The theory for the origin of life that emerges from bioepistemic evolution is further developed on the author's newer site - Evolution and Origin
In its rank0 section, that site includes all the origin of life work given here and also extends it to describe chemical, evolutionary mechanisms for the emergence of "bacterial protocells;" although lacking genetics, such protocells would otherwise have resembled bacteria, both chemically and morphologically.
Bioepistemic Evolution and the Origin of Life - Basic Argument
These pages are about prebiotic evolution, the emergence of life from the primordial soup, the aim being to apply bioepistemic evolution to understand the chemistry and physics of that process. The first chemical idea is that the composition of the primordial soup underwent oscillations due to day-night changes in temperature. These prebiotic oscillations will have been subject to evolution and taking them as a starting point, the way in which evolutionary selection can operate on them to produce lifelike entities will be discussed.
The detailed argument is lengthy and involves several stages - links to the left contains lead to more detailed descriptions. The last prebiotic file is the "summaries" page and gives summaries for each of the more detailed pages. This opening page gives the bare bones argument.
Origin of Life via the Evolution of Prebiotic Oscillations
The Basic Argument from Bioepistemic Evolution
The theory takes two sets of premises
- Our current best understanding of the chemical and physical conditions that prevailed on the early earth during the period of life's first emergence. The prebiotic earth is taken to have been quite warm, volcanically active, very moist, stormy and exposed to solar, UV radiation. High energy events in this prebiotic environment, such as UV absorption or lightning discharges, created a complex mixture of organic chemicals called the primordial soup. It is taken that life emerged from this environment by a process of evolution.
- The principles of bioepistemic evolution are applied to these assumed prebiotic conditions. It is they that lead to the more detailed theory to be described in these pages.
Every day, the sun comes up and goes down to produce cyclic changes of temperature. Every year the earth goes through a winter summer cycle. On this basis, the sun was a prebiotic data source which would have produced a replicating data signal of 0,1,0,1 etc. The daily (or yearly) changes of temperature would have shifted many of the primordial soup's chemical equilibria backwards and forwards to produce a mixture of prebiotic oscillations. Each of these oscillations can be seen as a separate interpretation of the sun's data input.
These oscillations will have been subject to selection. Those oscillations whose chemical components have physical properties causing them to build up in environments that are protected from high energy events will accumulate content at the expense of oscillations whose component chemicals are not so protected. Thus certain oscillations, or at least their constituent chemicals, will tend to become more concentrated within the prebiotic soup. As new chemicals arose by chance high energy events, new varieties of oscillation would have emerged. As will be discussed, all the oscillations are bounded, that is, separated from one another in chemical space. (See "Evolution of Oscillations" for a definition of this term.)
Thus, these prebiotic oscillations would have arisen from a replicating data input, followed by interpretation, with variation, into oscillations and the oscillations would have been selected. Thus prebiotic oscillations provide in one concept, all the requirements of bioepistemic evolution :-
- An energy input.
- A replicating data source.
- A variety of interpretations of data into bounded information.
- Selective competition between those interpretations to produce knowledge.
Bioepistemic evolution identifies this same sequence in all forms of evolution.
These files will chart the possible evolutionary development of prebiotic oscillations. It will argue that they have been subject to evolutionary selection and progressive adaptation to produce oscillations resembling and eventually becoming biochemical pathways. Beginning from these premises, mechanisms for the origin of various properties of biochemistry features are developed, including specificity, enzymatic catalysis, membranes, self-oscillation, allostery, energy metabolism and cyclic pathways.
The work will also review other theories of prebiosis and certain principles that must underlie any legitimate evolutionary theorizing.
© John A Hewitt MA PhD (Cantab.)
The work described here was performed as an independent investigation by John A Hewitt who asserts the right to be recognized as its author and as the originator of the novel ideas presented here. The topics to which this claim applies include, but are not limited to, the application of bioepistemic evolution to the prebiotic situation, the discussion of the sun as a data and power source for prebiotic evolving systems, the recognition of sun-induced chemical oscillations as information carriers subject to evolutionary selection and to the theories for the origin of biochemical pathways and self-oscillatory, allosteric and cyclic biochemistry that result.
This study is a greatly extended version of a poster originally presented at the Royal Society meeting on conditions for the emergence of life on the early earth, London, February 13 & 14, 2006.