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Dividing Droplets Could Explain Origin of Life (quantamagazine.org)
55 points by eaguyhn 56 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments

I wrote a simulation that kinda behaved like this, without explicit code that actually started to behave like a lifeform about 8 years ago, here's a video https://youtu.be/OXceSiSEXIM

The course "Origins of Life" (https://www.complexityexplorer.org/courses/95-origins-of-lif...) covers this idea quite a bit. It's not a new idea, but so far of course, nobody has created new life this way. We're working on it.

The general premise is that cells began organizing when a lipid membrane was formed that was hydrophobic on the outside, and hydrophilic on the inside (like every drop of oil in water). Many current examples do demonstrate features that are reminiscent of life, and so the study is to improve on these materials, in the hopes that eventually we figure out what happened to make them "spark" to life.

I like this idea because it is a membrane-first type of scenario. I've always thought the idea of naked molecules replicating outside of an enclosed space to be unlikely. It is likely that membranes were there from the very beginning, and there was never a phase where you just have molecules replicating in the open ocean without a cell to enclose them.

Title bugs me because there’s a lot more ‘splainin to do, but discoveries like these do create little islands of plausibility that may connect in the future.

There is an interesting theory that a gradual process of increasing complexity of autocatalytic processes might be more probable to lead to something like life than a sudden abiogenesis event and that there might have been no single event that could be called the beginning of life.

Here is an (accessible?) article on it:


One of the authors (Addy Pross) even wrote a book called What is Life - How Chemistry becomes Biology about this idea (https://www.amazon.de/What-Life-Chemistry-Becomes-Landmark/d... ). There's a review of the book at this link [PDF]: https://www.pagepress.org/journals/index.php/eb/article/view...

Will check those out, thank you.

I can't fathom the odds of a sudden abiogenesis event. If that truly is the source, this can't have been the first cycle of the universe and we are almost certainly the only germline that exists.

It would have to be an undisturbed progression of natural reactions that culminate in what we know as life. It likewise seems very unlikely, but if that happens life is probably all over the universe and still looks a lot like us.

It's perhaps a well-known tidbit of computer history that Alan Turing devoted much effort to the study of Biology and the explanation of the 'algorithmic' nature of life i.e. how protein synthesis could extrapolate to the stripes of a zebra for example; this seems to be the induction step 0 that would bring it all together

Gives the quote "Thousands have lived without love. Not one without water” a whole new meaning.

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