First off, good posting.
" physicists led by Rockefeller University’s Albert J. Libchaber, head of the Laboratory of Experimental Condensed Matter Physics, have now generated the first theoretical model"
Both the lead-in to the article and to this sentence really annoyed me. The writer seemed to be implying experimental results all along and it turns out they just proposed a model. I mean I like models, sometimes I feel like models are my life (once again, the mathematical kind, not the busty kind, although those are ok too). But I'd like to know the results are non-experimental before I'm halfway down the first screen (and yeah, it is partly their banner/font/layout that does it, but it just bothered me).
And it seems a bit hyperbole-tastic. People have been talking about how the genetic code came about for decades. Both how one came to be and how the specific one we have came to be The One (Crick's Frozen Accident).
For what was done before this, check out "On the origin and evolution of the genetic code." J Mol Evol. 1995 Dec;41(6):712-6
It is a review article and gives a good overview of (at the time) what had been done on the problem. Obviously a lot more has been done since (almost 15 years) and I'm sure there are new review articles out, but newer doesn't make my point. This may be the first physics model of this specific event, but it is not the first model or hypothesis. And I know for a fact there has been other mathematical work on the problem. Maybe not in modeling the original process the first time, but still. Anyway, that isn't what the paper is really about, just what the article implies.
This sentence from their abstract I think sums up the paper A LOT better than that article:
"We point out that the coding regime can naturally occur under prebiotic conditions. It generates partially coded proteins through a mechanism which is remarkably robust against non-specific interactions (mismatches) between the adaptors and the RNA template. Features of the genetic code support the existence of this early translation system."
Anyway, I like the work they are doing and it is interesting and vital research. But I really hate that article.