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Origin and Nature of Earth Life

February 14, 2006

A Conjecture in Search of Experimental Assessment

(1st draft July 5 1997; additions/modifications March-November 1999 and February 2001)

All suggestions of the origin and nature of life on Earth may only be conjectural, until proven. The various versions may appeal or entertain or offend, depending on the background of the reader.
You may find this version fraught with insights, with answers to yet unanswered questions and with directions for thought, study and work IF, if like the boy in The Emperor's New Clothes, you call what you see; if you regard the in-cell contents a life-bearing micro-space-ship at a homeostatic state.
If you find this version even remotely plausible I hope you feel personally challenged and eager to contribute ideas to an outline of an experimental program to scientifically assess the basic conjecture presented here:

1. Each and every living cell on Earth is inhabited by live beings, both mono-cells and cells that cluster to live in poly-cell life forms.

2. Earthly Life either started here on Earth or arrived here in the form of beings either celled, or pre-celled that evolved here into celled forms. If it arrived here or formed here pre-celled it probably existed then in a primordial pre-present-cytoplasm liquid. It consisted of peptides that replicated in the primordial plasma, which comprised the base materials required for their replication. Early identical or similar peptides formed probably independently in identical or similar environments and conditions. The first time a peptide served as a template for its duplication was the first appearance of an archaic gene, and the occurrence at which the factors involved in the formation of the duplicate were drawn to stay in a stable association, maybe in the form of a nucleolus, was the occurrence leading to Cellular Life.

3. Per Pasteur's "all life must come from previously existing life" the pre-membraned pre-celled peptides were a form of life. If we regard as an "organism" a unit element of a continuous lineage with an individual evolutionary history this has applied also way back at the earlier evolutionary phase of present-day organisms. To the questions "how far back does this apply and has there been a way-back pre-life time at which it began, and how did it begin" the answer is " this is still as unknown to humans as the origin and nature of what big-banged into our universe". Mitochondria and chloroplast and nucleus and chromosomes, each constituting a continuous lineage, are not presently considered organisms because by themselves they presently have no possibility of survival, i.e. of independent replication. But once upon the time very likely each of them was "independent", before entering into endosymbiotic associations with a partner cell and eventually becoming a dependent member of a celled association. Similarly very likely early independent peptides, primordial genes, have entered into symbiotic associations in which eventually each of the ever increasing host of functions/tasks vital for the evolving associations is taken up by the member most efficient at it, leading to gene speciation and to gene specialization.

4. Eventually, as early life’s environment changes, the various associations of essential-to-life-factors plus the speciated genes enclose/cell themselves with a membrane, thus gaining control over many of their vital environmental factors. In a following phase of continuous evolution of improved proliferation/survival efficiency genes in some cells link into chromosomes and further "celling", a nucleus, evolves within some cells to protect and improve the efficiency of this " master-template, cell-beehive-queen". By now the cytoplasm is also being continuously modified by the cell's inhabitants for improved survival/proliferation.

5. Some in-cell beings of some cells have been evolving/forming multitudes of clusters-of-cells, poly-cell, life forms. Cooperative association is an inherent feature of life throughout all its evolution and at all its levels, in pre-cell and in mono-cell life and in mono-cell communities and in poly-cell life-forms and in communities of poly-cell life forms.
The basic nature of life is common to cells that exist singly, to mercells (constituent cells of polycell organisms) and to polycell life forms regardless of overall size and degree of complexity. The answer to " what makes a polycell life-form a LIFE " is the answer to " what makes some molecular associations in cells LIVE BEINGS ", and vice versa.

6. The base forms of these Earth's in-cell four-billion-year-old beings are the polynucleotides (PNs) of modular construction. These are, in our terms, active purposeful beings that assess occurrences and react to them per their needs. The PNs are of an Earth civilization circa 20 times older than ours by OUR definition of time, the civilization of the formers of all life forms on Earth.

7. Earth is the Universe of PNs. The base space and time units of their universe, their parallels of our millimeter and second are about 10^(-14) of ours. A lapse of our one second is, in their context, a lapse of one year to us (3.15 X 10^7 seconds).

8. In each mono cell or a mercell of a polycell there is, in human terms, a purposeful hierarchical chain of PNs performing monitoring, assessment, and task/work organisation for the in- and out-of-cell tasks. We do not yet know enough to understand and define the hierarchy. It is plausible that this may be first comprehended in stem cells of polycelled organisms. It is plausible that the symbiotically linked/associated genes are the Beings and that the proteins they express are their tools for creating and maintaining their living quarters and facilities, their cell/space-ship.
The purposeful PNs continuously evolve and make more efficient the configurations of themselves and of their "functional tools", to improve the capability of their survival/procreation/propagation.
The "purposefullness" of the PNs in mono celled and in polycelled organisms comprises compounded processes/materials involving molecular/structural interactions, flows of ions and relays of energy pulses. In all cases this compounded array is "impressed" by a phenomenon and passes the “impression” to the "cellular top hierarchy" for inciting a reaction as the various task-dedicated tools act to effect a homeostatic state.

