By James Trefil Physics Professor
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Extra resources for 101 Things You Don't Know About Science and No One Else Does Either
These chemicals, once free in the cell, break down molecules needed for cell repair and, in some cases, DNA itself. A striking bit of evidence pointing to free radicals as the mechanism of aging is that animals with high metabolism rates (and hence high rates of free-radical production) tend to have shorter lives and to produce fewer chemicals to combat the free radicals. The hope is that once we understand how these chemicals operate in our cells, we will be able to slow the process of aging. This doesn't necessarily mean that our maximum age will increasewe know almost nothing about why the upper limit of the human life span seems to be about 110 years.
Clay Worldcertain kinds of clays have static electrical charges on their surfaces. These charges may have attracted molecules from the soup and bound them together. Once the molecules were formed, they would float away, carrying only indirect evidence of their origin. < previous page page_25 next page > < previous page page_26 next page > Page 26 Primordial Oil Slickmy favorite. The same chemical reactions that created the Primordial Soup would have made the kinds of molecules that form droplets of fat in a pot of soup.
The product of such an experiment won't look impressive compared to even the simplest cells today, although it will have the same basic biochemistry. Modern cells, after all, have had 4 billion years of natural selection to sharpen their ability to deal with their environments. The experiments will most likely produce a sluggish blob of chemicals surrounded by fat molecules that will take in energy and materials from the environment and reproduce itself. But that blob will forge the last link in the chain between the barren earth of 4 billion years ago and us.