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Biochemist Fuz Rana on a curious pattern in the origin of life algorithm, Alchemy


In the past, a curious pattern wouldn’t have been visible due to the lack of computing resources:

Biochemist Fazale Rana notes that the laws of physics and chemistry may well have been “rigged” to ensure that life’s building blocks naturally emerged.

He notes, the massive computer crunch did turn up something quite interesting: A pattern that played itself out repeatedly, which suggests that chemistry might be rigged to produce life:

“As a case in point, it is provocative that the 82 biotic compounds which formed—a small fraction of the nearly 37,000 compounds generated by the in silico reactions—all share a suite of physicochemical properties that make these compounds unusually stable and relatively unreactive. These qualities cause these materials to persist in the prebiotic setting. It is also intriguing that these 82 compounds display synthetic redundancy, with the capability of being generated by several distinct chemical routes. It is also fortuitous that these compounds possess the just-right set of properties—many of which overlap with the set of properties that distinguish them from the vast number of abiotic compounds—that make them ideally suited to survive on early Earth and useful as building block materials for life.”

In other words, there appear to be constraints on prebiotic chemistry that inevitably lead to the production of key biotic molecules with the just-right properties that make them unusually stable and ideally suited for life. …

News, “Has a computer algorithm discovered the secret of life?” at Mind Matters News

You may also enjoy: Elon Musk tweet shows why many doubt origin of life studies. Musk was talking about the origin of machines, not life, but the principle is, perhaps surprisingly, the same. (Jonathan Bartlett)


To what extent does life simply invent itself as it goes along. The evidence may surprise us. (Eric Holloway)

Fine-tuning strikes me as a weak argument for design. Life is almost infinitely adaptable, thanks to negative feedback and epigenes. Life finds a way to live in all sorts of "impossible" situations, including the "wrong" sets of basic chemicals. There are probably limits to this adaptability, but it seems like we find new and astonishing examples every time we take off the theory goggles and look. The fact of adaptability is more amazing, and more persuasively 'designish', than the existence of a certain set of conditions, whether the conditions are temperature and atmosphere or chemicals. polistra

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