The Next Darwin? MIT Physicist Proposes Mechanism Underlying the Origin of Life –“Order Can Arise from Nothing” (WATCH Today’s ‘Galaxy’ Stream)

 

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“Take chemistry, add energy, get life.” The first tests of MIT’s Jeremy England’s provocative origin-of-life hypothesis show how order can arise from nothing. A prodigy who joined on the physics faculty at MIT at 29, England sees the essence of living things as the exceptional arrangement of their component atoms.


England’s theory describes a simpler, simulated system of chemicals in which it is possible for exceptional structure to spontaneously arise — the phenomenon that England sees as the driving force behind the origin of life. “That doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to acquire that structure.” For an in-depth article on England’s provocative theory see First Support for a Physics Theory of Life in Quanta Magazine,. “If I imagine randomly rearranging the atoms of the bacterium — so I just take them, I label them all, I permute them in space — I’m presumably going to get something that is garbage,” he said. “Most arrangements [of atomic building blocks] are not going to be the metabolic powerhouses that a bacterium is.”

Some researchers see England’s overarching thesis as “necessary but not sufficient” to explain life,” as Sara Walker, a theoretical physicist and origins-of-life specialist at Arizona State University explained to Quanta magazine, because it cannot account for what many see as the true hallmark of biological systems: their information-processing capacity.

“From simple chemotaxis (the ability of bacteria to move toward nutrient concentrations or away from poisons) to human communication, life-forms take in and respond to information about their environment.”

 

David Kaplan a theoretical particle physicist from Johns Hopkins explains how the law of increasing entropy could drive random bits of matter into the stable, orderly structures of life.

 

The Daily Galaxy via Quanta Magazine  and Scientific American 

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