Resources

Links to articles, websites, videos and presentations about Origins of Life

Overview of the current state of knowledge on the origin of life on Earth

Abiogenesis – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis
[retrieved 9/11/2012]
Wikipedia article on abiogenetic origin of life presents the history of origins research and summary of the most current theories. Provides a good set of current and accurate literature references.

The Origin of Life (by Albrecht Moritz)
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/originoflife.html
[retrieved 8/27/2012]
Accurately describes the current state of knowledge in the key areas of origins research. The main focus of the article is on the geochemical background of the Early Earth, the discussion of “RNA world” vs “metabolism first” scenarios, and the origin of chirality. Article includes comprehensive and current literature review, with a list of original experimental reports and review papers.

Origin Of Life: In Search Of The Simplest Cell
http://scienceweek.com/2005/sw050325-1.htm
[retrieved 9/13/2012]
Provides a combined summary of several publications that lists the most important steps necessary to construct plausible scenario of the origin of cellular life.

An abiogenesis primer for laymen (by Jelle Kastelein)
http://student.science.uva.nl/~jckastel/html/abiogenesis.pdf
[retrieved 8/27/2012]
The text lacks original source references, but it is still a good reading. Gives extensive summary of the history and current theories of the origin of life, with many illustrations.

The Origin of Life
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4961537793081085343&ei=lqN4Sd71C5XYqAOhyJyoBA&q=john+maynard+smith
[retrieved 9/11/2012]
Video of the lecture about history and current state of knowledge in key areas of the origins research, by John Maynard Smith, recorded in 1995. Very interesting and still worth watching.

The Beginnings of Life on Earth » American Scientist
http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/feature/the-beginnings-of-life-on-earth/
[retrieved 11/16/2012]
Article by Christian de Duve, popular-science introduction to current theories on the origin of life.

NOVA | How Did Life Begin?
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/how-did-life-begin.html
[retrieved 11/16/2012]
Interview with Andy Knoll.

Introduction to Exobiology
http://www.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/Exobiology/index.html
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Overview of conditions on the early Earth and of the chemistry necessary to start the evolution of life, in the context of search for life elsewhere.

Video presentations

The Origin of Life
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4961537793081085343&ei=lqN4Sd71C5XYqAOhyJyoBA&q=john+maynard+smith
[retrieved 9/11/2012]
Video of the lecture about history and current state of knowledge in key areas of the origins research, by John Maynard Smith, recorded in 1995. Very interesting and still worth watching.

Chance or Necessity
http://www.aaas.org/spp/dser/events/archives/lectures/2006/02_Lecture_2006_0126.shtml
[retrieved 11/29/2012]
Andrew Pohorille’s lecture “Chance or Necessity – Modeling Origins of Life” given at the AAAS Lecture Series “Dialogue at Science, Ethics and Religion” in January 2008.  

Popular science introductions

7 Theories on the Origin of Life | LiveScience
http://www.livescience.com/13363-7-theories-origin-life.html
[retrieved 9/10/2012]
Very short, introductory-level overview of currently most popular theories of all stages of the origin and earliest evolution of life. No original references.

NOVA | Revealing the Origins of Life
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evoluTIon/origins-life.html
[retrieved 9/11/2012]
Podcast about search of the geochemical and chemical research on the earliest stages of life.

Evolution 101: From Soup to Cells
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml
[retrieved 9/11/2012]
Brief, but accurate and well written, story of the origin and earliest geochemical evolution of Earth and life.

Origin of Life
http://biopoiesis.blogspot.com/
[retrieved 9/13/2012]
Blog-styled popular introduction to the theories of the origin of life on Earth.

How did life originate?
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/origsoflife_04
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Introduction to the theories describing origin of life and to methods of studying the earliest evolution of life.

Evolution: Change: Deep Time
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/change/deeptime/index.html
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Interactive timeline of history of Earth and terrestrial life.

Origin of Life
http://www.biologie.uni-hamburg.de/b-online/library/falk/OriginOfLife/Origin.htm
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Brief outline of the origin of life scenario.

Greatest Mysteries: How Did Life Arise on Earth? | LiveScience
http://www.livescience.com/1804-greatest-mysteries-life-arise-earth.html
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
In the series of “Great mysteries”, the question of how did life start on Earth is addressed.

How Did Life Originate?
http://www.ladeenyon.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=172&t=31927
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Interesting description of conditions on the early Earth and what’s necessary to start life.

Where and When did Life Originate?
http://www.theguardians.com/Microbiology/gm_mbk01.htm
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Very popular introduction to the history of Earth and the earliest life. Includes description of alternative theories of the origin of life, such as panspermia.

A Romp Through Theories on Origins of Life.com
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/science/22origins.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Interesting report from a scientific meeting with a summary of the problem discussed: how did life originate?

Origin of Life on Earth [PDF]
http://www.mcb.ucdavis.edu/faculty-labs/scholey/journal%20papers/Ricardo-Szostak-SA2009.pdf
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
The 2009 article by Ricardo and Szostak in Scientific American titled “Origin of Life on Earth”.

