----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, January 01, 2012 10:46 AM
Subject: [evol-psych] Re: Essay: How to bring life to your newly
acquired holiday planet [First tentative (and incomplete) draft]
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org
"Robert Karl Stonjek" <stonjek@...> wrote:
> How to bring life
to your newly acquired holiday planet
> The very first life may well
have set the agenda for all life that followed, but what was the first life and
how was it any different to the non-life that came before
That essay has the great merit of staying squarely in the
realm of chemistry. Gone are the days when life was thought to be a one-time,
unique, chance event that just happened on the earth. That once-popular scenario
was only slightly more plausible than the notion of a mystic special creation.
As in the case of any scientific theory, we need to begin by drawing upon what
we already understand about similar or related phenomena.
Life is special
or unusual in the same sense that petroleum or sugar or cellulose are unusual.
Those long complex chains of atoms do not form naturally in
space or in
stars, but only on relatively cool planets long after the Big Bang. Life is even
more special or unusual than those organic polymers, but just as inevitable as
any chemical process when conditions are suitable for its formation.
to put it another way, life is special in the same sense that the "dilute, hot
soup" of the early oceans of the primitive earth was special. Instead of asking
"How common is life in the universe?" we could just as well ask "How common are
dilute, hot oceanic soups in the universe?" The two questions really amount to
the same thing.
Along the same lines, the question: "Could there be
radically different kinds of life capable of surviving in extreme environments?"
is much the same as the question: "Are there radically different versions of
organic chemistry, such that other types of polymers could form in, say, gas
giants like Jupiter?" That seems questionable. Perhaps carbon and its compounds
is the whole story for the formation of life, in the same sense that hydrogen
and helium are the whole story as to formation of stars and their histories.
Donald W. Zimmerman
Vancouver, BC, Canadadwzimm@...http://www3.telus.net/public/a7a82899
Diversification between (living)
environment and the more independent living entity starts sometime after the
first process precursory to the life we are familiar with begins. Life is
a property of the interaction between two regions of the environment, one
smaller and contained and the other larger and open.
This view is different to the generally accepted notion
that life is a property of a thing or entity as if life were somehow contained
within it. But in all cases apart from those entities that can suspend
interaction with the environment and continue it later (seeds, frozen insects
etc), a cessation of interaction marks the point of death.
This form of modelling resolves the folk ideas
about the living environment without interfering with the biological definition
of cellular based life forms. But it does have the potential of bridging
the gap between non-life processes and first cells.
Note that the simplest first process I mentioned, two
interdependent chemical reactions separated by a semipermeable barrier, results
in two chemical environments that remain 'far from equilibrium', the simplest
test of life on a planet (if atmosphere is in chemical equilibrium then life can
not be present on that planet). This observation was made by Lovelock some
time ago and is, I am told, used in exobiology to determine the prospects of
life outside the planet Earth to this day.
This kind of non-equilibrium process must have spread,
and spreading has been the number one predisposition ever since. Spreading
spatially is one form, spreading temporally is another (this requires a
sufficient portion of the population to reproduce) and spreading to other
processes is yet another. The spread to at least one form of information
has been noted to death by the Dawkinsonians.
Adapting or responding to the environment is also a
property of the simple barrier model, so that is also just as fundamental.
In fact all of the processes essential to life as catalogued by biology are
present in the model, but the model also includes the environment as an
essential first step.
Note that when this semipermeable 'barrier' forms a ring
that encloses some process then the whole enterprise becomes mobile, but unlike
the simple barrier that may get longer and break off independent pieces,
'reproduction' is more complex for the enclosure. But time is on its side