Moore's Law + Evolution = Life Before Earth?
Two scientists conducted a "thought experiment" using the popular computer science law and came up with some interesting and controversial possibilities on the true origins of species.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
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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