Life special

How did life begin? What endowed the primordial soup of molecules with the property we know as life? Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered that small molecules could have nurtured the building blocks of life's genetic material so that they could grow into the long chains required for information storage and duplication. "Our hypothesis is that before there were protein enzymes to make DNA and RNA, there were small molecules present on the pre-biotic Earth that helped make these polymers by promoting molecular self-assembly," says GATech's Nicholas Hud. Hud calls these unselfish molecules "molecular midwives" because they helped give birth to the organized and self-replicating chemicals from which life is thought to have emerged.