AN ASTROPHYSICAL BASIS FOR A UNIVERSAL ORIGIN OF LIFE
STIRLING A. COLGATE
JOHNDALE C. SOLEM
We propose a universal, astrophysically based theory of the origin of life on Earth and on other rocky planets as well. Life is an information system where the information content grows because of selection. It must start with the minimum possible information, or the minimum possible departure from thermodynamic equilibrium. It also requires thermodynamically free energy that is accessible by means of its information content. Hence, for its origin, we look for the most benign circumstance or minimum entropy variations over long times with abundant free energy. The unique location for this condition is the pore space in the first few kilometers of the earth's surface. The free energy is derived from the condensed products of the chemical reactions taking place in the cooling nebula e.g. iron oxides and fixed hydrocarbon, (CH2)16 and the benign environment is the thermal and radiation isolation of the earth's crust. We discuss how this environment occurs naturally and universally astrophysically. We then propose several chemical routes to the formation of life with a minimum entropy departure from thermodynamic equilibrium.
Origins of life, thermodynamics and information, star and planet formation
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