The theory, not long ago dismissed as impossible by much of the science community, has just in recent months begun to garner increasing interest, and is being confirmed by other studies.
And though it began as scientific heresy, the findings could help explain how the presence of water was the key to the evolution of life on Earth, making it possible for life to emerge from what was once a hostile and unforgiving primordial soup of chemicals and radiation.
More and more research is being focused on this area since a study proving the existence of this "dark state" was published by OSU researchers in the Journal of Physical Chemistry even though other journals had repeatedly rejected the findings because they were too radical.
"The findings of our studies did not fit most people's preconceived notions about how DNA molecules work, so they assumed we had to be wrong," said Wei Kong, an OSU professor of chemistry. "The critics seemed very sure of themselves, and we had a lot of sleepless nights."
"But just since last summer this has been a key point of discussion at several conferences and caused quite an excitement, as people see the data," Kong said. "Among other things, it helps to explain how water, or something else serving the same role, could have helped lead to the evolution of life."
The core of the debate, Kong said, relates to the behavior of the nucleic acid bases adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine - that as A-T and G-C base pairs form DNA and ultimately become the blueprint for all living things. One of the most basic premises of biochemistry is that these nucleic acid bases are very sta
Contact: Wei Kong
Oregon State University