Let’s step into a time machine of sorts or a “Wayback Machine” (to borrow from one of my favorite boyhood TV series “The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show”) and take a trip back to 2003. During May of that year a paper appeared in the journal Chaos, Solitons and Fractals titled “Minimal-cell system created in laboratory by self-organization” [October 2003, vol. 18, iss. 2, pp. 335-343(9) Elsevier Science)]. This quote is from the introduction:
“In this paper, we would like to inform on the possibility to create in laboratory a gaseous complex space charge configuration (CSCC) by self-organization that could be the simplest possible system able to reveal behaviors usually attributed to a biological cell. In spite of its gaseous nature, such a CSCC satisfies, to a large extent, the criteria usually required for recognizing it as a potential precursor of a living being.”
Don’t let this bit of technalese cause you to close this article and head back to your email, Facebook or what-have-you. Here’s how New Scientist “lay-i-fied” this complex paper:
“Physicists have created blobs of gaseous plasma that can grow, replicate and communicate – fulfilling most of the traditional requirements for biological cells. Without inherited material they cannot be described as alive, but the researchers believe these curious spheres may offer a radical new explanation for how life began” Click to access the entire NS spin
Back in 2003 when I first read this particular paper I was thrilled by its implications for understanding the “shadows on the cave wall” underlying the origins of life and subsequent biological evolution. It underscored something that set the stage for life and which has influenced if not governed it ever since: Namely, nature gave rise to conditions that favored first chemical and later biochemical (biologic) “solutions” or pathways to energy and especially information utilization, conservation and transformation. These pathways for energy utilization and information transfer were in-a-word pre-biological algorithms that gave rise to biological counterparts (biological algorithms); that is, ways of dealing with energy ebb and flow and information transfer and continuity. From these pathways emerged networks of interactive, sometimes interdependent algorithms that conferred survival advantages (were selected for and perpetuated across time) with little modification and those that were more heuristic (Amenable to modification).
DNA and “selfish genes” are thus expressions of, governed by and vehicles for biological pathway solutions (algorithms) to energy and information utilization, conservation and transformation and their perpetuation.
In 2005 I decided to post something on the Web concerning all this which can be found at http://www.healingcare4u.org/fundamental-steps.html (I drew on this to craft this Examiner article). Of course, what is truly fun is to see a train of thought validated; in this case, to see my very simple wheel get independently invented and outfitted with a lot of fancy chrome and spokes (technical expansion & support). Life as an expression of energy and information conserving & perpetuating algorithms received this earlier this year when the renown physicist Paul C. W. Davies (BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University) and Sara Imari Walker (Blue Marble Institute of Science, NASA Astrobiology Institute, and BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science-Arizona State University) published a paper titled “The Algorithmic Origins of Life” which you, dear reader, can access in its entirety at http://arxiv.org/pdf/1207.4803v2.pdf. For those who prefer a less technical spin there is this 12-12-12 article on the Science Daily website http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121212205918.htm
If this hypothesis, this perspective proves fruitful (something I anticipate will prove the case), then we should see it generating inroads in terms of moving scientific origins of life work forward. I also regrettably anticipate seeing it appropriated and repackaged in various guises to prop up a lot of utterly discredited, pseudoscientific nonsense.