Thought Experiment: Life and Intelligence
The following is not necessarily fact, indeed this is just a thought experiment on why I’m not too amazed that there is life or that life can manifest itself from a universe that is seemingly non-living.
I am unsure of the exact mechanics of DNA and RNA. Nor do I know if these are the most basic of building blocks for life. However I am going to assume, for the sake of argument, that they are. If they are not you can quite easily, without breaking the point, replace their names with the actual names of the basic building blocks of life.
If you were to take the chemicals that naturally occur upon Earth that are responsible for these basic building blocks and you placed them in a large vat. Lets say a vat the size of a stadium, something far smaller than the size of the Earth (almost ridiculously so) and you left them to constantly react to one another every moment of every day, for years and years, I am certain that you would in return find yourself with extremely simple life.
This life would have an intelligence, however it would be absolutely basic. The operations of generating energy and replicating would be all that it does. Why? Well even non-living elements on the periodic table are (misnomer alert) instinctively searching to complete their outer electron shell. There is an inherent motivation to have a full ring and it is an ever present reality in our Universe. This basic need moves right on into life, the ever present desire to consume energy in order to complete operations that sustain a stable life pattern that gives the longest period of time to replicate and repeat this action.
This function is so fantastically simple that it requires little in the way of blind faith to accept. It essentially is the spawning of a billion light switches that have binary modes. They have two extremely basic functions and they repeat these functions over and over.
It is through this process of repetition and the ever present reality that nothing can (to our or at least my knowledge) perfectly replicate itself that we received change. These simple creatures began to have errors in their coding that resulted in extra operations becoming present. These extra operations, just like newer mechanical gadgets, presented even more gears to break. The more complicated anything gets the more there is to worry about after all.
These compounding functions, of replication, error, and growth result over a period of time to what we see today. It is not difficult to believe either, when watching bacteria replicating at nearly breakneck speed I find myself wondering just how many sneezes are going on in the process. How unrelated the bacteria a few days later are from their great ancestors of the days prior (assuming the bacteria has a short lifespan of course).
The shorter the lifespan of an organism the more present are these mechanisms I believe, because the shorter the lifespan of an organism, the more quickly it consumes and reproduces thus providing far more chances for replication and error. I’m sure this is not breaking science news for anyone but it is something I was thinking about recently. The point however is that at the most basic level of life. You really just have the same operations that are committed (at least in concept) at the electron level of elements. They are attempting to complete a simple circuit to establish a level of stability. It is this simple action that is present even in the non-living that drives all of life. Not necessarily the only thing, but I’m quite sure that the primary need of any organism is to maintain a stable energy level since every other operation after that requires it. You can’t exactly mate if you are dead…usually…ok there was that one time…wait…nevermind I’ve said too much.
I hope you enjoyed this thought experiment. Tonight I will also be publishing my final version of the Alabaster Bonobo: Tides of Chaos. If you ever needed a reason to dislike Microsoft here it is: They have Wal-Mart in their dictionary but not Bonobo.