Thursday, February 18, 2016

Earth 2.0: Let There Be Life!

Microscopic Life: Survive! Replicate!
Nine billion years had passed for Earth to reach the sphericalish disposition I described in my previous article, and which I will refer to as Earth 1.0.  In short, it is incontrovertible that the Big Bang generated physical matter which digested in the fiery belly of stars was then regurgitated, reaggregated  redigested again and again  resulting in our vast universe of material complexity.

All this chemical, nuclear and physical mixing was driven by properties inherent in the matter and spatial location relative to other matter. Importantly, the subsequent organization of all this physical matter was strongly dependent upon the very nature of particles and the forces and energy exchanged between them.

About 4.5 billion years ago Earth 1.0 was transitioning toward a state of higher complexity.  One might label these new, underlying, organizing elements as biological properties.  Given yet another immensely long period of time, these properties would lead Earth down a path toward an every changing destination filled with diverse, living organisms.

Macroscopic Life: Survive! Replicate!
It is important to note that Earth 1.0 didn't leap to Earth 2.0 overnight; that would require something akin to religious magic, an unbelievable occurrence given the abundance of evidence found over centuries of research. In truth, the Earth's liquid oceans sloshed, and its gaseous atmosphere swirled; the Moon's gravitation tugged while the Sun's radiation showered upon this pebble.  And with numerous other physical inputs, at some juncture a bit of the planet's matter became complex in a biological fashion began down a new path of self organization.

Now, one might be tempted to label all the resulting intermingling as random processes; on the contrary, the biological self organization that emerged was simply a tiny bit more stable than the disorganizing forces mustered against it.  Over a very, very long period of time this process, now known as evolution by natural selection, dominated.  With extremely gradualism engaged a planetary ecosystem of living things systematically coalesced from the mix of physical matter and growing biological detritus present.

Life evolved!

These organisms competed with the physical elements and with each other through billions of sunrises and sunsets until an amazing diversity of living things spread across the planet.  It is possible life sprung from one or multiple sources, from organic molecules seeded from comet impacts, from the peripheries of active ocean volcano, or from sunlit pools of rare chemical solutions.  Regardless, the world of Earth 2.0 thrived with ever changing varieties of prions,viruses, archaebacteria, eubacteria, protists, fungi, plants and animals wherever conditions permitted.

Megascopic Life: Survive! Replicate!
Importantly each living individual had within it a new drive to replicate itself, if not perfectly, then at least sufficient to pass on information to the next generation to do essentially the same.  These genetic commands encoded in chemical DNA became ever more complex to better contend with the elements, competition from other individuals, and cooperation with other individuals if the outcome resulted in a new stable, replicating generation of its own.

In fact, Earth 2.0 has been alive now for more than four billion years, thriving continuously changing gradually, and establishing a living layer that raged to be successful biologically.  Living organisms alongside physical matter interwove ecosystems that continued if they were holistically stable, and crashed if circumstances were too destabilizing.   Some of these destabilizations were local and others resulted in global mass extinctions, nevertheless life persisted.

Terrestrial life flourished upon the physical and biologically complicated Earth hungering to replicate itself without any real conscious reflection on how to adapt for future.  Evolution's simple organizing nature was embodied by survival and replication of those organisms who inherently survived and replicated. Then about 40,000 years ago, amidst life's flourishing a unique species of life emerged. This species would usher in a new era, wielding a new organizing element with skill, the meme.

Earth 3.0, here we come!

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