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By looking at information stored in chemistry, says former NASA fellow, life from non-life can be explained

An outstanding question in the field of evolutionary biology and biochemistry is how the complex, fragile biochemicals that made up life arose and transformed biomaterial in the early Earth from non-living to the earliest "living" organisms.  Some researchers have looked for quasi-alive constructs like prions or viruses for clues.

But a new paper by Paul Davies, an Arizona State University Regents' Professor and director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, and Sara Walker, a NASA post-doctoral fellow at the Beyond Center, published in the journal Interface suggests that researchers are approaching the problem in the wrong way.

They suggest that rather looking at the "hardware" (biochemicals), they look at the "software" (chemically encoding information).  The authors suggest that the defining line between the living and non-living is the ability to manage encoded information, thus the key question is how this information handling arose.

Spark of Life
Could the clue to how life arose lie in how it encodes information?

Comments Prof. Walker, "When we describe biological processes we typically use informational narratives -- cells send out signals, developmental programs are run, coded instructions are read, genomic data are transmitted between generations and so forth.  So identifying life's origin in the way information is processed and managed can open up new avenues for research."

"Chemical based approaches have stalled at a very early stage of chemical complexity -- very far from anything we would consider 'alive.' More seriously they suffer from conceptual shortcomings in that they fail to distinguish between chemistry and biology."

"We propose that the transition from non-life to life is unique and definable," Prof. Davies adds, "We suggest that life may be characterized by its distinctive and active use of information, thus providing a roadmap to identify rigorous criteria for the emergence of life. This is in sharp contrast to a century of thought in which the transition to life has been cast as a problem of chemistry, with the goal of identifying a plausible reaction pathway from chemical mixtures to a living entity."

"To a physicist or chemist life seems like 'magic matter.  It behaves in extraordinary ways that are unmatched in any other complex physical or chemical system. Such lifelike properties include autonomy, adaptability and goal-oriented behavior -- the ability to harness chemical reactions to enact a pre-programmed agenda, rather than being a slave to those reactions."

"We believe the transition in the informational architecture of chemical networks is akin to a phase transition in physics, and we place special emphasis on the top-down information flow in which the system as a whole gains causal purchase over its components.  This approach will reveal how the logical organization of biological replicators differs crucially from trivial replication associated with crystals (non-life). By addressing the causal role of information directly, many of the baffling qualities of life are explained."

Crystals are also self-replicating, but they lack the flexibility of life.
[Image Source:  Giovanni Dall'Orto]

If that all sounds a bit abstract, it is.

But basically it seems that the pair are arguing that by looking at differences between the self-replicating information in biochemicals (e.g. RNA) verus self-replication information in inorganic/non-living constructs (e.g. crystals), researchers may be able to retrace the process of how life arose on Earth more easily than if they merely focus on painstakingly mixing chemical constituents, hoping something arises.

Sources: Interface [via Arvix], Arizona State Univ.

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RE: Pathetic Evolution
By gladiatorua on 12/15/2012 9:47:01 AM , Rating: 2
We know that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, a scientific fact.
No it's not. It's Newton's third law of motion.
Now this fact, includes un-avoidable losses, things like friction, heat/energy loss.
No, it doesn't.
This is the third law:
When a first body exerts a force F1 on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force F2 = -F1 on the first body. This means that F1 and F2 are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.

That's it.
Everything in the existence operates at a loss, and this is what science describes in the Laws of Thermodynamics.
Huh? Are you talking about Newtons mechanics or Thermodynamics? And no, that's not what the Laws of thermodynamics describe. 0th law defines temperature; 1st law is the law of conservation; 2nd law - the entropy of any isolated system not in thermal equilibrium almost always increases; and the 3rd law states that entropy of a perfect crystal(a system with a temperature of absolute zero) is zero.
So what are you talking about? I assume you mean the second law. But it only works for ISOLATED systems.
These principles also apply directly to systems of information, complexity, language, data, etc...
Huh? How?
Take a book for example and its contents, a very basic paper and ink, a one dimensional data storage device. A book cannot write itself and cannot come into being by chance or by any random means. It would be un-scientific to say it could because that would violate the laws of thermodynamics.
This is a bunch of un-scientific BS that has nothing to do with laws of thermodynamics.
The SETI project is another example, searching space for signs of intelligence by looking for radiation signals that contain information or intelligent data. The entire premise of the project rests on the correct assumption; that random background radiation cannot and will not produce radiation signals which contain information.
As long as there is someone to perceive them as a pattern, it can contain "information".
Ironically evolutionists claim the exact opposite that random chaos can create life, and literally move from a state of low energy to high energy (or complexity).
No they don't. No random chaos. And what does it have to do with low or high energy?
If we attempt to calculate the probability of an average-sized protein consisting of 400 amino acids being selected only from left-handed amino acids, we come up with a probability of 1 in 2^400, or 10^120. Just for a comparison, the number of electrons in the universe is estimated at 10^79, which although vast, is a much smaller number.
And 10^300 is the number of outcomes if you flip a coin 1000 times. So?
Even the infamous 'Lucy' is know if be made up of over a dozen different animals.
How is Lucy infamous?

So, your wall of text mostly contains BS. Or idiotic conclusions. In our age of freely distributed information, ignorance is not an excuse.

RE: Pathetic Evolution
By retrospooty on 12/15/2012 3:50:40 PM , Rating: 2

I know, the guy dismisses mountains of evidence from 4 different scientific disciplines that all colloborate with each other that proves evolution happened. Not to mention every scientist on the planet. All dismissed over a ridiculous Christian pre-scripted talking point fabricated to meet their own agenda. Yes, the worlds scientists are all wrong and all that evidence is faked. LOL. Its a global conspiracy going back 100's of years involving 100's of 1000's of scientists all over the planet. LOL.

I was raised Christian, my name is Chris, my mother and grandmother are extremely into the whole Jesus thing, Grandma is as evangelical as Tebow (and then some) and even they know evolution happened... The religious "debate" is that if intelligent design vs. purely organic evolution. Anyone that thinks that evolution didnt happen is a complete uneducated moron. The debate is over and its been over a long time. He may as well be arguing that the world is flat and that the Earth is the center of the universe. Its that ridiculous at this point.

"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki

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