## Calculating the Odds of life

For discussing anything related to physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and their practical applications.

Moderator: Flannel Jesus

### Calculating the Odds of life

Determining the odds of life is extremely difficult. Moreover, we have no definition for the word impossible. At what point do odds become so large that we must confess that they are impossible? Fortunately I think I have come up with a plausible definition for the word impossible. I was actually rather amazed but scientists are confident that they can determine the number of atoms in the universe, 10^80. We also know roughly how many seconds have elapsed in the history of the universe, 10^17, however it would be anthrocentric to assume that particles are bound by human time, so let's split a second into a thousand parts, a millisecond, which will then make that number 10^20. These two numbers will serve as our guide to determine the impossible.
In determining life's odds we face many difficulties, for example, how do you determine the odds of certain billiard balls in constant motion hitting one another and landing in certain pockets? That would be extraordinarily difficult. Fortunately, if we tilt the odds in favor of randomness and if the odds are still ridiculously large, we can assume that longer odds also cannot be hit. We know, for example, how many DNA base pairs exist in the Mycoplasma Mycoides which was the bacteria reconstructed by a team of twenty scientists headed by Hamilton Smith, which is roughly 600,000. It is somewhat complicated how DNA pairs link up, for example, A can only link to T and G can only link to C, but the combination AT and ATA are both possible. So for the purposes of this experiment we will simplify matters and say that there are only two possibilities AT or GC, or heads and tails. Again, we are vastly oversimplifying things because just to get the nucleotide Adenine (A), we need to get five carbon to link with five Hydrogen to link with five Nitrogen. So let's just imagine that for life to occur these base DNA pairs must be placed in a precise sequence. I'm sure some mistakes are possible and that perhaps only 90% need be in a precise sequence but whatever that threshold is, it is most likely near 100%, in any case as you will soon see, it does not matter. What we will now do is determine the odds of a coin being flipped heads 600,000 times in a row. Then we will imagine that we have as many coins as there are atoms in the Universe and we will flip them once per millisecond. For something to be possible the odds of it happening must be near one to one provided we flipped 10^80 coins an amount times equal to the number of milliseconds that have elapsed in the Universe which is 10^20. So what are the odds of flipping a coin heads 600,000 times in a row? I had a tough time determining this but luckily Excel was able to calculate the odds of flipping a coin heads 500 times in a row. There is a pattern between flipping a coin heads 200, 300, 400 and 500 times in a row.

Odds of flipping a coin heads

100 = 1 in 1.27 * 10^30
200 = 1 in 1.61 * 10^60
300 = 1 in 2.04 * 10^90
400 = 1 in 2.58 * 10^120

So 100 times in a row is one in ten followed by 30 zeroes, 200 is one in ten followed by 60 zeroes, we will ignore the 1.27 and the 1.61 as they are not important, only the number of zeroes is important. So if the odds increase by 30 zeroes for every 100 flips, what are the odds if you try to flip a coin 600,000 in a row?

(600,000/100) * 30 = 180,000

To simplify things we will use the number googol which is one followed by one hundred zeroes. I never thought I would have a need for this number in my life but apparently I do. So the odds of flipping a coin 600,000 times in a row is one in 1800 googols.

Now, is it rational to expect that lottery to be hit given the number of events at our disposal? It is somewhat rational to expect to hit a lottery if the odds are one in 50 and we play 25 times. But if the odds are one in a million and we play 1,000 times, then we are stupid. If we are able to play this lottery with an equal amount of atoms in the Universe multiplied by the number of milliseconds that have elapsed since the beginning of time, how many times is that? If you multiply 10^80 by 10^20, you simply get 10^100 which is one googol.

