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CERN Lends a Hand To the Origin of Life

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the mythical-cluster-month dept.

Supercomputing 69

SpaceKangaroo writes "In May, a small group of chemists and biologists gathered at CERN to get advice from high-energy physics experts on how to 'organize a scientific community from disparate research groups and how to access powerful computational resources.' One guy has already run simulations about the origin of life on the LHC computing grid, finding that a group of 65,000 chemicals has a good chance of creating a 'self-sustaining' system of chemical reactions (similar to life)."

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69 comments

Too vague? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36409244)

'Hordijk and his colleague Mike Steel have developed a model of a chemical reaction system where the probability of an arbitrary molecule being a catalyst for an arbitrary reaction was two in a million, a probability that is “chemically plausible” he said.'

Am I right in thinking this is far too vague to be meaningful?

Re:Too vague? (1, Insightful)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 2 years ago | (#36409348)

I'm thinking that CERN is going to be a vastly expensive and overrated coffee club for the flake of the month club after reading this article.

And if you check what I post - you'll see that I don't actually troll or flamebait. //waiting for the outrage

Gee, I dunno... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36409246)

I think I'll hold off on any speculation until I've reviewed the writings of various Bronze Age goatherders on this subject.

Re:Gee, I dunno... (2)

tloh (451585) | more than 2 years ago | (#36409258)

I think I'll hold off on any speculation until I've reviewed the writings of various Bronze Age goatherders on this subject.

Is that supposed to be a clever GNU joke?

Re:Gee, I dunno... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36409668)

I think I'll hold off on any speculation until I've reviewed the writings of various Bronze Age goatherders on this subject.

I think I'll hold off on any speculation until I've reviewed the writings of various /.ers on this subject.

Re:Gee, I dunno... (2)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 2 years ago | (#36409872)

Is that supposed to be a clever GNU joke?

Sounds like a really, really old joke to me.
Like pre-historic.

65000.. (1)

pouss1 (1437673) | more than 2 years ago | (#36409254)

Curious how close it is to 65535... the limit for unsigned short? I'd like to see they're source code, maybe that's a bug. Or.. wait.. could that mean God is a programmer?

Re:65000.. (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 2 years ago | (#36409360)

Are you suggesting God is the product of the first four Fermat primes? Fascinating, overlord has 65535 sides...

Re:65000.. (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#36444110)

"their", not "they're" (I don't know if English is is your first language ; it's not for my wife and she insists that I correct her, "otherwise, how else will I learn?" ; sadly, this is an old-school Russian school teacher's attitude, not that present in most modern British teachers)

But to answer the point, I think it's coincidence.

To generate a Wachterhauser system, you need at least three interacting catalytic cycles where some of the components in one cycle are also components of the other cycle ; these cycles themselves then need to be arranged cyclically, which I think implies a minimum of three cycles, each of at least two component. With 65,000 components in your original mix, you will then have (crudely) 65,000 * 64,999 * 64,998 * 64,997 * 64,996 * 64,995, which gives you around 7.5Ã--10^28 possible cycles. There's probably redundant cycles in there.

I've neglected the possibility of systems where the same component reappears at several points in the cycle. But that's still going to leave a respectable number of possibilities to be examined.

I think the closeness of the numbers is pure coincidence.

This stuff gave me headaches over a week or so to understand. IIRC (and I'm several days travel from my bookshelves), I got to understand these things by reading Manfred Eigen's book ... (help me, Amazon!) "Steps Towards Life" Manfred Eigen, Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch, Paul Woolley (Author, Translator), ISBN-10: 019854751X ... not Wachterhauser's original publications. But ye Gods, I remember it being hard work!

Getting some hard number-crunchers onto studying this sort of model ... sounds like a good idea to my brain cells. They're cringing at the thought that I may have to read that stuff again!

I know I've missed out at least one umlaut in Wachterhauser's name, if I haven't horribly misspelled it. And another umlaut in "umlaut". But it's the end of a 12-hour shift, and I haven't got the energy to fight with Slashdot's inability to handle most scripts.

It's bedtime for this tired geologist.

So you mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36409432)

God created only those 65000 chemicals to create life?

