Interesting. Aristotle, Plato and Neitsche can all take a seat.
Although the researchers don’t speculate on the specific chemical reactions that created life, they explain that the molecules involved most likely underwent a series of more and more complex reactions to minimize mutual energy differences between matter on Earth and with respect to high-energy radiation from Sun. The process eventually advanced so far that it cumulated into such sophisticated functional structures that could be called living.
“The most important idea in our study is that there is no distinction between animate and inanimate,” Arto Annila told PhysOrg.com. “Processes of life are, in their principles, no different from any other natural processes.”
In their study, which is published in the International Journal of Astrobiology, the researchers considered a primordial pool that contained some basic compounds. By reacting with one another and coupling with an external energy source such as the Sun, the compounds formed a chemical system. The compounds continually engaged in chemical reactions, thriving the most when capturing and distributing more and more of the Sun’s energy in the quest for a steady state. The evolutionary process was and still is non-deterministic, even chaotic, since the energy flows create energy differences that in turn affect the flows. […]
In this sense, life is a very natural thing, which emerged simply to satisfy basic physical laws. Our “purpose,” so to speak, is to redistribute energy on the Earth, which is in between a huge potential energy difference caused by the hot Sun and cold space. Organisms evolve via natural selection, but at the most basic level, natural selection is driven by the same thermodynamic principle: increasing entropy and decreasing energy differences. The natural processes from which life emerged, then, are the same processes that keep life going – and they operate on all timescales.
That’s some heavy shit. [via]