1. A New Way to Look at the Dawn of Life

    Image1.jpg

    Considered the blueprint of life, DNA is found in all living cells. Image Credit: Illustration by Dr. Frank Cucinotta, NASA/Johnson Space Center, and Prem Saganti, Lockheed Martin

    Astrobiologists supported by NAI have proposed a new approach to the question of life’s origin that focuses not on the chemical 'hardware’ of life, but instead the 'software’ or information content. NASA post-doctoral fellow and lead author on the study, Sara Walker, and professor Paul Davies of Arizona State have presented a novel approach that could help astrobiologists determine the requirements for a living system.

    Previously, scientists have viewed the origin of life as a chemistry problem, searching for pathways that could lead from chemical mixtures to living organisms. Walker and Davies suggest that the transition from non-life to life can instead be defined by how life actively uses information. Their study suggests that the way in which life processes information, and the relationship of that processing to life’s environment, is the key to distinguishing living from non-living. The major step in life’s emergence could occur when information in the system begins to direct the matter that composes the system itself. The new paper was published in the Royal Society journal Interface.

    Source: [Arizona State University]