Life could have started anywhere (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36409562)

The universe far older than our solar system or galaxy and keeps getting "older" with each generation of space telescopes. There is no compelling reason not to believe that "life" couldn't have started somewhere else very far away very long ago and spread throughout the universe inside rocks. Trying to find the origin of life may be as pointless as trying to find the exact origin of any random goop that washes ashore.

Re:Life could have started anywhere (1)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 2 years ago | (#36409902)

The universe far older than our solar system or galaxy and keeps getting "older" with each generation of space telescopes.

Yes, it gets a day older, every single day! Those darn kids with their darn space telescopes, get the heck off my lawn!

Re:Life could have started anywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36410162)

Yes, it gets a day older, every single day!

Not necessarily, it could be moving ;-)
At the very least, its certainly changing shape (expanding), and that shape change may, or may not be accelerating (or decelerating).
Which implies relativity may have an effect,
but now I'm trying to explain a joke, and it really isn't funny any-more.

Age of universe 13.75 billion years... (1)

mrops (927562) | more than 2 years ago | (#36410184)

This may be a little off topic, however I am always confused by the age of the universe being around 13.75 billion years, however the furthest observed object was GRB 090423 is 260 billion light years away.

So, with nothing traveling faster than light, how the hell is this thing 260 billion light years away, shouldn't the max be 13.75 billion light years away, cause nothing travels faster than light?

Can someone explain?

Re:Age of universe 13.75 billion years... (1)

Geirzinho (1068316) | more than 2 years ago | (#36410284)

Easily explained: The actual figure is redshift 8.2, putting it about 13 billion light years away.
 

Re:Age of universe 13.75 billion years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36410874)

So, with nothing traveling faster than light, how the hell is this thing 260 billion light years away, shouldn't the max be 13.75 billion light years away, cause nothing travels faster than light?

Can someone explain?

Expanding universe.

Re:Life could have started anywhere (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#36411700)

Estimates of the age of the universe haven't changed in any major way in decades.

Re:Life could have started anywhere (1)

Latinhypercube (935707) | more than 2 years ago | (#36411880)

Agreed. It is FAR more likely that the basic building blocks for live (complex reproducing molecules) occurred in a near infinite soup of hydrocarbons, ie. in nebula, than on the Earth (whilst it was volcanic and being bombarded with no atmosphere). Given such an improbable event, it becomes more likely the larger the space / greater the mix of chemicals it has to occur in + time. Also, once an event like this occurred in the universe, it would propagate throughout very quickly. eg. Once there is a reproducing molecule in a Nebula cloud, it would eventually fill that cloud. Then all you need is a passing comet / asteroid and the rest is history. This theory also has major implication for life elsewhere. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panspermia [wikipedia.org]

Re:Life could have started anywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36414426)

Science does not require belief, instead it requires evidence and allows an improved understanding of the Universe.

Belief is required by religions, as there are no relevant arguments that are valid. Please leave beliefs and false claims of certainty to religion and other forms of superstition.

So it would probably be better to say: that while we only know of life on our planet, there is no evidence to suggest that life only exists on our planet, but that there is evidence to suggest that life may exist elsewhere in the Universe.

Scratching my head here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36409564)

So...the biology guys asked the physics guys about management and computer science? And I guess borrowed their computer?

Do biology guys not have their own supercomputers and have shitty management?

Re:Scratching my head here (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#36412808)

Supercomputers are expensive. They get loaned between fields all the time. When you've a machine worth so much - and one that you can't just turn off and on with ease - you don't want it sitting idle.

Proof that the LHC is a god killing machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36409566)

First the "god particle" and now this? What next, is the LHC going to stand outside theatres and tell people the ending to movies?

Origin of life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36409644)

LOL

There is one funny thing. If it doesnt work....who cares, but if it works there are somewhat 6 billion People that will need anti depressants.

In the beginning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36409694)

Shouldn't take more than three days for plant life [wikipedia.org] now should it?

Ahead of the Curve (1)

zigmeister (1281432) | more than 2 years ago | (#36409762)

Seriously, should they not already know how to organize a scientific community for sharing/publishing/researching/peer reviewing stuff? It's not like the field has been around for a while... Also, let's play a game. It's called spot the problems with this statement from the perspective of the scientific method, "One guy has already run simulations ... finding that a group of 65,000 chemicals has a good chance..."

