Volcanic gas started life, suggests articles in news@nature 7 October 2004 and Science 8 October 2004. Over the last 50 years there have been many successful experiments to make amino acids (basic building blocks of life) out of simple chemicals, but very few that link amino acids together into long chains to form proteins, which are essential for living cells to function. Reza Ghadi of the Scripps Institute, California have been able to produce amino acid chains (called peptides) using carbonyl sulphide – a gas that comes out of volcanoes. The process only took a couple of hours and occurred at room temperature, indicating it could easily happen in oceans and lakes of the early earth if they were located near a volcano.
Editorial Comment: Being able to get amino acids to form peptides is not the key to making living cells out of chemicals. Random strings of amino acids are of no use for making functioning proteins. Proteins only carry out all the precise functions they do because they are folded into highly complex precise shapes. The shape is determined by the order in which the amino acids are linked together, not the chemistry involved in stringing amino acids together. There are 20 different amino acids used to make proteins but the linkages are the same whichever one is connected to whichever other one. Getting them in the correct order requires forward planning, i.e. an outside intelligence who uses the amino acid chemistry to achieve a purpose. (Ref. life chemistry, design, spontaneous generation)