The relation of one googol to 1800 googols is nothing like the relation of a million to a billion. Let me try to explain how difficult it is to get one googol to approach 1800 googols through mere multiplication. Let us imagine that we have a very strong, emotional attachment to atheism. Let's imagine that we've spent 5000 hours defending it, writing books about it, attending conferences, and attacking theists. Let's pretend that we have invested a lot of time, energy and money into spreading the "gospel" of atheism. Let's say that to deny atheism is to admit that we have been living a mistake for much of our life and all that we have done has been wasted. To do this would be to undergo immense pain and to confess we are wrong. No human wants to undergo pain and confess they're wrong, especially when there is little or no tangible reward. So let's use our brains to tilt the odds in our favor. Instead of using thousandths of seconds, let's use billionths of seconds. In that case, we have 10^26 seconds at our disposal. The odds then barely change, we now have 1.06 googols to hit a number somewhere between 1 and 1800 googols, whereas before we only had one googol. Ok, let's just say that the scientists are wrong and that there are a million times more atoms then they previously thought, that means we have 10^86 atoms, instead of 10^80. Now we only have 1.12 googols. Now let's imagine that the simplest life form is not made of 600,000 base dna pairs but only 300,000. That will reduce 1800 googols to 900 googols. Now let's imagine that are as many universes are there are stars in our universe, that brings the number from 1.12 googols to 1.34 googols. (There are 10^22 stars in the universe.) Ok, let's be real desperate and let's say that instead there are as many universes as there are atoms in the universe, surely that will help things, again now we only have 1.92 googols (1.12 googols + .8 googols equals 1.92 googols).
Now let's take a look at what happens when we try to increase the odds against atheism. Let's imagine that instead of two possibilities, TA and GC that there are four possibilities. After all, here is one possible DNA seqeunce: ATCGATTGAGCTCTAGCG. As you can see TT is a possible combination. Well if that happens then the odds become one in 3600 googols. What if we had to calculate the odds of forming one Adenine nucleobase, even if the odds are one in two, that turns 3600 googols into 7200 googols. The point of this argument is not to arrive at an exact calculation for the odds of life forming at random, but to show that the atheists can only tilt the odds in their favor arithmetically and the theists can tilt the odds in their favor exponentially.
The standard response to the above argument is to say that objects have properties and that because of their properties they naturally link to one another. (Notice that I did not say that they are designed to link to one another). There is some truth to this argument, for example, wiki writes: "Base stacking interactions in DNA and RNA are due to dispersion attraction, short-range exchange repulsion, and electrostatic interactions which also contribute to stability." In other words, AT and GC "stack" due to their properties. However, is it rational to imagine that these nucleobases "know" in what precise 600,000 sequence to get into? Is it rational that one GC "knows" that it is number 397,657 and that it has to find 397,656 and 397,658 and get between it? If nucleobase "understands" where it has to go, where would this understanding be located in the five hydrogens, the five carbons and the five nitrogens that it is composed of?

There is one more argument that I want to put forward: Randomness can choose the correct answer among a finite set some of the time. Randomness cannot choose the right answer from an infinite list. The number properties that objects have in the Universe is infinite, any object can be assigned any property, provided there is one powerful and knowledgeable enough to do it. Randomness cannot assign properties to objects because it does not know from what list of properties to select. If two objects with certain properties will link 1 in a 100 times, then randomness can link them, but randomness cannot assign the property "linkage" to an object. Randomness has no goal, no objective, no desire, no plan, no preference, so there is no reason to suspect that randomness would ever invent a property.
those who are must effective at reproducing will reproduce. Therefore new species are not designed. - Charles Darwin.
kyle2000

Posts: 191
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:41 pm
Location: Germany but I'm American

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

Can you summarize this? tl;dr but i would like to understand your concept.
Also, I saw "we have no definition for the word impossible"
We have 6;
"1.not possible; unable to be, exist, happen, etc.
2.unable to be done, performed, effected, etc.: an impossible assignment.
3.incapable of being true, as a rumor.
4.not to be done, endured, etc., with any degree of reason or propriety: an impossible situation.
5.utterly impracticable: an impossible plan.
6.hopelessly unsuitable, difficult, or objectionable." -Dictonary.com

Not in the sense that its improbable but no matter how many coins you flip, there is a 0 in whatever you want chance of an apple being an orange
Sincerly
-Khrone

Khrone

Posts: 324
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:34 pm

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

Is this one of those long mathematical machinations that can be used to argue for the Anthropic Principle or Intelligent Design? Ick.
"Sur le volcan ne pousse pas l'herbe" (Grass does not grow on a volcano). - Ivor Cutler on his bald pate

jonquil
Philosopher

Posts: 3546
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:57 am
Location: Greenest city in the world!

