Possible Precursor To Life Created
Perhaps the most fundamental question eluding biologists and philosophers is how life began.
In a new study, researchers from the Center for Fundamental Living Technology (FLINT), Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy, at the University of Southern Denmark have discovered information strings in a virtual computer experiment, reports Science Daily.
For life as we know it, information strings including DNA and RNA strings control cell metabolism and provide the cell with instructions on how to divide.
"Finding mechanisms to create information strings are essential for researchers working with artificial life," said Steen Rasmussen, a professor and head of FLINT.
"In our computer simulation, our virtual molecular laboratory, information strings began to replicate quickly and efficiently as expected," said Rasmussen.
"However, we were struck to see that the system quickly developed an equal number of short and long information strings and further that a strong pattern selection on the strings had occurred," Rasmussen said. "How could such a coordinated selection of strings occur, when we knew that we had not programmed it. The explanation had to be found in the way the strings interacted with each other."
"A self-organizing network, a network of molecules which catalyze each other's production was created," according to Rasmussen. "This process will create a network that exhibits a primitive form of metabolism and an information system that replicates itself from generation to generation."
"We might have discovered a process similar to the processes that initially sparked the first life," explains Rasmussen. "We of course don't know if life actually was created this way, but it could have been one of the steps."
The research was published in the journal Europhysics Letters.