The Science of Existence (79) Origin on Earth

Origin on Earth

The parameters surrounding the origin of life on Earth are known. The geological conditions have been discerned, the requisite chemistry understood, the timing apprehended. Yet life’s onset retains mystery to its researchers. The origin of life on Earth bristles with puzzle and paradox.

What is not yet known is exactly how and where the ingredients that spawned life came together with the spark that started life’s engine and kept it running, though the best possible spots for origination have been identified. The enigma that lingers lies in life’s spontaneous generation: the force of coherence that led life to coalesce.

(Nature commonly exhibits self-organization and hidden order within apparent disorder. Chaotically tumultuous fluids spontaneously create stripes of coherent flow alternating with turbulent regions. Liquids self-organize into crystalline structures: a phenomenon known as disordered hyperuniformity. Photons in laser light self-organize into fractal patterns. Viewed as particles in a system (instead of linearly), prime numbers exhibit an ordered structure.)

What is known is that life on Earth began as soon as environmental conditions permitted. The mathematical probability of elements randomly assembling into a metabolizing, self-replicating life is negligible. Yet it repeatedly happened, with nary a chance that it was happenstance.

All biological molecules used by living organisms are themselves synthesized by living organisms. The most important aspect of life’s emergence was the process by which inheritable improvements were selected from a population of variants. This required molecules or molecular assemblies that can reproduce under certain kinetic constraints and resulted in the development of a specific kind of stability (known as dynamic kinetic stability) that is associated with the dynamics of reproduction. ~ French molecular biologist Robert Pascal