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
This is the summaries page. The links in the submenu to the left are to successive chapters giving the main argument. The content of each chapter is very briefly summarized on this page. The links in the main text below will help you find the chapter of interest.
Origin of Life by the Evolution of Prebiotic Oscillations
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Bioepistemic Evolution
Chapter 3 Prebiotic Oscillations
Chapter 4 The Evolution of Oscillations
Chapter 5 Membrane Chemistry
Chapter 6 Catalysts and Droplet Surfaces
Chapter 7 Other Theories of Prebiosis
Chapter 8 Bioepistemic Evolution and the Theory of Prebiotic Oscillations
Chapter 9 The Axiomatic Structure of Evolutionary Theory
Chapter 10 Discussion and Conclusions
References and Links
The primordial soup of early earth contained a mixture of organic chemicals.
Equilibrium reactions in this mixture became established and, every day,
shifted backwards and forwards because of regular changes in temperature
from day to night. In bioepistemic terms, the sun provides a high powered
data input that the primordial soup interprets into various low energy chemical
oscillations. These oscillations become evolving systems with a data input
and interpretative processes. Evolution applied to these oscillations which
were selected due to high energy processes on the early earth. These oscillations
eventually evolved into biochemical pathways and cells.
A basic summary of the conditions thought to have existed on the early earth and during prebiosis, the formation of life. Large scale volcanic activity, UV exposure, high temperatures and storms. The nature of evolution, the inadequacy of the gene theory of evolution to account for prebiosis. The need for a new form of evolutionary theory based on data not genes. Bioepistemic evolution and its application to prebiosis.
A summary of bioepistemic evolution, with special reference to its application to prebiotic evolution and the origin of life beginning with simple chemistry. The distinction between "data" and "information" and its significance for biology. The need for a self-created boundary around an evolving system. The nature of genes and the definition of the gene.
Evolution as the sequence data input, data interpretation, selection of interpretation into knowledge and replication of knowledge with variation. Evolving systems as data systems requiring inputs of data and energy. The need for high-powered data input for prebiotic evolution. The sun as a high-powered data source and prebiotic oscillations in the primordial soup as interpretations of solar data. Controlled and uncontrolled chemistry.
Premises and basic description of the theory of prebiotic oscillations. The sun as a combined oscillating energy and data source that induces chemical oscillations in the prebiotic soup due to the action of the sun on existing chemical equilibria. Boundaries of prebiotic evolving systems and the bounding of prebiotic oscillations in chemical space. Selection and evolution of oscillations. Describing oscillations and criteria for their selective fitness.
Selection of oscillations due to high energy events and competition for carbon. Oscillations are "fit" when protected from high energy events and "unfit" when exposed. Describing oscillations and selection of specific, protected oscillations. Optimal protection. Evolution of specificity and of catalysis. Bounding for catalyzed oscillations. The evolution of self-oscillating biochemical pathways. The origins of allostery and biochemical homeostasis.
Problem of self-bounding of oscillations involving catalysts and the need for boundaries in three dimensional space to contain catalysts and reagents. Hydrophobic, hydrophilic and amphiphiles. Oil/water emulsions and the formation of droplets. Amphiphilic compounds and the formation of micelles. Emulsifiers and the micelle surface as a bounded environment for amphiphiles. Amphiphiles and vesicles.
Problem of bounding oscillations involving catalysts. Oil and water Droplets and micelles as products of uncontrolled chemistry. Amphiphiles as molecules that can create bounded environments. Droplet and micelle surface as a bounded environment and oscillations involving amphiphiles as self-bounding oscillations. Vesicles and bounded environments and as products of adaptive design acting on prebiotic oscillations.
Evolution of amphiphilic oscillations to involve protoenzymes as amphiphilic catalysts. Evolution applying at the level droplets and vesicles to produce a phenotype. Multiple oscillations to produce ,metabolic pathways and coevolutions. Protocells with properties comparable with those of life.
A review of theories for the origin of life. Theory choice - parsimony, Occam's razor and the coherence criterion.
The theory that life arose in some earthly, warm pond and the various mechanisms suggested for that emergence. Intelligent design and extraterrestrial theories. Silicate surface, panspermia, RNA world, replicator, ribozyme, hypercycle, metabolism first theory and lipids first theory, emergence at volcanic vents and emulsions - coacervates. Criticisms of those theories.
Bioepistemic commentary on the theory of prebiotic oscillations. Bioepistemic evolution as a guide to the construction of this theory. Identification of crucial stages in prebiosis - origin of biochemical pathways, coevolution of enzymes with lipid vesicles, oscillating biochemistry, allostery and the emergence of cells. Separation of data and power sources as evidence of prior design in evolving systems, either adaptive or intelligent.
Discussion of the theory of prebiotic oscillations as a theory for the origin of life. Advantages of the theory, superior axiomatic structure, parsimony and richness of content. Limited evidence. Suggestions for further work.
References and links for the theory of the origin of life by the evolution of prebiotic oscillations.
© 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, 13 & 14 February, 2006. This internet version was made available on 6 September, 2006. Comments and criticism are solicited - see the "contact & copyright" link for contact details.