From Yu Liu and David Sumpter at ArXiv:
Spontaneous emergence of self-replication in chemical reaction systems
Explaining the origin of life requires us to explain how self-replication arises. To be specific, how can a self-replicating entity develop spontaneously from a chemical reaction system in which no reaction is self-replicating? Previously proposed mathematical models either supply an explicit framework for a minimal living system or only consider catalyzed reactions, and thus fail to provide a comprehensive theory. We set up a general model for chemical reaction systems that properly accounts for energetics, kinetics and the conservation law. We find that (1) some systems are collectively-catalytic where reactants are transformed into end products with the assistance of intermediates (as in the citric acid cycle), while some others are self-replicating where different parts replicate each other and the system self-replicates as a whole (as in the formose reaction); (2) many alternative chemical universes often contain one or more such systems; (3) it is possible to construct a self-replicating system where the entropy of some parts spontaneously decreases, in a manner similar to that discussed by Schrodinger; (4) complex self-replicating molecules can emerge spontaneously and relatively easily from simple chemical reaction systems through a sequence of transitions. Together these results start to explain the origins of prebiotic evolution. (abstract) pdf. More.
If life can “emerge spontaneously and relatively easily from simple chemical reaction systems through a sequence of transitions,” why don’t we ever see it happening today?
The Darwinsplaining usually amounts to the claim that a spontaneously assembling life form today would be eaten by more advanced organisms. But that’s no real answer. First, we are not talking about rare events but about an event we have never witnessed. Complete absence requires a better explanation.
Second, being more advanced or complex would not necessarily give preexisting life forms an advantage. Viruses, after all, fell humans worldwide, despite our best efforts.
But give these researchers full marks for bravado.
See also: Researchers: Water-based life could get started randomly on Earth if we leave out the water
Should we look for alien life that doesn’t need oxygen? Mustn’t put all our eggs in one basket? But there are no eggs. There is no basket. At this point, now that SETI is uncertain about even looking for intelligence as such, it is not clear what we are looking for or why. They now say that really good space alien technology would appear to be just nature. So why might not ET life forms appear to be just rocks?
Experimental physicist Rob Sheldon on the recent merely “plausible” origin of life find
Steve Benner: Origin of life field beset by shortage of ideas, science by overflow of consensus
What we know and don’t know about the origin of life