Overall /. editors are busy being morons again, or this was a horribly written article, or a horribly organized event.

padis mart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36409908)

www.pardismart.ir

Humans seeking complex answers to simple problems? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36409984)

Sigh. What part of Genesis 1 don't these "smart" guys understand? You see when you look for answers with a preconceived notion. you'll always find what you want to find. ...In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth. simples.

Re:Humans seeking complex answers to simple proble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36410454)

And what part of Human Evolution you don't understand about "unnecessary and unjustifiable pride" in postings like this?
All "religious" people that don't understand the value of real Human Spirituality this researches are manifesting should reflect.
All this "religious" people that give such "simply" answers on all questions (and then not solving anything) using "God's name in vain", as you do, should reflect that they contradict what themselves claim...

Re:Humans seeking complex answers to simple proble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36410568)

Sigh. What part of Genesis 1 don't these "smart" guys understand? You see when you look for answers with a preconceived notion. you'll always find what you want to find. ...In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth. simples.

+5 Funny

Re:Humans seeking complex answers to simple proble (2)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#36410912)

Simple?

Yeah, right. Some joker says "Let there be light.", and I end up having to wade through vector calculus and Maxwell's equations.

Re:Humans seeking complex answers to simple proble (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#36412698)

Some joker says "Let there be light.", and I end up having to wade through vector calculus and Maxwell's equations.

Or, as the t-shirt that I have says:

God said ...
<Maxwell's equations>
... and there was light.

Re:Humans seeking complex answers to simple proble (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#36411974)

What's so hard to understand about the birthday paradox?!

It's a mathematically provable event. Even given the very minuscule chance that a combinational event will occur, such as RNA/DNA/amino acid chains forming, if you increase the number of chances in parallel the probability quickly tends towards 1.

We found that if you take a bunch of sterilized rocks, water, CO2, Methane, etc (stuff that's here, and great quantities in other places in the universe, even in our own solar system), and zap in with static electricity (lightning, which we know happens elsewhere i.e. Mars has it) a bunch of times amino acids form. (The building blocks of life).

Now let's say there's a very small chance that a small simple strand of RNA could randomly form from a mixture of amino acids subjected to heat and cooling, lightning, and even cosmic radiation. If you have gobs and gobs of amino acids, this greatly increases the chance that life will emerge. If you comprehend the true size of the universe, and the plentiful number of stars, it's damn dear impossible to think that similar planets to our own are not out there. Their very existence also vastly increases the chance that life will form.

I would say, as a living entity, that I'm not very surprised that I'm alive. Rather, I'm surprised that anyone believes the odds that life would emerge cold no be very good without the assistance of a God. To these such people, I say: "I forbid you from using any hashing algorithms beyond MD5" I say, we should force them realize their folly in dismissing the birthday paradox...

Life: Birthday paradox. Simples.

Re:Humans seeking complex answers to simple proble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36412214)

I don't see how the birthday paradox enters into it. This is just the law of large numbers.

The birthday paradox is that there is a limited event space, and for each previous event there's a higher chance of overlap because larger parts of the event space is filled. This factor does not enter into the origin of life.

Re:Humans seeking complex answers to simple proble (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#36414624)

What's so hard to understand about the birthday paradox?!

Apparently what it means [wikipedia.org] ;).

We found that if you take a bunch of sterilized rocks, water, CO2, Methane, etc (stuff that's here, and great quantities in other places in the universe, even in our own solar system), and zap in with static electricity (lightning, which we know happens elsewhere i.e. Mars has it) a bunch of times amino acids form. (The building blocks of life).

So why isn't there life on Mars? You are refuting your own point here.

I would say, as a living entity, that I'm not very surprised that I'm alive. Rather, I'm surprised that anyone believes the odds that life would emerge cold no be very good without the assistance of a God. To these such people, I say: "I forbid you from using any hashing algorithms beyond MD5" I say, we should force them realize their folly in dismissing the birthday paradox...

