What's the Latest Development?

Currently available on the online journal ArXiv is a paper in which its authors describe their application of Moore's Law -- which states that computers increase exponentially in complexity over a set period of time -- to the evolution of life on Earth. With this law, it's possible to work backward to the day the first microchip was "born." As it applies to biology, though, scientists Alexei Sharov and Richard Gordon hypothesize that the first sign of organic life would have come into existence a good 5 billion years before the Earth itself existed.

What's the Big Idea?

Sharov and Gordon readily admit that their paper is a "thought experiment" that doesn't provide concrete proof of life beginning before Earth. However, the concept of panspermia -- in which microscopic organisms travel on asteroids or other space debris and "seed" planets where they land -- has been around for many centuries, so their claim isn't exactly foreign. The use of Moore's Law also leads to other interesting possibilities: For example, one reason why we haven't been visited by a "scientifically advanced" space-traveling species (so far as we know) could be that, owing to the progression of genetic complexity over time, every civilization would be at the same approximate social and scientific level.

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