Summary: General Discussion
Professor Davey opened the discussion of Professor Kahr's paper: In the choice of
material with which to test this hypothesis it might be important to consider the
effects of mechanical properties in the generation of new dislocations. This was
explored in the 1980s by Sherwood and his collaborators.1
1 J. N. Sherwood and T. Shripathi, Faraday Discuss., 1993, 95, 173182.
Professor Kahr responded: We should test a full range of conceivable replicating
systems. Only by investigation will we be able to sort the wheat from the chaff. The
dislocation/punched-card model, in hindsight, seems like chaff, but we couldn't
know this at the outset. Likewise, it was inconceivable to presuppose the mechanism
of action of DNA without first developing its structure. It seems daunting to guess at
the characteristics of primitive genetic systems without first playing-out some of
these ideas in the laboratory. Polytypism plays a much larger role in the theory of
Genetic Takeover than do dislocations. However, we began with dislocations merely
because we felt that we had chemistry in hand to rigorously test this idea.
Dr Ristic said: I find this work extremely interesting. The authors managed to cast a
considerable amount of light on the Cairns-Smith's `crystals-as-genes' hypothesis.
Listening to the presenter I realised that in the recent past of our research work, my
colleagues and I had been somehow involved in one aspect of this intriguing problem,
but with a different motivation. Our aim was to find experimental conditions at which