What a novel idea.
Life differs from non-life chiefly in the amount of information it embodies. Not in terms of the sheer randomness of the way it occurs (as in a pile of gravel).
Nonetheless, most origin of life theories that hit the pop science media focus on trying to think up random occurrences that could have somehow happened to result in life.
That’s not just a feature of naturalism in science, it is (supposed to be) a benefit. It doesn’t solve any of the problems, but it is a benefit anyway because it is naturalist.
The basis for Adami’s new approach is the idea that life is fundamentally a phenomenon of information. This allows Adami to ignore all the messy details of chemistry and instead consider life’s most basic properties as ones determined by the nature of information and the laws of physics that govern it.
The key idea in Adami’s formulation is that living systems do not exist in a state of thermodynamic equilibrium but somehow maintain themselves in a state that differs from maximum entropy by a deficit that is equivalent to the information they contain. A characteristic feature of living systems is that they can maintain this difference indefinitely.
he big advantage of an information-theoretic approach is that chemistry is taken out of the question. And although it assumes the existence of self-replicating polymers, these need not be chemical at all. The result is a study of the properties of that is satisfyingly mathematical.
It clearly has more potential. “The information-theoretic musings I have presented here should convince even the skeptics that, within an environment that produces monomers at relative ratios not too far from those found in a self-replicator, the probabilities can move very much in favour of spontaneous emergence of life,” concludes Adami.
Yet it never seems to happen in any real-world setting we can observe.
See also: Data Basic for an introduction to information theory
The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (origin of life) for a quick summary on why no other approach to origin of life has gone anywhere (including this one).
Here’s the paper.
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