The Origin of Life

Steps to the Formation of Life

Before we consider the detail of constructing a living cell, you may wish to first ponder the question 'What exactly is Life?'. How can life be defined? Spend a moment jotting down some notes, on what properties you think define life. Then you may wish to consult the following web site for their ideas: http://www.panspermia.org/whatis2.htm.

A single cell may seem extremely simple compared with the biological complexity of the higher mammals. This is not in fact the case. Cells are extremely complex, and to construct a living cell from non-living material is effectively to solve the problem of the origin of life. In this section of the module we examine the six steps that lie between non-living (inorganic) molecules and the formation of a self-replicating, self-sustaining, living cell. It will quickly become clear that the chemical complexities involved in the formation of a single cell are enormous, and the probability that these are driven by random processes is extremely low.