Visit to discover Indian blogs

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Life comes from life from life from life... from non-life

"At the foundation of everything there is a binary demarcation. The continuum arises because of our inability to observe closely. The fundamental theory of everything is a yes or no."
Take an arbitrary unit and arrange a large combination of this unit in a specific pattern. Now imagine one pattern within another pattern within another and so on till we have a large number of repeated patterns. These patterns constitute our universe, and at a higher level – the multiverse. And a fundamental question is the origin of life in the universe. Jeremy England, a physicist at MIT gave his theory on evolution of life based on the second law of thermodynamics and postulated that species evolve in a way so that they can expend energy in the most efficient way. His argument unified the nature of living and non-living and said that if we shine light on a stone for sufficiently long duration, it will eventually start moving and behaving like a living thing.

Life is a combination of elements. Our DNA is composed of nothing but basic elements such as Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Phosphorous and Hydrogen. Over a span of billions of years, these  and other elements, guided by different sources of energy interacted with each other, rearranging themselves and trying different formations. When the right combinations merged and arranged in various patterns, a continuum was formed from non-living to the living. There can be no doubt that some species existed at the boundary between the two and could not be classified in either category. The first living species came into existence and possibly perished soon owing to the lack of information on how to replicate themselves. This was the simplest form of life.

Soon a stable life developed which was a life form that knew how to pass on the information to make life repeat. What was being transferred in form of the genetic code was an algorithm to replicate the order of atoms which will enable an organism to survive and increase its population. A study done by V.N. Tsytovich based on computer simulations suggested that electrically charged dust particles suspended in plasma display lifelike properties by arranging themselves in double helical structures and evolve into more stable forms to survive in plasma. The study by Tsytovich shows that there is no sharp classification between the living and non-living. Species such as viruses and prions (that are self propogating combination of proteins with no DNA) demonstrate that no matter where we draw the boundary, there will be some varieties standing at the doorstep to life.

Gradually species have evolved from the single celled prokaryotes to more complex and stable arthropods, land plants and mammals to over 8 million estimated species. Even though all known life on earth is carbon based but life outside earth is as likely to be founded upon very different elements such as Silicon and Germanium instead of carbon. This unfamiliar form of life might drink Sulphuric acid or ammonia instead of water. These material will exhibit very different chemistry under different temperatures, pressure and mix of radiative energy. Thus, neither carbon nor water are prerequisites for the existence of life outside earth. For all we know, with the extensive possibilities in front of us, we might find life at an unexpected time at a place where we least expect it. We will then be able to solve some of our existing curiosities but raise many more questions in front of us.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, Thanks for your great information, the content is quiet interesting. I will be waiting for your next post.