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Getting Beyond the Toy Domain. Meditations on David Deamer’s “Assembling Life”

by William Bains 1,2
1
Five Alarm Bio Ltd., O2h Scitech Park, Mill Lane, Hauxton, Cambridge CB22 5HX, UK
2
Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
Life 2020, 10(2), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10020018
Received: 25 October 2019 / Revised: 9 February 2020 / Accepted: 15 February 2020 / Published: 18 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Origin of Life)
David Deamer has written another book, Assembling Life, on the origin of life. It is unapologetically polemic, presenting Deamer’s view that life originated in fresh water hydrothermal fields on volcanic islands on early Earth, arguing that this provided a unique environment not just for organic chemistry but for the self-assembling structure that drive that chemistry and form the basis of structure in life. It is worth reading, it is an advance in the field, but is it convincing? I argue that the Origin of Life field as a whole is unconvincing, generating results in Toy Domains that cannot be scaled to any real world scenario. I suggest that, by analogy with the history of artificial intelligence and solar astronomy, we need much more scale, and fundamentally new ideas, to take the field forward. View Full-Text
Keywords: origin of life; hydrothermal; alkaline vent; Copernican principle; toy domain origin of life; hydrothermal; alkaline vent; Copernican principle; toy domain
MDPI and ACS Style

Bains, W. Getting Beyond the Toy Domain. Meditations on David Deamer’s “Assembling Life”. Life 2020, 10, 18.

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