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

That assumes that life can only occur in the form we presently know.

Furthermore,

There is one more argument that I want to put forward: Randomness can choose the correct answer among a finite set some of the time. Randomness cannot choose the right answer from an infinite list. The number properties that objects have in the Universe is infinite, any object can be assigned any property, provided there is one powerful and knowledgeable enough to do it. Randomness cannot assign properties to objects because it does not know from what list of properties to select. If two objects with certain properties will link 1 in a 100 times, then randomness can link them, but randomness cannot assign the property "linkage" to an object. Randomness has no goal, no objective, no desire, no plan, no preference, so there is no reason to suspect that randomness would ever invent a property.

Or, there could be selective pressures that weed out unfit elements and we are left with the "correct" answer out of the set.

What do you mean by "correct" here, btw? There is a lot of teleological thinking in this post that oughtn't be there -- and I say that as an unashamed advocate of VE in general . . .

Xunzian
Drunken Master

Posts: 10454
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 9:14 pm

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

We live on a planet where life exists.
It happened – so how do you prove that it was not a certainty?
Unless you were around at the time then you’re just guessing or making stuff up.

Stanley the simpleton

Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2010 11:46 am

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

I think one logical error in the derivation is insisting that the specific 600,000-long sequence would have to be randomly created.

I don't think anybody knows (a) what's the shortest sequence that would be self-reproducing, and (b) how many different such sequences would be equally self-reproducing.

For all I know, that are a huge number of combinations of shorter sequences (perhaps of RNA rather than DNA) that could be (not very efficiently) self-reproducing in the right environment (e.g. an ocean full of organic compounds aka "food", and without any competition).

Without answering these questions, the analysis is meaningless.
Government is not the solution. Government is the problem.

Eran
Thinker

Posts: 565
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 4:01 pm
Location: UK

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

Xunzian wrote:Or, there could be selective pressures that weed out unfit elements and we are left with the "correct" answer out of the set.

That argument only starts working once you have the first reproducing creature.

It doesn't help understand how the first one came about, does it?
Government is not the solution. Government is the problem.

Eran
Thinker

Posts: 565
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 4:01 pm
Location: UK

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

I suppose that depends on how you view "life" and "reproduction". Are self-replicating strands of RNA "alive" and/or "reproducing"?

Xunzian
Drunken Master

Posts: 10454
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 9:14 pm

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

For the purpose of my argument, as soon as the strands start reproducing, evolution kicks in, and it is all fun and games. Getting the first replicator going, however, cannot rely on evolution. It is pure chance.
Government is not the solution. Government is the problem.

Eran
Thinker

Posts: 565
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 4:01 pm
Location: UK

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

How do you mean "chance"?

Xunzian
Drunken Master

Posts: 10454
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 9:14 pm

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

Xunzian wrote:How do you mean "chance"?

Abiogenesis has not been demonstrated or explained as a likely, if not certain, event. The gap beween the largest known stable organic molecule (not produced by life already existing) and the smallest known replicator is huge. If this range is continuous with all or most of the intermediate molecules being stable, it would have been easy to demonstrate the emergence of a replicator in the laboratory by simulating the conditions for the formation of each of the intermediate molecules in succession. However, that is not the case. One way to explain it would be that we have no yet discovered the intermediate stable molecules and the path to to the first replicator. Another way would be that the conditions changed so rapidly that stability was not so important as possibility of the next complex molecule forming, which makes the emergence of the first replicator an extremely unlikely event that happened. That is probably what someone means when (s)he says life happened by "chance".
Ganapati

Posts: 326
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:58 am

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

from:

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=152877

"The universe is infinite in time and space. The number of planets, galaxies and any other structures is infinite. It has lasted forever, forever changing, will last forever. The big bang is either:

1) True. Which means we happen to be in a bubble of maybe 10^1000 light years in space and 10^20 years from origin, which means it appears to be a big bang since this is how far we can ever possibly see both in time and space ("observable universe" and note that all of the official science has never denied that we are limited in our observation of the universe, has never denied that we can see only a small slice no matter what). If 10^1000 is too small, well just add a few trillion zeros to the exponent aka 10^1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000.....

