The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?  (Read 13346 times)

Offline waytogo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 68
    • View Profile
Immagine that scenario with thousands and thousands of degrees...

So Big-Bang supporters, tell something please.


 

Offline flr

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 302
  • Thanked: 2 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #1 on: 10/09/2012 01:43:52 »
The early universe was indeed sterile, but it was not "static", instead it expanded.
As a result of its intrinsic expansion, it cooled down enough for electromagnetism to allow atoms and chemistry and then  for gravity to clump stuff together.
The universe is so big that it was statistically possible to have somewhere the right conditions for  more complex structure to form. Under the right conditions, the chances to form complex structures (amino-acids, glucides, proteins) are astronomically larger than what one may expect from random thermodynamic fluctuations.
Latter on, the complex chemistry resulted in complex bio-chemistry, then simple biology, and finally complex biology.

It was a mechanism, possible due to universe expansion (as I understand).

The universe expansion will however make impossible life in the future.
The amount of time in which our universe can support life is negligible and infinitely small compared to the amount of time in which our universe will not support life.
 

Offline waytogo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 68
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #2 on: 12/09/2012 08:11:03 »
Well, I think that it's a 'bit' harder to believe at spontaneous generation.
« Last Edit: 12/09/2012 16:52:31 by waytogo »
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11993
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #3 on: 12/09/2012 08:17:17 »
what one may ask, assuming that you are correct flr, is why life can exist? How come 'complexity' leads to life? Or am I thinking wrong there?
 

Offline flr

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 302
  • Thanked: 2 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #4 on: 12/09/2012 18:04:25 »
Is life just chemistry?
The Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction show that away from equilibrium even basic inorganic chemicals can have macroscopically observable evolution consisting in self-sustaining oscillations in chemical composition, as if the systems gets a "heartbeat" of its own.
Is life like a Belousov–Zhabotinsky http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belousov%E2%80%93Zhabotinsky_reaction (in a sense that right chemistry/external constrains and far from equilibrium conditions is all that is needed) but astronomically more complex?

If yes, then the nature simply ran a very basic mathematical rule known as optimization via a genetic algorithm, and it did so just like it with other physical laws (like gravity). The universe is so big that it was statistically possible to happen somewhere, sometime.


« Last Edit: 12/09/2012 18:05:58 by flr »
 

Offline schneebfloob

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 49
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #5 on: 12/09/2012 18:48:10 »
Sterile by definition means there is no life present. The title can be slimmed down to: how did life begin? This belongs in the Life Sciences section.

The origin of life is an on-going area of study, and there is a lot of work going into answering that question. The main line of inquiry is trying to figure out how/where nucleic acids first appeared, and how they were able to start replicating. The entire basis of life is the transfer of genes to the next generation, so nucleic acids are essential. I understand there is also work going into figuring out how lipids fit into this - as membranes are also essential to life and may have provided an environment stable enough for nucleic acids (particularly RNA, which is pretty unstable) to play around.

As pointed out above, the general hypothesis is biochemistry having emerged from chemistry, and ultimately enabling life to appear. This is called the abiogenesis hypothesis. There is also the idea of panspermia, that life has started somewhere else and has migrated to Earth on space rock. Personally, I feel that's just kicking the can down the road - as you then have to answer how life got started elsewhere.
« Last Edit: 12/09/2012 18:59:29 by schneebfloob »
 

Offline damocles

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 756
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #6 on: 12/09/2012 22:12:24 »
In view of the attitude of moderators to other threads, I would suggest that all that science at present has about the origins of life per se are several poorly developed and highly speculative theories, and that this thread therefore does not belong in "physics" -- at best it belongs in a biology discussion, but more probably in "new theories".
 

Offline JP

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3366
  • Thanked: 2 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #7 on: 12/09/2012 22:34:00 »
In view of the attitude of moderators to other threads, I would suggest that all that science at present has about the origins of life per se are several poorly developed and highly speculative theories, and that this thread therefore does not belong in "physics" -- at best it belongs in a biology discussion, but more probably in "new theories".

Mod note: Actually, I think it's OK to discuss these speculative theories so long as it's clear what is established vs. what is speculative and so long as the thread isn't being used to promote a particular speculative theory.

It's such a broad question: how do we go from the big bang to life, that it's hard to put it in any single forum.  What science does have to say on this is going to pull from physics, chemistry and biology.  Perhaps it would be best off in "general science?"  Any objections to me moving it there?
« Last Edit: 12/09/2012 22:36:02 by JP »
 

Offline damocles

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 756
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #8 on: 12/09/2012 22:51:30 »
I would have only a minor problem with the thread being moved to "General Science". I do have a problem with this sort of thing being seen as part of the domain of physics, and with far flung and inadequately justified speculations being considered part of the science of physics. (Physicists have a habit of laying claim to expertise in various areas of science, and of failing to recognise the specific expertise of other specialists who associate with the "lesser" sciences).