9. Cells are, by our present terms, the space-ships of the PNs that inhabit them together with their vital accessories. The clusters-of-cells, the various Earth's polycell life forms are, by our present terms, the PNs' space stations comprised of a multitude of space-ships. Most, but not all, of the space-ships associated in space-stations are alike, with similar basic composition and capabilities but they express only specific assigned functions and tasks allotted them depending on their location in the association.
Many types of space-ships/cells are self-sufficient in suitable environs while others are jointly or symbiotically cooperative with and interdependent on their kin or even on non-kin space-ships/cells. Most space-ships/cells comprise their energy, chemical and other plants and their scouts and communication and defense and repair crews etc. The interdependent types do not only cluster in space-stations/polycell life forms but also evolve, form and maintain the environs enveloping the space-ships that make up the space-station/ polycell organism.
Some space-ships/cells survive and propagate by attacking and exploiting or devouring other cells or their environs.

10. Earth's polycell life forms are the PNs' space stations that, in our terms, are formed and programmed by their base PNs to reflect-react to materials, circumstances and phenomena affecting them and to continuous self-programmed-improvement for continuous preservation and procreation of their constituent space-ships/mercells, for the continuous preservation and procreation of the base PNs that reside in the mercells of the polycell life form.

11. The present-day PNs and their predecessors have come into being and developed their capabilities when our universe was younger, of smaller volume, of a higher energy density and of a lesser and different material content than at present.
The essence of the PNs biological drive and goal is neatly and solely to survive and proliferate. This drive and goal are thus the base essence of all Earth's life forms. It is instilled in each and every life form on Earth, these being simply the mono- or polycell colonies of the PNs. Proliferation of cells in normal conditions, and especially in endangering circumstances, involves trial-and-error process(es) of mutations, based on the billions-of-years (in our terms) experience of their Inhabitants that some of the mutated next-generation versions may survive.

12. The PNs technical capabilities are, for THEIR needs and purpose, much superior to ours for our present needs and purposes, as evident in their energy exploitations and chemical transformations and assembly, construction and maintenance processes.

13. The biological drive of all forms of life at all levels, to neatly survive and proliferate, dictates and directs all their activities. Being very old and efficient at these tasks the PNs do not have "cultural" traits or entities, i.e. activities of secondary contribution to the capability of survival and proliferation. Plausibly by their experience of billions of years a "secondary" trait is, for their needs and purpose, not enough contributive for survival and procreation and therefore superfluous.
All individual and group behavioral aspects of each and all Earth's life forms, of all the PNs space-stations, derive from their PNs biological drive and are shaped and directed by it or somehow serve it. These aspects include all civilizations including Human's and all their various forms of "culture" including arts, religion, all social matters, and all of science.
Until Humans emerged evolutionary processes, prompted by the basic Life drive to survive, involved mostly trial-and-error physical adaptations plus some cellular induced modifications of in-cell and/or of inter-cell environments. With Humans a novel evolutionary mechanism becomes feasible and proves more efficient than physical adaptation to changing environments, namely Culture. Culture enables Human genome to survive not by adaptation but by manipulating its environment. This is in effect similar to the way-back Celling event when genes associations celled themselves to gain some control over their environment.

14. The biological drive of PNs is most probably similar to a "direction of chemical reaction", driven or drawn by energy balance. The prompter and initiator and mover of life is ENERGY. Life is in essence mechanism(s) prompted and initiated by energy, to draw energy from the universal pool of energy (in a sense the weight of our universe), to store it in various forms and utilize it for increasing this energy storing mode in a repeat process over and over.

15. The dimensions, configurations and compositions of the various PNs and of their various task-dedicated accessories and of their environs raise wonders such as re the relationships between the PNs and surrounding molecules and ions, considering their relative sizes and the forces acting on and between them. Also whereas Earth is the PNs' universe, their this universe may be a level up above another, quantum universe.

16. Humans’ uniqueness on Earth was initiated by a stimulus in a zone in the brain of some of them when challenged by needs for new manipulations, and for new capabilities of analysis and assessments of wider vistas open to them when changing posture to erect due to change of environment from forests to plains. The new demands employed existing brain cells in one half of their brain, overtaxed its capabilities and led to compensation by overworking the symmetrically located cells in the second half of the split brain and this in turn led again to compensation in the first half thus causing contralaterallization that is still evolving now.

17. This conjectural picture raises also reflections about the simplistic notions we humans have re communication with "aliens". Human communications are based on some human senses whereas PNs' communicate by "chemilanguage".
Would we ever be able to "communicate" even with our own PN ? Would we ever be able to more than only observe and learn them and discern their constitution and the manifestations of their activities and exploit these findings for our purposes?
Is not communication with our own PN an on-hand available target and challenge and opportunity to develop communications with "aliens"? Is our capability to conceive of "aliens" suffice for arriving at such a communication or must both "parties" be capable of "conceiving each other" to enable communication? Is there a common ground to the "conceiving" of humans (and of other polycelled life forms) and to the "conceiving" of the in-cell live beings?

18. Humans have just evolved into the universe. We are not yet able to understand and explain the origin and nature of life on Earth in acceptable human scientific terms. If this universe is finite humans may eventually arrive at a Final Theory that will include understanding of life. Eventually. Until then we can only progress towards further understanding. Meanwhile a plausible version may hopefully place us at a crossroad closer to a better insight.
We do not yet know if the Earthly PNs are the only compositions/configurations organized into life in the universe. It seems, though, that the origin, instigation and drive of life is a form of energy and as material is a form of energy then life is a manifestation or revelation of this energy.
This opens the awful question "what is energy ", reminding us that as far back and as deeply inside we learn to observe and as much as we think we comprehend, the Unknown is still there infinitely ahead of us.

 

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