The problem here is, it's not sufficient to get the same molecule - any molecule - twice to get life started (which is what birthday paradox refers to). You need to get a molecule within a limited set, and even self-replicating molecule might be insufficient - I'd say you need to get to at least primitive bacteria before you have sufficient complexity to guarantee further evolution.

Life: Birthday paradox. Simples.

Life: an extremely complex phenomenom, which is not currently sufficiently well understood to say anything definitive about the forms it might take, the chances of its emerging randomly, or the preconditions for such emergency.

It's in the bible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36410090)

In the beginning there was the word, and the word was 16-bit unsigned integer.

Re:It's in the bible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36410964)

In the beginning there was the word, and the word was 16-bit unsigned integer.

It was a signed integer, heretic. The Bible clearly says so.

Re:It's in the bible. (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#36412758)

Heh. Is there really a biblical passage implying that those goatherds 3000 to 2000 years ago had a concept of negative numbers? I don't recall reading of evidence that even the Greek merchants of 2000 years ago had such a concept, though they had addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Also, I haven't read of anyone in the Middle East treating zero as a number before they learned the trick from India.

But I'd be interested in reading about such things, if there's reliable evidence of them. Preferable in classical Greek or Aramaic or some such; a 17th-century translation to English isn't very convincing (especially considered the known translation errors ;-).

The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (0)

mrtwice99 (1435899) | more than 2 years ago | (#36410754)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth

I know most of you don't like that answer, but its much more sane than arguing for a giant explosion out of nothing, some accidental joining of proteins in primordial soup, and billions of years of accidental gene mutation and natural selection culminating in the world as we know it. Believing in either option requires faith, but believing in God takes less faith than believing in that!

Really, think about it.

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36410972)

Not really... having a giant explosion out of nothing is a very easy to understand and prove concept.

Qualified scientist peers all over the world can reproduce the same result any time at their will and come to the same conclusion over and over again - that's the only qualifier what makes it a scientifically acceptable view - as opposed to your ridiculous "In the beginning, God created heavens and the earth".

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36411080)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth

I know most of you don't like that answer, but its much more sane than arguing for a giant explosion out of nothing, some accidental joining of proteins in primordial soup, and billions of years of accidental gene mutation and natural selection culminating in the world as we know it. Believing in either option requires faith, but believing in God takes less faith than believing in that!

Really, think about it.

I can't roll my eyes hard enough at this, even though I'm sure it's a troll. The "god did it answer" is just an admission of willful ignorance. If God created the universe then there was something mechanical occurring. God did something very complex to create all that is, if he did indeed do that. Furthermore to believe in the concept of a higher being creating all that is only raises further questions about how that higher being came to be and so on. So really the only difference between a scientific inquiry into the birth of the universe and believing that "god did it" is that with the latter you don't need to think.

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#36411162)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth

I know most of you don't like that answer, but its much more sane than arguing for a giant explosion out of nothing, some accidental joining of proteins in primordial soup, and billions of years of accidental gene mutation and natural selection culminating in the world as we know it. Believing in either option requires faith, but believing in God takes less faith than believing in that!

Really, think about it.

Hmm. Not sure if troll. Meh, here goes.

We have evidence of the big bang in the form of cosmic background radiation. The big bang is an interesting anomaly, in that we don't know what caused it (that scares the shit out of me -- how do I know one isn't going to happen anywhere at any time!) However, we also see little bangs that sort of mimic big bang processes (supernovae), and evidence of other strange anomalies such as black holes (which compress and heat things beyond imagination). To me, these evidences lend credence to the big bang theory.

We have experimented by applying heat and electricity to sterilized rocks, minerals, and gases believed to prevalent in our early planetary history, and found amino acids -- The building blocks of life.

By our estimates this planet has been around for approximately 4 billion years, that's a lot of time. It doesn't seem too far fetched to think that chains of amino acids could form, and that those chains of molecules (RNA?) could replicate. It seems reasonable to think that the more sturdy of the replication techniques would naturally yield more than other forms, and that replication may be possible from within the protective, semi-permeable envelope of fatty acids (lipids), and that this may be even more conducive to replication given the increased durability and ability to keep from breaking down in a bit harsher environments.

