Life: A self fulfilling prophecy

Just a short note on a basic principle. I have heard it said that life is actually an inevitable consequence of the universe. I can think of one reason why and thought I would share.

Producing offspring to continue the cycle is the key because by definition anything that does not reproduce itself will not continue. So it isn’t really that surprising that given time any mechanism that keeps reproducing itself would still exist today. It is built into the concept of a biological life cycle, it must be  repeatable but also design to make copies that continue the cycle of life. The continual challenge is that life cycles are anything but inevitable. Every life form that wants to exist in the future must create its own self fulfilling prophecy to be considered life. It must reproduce itself time after time otherwise it becomes extinct, just like a fire running out of oxygen.

It is a numbers game in competing for scarce resources and based on energy cycles. Starting with stars filled with molecules that are competing for energy. These molecule form bonds with other matter releasing energy and reaching a more complex higher state at the same time. This provides a recipe pressure for change to which you just add time.

Billions of years can be long enough for this energy cycle and competition for energy to eventually lead to much more complex organisms like bacteria, viruses and then plants and the rest of us.

It seems strange at first but then I read a book called Stardust (The video above “We Are Dead Stars” is a great synopsis) which explained exactly how stars provide ecosystems for energy in which the elements that make up the universe are formed. That blew my mind. The amazing complexity of life is literally created inside stars and, as I realised later, is exactly the process of evolution we have all come to know.

We just think that evolution only applies to life. We do not apply it equally to apparently inanimate objects and particularly things we can not see like molecules. The fact remains that the laws of the universe encourage competition for energy. It is what drives the lifecycle of stars and the creation of the elements and ultimately what drives evolution.

This article is about a summary of the idea I am developing that explains evolution at many different levels, from physics, to chemistry, biology and beyond. Hopefully later I will cover it in more depth. For now I just want to show how it all fits together. When I extend the same principle of competition for energy and the idea that this competition invariably leads to a more complex organic result it seems natural that you would end up with molecules that connect with each other in more complex ways. Just like the constituents of molecules are rearranged through the exchange of energy to make more complex molecules. We know that shapes like the cell wall and helical structures similar to the basis of DNA are actually quite common in nature and can be easily created in the lab. As these structures became more and more common and developments like extra water on the planet made it easier for these structures to intermingle it could certainly lead eventually to ever more complex structures and eventually life.

The full story however is not the point of this article. Life may exist on our planet but we still cannot explain exactly how these increasingly complex structures lead to life that actively competes. I have many theories but that is for another time. For now it is about the cycle. Life requires a cycle that repeats itself.

Philosophically I don’t know when we term that something is alive. A star has a lifecycle but do we consider it alive. I believe the universe is around 13 billion years old with our planet just 6 billion years and complex life existing for I think less than 1 billion years. So maybe for 12 billion years there was life in terms of lifecycles it was just incredibly simple and more automatic and mechanical than the incredibly complex life that we are so used to.

Just a thought I have had for a long time. Sometimes breaking down the complex concepts like evolution require simple thoughts to be expressed so you can see where they lead.

Let me know what you think?

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