To help answer one of the great existential questions — how did life begin? — a study combines biological and cosmological models. Professor Tomonori Totani from the Department of Astronomy looked at how life’s building blocks could spontaneously form in the universe — a process known as abiogenesis.
As the only life we know of is based on Earth, studies on life’s origins are limited to the specific conditions we find here. Therefore, most research in this area looks at the most basic components common to all known living things: ribonucleic acid, or RNA. This is a far simpler and more essential molecule than the more famous deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, that defines how we are put together. But RNA is still orders of magnitude more complex than the kinds of chemicals one tends to find floating around in space or stuck to the face of a lifeless planet.
“In contemporary cosmology, it is agreed the universe underwent a period of rapid inflation producing a vast region of expansion beyond the horizon of what we can directly observe. Factoring this greater volume into models of abiogenesis hugely increases the chances of life occuring.”, a researcher explained.
Indeed, the observable universe contains about 10 sextillion (10^22) stars. Statistically speaking, the matter in such a volume should only be able to produce RNA of about 20 nucleotides. But it’s calculated that, thanks to rapid inflation, the universe may contain more than 1 googol (10^100) stars, and if this is the case then more complex, life-sustaining RNA structures are more than just probable, they’re practically inevitable. (1)
Inevitable life, we say.
Sounds like a joke.
Driving you away from home.
And day by day, you forget.
That there was a time when life was not.
At an era when existence was a fault.
Feel your own self.
Ask the right questions.
In the midst of the storm…
Can you stop laughing?