My secondary problem, which I would not really want to make an issue of, is that this sort of discussion which is not, and currently cannot be backed by any observational or experimental evidence, is so speculative that it is really philosophy rather than science, and should therefore be in the "new theories" forum. Alternatively the moderators need to rethink their attempts to relegate the SR discussion -- much more observationally based -- to the new theories forum and restore it to what might then become a rightful place in the physics forum.
« Last Edit: 12/09/2012 23:17:34 by damocles »
 

Offline JP

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3366
  • Thanked: 2 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #9 on: 12/09/2012 23:22:40 »
I would have only a minor problem with the thread being moved to "General Science". I do have a problem with this sort of thing being seen as part of the domain of physics, and with far flung and inadequately justified speculations being considered part of the science of physics. (Physicists have a habit of laying claim to expertise in various areas of science, and of failing to recognise the specific expertise of other specialists who associate with the "lesser" sciences).
As a physicist, I resemble that remark!  But seriously, there definitely is a lot of cross-over between disciplines on a question like this.  Even a simpler question like hunting for extraterrestrial life involves many branches of science working together.  In some sense, we physicists like to think that everything is physics, because in our minds you should be able to build everything else up from basic physics theories (quantum theory + relativity).  In reality, it would be absurd and fruitless to try to base most of what is studied in biology on quantum mechanics. 

Quote
My secondary problem, which I would not really want to make an issue of, is that this sort of discussion which is not, and currently cannot be backed by any observational or experimental evidence, is so speculative that it is really philosophy rather than science, and should therefore be in the "new theories" forum. Alternatively the moderators need to rethink their attempts to relegate the SR discussion -- much more observationally based -- to the physics forum.
I disagree.  There are definitely some rough connections you can draw from the big bang to the formation of the elements for example, and from the formation of the elements to inorganic chemistry, then from inorganic chemistry to the formation of amino acids (I'm thinking of the Urey/Miller experiment here, but I know there's been other work on it), which would likely be a path to organic chemistry.  I know people are investigating how you could go from basic organic compounds to life, but I don't know much more than that.  There is plenty here that is based on experimental observations.

None of this proves at all how life formed, of course, and there are huge gaps in the understanding, but that doesn't mean we can't discuss the science that does exist in between those gaps.

----------------------------

This isn't the place to go into details on reasons for moderation of particular threads, but we generally only step in to moderate a thread when we believe it is in violation of forum rules.  One of those rules is that it is being used to intentionally promote non-mainstream science.  I don't see that this thread is being used to promote non-mainstream science at this point.  This can be a tricky decision to make, and if you have particular concerns I'm more than happy discuss them via PM and take them to the other moderators for discussion. 
 

Offline damocles

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 756
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #10 on: 12/09/2012 23:30:23 »
Quote
None of this proves at all how life formed, of course, and there are huge gaps in the understanding, but that doesn't mean we can't discuss the science that does exist in between those gaps.

I fully agree, but can you point to any part of any post in this thread that really does discuss "the science that does exist"?


 

Offline bizerl

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 279
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #11 on: 12/09/2012 23:45:09 »
I think in order to answer this question, "life" first has to be defined. Good luck with that! I see no separation between how matter came from the big bang and how life emerged.

The term "sterile" can also seem a bit subjective, for instance, is an electron "sterile"? Is a photon "sterile"? Is an atom "sterile"? Is electro-magnetic radiation "sterile"?

We are all made of atoms, at what scale do we stop being sterile and become life?
 

Offline flr

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 302
  • Thanked: 2 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #12 on: 13/09/2012 00:11:58 »
Quote
We are all made of atoms, at what scale do we stop being sterile and become life?

Higher order hierarchy: biochemistry to biology.

 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4123
  • Thanked: 245 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #13 on: 13/09/2012 12:49:20 »
Spontaneous generation of life is still somewhat of a mystery to scientists.
But I think its easy for everyone to believe in spontaneous generation of entropy.

According to thermodynamics, entropy is bound to increase over time in macroscopic systems of sufficient size (ie well above the nuclear/atomic scale). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_law_of_thermodynamics
One characteristic of life is that overall, entropy increases more rapidly in its presence than if the same materials were present, but without life.

Life achieves this by a smaller, more local decrease in entropy, on the scale of the organism.
Thermodynamics permits this apparent anomaly as long as the energy expended in decreasing the local entropy is exceeded by the global increase in entropy. Thus life requires a readily-available source of energy, in a form that is not too disruptive to the organism's structure & integrity.

Perhaps Life is Nature's way of accelerating the ultimate heat death of the universe 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_death_of_the_universe (or God's way, if you prefer...).
 