What does sound ridiculous to me is that a mythical sky wizard was bored of all the nothingness, talked himself into creating a universe out of the nothingness (hmm, big bang?). Got bored (over eons?) with all the predictable rock collisions and stars etc, and manually assembled organic life (through trial and error? over eons?), then got bored with that and created sentient beings (with chemical computers in their heads, via trial and error? -- I mean, lots of other pretty smart chemical computer organisms exist), got bored with them, and abandoned the experiments (for some other great purpose? Perhaps to try again on another planet?).

Yes, to me it seems ridiculous that an all powerful being, possessing the same inquisitive nature as his human creations, would not create control groups, or as much diversity as possible -- I mean, if one planet is dandy, why not billions of worlds of life? (That would be even neater to God, eh? Oh yeah, that's right... I forgot about the "Angels" o_O).

I can't fathom why many believers in God reject the process of evolution -- I mean, If I were a God I would look for some sustainable solution to life procreation and development so I didn't have to spend my whole time doing everything for everyone forever... Perhaps something exactly like evolution -- It seems the simplest way to manufacture "free will" that doesn't require God's constant exertion of power. I myself do not believe a God exists, but if you do, at least give the guy some credit for what he's done!

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (3, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#36411348)

giant explosion out of nothing

Sigh - The universe expanded from a singularity, a singularity is not nothing. However that major misconception is the least of the problems in your post.

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (1)

mrtwice99 (1435899) | more than 2 years ago | (#36411556)

Sigh - The universe expanded from a singularity, a singularity is not nothing.

interesting, I agree that I misrepresented that point. So, it sounds like the big bang theory is not an "origin of the universe" theory at all. Its an "evolution" of the universe theory. That point escaped me until now.

So where did the singularity come from?

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36411612)

Well, by that logic, where did God come from? I'm semi religious a lot of the time and I can't even accept the first cause argument as proof of God. I don't think you're going to get a satisfying answer to the origin of "everything" religion or no.

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#36411836)

To me the Prime Mover arguments falls on its own logic. If the Universe requires a creator, then why is the creator immune from the requirement? If one can posit an entity that does not require a beginning, then an application of Occam's Razor will remove the unnecessary entity and arrive at the conclusion that the easiest explanation is to give that particular property to the Universe itself.

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (1)

quax (19371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36412054)

It is pretty well established philosophically that there is no purely logical way to prove or disprove and existence of God (as usually imagined in the Christian) doctrine [wikipedia.org] .

After all these kind of arguments have been going on for about forever.

It's called believe for a good reason. I don't mind believers of whatever persuasion as long as they don't stray onto the turf of science.

The catholic church after fighting this with their considerable power throughout the centuries finally wised up to the fact that they are fighting a loosing battle. [boston.com]

Pretty ironic: I guess if you don't want to have your kids subjected to Intelligent Design in the US you'd better send them to a catholic school.

 

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#36411820)

The singularity is technically a point at which equations break down. The singularity at the beginning of the Big Bang is a point at which current physics breaks down. There are notions that the whole thing could have started as a quantum fluctuation. Brane theory has other ideas. At the end of the day, we don't know yet. Inserting God into the equation does nothing to help us explain the origin of the universe. Since God can explain all possible observations, ultimately invocation of such a being explains nothing.

Beyond that, I'm not even sure your question is sensible. As Hawking famously said, it's like asking what's north of the North Pole. Why do people insist that causality must apply to the beginning of the Universe? Why does the Universe have to have a beginning? The very problem may be nothing more than the side-effect of the way a certain group of sentient apes on the third planet of an ordinary yellow star in the suburbs of a typical spiral galaxy perceive time and physical interactions. Surely quantum mechanics has given us enough indication as to how things really are to suggest that simplistic invocations of "everything has a beginning" is illusory.

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#36414756)

So where did the singularity come from?

In science it's ok to say "we don't know", that answer may be unsatisfying but at least it's honest.

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#36411734)

What you've done is formulated an argument from incredulity. That is not a critique. That's just an expression of prejudice.

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (1)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 2 years ago | (#36411930)

"I know most of you don't like that answer"

its the easiest answer because it allows you not to think or comprehend or try to comprehend.
I still can't get my head around infinity.

