Thursday, January 10, 2008

Astronomically impossible odds

"The search for ribozymes evokes the same feeling of achievement and beauty in me that I get when I see a skilled golfer playing a difficult course at well under par. To imagine that related events could take place on their own appears as likely as the idea that the golf ball could play its own way around the course without the golfer. We can, of course imagine that natural forces would lend a helping hand. A hurricane could move the ball down the course, and occasional floods might "putt" the ball into the hole. A small earthquake could then remove it and place it on the next tee. Perhaps each of these events could be simulated if we tried hard enough. But to insist that all of these events be linked together and move in an appropriate direction puts our origin into the realm of Morowitz's odds [(10 to the 100,000,000,000th power) to 1]." (Shapiro R., "Planetary Dreams: The Quest to Discover Life beyond Earth," John Wiley & Sons: New York NY, 1999, p.104).

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