What are the Odds of life coming into existence by chance alone?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Alan McDougall, Jul 26, 2012.

  1. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,738
    I was thinking of a physical substrate, perhaps something comparable to the process of forming fossils.
    In whatever mud it is, successful proteins lay themselves down like fossils,
    and the presence of that fossil acts as a template to produce similar proteins.
    Perhaps two of these "fossils", laid accidentally end to end, could result in the production of a third, more complex protein.

    I haven't seen this quantum information processing idea before.
    But yes, it's interesting.
    It does invite this question though.
    (Anyone one wishing to understand the question will need to read the link. It doesn't take long.)
    With regard to its increasing the speed of complex protein folding,
    why would quantum information processing favour one type of folding over another?
     
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  3. FTLinmedium Registered Senior Member

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    106
    Yes.

    To give you an idea of the immense difference in size and complexity between the typical bacterial (like E. coli; about 3 micrometers long) and what the first life would have probably been like (likely around 3 nanometers long)- the difference is somewhere around one billionth the volume- I'll give you an analogy.

    The average elephant is somewhere around three or four tonnes.

    If the Average elephant were modern bacterium, the first life would be smaller than a flea.


    Anyway, it's important to remember, these things were so small that- unlike fleas- they didn't have the size needed to have such evolutionary characteristics as membranes/shells/etc. They couldn't even digest food- everything had to be available in their environments.

    You might like this: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/cells/scale/
     
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Yeah, but I think as a society it may be necessary to restrict their right to teach it.
    There has been research into it since at least the 1950s, when they were zapping simulated lightning bolts through simulated primordial ooze. A bunch of us wanted to do that for a science fair project in high school, but the teachers thought it would simply be too dangerous.

    We have both a fossil record and DNA, so we've got something to work with when we want to study evolution. There's nothing to start with when we want to study abiogenesis. This makes it considerably harder.

    In fact there is much commonality in DNA even across entire kingdoms of species. IIRC, the average plant and the average animal share more than half of their DNA.

    They're probably right... for Earth life! None of us knows what kinds of organisms have evolved on other planets, where the environment may be much more supportive for something else.

    Actually, fossils have been recently found of microorganisms that are quite different from today's animals-plants-fungi-algae-bacteria-archaea paradigm. There's no question that they are not ancestors of any living organisms, but simply died out and nature tried again.
     
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  7. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, I do realise that there's a huge difference in probability due to the complexity without the small steps needed to get there.


    Thanks for the link, really informative.


    Fraggle Rocker:
    I guess that they were the remnants of a different line of life that started about the same time when there was little oxygen in the atmosphere then?
     

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