Thursday, February 14, 2013

Show me the Metabolism, Marcomony Part 2.

"What are the requirements a catalytic system of complex polymers (CSCP) must have in order to be relevant to the origin of life?
The CSCP must be secured from the overwhelming tendency of matter and energy to become more randomly distributed in the universe. "

Already here we can see the erosive characteristics of parsimony in action starting to create poisoned fruit. Having rejected Kauffman's model of the origin of life based on CSCP due to not being able to demonstrate metabolism or how it would self generate, it becomes the assumed system for the rest of the post. I would change it to thus: The CSCP or whatever other system relevant to the start of life, must be secured...

In fact when I read it, I had automatically added that to the sentence because a CSCP has a vanishingly small chance of being a descriptive model of what actually hapened. Thus, I agreed with the sentence with a proviso that it does not validate CSCP in any way as a transitionary proto life form.

Thus Marcomony would dictate that we look this as a systems problem rather than as a CSCP problem.

The minimum requirement from a systems perspective is that energy finds its way in, and that the inside can be made less random by making the outside more random. Although that does require at least some "food" or reactants matter to get in and some "waste" or products matter to get out, the minimalist in me is saying that the in could be mainly light, and the out mainly heat, as something non-living that could exist in nature.

Thus a CSCP may or may not be something that comes between non-life and life, or may have been skipped for something that could actually happen, rather than being a wish myth.

When I saw the diagram, I got all excited. When I read about specific chemistry, I got all confused. Not because I didn't understand, but because I was thinking purely in abstract terms of the following.

Condition 1: An Edge.
Condition 2:A Proto-metabolism.
Condition 3: A Selectively Permeable Edge.
Condition 4: A Complexifiable Proto-Metabolism.

Systems we have designed ourselves with a great deal of effort.

 in all this, all it had proved to me that CSCP to do all this is impossible in terms of all the pieces that are required to just come together for no reason.

This is why, about this time last year, I had decided that a comet could provide the required edge to the system, and a catalytic species X would be the resultant more complex, less random thing being generated within the comet(s). The comet surface makes a natural, non-living edge.

Of course, we will have opportunities to see what is in comets now, as an indication of what may have been happening 4 billion years ago.


Chris Fellows said...

What is missing, if the surface of the comet is the 'edge', is any meaningful content to 'the surroundings'; and hence no meaningful magnitude to the in arrow. No flux of matter and energy across the interface into the system = no metabolism.

Marco said...

For a start, at the point of "no meaningful chemical life" is the chaotic point in time of the solar system, where although the outside of the comet would be considered a vaccuum, there would be plenty of molecular dust grains impacting.

I am also using a particularly minimalist definition of metabolism - Like a car metabolises, although obviously when there is no fuel it is going to just sit there waiting for fuel. You know - performs work.

Surely, the fact that modern dormant comets absorb light when near the sun, and give off heat when far away should be enough energy and waste heat exchange to perform something inside definable as metabolism.

If you consider a biosphere as a single metabolic unit, all you need to do is add light for its metabolism inputs.