Picture Credit – Ebay
In October 2013, The Origin of Life Prize offer was put on hold. Why? Over the 13 years since the 1.35 million dollar prize was announced in NATURE and SCIENCE, no submission has ever made it past the screening judges to higher-level judges. Sadly, no submission has ever addressed to any of the questions below, for which the Prize offer was instituted.
Here were the original questions:
“Just include the following in your answer”:
- The simplest known genome‘s apparent anticipation and directing of future events toward biological ends, both metabolic and structural;
- Not just the rise of genetic information, but the ability of the genome to give instructions, deliver orders, and actually produce the needed end-products;
- The indirectness of recipe-like biological “linguistic” message code _ the gap between genotypic information and phenotypic expression. How did the first genetic information arise in its coded format prior to phenotypic realization of progeny from which the environment could select? If a protobiont’s genetic code and phenotype were one and the same, how did such a simple system thermodynamically meet the eight minimum conditions of “life” enumerated below? How did stellar energy, the four known forces of physics, and natural process produce initial information/recipe using direct or indirect code?
- The bizarre concentration of single-handed optical isomers (homochirality of enantiomers) in living things – how did a pure population of left-handed amino acids or right-handed sugars arise out of a chemical environment wherein reactions ordinarily give rise to roughly equal numbers of both right- and left-handed optical isomers?
- The already sophisticated isotope fractioning by earliest life forms such as those in the Akilia rocks.
Conditions of “life”
- Delineate itself from its environment through the production and maintenance of a membrane equivalent, most probably a rudimentary or quasi-active-transport membrane necessary for selective absorption of nutrients, excretion of wastes, and overcoming osmotic and toxic gradients,
- Write, store, and pass along into progeny seemingly conceptual information needed for organization; provide instructions for energy derivation and for needed metabolite production and function; symbolically encode and communicate functional message through a transmission channel to a receiver/decoder/effector mechanism; integrate past, present and future time into its biological information content,
- Bring to pass the above recipe instructions into the production or acquisition of actual catalysts, co-factors, etc.; physically orchestrate the biochemical processes/pathways of metabolic reality; manufacture and maintain physical cellular architecture,
- Capture, transduce, store, and call up energy for utilization (work),
- Actively self-replicate, not just passively polymerize or crystallize, passing along the apparatus and “know-how” for reproduction into progeny,
- Self-monitor and repair its constantly deteriorating physical matrix of biological information,
- Develop or grow from immaturity to reproductive maturity, and
Theorists struggle to generate a model or theory that addresses any of the most important questions of life origin, such as the ones they pose below…..
The Fundamental Questions for Life Origin Research –
How did molecular evolution generate metabolic recipe and instructions using a representational symbol system?
How did prebiotic nature set all of the many configurable switch-settings to integrate so many interdependent circuits?
How did inanimate nature sequence nucleotides to spell instructions to the ribosomes on how to sequence amino acids into correctly folding proteins?
How did nature then code these instructions into Hamming block codes to reduce noise pollution in the Shannon channel?
What programmed the error-detection and error-correcting software that keeps life from quickly deteriorating into non-life?
In short, which of the four known forces of physics organized and prescribed life into existence? Was it gravity? Was it the strong or weak nuclear force? Was it the electromagnetic force? How could any combination of these natural forces or force fields program decision nodes to prescribe future utility?
Why and how would a prebiotic environment value, desire or seek to generate utility?
Can chance and/or necessity program or prescribe sophisticated biofunction?
Life is utterly dependent upon the steering of reaction sequences into biochemical pathways and cycles.
Life pursues the goal of staying alive. All known life is cybernetic, meaning controlled. Life’s most prominent attribute is programming and tight regulation at every turn. Yet programming, prescription, control and regulation are all formalisms, not mere physicodynamic interactions. The programming of life is what makes life unique [1-3]
Metabolism First models cannot sustain themselves as perpetual motion machines, even in open environments, without heritable formal instructions needed to circumvent locally and temporarily 2nd Law organizational and useful energy deterioration.
Prescription and programming arise only out of Decision Theory, not Stochastic Theory.
How did prebiotic nature program the first decision nodes? Only Choice-Contingent Causation and Control (CCCC) could possibly program a genome and epigenome.
The Origin-of-Life Foundation, Inc.®. (http://www.us.net/life/)