“To the best of our knowledge, the twenty-one original chemicals chosen by known life do not constitute a unique set; other choices could have been made, and maybe were made if life started elsewhere many times.”
Paul Davies -leading authority in astrobiology, director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science and co-director of the ASU Cosmology Initiative.
A recent mathematical analysis says that life as we know it is written into the laws of reality. DNA is built from a set of twenty amino acids – the first ten of those can create simple prebiotic life, and now it seems that those ten are thermodynamically destined to occur wherever they can.
For those unfamiliar with thermodynamics, it’s the Big Brother of all energy equations and science itself. You can apply quantum mechanics at certain scales, and Newtonian mechanics work at the right speeds, but if Thermodynamics says something then everyone listens.
An energy analysis by Ralph Pudritz, a theoretical astrophysicist and director of the Origins Institute at McMaster University shows that the first ten amino acids are likely to form at relatively low temperatures and pressures, and the calculated odds of formation match the concentrations of these life-chemicals found in meteorite samples.
They also match those in simulations of early Earth, and most critically, those simulations were performed by other people. The implications are staggering: good news for anyone worried about how we’re alone, and bad news for anyone who demands some kind of “Designer” to put life together – it seems that physics can assemble the organic jigsaw all by itself, thank you very much, and has probably done so throughout space since the beginning of everything.