2) False. Which means that the microwave radiation has another, different origin, which may very well be possible.

Since the universe is infinite in space and time, all possible combinations of Mass - Energy will have the time to come into existence, and in fact will cycle through an infinite number of times, "the eternal return". This also fits in nicely with my theory of the universe as a combination, as a big number:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=157516&start=25

Since any possible combination will occur, this explains the occurrence of life on earth, since that one time quirk sequence of chemical reactions that brought life and man had to occur at least once (but infinite number of times, since the universe is infinite in time and space). So the origin of life is explained.

Also the universe is probably just a small dot in a universe containing an infinite number of other universes with different laws of physics.

All of our science, religion and philosophy is just desperately trying to size this universe to our limited brain, language and thought processes: we cannot accept infinity as an answer while in fact infinity is the only answer. That is why scientists cling on so strongly to the big bang theory."
old6598
Thinker

Posts: 552
Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 12:15 pm

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

Simper still, it just happened, end of story. There is no pattern, no cause, no nothing, the elements just collided that one unique time (or n unique times) and created the first molecule, then cell then evolution took over. No one will ever know, can know, can see the process happening.

We try to find some kind of pattern or repetitive sequence that can be used, imagined, so as to feel that we have control over reality: nothing further from the truth, whatever generated life from zero just shows we have no control over reality past a certain point. Even religion tries to fool us in thinking we have control by being good according to "god's law" or whatever: but it is a false comfort.
old6598
Thinker

Posts: 552
Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 12:15 pm

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

old6598 wrote:Simper still, it just happened, end of story. There is no pattern, no cause, no nothing, the elements just collided that one unique time (or n unique times) and created the first molecule, then cell then evolution took over. No one will ever know, can know, can see the process happening.

We try to find some kind of pattern or repetitive sequence that can be used, imagined, so as to feel that we have control over reality: nothing further from the truth, whatever generated life from zero just shows we have no control over reality past a certain point. Even religion tries to fool us in thinking we have control by being good according to "god's law" or whatever: but it is a false comfort.

I don't understand your pessimism. The study of the beginning of life is equivalent to geology, archaeology, cosmology and history - the study of the past. There normally IS a pattern (if you believe in law of nature), as well as a cause. No one may ever know the specific route that enabled life on Earth. I don't see why we wouldn't be able to suggest quantifiably-plausible potential scenarios, run computer simulations, etc.
Government is not the solution. Government is the problem.

Eran
Thinker

Posts: 565
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 4:01 pm
Location: UK

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

The thing about inquiring into the very beginnings of life in the universe, is that you always will find that it happened. Maybe it won't in the next universe, but then, no-one will know. It's obviously possible, but very likely to be massively improbable. But then what is probability but certainty in a near-infinite array..?
Last edited by Tab on Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Click Logo For Blog

Tab
Deeply Shallow

Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:49 pm

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

Interesting you say computer simulation: they have been simulating life form generating programs for many years now, trying all kinds of software and ideas, neural networks, artificial intelligence ideas, etc. And yet, no real result has ever been achieved: nothing that starts to become intelligent, or that evolves interesting properties past a few superficial behaviors.

This goes to show how far we are from understanding and manipulating complex items such as life, evolution, etc. My take on it is that it is past our capability no matter what. Or that there is nothing to understand as that there are no ultimate causes or patterns or laws of nature, past a few basic patterns that are mostly probabilistic (quantum mechanics, etc.). I may be wrong, but just the fact that the 3 body problem cannot be solved exactly, let alone the simple protein folding problem (with the folding@home program executing trillions of calculations a second) gives me the feeling that we should just call it a day, and say reality is past us and over us, and maybe isn't anywhere or anything at all, it is non comprehensible because there are no causes and laws aside from what we like to imagine.

