Billions of years ago, before there were beasts, bacteria or any living organism, there were RNAs. These molecules were probably swirling around with amino acids and other rudimentary biomolecules, merging and diverging, on an otherwise lifeless crucible of a planet. Did one of those biomolecules lead to the development of 'protoribosomes' that would work their magic to kickstart life on early Earth? An Israeli biologist won a share of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for that theory. That scientist and another in Japan say they're closing in on building that protoribosome in their labs. Nature asked scientists to weigh in on that prospect, and one of them is Anton Petrov, research scientist and evolutionary biologist in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Petrov is also a member of Georgia Tech's Center for the Origins of Life (COOL).
How did life begin? One key ingredient is coming into view