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Paper dates origin of life at 9.7 billion years ago

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Further to “Life originated only fifteen million years after the Big Bang?”, a friend kindly writes to remind us of a paper last year, arguing a similar position: Life Before Earth, by Alexei A. Sharov and Richard Gordon, arguing,

An extrapolation of the genetic complexity of organisms to earlier times suggests that life began before the Earth was formed. Life may have started from systems with single heritable elements that are functionally equivalent to a nucleotide. The genetic complexity, roughly measured by the number of non-redundant functional nucleotides, is expected to have grown exponentially due to several positive feedback factors: gene cooperation, duplication of genes with their subsequent specialization, and emergence of novel functional niches associated with existing genes. Linear regression of genetic complexity on a log scale extrapolated back to just one base pair suggests the time of the origin of life 9.7 billion years ago. This cosmic time scale for the evolution of life has important consequences: life took ca. 5 billion years to reach the complexity of bacteria; the environments in which life originated and evolved to the prokaryote stage may have been quite different from those envisaged on Earth; there was no intelligent life in our universe prior to the origin of Earth, thus Earth could not have been deliberately seeded with life by intelligent aliens; Earth was seeded by panspermia; experimental replication of the origin of life from scratch may have to emulate many cumulative rare events; and the Drake equation for guesstimating the number of civilizations in the universe is likely wrong, as intelligent life has just begun appearing in our universe. Evolution of advanced organisms has accelerated via development of additional information-processing systems: epigenetic memory, primitive mind, multicellular brain, language, books, computers, and Internet. As a result the doubling time of complexity has reached ca. 20 years. Finally, we discuss the issue of the predicted technological singularity and give a biosemiotics perspective on the increase of complexity.

Okay, we can have a Big Bang, as long as we can have life predating Earth. Is that it?

Clearly, there was not enough time for life to get started on Earth, given current assumptions. Otherwise, this sort of theorizing would not be treated with such respect.

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9.7B vs 3.4B doesn't make one lick of difference. It is a rounding error. Life wouldn't arise on its own in 100B years. It is not even close. Eric Anderson
See "Rare Earth". The early stars do not produce enough of the heavier elements ("metals") such as oxygen, carbon, and iron to produce Life. It requires 2 or 3 generations of stars going nova to create enough Star Dust from which planets capable of sustaining life can form. I suppose this might have happened in the first 5 billion years after the Big Bang, but it's not considered likely. Of course if there is a Designer, the Designer could of course have arranged for a special star to form from a special, low probability dust cloud that included all of the heavier elements. Etc., etc. But this still suggests that Earth was designed and constructed for the purpose of receiving Life from the original source. I don't see what this changes. mahuna
I would argue Original Sin is universal along with Garden of Eden and Jesus Christ. "Not of this World" means "not of this Universe", not only "not of this Planet". That is what I would argue. I'd lose the argument, sure:) Vatican stance is other world/life may well exist - but Original Sin is Earthly human. ppolish
p.p.s. Important aspect to the above scenario. This just discusses getting the organic molecules to earth, not life... Surely, if the molecules can't survive for the most part, then the lifeform would be dead on arrival. Afterall, decay/split say half of the large organic molecules throughout your body equally, and ask yourself if you would expect to be live. Same applies to even a single celled ifeform. JGuy
This is impossible if they think life is hitching a ride on rocks flying through space. The times would be too long for any organic material to not decompose. Assume for a moment a most generous case. And start with already intelligent life and a rocket powered spaceship or capsule filled with not just organic molecules, but some lifeform(s) itself....frozen... The ship is on auto-pilot... Would any of the organic molecules comprising the life forms survive a trip from even the nearest star to our solar system? For example: Rough calculations. A 4.2 light year trip at mach 50 (I think this is about the speed of one of the Voyager probes) relative to the origin...would take about 6 to 7 million years - if the path was straight and the destination was not moving away from you. p.s. We're assuming the spaceship or pod does not degrade and any needed functions remain functional for the extreme duration of the trip. JGuy

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