Moore's Law Applied Back in Time --Hints We May be 1st Intelligent Species in the Universe
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April 18, 2013

Moore's Law Applied Back in Time --Hints We May be 1st Intelligent Species in the Universe

 

 

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As life has evolved, its complexity has increased exponentially, just like Moore’s law which states that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. Now geneticists, Alexei Sharov at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore and his mate Richard Gordon at the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Florida, have extrapolated this trend backwards and found that by the measure of Moore's Law, life is older than the Earth itself.

The team takes Moore's Law back to zero complexity and the origin of life, by measuring the complexity of life and the rate at which it has increased from prokaryotes to eukaryotes to more complex creatures such as worms, fish, amphibians and eventually mammals. The result is an exponential increase identical to that behind Moore’s Law with the doubling time, hwoever, expanding to 376 million years rather than two years. The application of 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 billion years ago. This cosmic time scale for the evolution of life has important consequences: life took ca. 5 billion years to reach the complexity of bacteria; the environments in which life originated and evolved to the prokaryote stage may have been quite different from those envisaged on Earth. Therefore they suggest that if life takes 10 billion years to evolve to the level of complexity associated with homo sapiens, then we may be among the first, if not the first, intelligent civilisation in the Milky Way, negating Drakes Equation.

The graph below shows the complexity of organisms, as measured by the length of functional non-redundant DNA per genome counted by nucleotide base pairs (bp), increases linearly with time (Sharov, 2012). Time is counted backwards in billions of years before the present (time 0).

Additionally they suggest that the evolution of advanced organisms has accelerated via development of additional information-processing systems: epigenetic memory, primitive mind, multicellular brain, language, books, computers, and Internet. As a result the doubling time of complexity has reached about every 20 years.

Sharov and Gordon also point out that astronomers believe that our Solar Nebula formed from the remnants of an earlier star, suggesting that life from this period might be preserved in the original gas, dust and ice clouds. In a form of Cosmic pansermia, life on Earth may be a continuation of a process that began many billions of years before the formation of our Solar System.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1304.3381: Life Before Earth

The Daily Galaxy via MIT Technology Review

Image credit: Chandra/Wickramasinghe

 

Comments

Although the premise is interesting I do not agree with the conclusion that we may be the first intelligent species. Does it not make more logical sense that the growing evidence that life may be transported between star systems and beyond through comets, etc., is a more likely conclusion. In this case, we may be a continuation of life which originally formed elsewhere.....

I second, MikeC, although some interesting information is drawn, I refuese to believe we are among the first let alone the first intelligent species, it just doesn't add up!

MikeC and Charlie: What you feel or believe to be true has no relevance. What's important here are the facts or the mathematical evidence. This is a promising line of investigation--combining mathematics with genetic progression. I'm all for setting aside theory (the Big Bang, etc.) and see where the evidence leads, even if it's unpleasant to grasp. If we are the only ones in the universe, then that would explain a lot (and imply much more--all of it scary).

i understand what the article is saying but the general rule with science is when ever people say people are special, everything rotates around us, we are in the middle of the galaxy, universe etc... it tends to end up being wrong, so saying we are the only intelligent species in the galaxy feels unlikely.

At the rate we are wasting our ressources and the global hate level between the members of our specie we might well be the last of the conscious and intelligent beings in our immediate universe.

You have absolutely, no idea, what you don't know... If you stick to the "Normal Paradigm" way of doing things, you'll never know the truth...

Although I don't agree with the conclusion of our place within the grand scheme of things, it is an intriguing hypothesis nonetheless. Arthur C Clarke stated that there are two possibilities: either we're alone in the universe or we're not. Both scenarios should be seen as equally terrifying.

So let's say for argument's sake that it's the first possibility (as posited by these equations) - then we really ought to be more worried because we'll be shouldering a burden that we can scarcely wrap our heads around. If humanity is the best hope for the proliferation of higher consciousness, then hopefully we can get our act together before a comet/meteor or some other catastrophe befalls our world. As it stands, we're still in the cradle and have managed only a baby-step onto our nearest orbiting satellite.

It is an interesting hypothesis with no way of testing whether or not the basic premise( that genetic complexity, let alone biological information processing complexity)follows Moore's Law is an accurate one. I do enjoy science fiction, so I suggest you all read "Existence", by David Brin.

I don't quite understand what they are saying here. If they calculate, by extrapolating backwards, that the "time to the origin of life" is 9.7 billion years ago, and the accepted age of the Earth is 4.5 billion years ago - then it seems to me one of 2 things are certain... Either we must accept that life started somewhere else in the galaxy well before (5.2 billion years before) the Earth was created and it traveled to Earth, or the calculations extrapolating backward 9.7 billion years are just plain incorrect.

Why is relevant what theories, suppositions, Clarke's words, Darwin's evolution or anybody else's ideas about a life came to be?
The fact is that no one is able to prove that our origins can be placed in a supposition like a prokaryote stage to Einstein? my foot

Ha! Between this and carbon dating, how the heck can you see that scientists theories are illogical, stupid, and downright wrong. When are the people in the science field going to realuze that God did indeed create the earth and that he may not want us to know the science of how he created it? And that if there is/was other life out there, he doesn't want us to know. We'll never find other life.

impossible that we are first species. evolution proves that.

@Micheala - your hubris is offensive to both scientific minds and religious alike. in NO WAY can you claim to know what God means for any of us! I'm pretty sure your line of thinking is what caused the Crusades

Well, somebody's got to be the first... even in an infinite universe...

All the more reason not to screw things up while we're around.


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