From Talk Origins, a lengthy excursus on the views of mid-twentieth century Nobelist George Wald (1906-1997), excoriating those who misquote him: We nonetheless read that he really did say with amazement:
When we consider the spontaneous origin of a living organism, this is not an event that need happen again and again. It is perhaps enough for it to happen once. The probability with which we: are concerned is of a special kind; it is the probability that an event occur at least once. To this type of probability a fundamentally important thing happens as one increases the number of trials. However improbable the event in a single trial, it becomes increasingly probable as the trials are multiplied. Eventually the event becomes virtually inevitable.
The important point is that since the origin of life belongs in the category of at-least-once phenomena, time is on its side. However improbable we regard this event, or any of the steps which it involves, given enough time it will almost certainly happen at lest once. And for life as we know it, with its capacity for growth and reproduction, once may be enough.
Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two [sic] billion years. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the “impossible” becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait; time itself performs the miracles. More.
Sorry, George. If time alone made the impossible possible, Boltzmann brains would be floating everywhere and the dead would be walking around again.
To understand the origin of life, one must deal with the origin of information.
See also: What we know and don’t know about the origin of life
New Scientist astounds: Information is physical
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