main thing missing in order to be able to accept one of these theories with a decent amount of certainty is the ability to run a planetary scale experiment for a few billion years.

The theories are fine, the problem is that we cannot really test them. In order to test a theory that describes the origin of life, we will have to recreate the original conditions (think of a test tube the size of the Earth) and then pump energy into the system and watch what happens over the next few billions of years. This is not really feasible, for obvious reasons. I really doubt you will be able to get funding for an experiment that will run that long.

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    $\begingroup$ The mice are working on it as we speak... $\endgroup$ – Amory Aug 22 '13 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Amory I just hope they finish before the Vogons get here. $\endgroup$ – terdon Aug 22 '13 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Amory I am certain it is 42 $\endgroup$ – user3795 Aug 23 '13 at 14:36
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The reason for no single, solid origin of life (OOL) theory is that there are many and none of them explain or resolve the overall or the detailed issues of OOL, encompassing wide differential and even conflicting approaches, e.g., reproduction vs metabolism, and RNA vs DNA. Further, all are using naturalistic processes, requiring validation by the laws of physics and experimentation. While there are numerous theories, they are either geochemically irrelevant or outside the laws of physics. Whether RNA world, panspermia, hydrothermal vents, small warm ponds, all embrace various levels of chemical evolution for the initial, intermediate and ultimate biochemical assembly of increasingly more complicated levels of organic elements considered vital to OOL. No viable processes have been found to naturalistically create life.

Increasingly, wild speculation of geochemical conditions and trivialization of biochemical assembly, metabolism and reproduction are being proposed. The intractable problems that apply to naturalistic theories begins with the fact that chemical evolution of non-living compounds produces no viable pathway to increased complexity, that is, there are no cosmic evolutionary processes capable of the complex structure, design, order and operation of biochemical systems required for even the simplest organism.

The universal challenges that must be fully resolved in all theories include: 1. The homochirality essential in nucleotide amino acids, 2. The homopolymerization of the DNA side chains, 3. The nucleotide coding using information design, 4. The cell membrane formation essential encapsulation. 5. The chicken and egg issue of proteins and complex structures.

These are affected by requirements for colocation. coincidence, contamination mitigation and concentrations that are absolutely precise.

Finally, lab experiments must accurately reflect geochemically relevant conditions and not overly manipulated by experimenters, which would simulate intelligent design but produce questionable results.

The number of sources that could be listed is extensive. A simple search internet of the main descriptive words would provide detailed definition and additional detail. Regarding the 5 universal challenges: 1. homochirality relates to the right/left handedness of the amino acids since they are not symmetric. DNA amino acids must be 100% left handed or DNA will not work. One of the challenges to get comprehensive sourcing is due to the reluctance of present biological entities to fully acknowledge the delineated intractable issues.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Bio. Can you add sources to your answer? $\endgroup$ – AliceD Oct 11 '17 at 10:29
  • $\begingroup$ The high number of sources that could be listed are very extensive. A simple search internet of the main descriptive words would provide detailed definition and additional detail. Regarding the 5 universal challenges: $\endgroup$ – QEDlin Saltum Oct 13 '17 at 7:29
  • $\begingroup$ If there are so many sources to find it shouldn't be too difficult to put a few in your answer. Your answer is downvoted because it lacks references. Sources allow other users to background-read on your post. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Oct 13 '17 at 9:47
  • $\begingroup$ "DNA amino acids" do you mean nucleotides? With errors like this sourcing becomes even more important. $\endgroup$ – John Jun 12 at 2:54

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