Origin of Life on Earth (Overview)
http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Life/origins.html
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Series of very short articles describing the history of Earth and theories explaining the earliest evolution of life.

Additional materials (good visualization or guide for future search, not a standalone story)

Evolution Figures: Chapter 4
http://www.evolution-textbook.org/content/free/figures/ch04.html
[retrieved 9/11/2012]
Open access illustrations from the textbook “Evolution”. Not a standalone article, but can be used as a visualization of a few key chemical processes of prebiotic evolution. Each illustration has an original literature source reference.

The biochemical basis of life
http://www.whatislife.com/about.html
[retrieved 9/13/2012]
A short text explaining a theory relating metabolic systems to the basic laws of physics.

Exploring Life’s Origins: Building a Protocell
http://exploringorigins.org/
[retrieved 9/11/2012]
Excellent animated visualizations of some key steps of the origin of life, prepared by the Boston Museum of Science.

Astrobiology. Guzman, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Chemistry – University of Kentucky
http://www.guzmanlab.com/research-interests/astrobiology
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Nice schematic of the conditions on the early Earth.

Lectures notes
http://www.utdallas.edu/~cirillo/nats/day16.htm
http://www.utdallas.edu/~cirillo/nats/day17.htm
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Lecture notes on phylogenetic studies of the earliest life.

How life on Earth began& science – Science – LiveScience | NBC News
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20393495/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/how-life-earth-began/
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
A brief, popular introduction to scenarios for the origin of life.

“Origin of Life Prize- Abiogenesis”
http://lifeorigin.info/
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
The Origin of Life Prize. The prize is for explaining how exactly did life originate.

Educational resources at Jack Szostak’s Laboratory (courtesy of Janet Iwasa)
http://molbio.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/movies.html

syllabus_lehman_08.pdf

Topic-specific (material focused on specific aspects of the origin of life)

Primordial Soup’s On: Scientists Repeat Evolution’s Most Famous Experiment: Scientific American
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=primordial-soup-urey-miller-evolution-experiment-repeated
[retrieved 9/06/2012]
An article describing the “primordial soup” theory, original and the most recent experiments investigating composition of the primordial ocean and the atmosphere of the early Earth.

Origin of Life -2001: Contents menu
http://www.gla.ac.uk/projects/originoflife/html/2001/menu.htm
[retrieved 9/09/2012]
Summary of theories dealing with the conditions and processes on the Early Earth. Written from a geochemical perspective, summarizes the current state of knowledge on the chemistry of Hadean and Archean, with special focus on hydrothermal processes. With well-prepared illustrations and good set of original literature references.

Astrobiology Research: Earth’s Early Environment and Life
http://astrobiology.ucla.edu/pages/res3a.html
[retrieved 9/13/2012]
Good explanation of the current state of research on geochemistry of the Early Earth. Article describes laboratory experiments, geological data and theories explaining the origin and early evolution of Earth and how the environment would have influenced the beginnings of life.

RNA world hypothesis, the free encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RNA_world_hypothesis
[retrieved 9/13/2012]
Wikipedia article explaining the current, most widely accepted theory of the origin of nucleic acids and metabolism.

AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion
http://www.aaas.org/spp/dser/events/archives/lectures/2006/02_Lecture_2006_0126.shtml
[retrieved 11/15/2012]
Lecture-format discussion between Andrew Pohorille and Walter Shropshire on the RNA world vs metabolism first hypotheses in the origin of life.

The Paleontology Portal
http://www.paleoportal.org/index.php?globalnav=time_space§ionnav=period&period_id=17
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Rich collection of precambrian fossils; great site for resources on paleobiological record of the earliest life.

Tree of Life Web Project
http://tolweb.org/tree/phylogeny.html
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
The interactive tree of life, down to the last universal common ancestor. Excellent set of references on rooting the tree of life.

Ancient fossils and modern climate change: The work of Jennifer McElwain
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/mcelwain_01
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Research on the early life’s fossil record.

Great Oxygenation Event, the free encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Oxygenation_Event
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Introduction to the history of oxygen on Earth.

Oxygen as an evolutionary constraint
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/news/091101_oxygenconstraint
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Another good, but very brief, article about the great oxygenation event and the role of oxygen in biology.

Endosymbiotic theory, Wikipedia the free encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endosymbiotic_theory
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Introduction to the theory of the origin of cell’s organelles

Cells within cells: An extraordinary claim with extraordinary evidence
http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/0_0_0/endosymbiosis_01
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
Another article on the endosymbiosis theory.

How Did Life Begin? RNA That Replicates Itself Indefinitely Developed For First Time
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090109173205.htm
[retrieved 11/18/2012]
On experimental proof for the self-replicating ribozyme theory.

News sources (websites that provide popular-science updates on important news in the field)

http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/fossils_ruins/origin_of_life/

http://nai.nasa.gov/articles/

http://www.astrobiology.com/

Presentation slides

Structure and Function of Proteins in the Origins of Life

lecture slides