Does Moore’s Law Imply That Life On Earth Arrived From Elsewhere?

origin of lifeThe MIT Technology Review writes that earthly lifeforms appear to have 10 billion years’ worth of complexity, yet our planet is only 4.5 billion years old. So do our origins lie elsewhere?

As life has evolved, its complexity has increased exponentially, just like Moore’s law. Now geneticists have extrapolated this trend backwards and found that by this measure, life is older than the Earth itself.

Alexei Sharov at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore and Richard Gordon at the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Florida argue that it’s possible to measure the complexity of life and the rate at which it has increased from prokaryotes to eukaryotes to more complex creatures such as worms, fish and finally mammals. That produces a clear exponential increase identical to that behind Moore’s Law although in this case the doubling time is 376 million years rather than two years.

That raises an interesting question. What happens if you extrapolate backwards to the point of no complexity–the origin of life? “Linear regression of genetic complexity (on a log scale) extrapolated back to just one base pair suggests the time of the origin of life = 9.7 ± 2.5 billion years ago,” Sharov and Gordon say.

And since the Earth is only 4.5 billion years old, that raises a whole series of other questions. Not least of these is how and where did life begin.

There’s no question that this is a controversial idea that will ruffle more than a few feathers amongst evolutionary theorists. But it is also provocative, interesting and exciting.

25 Comments on "Does Moore’s Law Imply That Life On Earth Arrived From Elsewhere?"

  1. heard recently about a reverse trend, that this supposed life thing started at some set complexity and hascontinues to become more simple, simpler, simple. “what happens when the signal runs out” “checkmate”. “peace” “no peace”. besides, e^(1/x) is exponential, so non-math people should stop trying to make traps with math, they just fail. in which case, this must be a lollipop from the dentist. *edit* lets do carbon quandilemmas a favor and explore ALL THE OPTIONS &meme&

    • Marc spainhour | Apr 22, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

      Does this have any thing to do with 311 are aliens ???

      • *consults the Babel Card Deck* Ace of Spades
        *research* ace of spades is often the highest card and “death card”
        oh sweet samael
        no one shall know Tehy
        indepenDance in the pen dance
        fourth curtain of the goat trick
        bad maths
        bad logic
        *response to inquiry* are you asking me to define for you the relation that you already possess?
        if you seek from me in trade, offer that babel card given you as you will it to be, to be given me, to be dealing with the dislikes of my mathematical expertice by ignoramus players of the house seeking to fun fallacy the facts of their untold card. wee-wee. i *Did* get the ace of spades. third from the left like i chose before the deal.

        • Marc spainhour | Apr 22, 2013 at 6:42 pm |

          Huh ??
          Over my head,
          the ocean is deep , “don’t jump in”, if you can’t swim.

          • i was thrown in
            to the chorus of
            “is he a witch”
            “is he that sorcerous Simon”
            “he is not the beast but is he the beast”

            i am not familiar with 311 are aliens mr spainhour

            it’s moreso that i am the ocean
            and got tired of being so limited

  2. Ron Chandler | Apr 20, 2013 at 11:54 am |

    Read Fred Hoyle’s book, Our Place In The Cosmos, for a theory I don’t believe has ever been refuted, that life fills the cosmos and arrived here partly via cometary debris, which still arrives to bring mutational viruses. Hoyle’s thesis is that evolution cannot have started here, as the chain towards even the chemical building blocks is too long.
    But, if you want to spin your head off, get hold of the Roswell nurse’s book, edited by a guy, Spencer, in which the surviving alien pilot, ‘Airl’, gives a trippy history of Earth and the universe! I have Acrobat reading the text aloud to me in its female robot voice. Off the planet!

    • Amacai Zerand | Apr 20, 2013 at 9:53 pm |

      Usually I just lurk here, but I had to reply to this. “Alien Interview” is just a re-imaging of the Scientology cosmology. Google “alien interview scientology” for a slew of links. Having been a member of that cult over 30 ago I recognized it right away.

  3. Anarchy Pony | Apr 20, 2013 at 2:45 pm |

    The real question is; Are there really green alien babes out there?

    • nozodurendozuo | Apr 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm |

      jokes about “little green men” or “anal probes” are like most fat jokes. They are the providence of those who lack any true sense of humor. They are without wit. and almost certainly bad company. Not saying that’s you but…

      • Anarchy Pony | Apr 20, 2013 at 4:32 pm |

        Just cuz people make jokes doesn’t mean they are incapable of making serious inquiries about the possibilities of extraterrestrial life or the possible origins of life on earth. Lighten up.

      • The Well Dressed Man | Apr 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm |

        I’ll keep this in mind next time I’m tempted to make jokes about the vertically challenged with a BMI greater than 35, unusual skin tone, and a propensity for anal play.

    • The Well Dressed Man | Apr 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm |

      I hope so! In the meantime, we can encourage our human females to tattoo themselves a pleasing shade of green…. That would seem to be the logical conclusion to certain elements of the body modification community.

  4. nozodurendozuo | Apr 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm |

    Yes! It evolved elsewhere! Should our progenetors ever make themseleves known in a invontravertable and obvious way there will STILL be some people who refuse to beleive. They will be either religious nuts (more will claim the creators to be the devil) and science-enthusiast wakadoodles who will become a new strain of Religious nut, dressing in 20th-21st clothes and prontificating Einstein and Bill Nye as their founding philosophers. They will ignore all further developments in science as like Amish and maintain their stifled dialect and sexual inhibitions and clumsyness with the opposite sex instead of overt sexual repression. Nerd glasses will be like yamakas and pocket protectors like a priest collar. This will happen.

    • The Well Dressed Man | Apr 21, 2013 at 2:24 pm |

      Well if science actually maintains the commitment to the scientific method, then this wouldn’t happen, but I know what you mean. At one time, astrology and alchemy were considered very reliable sciences. Personally, I’m really getting into kind of a fundamentalist physical sciences thing, collecting eyeglasses and pocket protectors, and learning how to use slide rules!

  5. question is really if any chaotic influences on the rate of complexity gain, or even decrease. Moore’s law carries a number of assumptions and conditions that don’t apply to life’s complexity.

    • self-fulfilling prophecies, these law things. thermodynamics in the
      jousting, White Knight versus Black Bishop belies the entire infinite
      expanse of chess, some say. 1+infinity bullocks and such. whether
      entropy or Seti, chaos theory or disorder harvesters’ people-farming
      institutions, ‘undefined’ is to take definition away per se, thus a
      definition as an action, thus hypocrisy or sacrilege. random? integer
      random? real? imaginary? void? avoided? perhaps it’s merely a
      participle and not hypocrisy unto the infinite expanse of entire
      dissociation. yet here are all the words in one location. assimilation
      meets that which can not be assimilated. notice it Can be ‘not
      assimilated’ rather than it can’t be ‘assimilated’. beknot? benote? declensions artificial yield? i think not. inassimilatible
      meets the assimilator, i should say, for brevity.


  6. BuzzCoastin | Apr 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm |

    what wee humans don’t know about our origin
    is significantly greater than what wee do know
    but our ignorance and hubris keep us pretending otherwise

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