Sunday, January 11, 2009

The year of Darwin

If Charles Darwin had had a laptop, he probably would have been a blogger--so eager was his desire to disseminate and discuss his ideas with the world.

I think I already mentioned here somewhere that 2009 will see BOTH the 150th anniversary of the Origin of Species and the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. The journal Science has a page that collects together news features, scientific reviews and other special content. There are already some interesting things there and I believe they are planning a monthly series of essays celebrating Darwin so it will be worth checking back later in the year.

Three days ago, the second issue of Science in the year contains a very important paper on abiogenesis, 'Self-Sustained Replication of an RNA Enzyme'. We will talk abou this later in the course but although an RNA 'world' has been postulated as a precursor to our DNA world no-one, to date, has shown that RNA replication could be self propagating (ie RNA acting as the enzyme that can replicate itself without the help of other molecules or cell components). There's a nice writeup of the work at ScienceDaily.

This is pretty big news. NPR had a brief interview with the lead author on All Things Considered today which you can listen to here.

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