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Robert Shapiro is professor emeritus of chemistry at New York University. He is best known for his work on the origin of life, having written two books on the topic: Origins, a Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth (1986) and Planetary Dreams (2001). He opposes the RNA world hypothesis, holding that the spontaneous emergence of a molecule as complicated as RNA is highly unlikely. Instead, he proposes that life arose from some self-sustaining and compartmentalized reaction of simple molecules: "metabolism first" instead of "RNA first". This reaction would have to be able to reproduce and evolve, eventually leading to RNA. He claims that in this view life is a normal consequence of the laws of nature and potentially quite common in the universe.

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