"Believing in either option requires faith, but believing in God takes less faith than believing in that!"

no, the first option is still being worked on so not a final answer - its a beta version - and the latter option is complete bollocks

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (1)

Latinhypercube (935707) | more than 2 years ago | (#36411994)

well, there is every chance that there was something before the big bang. The latest theories coming from Roger Penrose (one of the proponents of the big bang), is that there are shock wave artifacts left in the universe from previous big bangs. Another idea that is gathering strength is that there STILL IS NOTHING ie. Anti-matter + matter = nothing. So the universe is a WAVE, ie. it adds up to 0, but is described by vibrations at many different frequencies, this is a theory being proposed by Laura Mersini-Houghton (though I am probably butchering it).

However, none of these theories distracts from the fact that all religions, including the bible are SOO SMALL MINDED as to be laughable. In fact, it seems like they were written by a bunch of goat herders instead of a supreme being. No religious books describe space, or gravity, or magnetism, or dna, or evolution, or electricity, or disease, or medicine. They are quite obviously written my prehistoric morons. I prefer to label religion as FARMER FICTION. It was their child-like way of describing the unknown, whilst also leveraging the fact that PEOPLE ARE SCARED OF THE UNKNOWN AND DYING. End of story.

Re:The origin of life, hah, thats easy... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#36412834)

Option one: A bloody big lump of randomly-arranged mass-energy appeared, apparently spontainously, through processes we don't understand.
Option two: A fully formed sentient entity posessing omnipotent powers and intelliect beyond description ready-loaded with all the knowledge that could ever be known appeared, apparently spontainously.

Hmm... I admit, option one does sound unlikely. But it's still a lot more plausible than option two.

Stupid Waste (1)

xdor (1218206) | more than 2 years ago | (#36412554)

So while we're wasting energy, resources, and brain power on cosmogony, the Chinese are applying all of that to what we have now. [slashdot.org]

Western science needs to get over itself, accept what we have, and move on to making our lives better.

Re:Stupid Waste (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 2 years ago | (#36414066)

Who the hell are you? the universal accountant working on the budget for project "human progress" ?

Similar to life != life (1)

Anonymous Admin (304403) | more than 2 years ago | (#36412608)

Either its alive or its dead. There really isnt a middle ground here. Its not mostly alive, or mostly dead. Its one or the other. Wake me up when its anything except dead.

Re:Similar to life != life (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | more than 2 years ago | (#36414208)

What about viruses? When they're just floating around they're not really alive. But as soon as they latch onto an appropriate cell, they start replicating, etc.

Re:Similar to life != life (1)

Cinnamon Whirl (979637) | more than 2 years ago | (#36416316)

I would say that a 'self-sustaining' system of chemical reactions is life, or at least as good a definition as possible that would encompass even the most basic of lifeforms we know of. Whether those lifeforms are selfcontained (cells) or just an amorphous goop of chemicals that can catalyst the formation of themselves (or each other) in such a way as to eventually convert a significant part of their local ecosystem into clones of themselves (a possible/probable starting point for abiogenesis) is not a distinction it is possible to make when defining the origins of life.

Re:Similar to life != life (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 2 years ago | (#36422206)

Either its alive or its dead. There really isnt a middle ground here. Its not mostly alive, or mostly dead. Its one or the other.

You've clearly never explored contents of a feral fridge.

Re:Similar to life != life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36434064)

Life is a process, not a property of a thing. There is middle ground in the possibility of processes that are analogous to biological life without using the same channels of metabolism, reproduction, etc.

Moreover, the atoms in your body were dead before, they're alive now, and will be dead again when they leave your body. They'll be alive again when they're incorporated into another living thing's body.

There's no dividing line you can point at in chemistry where you can say "this molecule is alive, and that one is dead." They all follow the same rules of chemistry and physics, bonding, cleaving, reacting, bouncing around with thermal energy, etc.

Almost everything around you has been both living and dead at some point.

Apologies for what's written below. (1)

Dabido (802599) | more than 2 years ago | (#36416392)

'... a group of 65,000 chemicals has a good chance of creating a 'self-sustaining' system of chemical reactions (similar to life).'

KIRK: Bones, what can you tell me about these 65,000 chemicals?

McCoy: Well, it's similar to life, Jim. But not as we know it.'

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