How artificial intelligence can help us figure out how life began

[ad_1]

How inanimate molecules first arranged themselves into life is one of the great mysteries. The answer could lie in a systematic exploration of chemical space



Technology



2 March 2022

New Scientist Default Image

Graham Carter

How did Earth turn from a sterile ball of rock into a lush, green world of living things? This question of how life got started is one of the hardest of them all.

Still, we are inching closer to answering it. Several scientists have created things that approximate to life. Late last year, a team led by Josh Bongard at the University of Vermont reprogrammed frog skin cells into “xenobots“. These groups of cells can swim and reproduce, working together to corral loose cells into new versions of themselves.

But if you drill right down to the heart of this question, you reach a bedrock of chemistry. How did a selection of inanimate molecules start joining together and replicating themselves? In the 1950s, chemists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey put a mixture of chemicals in a sealed jar and showed that amino acids, a key ingredient in living things, could be formed spontaneously. That was a big step, but it still doesn’t tell us how those molecules formed a self-replicating system.

This is why chemists are interested in trying to recreate the moment that inanimate chemistry turned into the simplest possible life. There are billions of ways this could have happened. So Lee Cronin at the University of Glasgow, UK, is employing robots to help investigate. He and his team have set up machines that combine a selection of simple substances – acids, inorganic minerals, carbon-based molecules – to react randomly. The outcome is analysed and then an algorithm helps the robot choose how to proceed. In this way, the robot can hunt through vast swathes of …

[ad_2]

Source link

Advertisement

spot_img

How to convert a...

Whether you’re more comfortable working in PowerPoint or...

When To Stop Watering...

You can stop watering new grass seed daily...

Senate Preps for Hearings...

Washington —  On Monday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee...

What DisplayPort’s new Ultra-High...

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has announced...

How to convert a Word document to a PowerPoint presentation

Whether you’re more comfortable working in PowerPoint or you’d like to present the content of your Word document in a different way, we’ve...

When To Stop Watering New Grass Seed 2022

You can stop watering new grass seed daily once it has germinated and the grass blades measure to about 1 inch. This should...

Senate Preps for Hearings on Biden’s Ground-Breaking Supreme Court Pick 

Washington —  On Monday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will begin four days of hearings on the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to...

What DisplayPort’s new Ultra-High Bit Rate (UHBR) certification means to you

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has announced a new DisplayPort certification called Ultra-High Bit Rate (UHBR) for DisplayPort 2.0. It establishes two...

Discover the best ways to earn passive income in 2022 with this $20 bundle

If you’re trying to get rich working for someone else, then the best of luck to you. From a practical sense, the only...