Science – a new theory about the multiple origins of life
Madrid, 16 years old (Europe Press)
Santa Fe Institute researchers Chris Kempes and David Krakauer theorized that in order to learn about the full range of life forms, we must develop a new theoretical framework.
The history of life on Earth is often compared to a torch relay of four billion years. The flame, lit at the beginning of the chain, continues to transmit life in the same way until the end. But what if life was better understood by the analogy of the eye, a convergent organ that evolved from independent origins? What if life evolved not just once, but evolved several times independently?
In their paper published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution, Kempes and Krakouer asked the researchers to consider, first, the full range of material in which life might be possible; second, the constraints that limit the being of possible life; And third, the processes of improvement that lead to adaptation. In general, the framework views life as adaptive information and adopts computational analogy to capture the basic processes of life.
Many important possibilities emerge when we look at life within the new framework. In the first place, life arises several times; Krakauer explains that some of the obvious adaptations are in fact “a new way of life, not just an adaptation,” and take a much wider range of forms than conventional definitions allow.
Culture, computing, and forests are all forms of life in this framework. As Kemps explains, “Human culture lives on the substance of brains, just as multicellular organisms live on the substance of unicellular organisms.”
When researchers focus on the life traits of individual organisms, they often ignore the extent to which organisms’ lives depend on entire ecosystems as their primary materials, and they also ignore the ways in which a life system can be somewhat surviving.
In the framework of Kempes-Krakauer, on the contrary, another effect appears: life becomes a continuum and not a binary phenomenon. In this regard, the authors point to a variety of recent efforts that quantitatively place life on a spectrum.
By taking a broader look at the principles of life, Kempes and Krakauer hope to generate more fertile theories for the study of life. With clearer principles for finding life forms and a new set of potential life forms emerging from the new principles, we will not only clarify what life is, Krakauer explains, but we will also be better equipped to ‘build life-finding devices’ to create it in laboratories, and to see how far Live the life we see.