Granted, science will keep on researching, but maybe the Instant Singularity is the only breakthrough left, wild chemicals in brains and modified neural circuits...

check out:

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=172275

and try it out on yourself...
old6598
Thinker

Posts: 552
Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 12:15 pm

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

old6598 wrote:I may be wrong, but just the fact that the 3 body problem cannot be solved exactly, let alone the simple protein folding problem (with the folding@home program executing trillions of calculations a second) gives me the feeling that we should just call it a day, and say reality is past us and over us, and maybe isn't anywhere or anything at all, it is non comprehensible because there are no causes and laws aside from what we like to imagine.

There is a critical difference. Many problems (including such simple ones as the 3-body problem) cannot be solved analytically. However, it is very easy to simulate 3 bodies. Protein folding may require thousands of trillions, or perhaps trillions of trillions of calculations. This is a practical problem that, given the exponential growth in computing power, will hopefully not allude us forever...
Government is not the solution. Government is the problem.

Eran
Thinker

Posts: 565
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 4:01 pm
Location: UK

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

Ganapati wrote:
Xunzian wrote:How do you mean "chance"?

Abiogenesis has not been demonstrated or explained as a likely, if not certain, event.

I agree that it hasn't been demonstrated as a certainty; however whether it is a "likely" event is a rather normative consideration, wouldn't you agree?

The gap beween the largest known stable organic molecule (not produced by life already existing) and the smallest known replicator is huge.

What does size have to do with it? Some self-replicating RNAs are only a few hundred base-pairs long. Additionally, what do we mean by "stable"? Stability is a function of environment as well as the specific structure of the molecule in question. One major cause of instability in the present environment is molecular oxygen. Since molecular oxygen is effectively a product of life (it is so reactive that unless it is constantly replenished in the environment it disappears all-but completely) when we are discussing the origin of life we are talking about an anoxic environment. That is important because anoxic environments favor reactions like the polymerization of nucleotide bases.

If this range is continuous with all or most of the intermediate molecules being stable, it would have been easy to demonstrate the emergence of a replicator in the laboratory by simulating the conditions for the formation of each of the intermediate molecules in succession.

We've identified several environments in the early Earth where many molecules of biological relevance would have naturally formed and polymerized. We've also taken those materials and made self-replicating molecules from them. I don't see how that doesn't satisfy the conditions you've set here.

However, that is not the case. One way to explain it would be that we have no yet discovered the intermediate stable molecules and the path to to the first replicator. Another way would be that the conditions changed so rapidly that stability was not so important as possibility of the next complex molecule forming, which makes the emergence of the first replicator an extremely unlikely event that happened. That is probably what someone means when (s)he says life happened by "chance".

Since I disagree with the first part of this paragraph, the last sentence is still unclear.

Xunzian
Drunken Master

Posts: 10454
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 9:14 pm

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

kyle2000 wrote: What we will now do is determine the odds of a coin being flipped heads 600,000 times in a row. Then we will imagine that we have as many coins as there are atoms in the Universe and we will flip them once per millisecond. For something to be possible the odds of it happening must be near one to one

WRONGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG

provided we flipped 10^80 coins an amount times equal to the number of milliseconds that have elapsed in the Universe which is 10^20. So what are the odds of flipping a coin heads 600,000 times in a row? I had a tough time determining this but luckily Excel was able to calculate the odds of flipping a coin heads 500 times in a row. There is a pattern between flipping a coin heads 200, 300, 400 and 500 times in a row.

Odds of flipping a coin heads

100 = 1 in 1.27 * 10^30
200 = 1 in 1.61 * 10^60
300 = 1 in 2.04 * 10^90
400 = 1 in 2.58 * 10^120

ALSO WRONGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG
You said you were flipping them once per millisecond since the beginning of the universe. The odds you calculated were based on doing it first try, though. You didn't even take into consideration how much time you were given. You need to take a statistics class.

I had these mistakes glaring at me since I first peeked into this thread. Idk what took me so long to finally call him out. I guess I was just waiting for someone else to do it :S.

Humpty
Philosopher

Posts: 1982
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:53 am

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

Origin of Life or Universe problem
-----------------------------------------

A caused B shown as A -> B.

then what caused ( A -> B ) ? I am not saying what caused A because you get another kind of infinite regression as in An caused An-1 ... A2 caused A1 caused A, etc. No I am asking what caused the general fact that A causes B or what made A cause B to exist...