Offline waytogo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 68
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #14 on: 13/09/2012 13:12:28 »
Quote
We are all made of atoms, at what scale do we stop being sterile and become life?

Higher order hierarchy: biochemistry to biology.

(red text) Sorry, but it's too easy your point and it does not explain nothing...
« Last Edit: 13/09/2012 13:22:20 by waytogo »
 

Offline waytogo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 68
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #15 on: 24/09/2012 15:39:01 »

I disagree.  There are definitely some rough connections you can draw from the big bang to the formation of the elements for example, and from the formation of the elements to inorganic chemistry,


Hi, can you provide some examples?
 

Offline Ophiolite

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 716
  • Thanked: 6 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #16 on: 24/09/2012 16:59:57 »
I suspect JP may have intended to type organic chemistry rather than inorganic - otherwise the sentence is not really relevant. I'll answer on that basis. As you may be aware only hydrogen, helium and a smidgeon of lithium (?) emerged from the big bang. It took nucleosynthesis in stars to generate more complex elements and supernovae to produce the full range of these and to distribute them in the interstellar medium.

Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen are the key elements for terrestrial biology. Of course hydrogen is the most common element in the universe. Oxygen is the third most common, carbon the fourth, nitrogen the seventh. These combine in interstellar place to form a wide variety of organic molecules - over one hundred have been identified.

Some of these compounds and additional ones, including amino acids, are found in meteorites. The reflectance readings from some asteroids matches organic compounds. Other organic molecules have been identified in comets. On the basis of this it is generally thought that the early Earth was seeded with a wide range of organic materials which would have kick-started a wealth of prebiotic chemistry.
 

Offline waytogo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 68
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #17 on: 24/09/2012 17:23:35 »
@Ophiolite

I've reply to JP, however now I'm going to use your method, so: 'The responsibility to demonstrate that lies with you.' (from here: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?action=post;quote=397870;topic=37162.0;last_msg=397873).

You shuold demonstrate with some facts, don't you?
 

Offline Ophiolite

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 716
  • Thanked: 6 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #18 on: 24/09/2012 20:32:26 »
waytogo,
you asked a question. I have given you a concise answer that accurately reflects current understanding of this fascinating area. I am not making weird assertions, but recounting information that is well understood by those with an interest in these matters. It is when novel claims are made that the responsibility rests with the proposer. Such is not the case here.

If you have a specific question on this I shall be happy to try to answer it. Otherwise, if you don't wish to take advantage of my knowledge in the area, built up over several years and based more on original research papers than textbooks, or popular science works, then just ignore what I've said. I've tried to help you, I find your response rather offensive.
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 11993
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #19 on: 24/09/2012 21:51:13 »
Woops :)

We have some knowledgeable guys here, and then we have us other :) It's a interesting field and from what I understand most expect it to have some sort of self organizable principle to it? Or am i thinking wrong there? Can you assume that something can 'evolve' as this universe and Earth seems to have done without something enabling certain combinations as more probable than others? In a way it becomes a merry go round as arguing this somehow seems to invoke some initial setting that creates it? But no matter what one call it, entropy, or ? in a general way, how would you create a living universe without needing to set rules?
 

Offline Ophiolite

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 716
  • Thanked: 6 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #20 on: 25/09/2012 06:22:59 »
You ask some excellent questions and make some good points. . I'll start at the end.

The universe does have a set of rules and these have led directly to life. The four fundamental forces, the family of elementary particles and a small group of constants (read Martin Rees's Just Six Numbers) are what has made it possible for life to emerge from a sea of energy via some complex, but apparently inevitable processes. (If one wished to make an argument for a creator the best evidence lies in the fortuitous combination of forces, particles and constants.)

Why did these combinations give rise to a universe of stars, galaxies and planets, and to a chemistry that allowed, in at least one instance, life to develop? It has been suggested that it was chance and that if the universe were not suitable for life then clearly we would not have been here to observe it: The Weak Anthropic Principle.

Self organisation plays some role in the process. The elements of life are common. There are many environments that would be conducive to life. There seems ot be a trend towards complexity, it is just that we have not yet nailed down excatly the pathways that were followed, or determined if this is the only possible route.

I mentioned the amino acids in space. Researchers put amino acids into ice and fired a lump at hypersonice speeds into a target. They wanted to see if the amino acids could survive an impact with the Earth at the speed of an incoming comet. Not only did they do so, but they linked up to form polypeptides. Proteins are polypeptides, just more complex.

Everywhere we look we see small reactions that tend to mimic or duplicate processes we see in life. Lipids will form small vesicles in which other chemicals might concentrate, bearing a resmblance to cell walls. And so on.

We have a considerable distance to go in our understanding, but there is a great deal of research ongoing - a fascinating field.
 

