Abiogenesis, or the origin of life, is still a huge mystery in science. No matter what we know from science and physics, the concepts about the how and why life started, and whether it first appeared somewhere else are mostly abstract.
How Did Life Form?
To know more about the appearance of life in a rare Universe, new research combines biological and cosmological models. Scientists observed the way life’s building blocks could suddenly form in the world, a process that is known as abiogenesis.
As per the RNA world hypothesis, earlier life forms may have utilized RNA only to store genetic material. RNA was the main living substance, mostly because of its ability to operate as both genetic and catalytic roles before the DNA-protein world formed.
RNA is a polymer, which means that it is made out of chemical chains, in our case, known as nucleotides. Still, a more crucial and puzzling question is how an RNA polymer grew sufficiently long to have a self-replicating RNA polymerase activity. An important amount is the minimum RNA length needed to depict self-replicating capacity.
According to researchers, RNA no less than 40 to 100 nucleotides long is required for the self-replicating activity needed for life to exist.
The Magic Number
In little time, nucleotides can suddenly link to form RNA, considering the ideal chemical conditions. But either way, current theories suggest that a magic number of 40 to 100 nucleotides should not have been possible in the volume of space to trigger an abiogenesis affair.
Professor Tomonori Totani from the Department of Astronomy, The University of Tokyo, said, “However, there is more to the universe than the observable. 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 occurring.”
He further explained: “Combining my recent investigation into RNA chemistry with my long history of cosmology leads me to realize there is a plausible way the universe must have gone from an abiotic (lifeless) state to a biotic one. It’s an exciting thought, and I hope research can build on this to uncover the origins of life.”
The research has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.