C did.

then C -> ( A -> B ).

then what caused ( C -> ( A -> B ) ) ?

D did.

and so on forever.

So what is the final answer ? There is no answer, it goes on forever. But even if you get one last answer, X caused it all, does that really give you anything ? Isn't X just another symbol - concept - idea ? Do you really think one concept - idea - answer X is "supernatural" is all "encompassing" ? I doubt it, but good luck...

A second problem regarding these kinds of problems is the very idea of cause: does A -> B mean every time A appears then B appears ? Does it appear right immediately after A or after some time interval ? How many intermediate states are there between A and B ? Are there an infinite number of intermediate states ?

And what if it is probabilistic like in Quantum Mechanics ? B sometimes follows A, other times no ? or sometimes a wildcat comes after A ?

And then exactly what delimits A and B ?

maybe A extends up to B ? Maybe B is part of A ? maybe there is no cause and effect, but just B comes after A, as is a sequence of arbitrary items, symbols, delimitations (in space and/or time ? ). Etc. Etc.

Then if B just comes after A, isn't that like house B is further down the road from house A ? Doesn't necessarily mean A causes B, or maybe is it B causes A ?

So this gives me the idea that cause and effect and science in general breaks down past a certain point: if every time you get A, B sometimes appear, you got some kind of pattern, maybe not absolute, but some pattern. But you can never rely on it always. And when talking about the origin of Life or the Universe, delimiting, defining or even only imagining and conceiving items A and B doesn't seem so easy. Good luck with that.
nameta9
Philosopher

Posts: 1888
Joined: Thu Nov 25, 2004 10:42 am

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

I think there are no odds. Just like the question that "Why" does the universe exist, both are inapplicable.

WW_III_ANGRY
Philosopher

Posts: 3478
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 1:52 am

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

Science is based on "Intentionality of Use": that is how the "new" result, discovery, cause and effect, relationship, new idea, study, model etc. is going to be used. It may be used to create another complex abstract model, some kind of physical experiment, some technological application, some new kind of observation, etc. But it is always our mind, within its constraints and limitations, within its own language and cause and effect models, mathematical and logical models, that decides how the results are used and channeled.

Now how would any kind of result in the exploration of the "Origin of Life" or "Origin of Universe" be used ? To create a new universe in a laboratory ? To create new life forms from molecules in a giant chemical laboratory that channels the reactions that led from simple carbon molecules to complete cells ? Maybe, or maybe it could be used in a Virtual Reality environment as a new imaginary world where modified - technological singularity brains interact accordingly.

But even more important, if you change the neural circuit of minds, brains, the way information, emotions, feelings, pain/pleasure circuits, memory , sense organs and sense information are associated - connected and combined, you get a new universe, you get new patterns and a new science with new laws of physics.

So you could simulate or create the information relationship (which is what really exists in the end, matter - reality or what is real and fake is irrelevant) that creates a model of the "Origin of the Universe", or the "Origin of Life". Or you can change the way our mind with new constraints, internal languages, cause and effect models, mathematical and logical models that use and channel information in new ways, decodes any information so as to create the exact new Origin of Life or Origin of the Universe Information Relationship...
nameta9
Philosopher

Posts: 1888
Joined: Thu Nov 25, 2004 10:42 am

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

It boils down to this:

1) That very general configuration of atoms - molecules or even more abstractly just Matter - Energy can be repeated under the right conditions to produce a life form: even maybe in the center of stars in hot plasmas or 100s of km under the surface of planets. But these right conditions are unknown and very vague, and may always remain vague, in that the laws of physics may never let you get closer to a certain point in describing and knowing the general conditions.

2) When the conditions to create a life form are met, the exact form may be impossible to predict because the chance configurations, quantum fluctuations specify such a unique sequence of events and such a unique chain of causes and events as to not be possible to repeat it again even in an infinite universe that cycles through its infinite configurations: the exact number representing the sequence of events is always larger than the number of configurations the universe can cycle through: One infinite number (the sequence of chemical reactions) is larger in some odd way than another infinite number (the configurations of all atoms or all of the possible configurations of Mass - Energy ). A kind of race condition is set forward with the exact sequence of reactions being to large of a set compared to the set of all possible configurations of Mass - Energy.

