You know what really bums me out? Having access to all kinds of very good scientific literature (on all kinds of subjects) but it is all copyrighted. I can download the pdfs because I am affiliated with a university that has that various subscriptions, but I can't just link to the articles because they are for-pay for everyone else (frowny emoticon here that I will someday learn how to embed). Someday I'll write a thread on the topic because it really bothers me, but for now I'll cheat a little:
A newer paper on the subject by Iris Fry, published in 2011 in Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospeheres (an actual peer-reviewed journal that has been around since the 60s - Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres) is actually quite good. Here's the abstract to her paper, which I think is freely available:
It is commonly accepted among origin-of-life scientists that the emergence of life was an evolutionary process involving at one stage or other the working of natural selection. Researchers disagree, however, on the nature of the chemical infrastructure that could have formed prebiotically, enabling the evolutionary process. The division of the origin-of-life research community into ‘geneticists’ and ‘metabolists’ usually revolves around the issue whether the first to arise prebiotically was a genetic polymer or a primitive metabolic system. In this paper I offer an alternative classification based on the attitude to the onset of natural selection. From this perspective I add to the conventional division between gene-first and metabolism-first groups a position I call “preparatory metabolism”. By this line of thought, an RNA or an RNA-like polymer could not have emerged prebiotically. Nevertheless, the onset of natural selection had to wait until such a polymer had arised. This paper examines the RNA-first, RNA-later, metabolism-first and preparatory-metabolism scenarios, assessing the weaknesses and strengths of each. I conclude that despite the recent theoretical advances in all these lines of research, and despite experimental breakthroughs, especially in overcoming several RNA-first hurdles, none of the examined paradigms has yet attained decisive experimental support. Demonstrating the evolvability of a potentially prebiotic infrastructure, whether genetic or metabolic, is a most serious challenge. So is the experimental demonstration of the emergence of such an infrastructure under prebiotic conditions. The current agenda before origin-of-life researchers of all stripes and colors is the search for the experimental means to tackle all these difficulties.
edit on 24-11-2012 by Phagette because: spelling error