Environments for Life
If life is robust, then life should emerge in systems simpler than the quantum-mechanical totality of the young planet Earth in its young solar system. The mathematical challenge is to identify the essential system properties and understand the origins of life in terms of those properties.
The ancient Earth was not uniform; there were a multitude of different chemical environments. That some hypothetical "typical" early environment did not support RNA replication does nothing to rule out that some early environment would support it.
Von Neumann proved that a universal self-replicating machine could be embedded in a particular deterministic cellular automata. This is an important result, especially notable for its use of a tape for holding the genetic information before the discovery of the structure of DNA. But it doesn't reveal how such a machine would emerge by evolution, or even if that cellular automata was capable of evolving a self-replicating machine.
The Game Theory of Life seeks to prove that universal self-replicating machines will evolve from systems (cellular automata or others) obeying the rules of the nucleotide-game.
How can molecules be players? In a gas or liquid, molecules collide billions of times per second. As they rotate and gyrate, if molecules have orientations which mesh, then they will be tried. So reactions can be characterized as transformations between molecule types with reaction rates or probabilities.
How do genetic molecules choose strategies? These games are played with huge numbers of players of each species. Mutations in those players' genomes try variations of strategy simultaneously. With time, variations more and more different from the original are tried. If the species doesn't go extinct in the meantime, improved molecules and genomes will win out.
Mutation is thus a crucial component of these games.
Notions such as energy and conservation laws are not employed in the nucleotide-game. Von Neumann's Universal Constructor, which motivates the nucleotide-game, is a cellular automaton; and as such does not necessarily obey familiar conservation laws.
Life's strong presence in subterranean and deep ocean climes is strong evidence that seasons are not a necessary ingredient for microbial evolution.
The first chapter is Viroids -- the Nucleotide Game.
Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 Aubrey Jaffer
I am a guest and not a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
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|The Game Theory of Life|
|agj @ alum.mit.edu||Go Figure!|