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Science & Technology

Could life be older than the Earth itself ?

By T.K. Randall
April 18, 2013 · Comment icon 30 comments

Image Credit: NASA Astrobiology
Two geneticists have applied a computer science principle to biology to find the age of life on Earth.
Moore's law tackles the concept that computers increase in complexity at a rate of approximately double the transistors per integrated circuit every two years. Scientists Alexei Sharov and Richard Gordon decided to use this principle by applying it to life on Earth instead of computers, replacing transistors with nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA. By calculating backwards, they determined that life on Earth could be as old as 10 billion years - far older than the planet's age of 4.5 billion years.

The calculation is of course, hypothetical, however it does tie in to the idea that life originated elsewhere in the universe and traveled to the Earth on an asteroid or comet, a theory known as panspermia. "Contamination with bacterial spores from space appears the most plausible hypothesis that explains the early appearance of life on Earth," the pair argue.[!gad]Moore's law tackles the concept that computers increase in complexity at a rate of approximately double the transistors per integrated circuit every two years. Scientists Alexei Sharov and Richard Gordon decided to use this principle by applying it to life on Earth instead of computers, replacing transistors with nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA. By calculating backwards, they determined that life on Earth could be as old as 10 billion years - far older than the planet's age of 4.5 billion years.

The calculation is of course, hypothetical, however it does tie in to the idea that life originated elsewhere in the universe and traveled to the Earth on an asteroid or comet, a theory known as panspermia. "Contamination with bacterial spores from space appears the most plausible hypothesis that explains the early appearance of life on Earth," the pair argue.
Applying a maxim from computer science to biology raises the intriguing possibility that life existed before Earth did and may have originated outside our solar system, scientists say.


Source: Live Science | Comments (30)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #21 Posted by Ad hoc 11 years ago
fun idea. Although, I shudder to think how you can feel on solid ground applying moores law to the very complex and not so well understood history of the complexity of biology, and all it's evolutionary stalls and cul-de-sacs. But, apparently they feel they've got an element that acts in a somewhat reliable way over time. Cool idea in any case. this thing- For one, "life before earth" debunks the long-held science-fiction trope of the scientifically advanced alien species. If genetic complexity progresses at a steady rate, then the social and scientific development of any other alien life form... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by Gatofeo 11 years ago
Could life be older than Earth itself? I dunno, let's ask Joan Rivers. Taken a look at her lately? She's so old, she probably had pet trilobites!
Comment icon #23 Posted by Hawkin 11 years ago
Over the years science has had to rewrite their books by finding new discoveries and new techniques that changes everything. What is told today could be outdated in a few decades.
Comment icon #24 Posted by Seeker79 11 years ago
Moore's law relates to the number of Transistors that can be built into an IC. This doe not actually relate to complexity (in Biological terms) as such, because complexity in Biology refers more usually to evolutionary processes. Latest estimates for the number of Gates than can be fitted into an IC show the trend levelling out by end of 2013 to a doubling every 3 years instead of 2. This will become even slower based on current technology as the abilty to manipulate storage on the nanometre scale becomes increasingly difficult. Tell that to Ray Kurzweil
Comment icon #25 Posted by Bob57 11 years ago
Nothing I can add to this other than my agreement with most of your replies.We are the alien life forms we search for in outer space.
Comment icon #26 Posted by The New Richard Nixon 11 years ago
Well if Bacteria is the oldest living organism in the world, then there has to be life older than the Earth
Comment icon #27 Posted by Psychic51 11 years ago
Seems likely that life pre-dates the Earth. Far as I know, the Earth wasn't very friendly to life in its early years. The first inhabitants ( Eukaryote & Prokaryote ) came from a classification known as Extremophiles. Simple yet surprisingly sturdy forms of life that is capable of living in extreme conditions. The most important thing they did was emit Oxygen. Without which more complex life such as our own would be impossible. To me, this suggests something more...
Comment icon #28 Posted by freetoroam 11 years ago
The top of the food chain today are at it again. One day something will come along and show us, yes us "man" who has not even been on this planet longer than dinosaurs, that Earth is still very much a baby in Universe times. But hey! thats only my opinion.
Comment icon #29 Posted by shrooma 11 years ago
The top of the food chain today are at it again. One day something will come along and show us, yes us "man" who has not even been on this planet longer than dinosaurs, that Earth is still very much a baby in Universe times. But hey! thats only my opinion. . very much a baby indeed freet, and we're not gonna hit toddlin' stage if we don't learn to stop throwing our rattle outt'n the pram!
Comment icon #30 Posted by freetoroam 11 years ago
. very much a baby indeed freet, and we're not gonna hit toddlin' stage if we don't learn to stop throwing our rattle outt'n the pram! Yep, man needs to start thinking about changing its nappies, they are filling up far too fast.


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