Well, anyways, the math is not very precise, someone else could do better, but you get the idea...

I think that there may be no predetermined sequence, no real determinism operating even though we have precise laws of physics: the exact events are like completely new, not even the laws of physics could have predicted them so to say, not even god could have known, in this sense there is no "external reality": when a person says, "it could have gone differently, it could have evolved in another way", there is no IT. It is like a micro big bang every picosecond, it is like a new set of laws of physics pop into existence just that one time to create just that one event, and a sequence of events create the path from atoms to cells.

In that case, it will never be known, because there is no IT.
old6598
Thinker

Posts: 552
Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 12:15 pm

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

Matter thinks it knows itself, thinks that it can predict itself, but it really can't, sometimes it can make some good predictions that often work, other times, it won't.

Is it mind over matter ? we predict and make things happen, or is it that we think things happen the way we wanted ? We always fool ourselves in the end. God plays dice, but dice is also playing god.

The uncertainty principle suggest exactly that: we can predict something up to a certain precision, but not past a certain point: humans die before they reach 200 years old, but the precise age of death of a specific person is unknown, unless you say that before 200 years is good enough: if you assign that as infinite precision then you always win, you control all reality: in fact you can assign anything anyway and take advantage of the fact that matter thinks it knows itself but it doesn't, but you do know all of matter and reality because you assigned it that way.

You win, the laws of physics lose...

And you win even when you lose, because you assigned it that way.

I think that this is how the Origin of Life and the Origin of the Universe occurred.
nameta9
Philosopher

Posts: 1888
Joined: Thu Nov 25, 2004 10:42 am

### Re: Calculating the Odds of life

Xunzian wrote:
Ganapati wrote:Abiogenesis has not been demonstrated or explained as a likely, if not certain, event.

I agree that it hasn't been demonstrated as a certainty; however whether it is a "likely" event is a rather normative consideration, wouldn't you agree?

Would you be happy with 'highly probable'? Sounds technical enough for me. Of course, it is still a fading out definition. I suppose different people would be satisfied with different quantitative values. Has anybody quantified the probability so far?
The gap beween the largest known stable organic molecule (not produced by life already existing) and the smallest known replicator is huge.

What does size have to do with it? Some self-replicating RNAs are only a few hundred base-pairs long. Additionally, what do we mean by "stable"? Stability is a function of environment as well as the specific structure of the molecule in question. One major cause of instability in the present environment is molecular oxygen. Since molecular oxygen is effectively a product of life (it is so reactive that unless it is constantly replenished in the environment it disappears all-but completely) when we are discussing the origin of life we are talking about an anoxic environment. That is important because anoxic environments favor reactions like the polymerization of nucleotide bases.

Size matters in that the probability of one of a random combination is much higher if the size is small than if the size is large. Stability is certainly a function of the environment. I never talked about stability in the present environment. If we can guess intermediate molecules, guess and demonstrate the environment was stable in and if the progression of such enviroments is what we would expect from the laws of physics, we would have a credible case for abiogenesis. As for presence of molecular oxygen in today's environment, I am not aware of that being a constraint in our ability to simulate environments that were drastically different from what exists today. Can you direct me to information that presents this to be the limitation in our ability to simulate pe-life environments in the laboratory?
If this range is continuous with all or most of the intermediate molecules being stable, it would have been easy to demonstrate the emergence of a replicator in the laboratory by simulating the conditions for the formation of each of the intermediate molecules in succession.

We've identified several environments in the early Earth where many molecules of biological relevance would have naturally formed and polymerized. We've also taken those materials and made self-replicating molecules from them. I don't see how that doesn't satisfy the conditions you've set here.

I am not aware of any experiment where a self-replicating molecule was formed without deciding a-priori what its structure was going to be, something that is a must for abiogenesis. That anyone can arrange pebbles on a beach into a long sentence in English, does not prove that such a pattern could emerge by physical forces. I would be glad to know of any such successful experiment.
Ganapati

Posts: 326
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:58 am

Next