Math model reveals insight into how first life forms were 'born'

Mar 11, 2013

An international team of physicists have revealed insights into how the very first life-forms made the jump from the non-living to the living world, by mathematically modelling biological states using energy waves called solitons.

"The model is alive: it oscillates when there isn't enough energy or matter, just like it's breathing. When matter and energy stops flowing through the system, it dies," explains Professor Nail Akhmediev from The Australian National University.

"If these processes happen in simple formations like solitons, we can imagine how the very first basic forms of life were 'born' in nature from non-living elements, such as hydrogen and oxygen."

Professor Akhmediev collaborated with Professor Helmut Brand of the in Germany and Professor Jose Soto-Crespo of the Instituto de Optica in Spain to develop the mathematical model, published in the latest edition of Physics Letters A.

Professor Akhmediev says the soliton model can help us understand basic .

"A soliton – which is a solitary energy wave that doesn't change shape over time – can be used as a model for life because it displays the simplest and most essential functions of life," he says.

"We can apply this model to such as the transport of nerve and muscle pulses, the processes that occur in , and similar phenomena. Having a better understanding of solitons will in turn help us understand how our bodies work.

"At a fundamental level, we are trying to understand how life may have appeared through very simple . Using this model is a powerful approach that will help in analysing more complex situations."

Explore further: The unifying framework of symmetry reveals properties of a broad range of physical systems

More information: Research paper: Dissipative solitons with energy and matter flows: Fundamental building blocks for the world of living organisms, www.sciencedirect.com/science/… ii/S0375960113001606

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dogbert
2.1 / 5 (15) Mar 11, 2013
... we can imagine how the very first basic forms of life were 'born' in nature from non-living elements ...


We can imagine many things, even magic, and we can model our imaginings with computer programs. Playing games with computers does not mean we have any better idea about whatever we are imagining.
jdw
1.4 / 5 (9) Mar 11, 2013
"...we can imagine..."

And until we can create (or re-create), then that's all we can do, really. Do it already!

Let's see something alive happening afresh, without our already-alive contamination involved. That's all we need to see. Something alive, and I'd settle for something not even contained within a membrane. I'm not asking for a lot. A spark of 'life', even if it can't reproduce, would be more than we've managed to do to date.

Seriously, what's taking us so long, I wonder ?
Fabio P_
4.6 / 5 (11) Mar 11, 2013
@jdw: You're not making much sense. In order for the phenomenon to be observable, it needs to occur within controlled conditions, mostly because life is already established in nature and that would make the formation of a different organic chemistry ex-novo in the wild essentially impossible. As such, there will always be some degree of contamination. If you can settle for that - and I see no reason why you shouldn't - then there's plenty of published research out there on self-assembling and self-replicating molecules - organic or otherwise. This is just a modelling approach, and modelling is just as useful as observations most of the time. Try to think before you type anything next time.
dogbert
1.4 / 5 (9) Mar 11, 2013
... modelling is just as useful as observations most of the time.


Not at all. It is possible to model phenomena which do not and/or cannot exist.
Birger
5 / 5 (2) Mar 11, 2013
These are by definition very complex things, and modeling them in silico requires simplifying them to some degree.
Doing "the real thing" first requires avoiding contamination -a very big problem- and then running the experiment long enough for interesting things to happen. Finally, you must examine the outcome of the experiment without contaminating the sample.
I imagine the first attempts will be as frustrating as acheaving "break even" in fusion experiments.
kochevnik
4 / 5 (4) Mar 11, 2013
... modelling is just as useful as observations most of the time.
Not at all. It is possible to model phenomena which do not and/or cannot exist.
Maths address questions of existence, dogbert. Pity you didn't know that
jdw
1 / 5 (9) Mar 11, 2013
In order for the phenomenon to be observable, it needs to occur within controlled conditions, mostly because life is already established in nature and that would make the formation of a different organic chemistry ex-novo in the wild essentially impossible.


That it occurred once is good enough for you, then? Good enough to validate your atheism, I see.

Just.Do.It. If it happened even once, it should be reproducible.

Try to think before you type anything next time.

Horse's neck.
Tausch
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 11, 2013
Researchers propose new way to look at the dawn of life.
http://phys.org/n...ife.html

Don't get hung up on definitions or meaning of words.
The new approaches offers a better description to make 'life' more accessible to 'harder' branches of science.

Commendations go out to the researchers. I'm sure Sara Walker has made this ball roll.
nigel_reading
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 11, 2013
Asynsis? Life emergence as Solitons: self-organised critical phenomena @ the phase-transition, creative edge of chaos
The simplest soliton? A flame. Chemical oxidation at its most elemental. We are essentially, biochemical fire solitons.
Cosmomimetic Design in Nature, Consciousness & Culture - Asynsis Principle-Constructal Law Seminar: 
Shanghai University-Nantes L'ecole de Design wp.me/p1zCSP-2i via @ASYNSIS
baudrunner
2.3 / 5 (4) Mar 11, 2013
The process that encourages the kind of bio-chemical activity that results in living entities should be examined. I theorize that we should look at lichen and similar, perhaps now extinct, life forms that occur around tidal areas. Lichen grow on rock, which contain catalytic elements, and are exposed to the dehydrating influence of sunlight, another catalyst. The tide comes in and covers a primeval "growth" with water, the universal solvent. This repetitive process may cause the formation of a membrane which encapsulates the chemicals in a closed system which subsequently evolve more complex reactions. This results ultimately in unicellular eukaryotic organisms.
Zep Tepi
3 / 5 (2) Mar 11, 2013
"Wave of Translation" ~John Scott Russel
Parsec
5 / 5 (8) Mar 11, 2013

Richard P. Feynman: "It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong" Of course, at the moment, when you can make the money only with modeling instead of expensive and tedious experiments, then the mainstream physics parasites will adopt their religion to this situation immediately.


I for one am sick and tired of idiots like yourself that disparage working scientists because they earn a living wage. Preachers also earn a living wage. Are they religious parasites?

Most scientists could make a heck of a lot more money in finance or high tech than they do in research. That's the simple truth. We are all better off because they choose to do what they do, rather than just take home the big bucks their high IQ could otherwise earn them.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2013
Yes. There can be no better transport for information.

And the only difference between the labels 'life' and 'death' is the translation information must perform to uphold the difference.

All humans will like this 'definition'. Until they know more.

Spot on, Zep.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2013
Highest commendations go to the researchers.
Dovetailing into my research. Many Thanks.
jsdarkdestruction
5 / 5 (3) Mar 12, 2013
In order for the phenomenon to be observable, it needs to occur within controlled conditions, mostly because life is already established in nature and that would make the formation of a different organic chemistry ex-novo in the wild essentially impossible.


That it occurred once is good enough for you, then? Good enough to validate your atheism, I see.

Just.Do.It. If it happened even once, it should be reproducible.

Try to think before you type anything next time.

Horse's neck.

You are a horses ass, so dont talk.
The origins of life not being some magical creation event and it occuring as the result of natural processes and atheism ARE NOT the same thing. plenty of other religious types that arent young earth creationist accept it.