Offline RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8131
  • Thanked: 53 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #21 on: 25/09/2012 07:25:32 »
... Everywhere we look we see small reactions that tend to mimic or duplicate processes we see in life.

e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_30




e.g  crystallization like plant roots ...


[ Although I'd say the living thing includes these processes rather than the processes mimicking life ]
« Last Edit: 25/09/2012 07:51:30 by RD »
 

Offline Ophiolite

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 716
  • Thanked: 6 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #22 on: 26/09/2012 14:43:29 »
Good examples RD. There seems to be, in the universe, and inherent tendency to build complexity out of simplicity.

It is not a popular view and it is at odds with the current methodological naturalism of the scientific method, but I see teleological implications for these trends. This does not imply a creator, but rather a, perhaps inevitable, end goal. Of course saying such things out loud usually constitutes an own goal.
 

Offline namaan

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 195
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #23 on: 26/09/2012 15:10:52 »
The universe does have a set of rules and these have led directly to life. The four fundamental forces, the family of elementary particles and a small group of constants (read Martin Rees's Just Six Numbers) are what has made it possible for life to emerge from a sea of energy via some complex, but apparently inevitable processes. (If one wished to make an argument for a creator the best evidence lies in the fortuitous combination of forces, particles and constants.)

I don't know about that, I was under the impression that the argument of the fortuitous combination of forces, particles and constants, as you say, had never held much sway with respect to the scientific method. Isn't that what you mean when you say "There seems to be, in the universe, and inherent tendency to build complexity out of simplicity....It is not a popular view and it is at odds with the current methodological naturalism of the scientific method..."?
 

Offline damocles

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 756
  • Thanked: 1 times
    • View Profile
Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #24 on: 26/09/2012 16:15:50 »
The universe does have a set of rules and these have led directly to life. The four fundamental forces, the family of elementary particles and a small group of constants (read Martin Rees's Just Six Numbers) are what has made it possible for life to emerge from a sea of energy via some complex, but apparently inevitable processes. (If one wished to make an argument for a creator the best evidence lies in the fortuitous combination of forces, particles and constants.)

I don't know about that, I was under the impression that the argument of the fortuitous combination of forces, particles and constants, as you say, had never held much sway with respect to the scientific method. Isn't that what you mean when you say "There seems to be, in the universe, and inherent tendency to build complexity out of simplicity....It is not a popular view and it is at odds with the current methodological naturalism of the scientific method..."?

Naaman the neatly parcelled versions of "the scientific method" that are discussed in throwaway sections of chapter 1 of scientific textbooks and presented as dogma in high school syllabus have almost nothing to do with either the way that scientists actually operate or the scientific method as it is seen in current philosophical debate. Two really good books if you want a deeper understanding of the notion of "scientific method" -- Alan Chalmers "What is This Thing Called Science?" and H H Bauer "Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method".

Far from "never held much sway" there is a successful account of how a set of random factors operating under a regime of strictly increasing disorder in the universe (second law of thermodynamics) can and does produce a lot of local order and self-organization. It earnt Prigogine a Nobel prize, is greatly respected to this day, and has opened up a vast and productive new field of non-equilibrium thermodynamics. It is rather dry, esoteric, and difficult to work with, and does not deal with things like SETI and terraforming and big bangs and the like that can capture the public's imagination, but it does provide a framework for understanding how life could have arisen in a naturalistic and dissipative and non-teleological universe.

Science is geared up to provide essentially mechanistic rather than teleological explanation, and it has done a much more productive job of it since Aristotle's approach was abandoned. Yes, Aristotle had a teleological view of the world even though he was quite non-religious. His "five causes" are a particularly insightful and interesting way of approaching causality -- they include a "material cause" which pretty much refers to chemical composition, an "efficient cause" which refers to mechanism, and a "final cause" which refers to purpose. There are indeed many ways of answering the question "why...?"

So when we ask "why does life exist?" we might be asking "how did it start?" or "what are the special properties of the materials that living things are made from?" or "how do living things work to perpetuate their existence?" or "what is the purpose of life in the universe?"

There is plenty of room for answers to all four of these questions in a world view, but a scientific approach can only potentially provide answers to the first three, and is quite able to even deny that the last is a valid question. So far science has not provided a satisfactory answer to the first of these particular questions either, but I think it is a question that science can validly deal with, and that it is more probable than not that it will be answered at some future date as the result of scientific investigations.

Why do I think that? Because the sorts of things that scientists do, and the sorts of approaches that they take to finding new knowledge, are capable of obtaining evidence that will contribute to an answer to a question like this. I would not say the same thing about the fourth question.


 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Big Bang: How Did Life Begin if Everything Was Sterile?
« Reply #24 on: 26/09/2012 16:15:50 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums