The Origin of Life

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The Origin of Life

Postby John » Wed 06 Nov 2019 4:37 pm

This is, I believe, a thoroughly original solution to the question of the 'Origin of Life' conundrum and what provides the vital spark that generates it. I will pinpoint the one inorganic function that, if modified, would open the way.

I know of no other who has suggested a reasonable materialist solution to this mother of all problems, so I claim to be the fellow that solved it. No other person has posited a physically probable explanation, let alone a process suggesting the how and why.

Of course, it may be in error or inadequate in some way, but - I believe that life really does evolve from inorganic Matter and that my solution shows a way. There may possibly be other peripheral processes engaged, but I am confident that my hypothesis leads in the right direction. It shines like a beacon, illuminating the path to whatever may be the true reality.

In my solution only the known forces of nature are engaged - in purely automatic fashion. No designer, no foresight and no purpose, just a particular series of events.

My thinking is bounded by a belief that every tiny complexity that can exist, must owe its capacity for subsequent development to some existing factor in sub-atomic behaviour, no matter how limited its native function may be.

Speculation about the origin of life has engaged intense discussion, wonder and research in biology, religious belief and the thinking of lay people, perhaps more than any other subject. It is a conundrum that faces every serious researcher - a knotty problem. It was furiously debated by ancient Greeks long before the revelations made by the most influential men in the history of biology, Charles Robert Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and Gregor Mendel, they who opened wide hidden doors to biological behaviour.

But, none of these determined, deep thinking men (nor any others!) have stumbled across any remotely likely solution. A popular and rather 'wet' suggestion relates to its birth in a soggy solution containing materials essential to the sustenance of an already complex life. This idea, dogged by confused reasoning and unlikely assumptions, is fated to drown in its own puddle of 'primordial soup'!

Even the remarkable British scientist Sir Fred Hoyle, did not imagine some process that might bring an inorganic material to the threshold of life. Instead, he promoted the idea that life is an already pre-existing phenomenon, widespread in space and (hopefully) conveyed on space rubble to supportive planetary conditions. I never accepted this idea. In my view it simply shovelled the problem to one side and avoided the need to find an organic development from inorganic Matter.

In my opinion only the existence of Matter and its attendant natural laws can account for life and everything else. I believe that all that exists, or ever can exist, does so in the automatic response of particles of Matter to the immutable requirements of natural law. Even the genius of modern humanity can only create things that will only function in accord with natural physical law.

I have always believed that life is a product of some formation of basic Matter and must be the outcome of an entirely automatic process. The Matter that comprises the Universe is formed automatically into all manner of creations, all made up of atoms. It also harbours, 'in principle', every other possible formation - life being my present concern.

A decade and more ago, I pondered on the puzzle regarding the question of how evolution actually works, of why it seems so intelligently 'directed' that it is thought - by some - to be proof that only an Almighty God can do this.

I am proud to have cracked this problem - from my armchair! - using only logical assumptions and my laptop.

In short, evolution works by uniting atoms. All these (100+) atoms are subject to marginally different sets of physical laws that regulate their ability to function and to conjoin with others. In that process of unity, the laws that govern their individual sub-atomic behaviours are modified in a way that accounts for and controls their newly united physical constitution. The result, a molecule, will make further union only with 'suitable' atoms and molecules.

'Suitable' means that only those additions that will not conflict with the host structure can be added. This is automatic and selective - not random. It varies by reflecting the make-up of the local conditions and physical properties extant at these moments. This process becomes ever more selective and complex. It gradually changes these formations from generality to particular. Each addition is a mini evolution, a modification, a new formation that directs it along a now particular path. Eventually a viable structure will form, except, of course, where some such unions may prove to be a dead end.

This purely automatic selection factor marks the progressive behaviour we call evolution. But, as 'Mother Natures' behaviour is totally automatic and has neither foresight nor hindsight, she just ploughs on - forever - simply following the rules set by the structure of the particular host's current set of physical laws.

I call these laws the "Rules of Engagement".

This continuing activity may reach a point where the organism, e.g. a giant whale, has achieved its optimum development. Evolution will not stop, cannot stop, but fewer 'suitable' additions can be made. They may relate merely to coping with a changing environment and other marginal alterations.

These rules apply to all inorganic materials. A very simple example: H2O must become a molecule of water. In a quite different context, broadly similar rules apply to organic development.

So, I think the 'Spark of Life' itself must have been energised by some inorganic force. It caused the change by means of which my 'Spark of Life' could alter the sub-atomic structure of an atom. As no atom with a discernibly altered sub-atomic structure has ever been found, I was at a seeming impasse. After some thought, I decided that the answer must be hidden in that particular impasse.

First then, I accept that no known atomic structure offers the possibility of being the precursor of life. Hopes have rested in a variety of evolutionary imaginings. The carbon atom is a favourite (mine too). Some have pointed to crystalisation as a 'maybe', but this a strictly limited, totally inorganic automatic process. Not a contender.

So I decided that I would have a real crack at seeing if I could find a way through this atomic fog. At least I could take a look into the nature of the atom. I had previously thought that atomic operating rules were already fairly well understood, even to point of knowing how many of 'these and those' resided there.

It soon became evident that knowing the numbers doesn't necessarily provide an understanding of the conduct of sub-atomic behaviour. Leading scientists deeply engaged in attempts to properly understand the why's and wherefore's of sub-atomic processes still struggle with its mystery.

So, if the procedures of sub-atomic behaviour are obscure, some change in purpose may not be easily discernible, passing unnoticed by researchers. Maybe it can be identified only by observing its end product.

It seems that continuous replication is considered to be the very essence of life, so that was where I would start.

Respecting the fact that nothing entirely 'new' can be involved, I sought an existing factor that could, if modified, allow the incorporation and subsequent ejection of a higher amount of additional material.

In atoms electrons are arranged in shells that surround a central positively charged nucleus. Each shell can contain a particular number of electrons. The outermost shell contains electrons that are involved in bond formation. They are the least tightly bound to the nucleus and can be removed most easily.

So, aware that atoms forming a molecule (two or more atoms) can shed or gain electrons, I viewed this as irrefutable evidence that this ability, no matter how slight, exists. One such atom/molecule is carbon, which is present in the materials that help sustain life.

I concluded that it must be the modification of this particular ability, changing it into an expanded and complex addition and ejection process, that constitutes the first step to the make-up of life.

So, it is evident that some massive force is required that can act upon and modify sub-atomic behaviour. Were it not so, there are abundant, ever present forces that would be constantly altering atomic structure. There is no such activity. The tool in "Mother Nature's" sewing basket that fits this bill is the power of a supernova.

It is my contention that the pre-existing ability of conjoining atoms (molecules) to effectively shed and gain material is a precedent for the expansion of these acquisitive/disposal behaviours. I hold that the expansion of this function is the result of sub-atomic changes caused by a very particular level of radiation, one generated by the force of a supernova (quite a spark!).

The conditions that may cause the change are created by the target molecule being in a position to receive a probably specific level of the energy presented by a supernova. Perhaps a case of not too little, not too much. This will likely depend on the distance of the molecule from the heart of the supernova and several other concomitant conditions.

While such circumstances must occur over time, these 'special' conditions may be very rare. Having experienced this change, our modified carbon molecule will attract new material (electrons?) and so 'organise' them that they mirror its now modified structure. This expanded capacity functions continuously. A point will be reached at which the atom cannot 'handle' the volume of incoming material and must reject the excess.

*Hey presto!"

Here then is the very first step along the path to life, an automatic, ongoing parent and child reproductive system! No organs are needed, no air required, no pond, no water or sex! The circumstances that herald this change may be too complex and uncertain to be recreated within the bounds of laboratory experiment. I hope not.

Indeed, these are a very complex set of circumstances! Their rarity may explain why life itself is so rare. To this rarity must be added the slim chance of finding an atmosphere where water becomes key to the further evolution of this most primitive organism.

It is here, in this primary state, that my model differs fundamentally from those hinted by others as being in need of pre-existing initial biological necessities. This inaugural state of life has no need of some complex system that come into being, all of a piece. There is much for spark of life to do to complete its transformation, but - unless water subsequently becomes available it cannot progress.

This arbiter of life is thrust into space where, if lucky, it will 'land' on a piece of debris bound for somewhere like Earth. When such a proto organism reaches a suitable atmosphere, its evolution will be affected by these hugely different conditions. Further modification of its structure will reflect the organic nature of the carbon host. It seems that water in some form is essential. The nature of the self-replicating organism introduces the elements of exhaustion and death.

How? Why is that?

One of the major effects produced by such a fundamental re-configuration is that the near permanence associated with inorganic stability has been affected. This introduction of self-generated reproduction overturns the almost timeless nature of the inorganic stability of atoms. In its new organic physical structure it must provide constant refurbishment. Here I point to another instance of a modifiable pre-existing state: stability gives way to instability.

Some, possibly all, inorganic structures are subject to the vagaries of decay and reformation, but this may involve vast periods of time.

Nature works in only the most starkly simple fashion. This instability means that a replacement process is necessary to cope with problems of breakdown and repair. In the infinitely more complex and relatively brief life of active organisms, rapid decay and repair ends in the final stage of this instability - Death!

The nature of the phenomenon of continuous replication excludes any act of union that does not continue the ability of the host to replicate and survive. The atomic ability to sense its companion atoms/molecules becomes increasingly effective and begins the implementation of a series of tiny modifications that build into a nervous system.

Oxygen is a crucial factor in energy supply and the repair of dedicated organs. This need eventually introduced the ability to breathe, a vastly superior function.

The nature of the now fully organic host means that its structures are very complex and consist of impermanent materials which must be supported until they fail and are replaced. If such maintenance proves insufficient organs will fail. In the complexity of advanced lifeforms such a breakdown will damage other necessary functions and the continuity of functions becomes impossible.

We now have a viable living organism, recognizable as such.

The march of life has begun!

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John
 
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Joined: Tue 25 Sep 2012 9:03 am

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