Cool article, interesting math, fun speculation.
Originally shared by David Brin
Has the complexity of life been increasing along a path similar to Moore’s Law? If you trace-back the doublings of integrated circuit complexity, halving the number of transistors per chip every 18 months (Moore’s Law) you get to zero around 1970… pretty much when it all started. A similar back extrapolation was done with Hubble’s Law, when the expansion of the universe was discovered, giving an early estimate for the Big Bang that was correct within an order of magnitude. Now scientists have done the same thing with the expansion of the genome, and this trace-back yields shocking results.
If you discount the vast tracts of “redundant” DNA in mammalian chromosomes, then the log curve plots straight back in time, past eukaryotes and prokaryotes, to suggest that life had its origins… almost TEN billion years ago. Since the Earth itself is less than five billion years old, this suggests that either:
(1) life began de novo on Earth (the standard model) and then had a phase of exceptionally rapid genome growth (akin to the inflationary phase of expansion that some say followed the Big Bang), or
(2) life began elsewhere and was seeded on the early Earth, in accordance with the Panspermia Theory of Arrhenius, and later Hoyle and Wickramasinghe. (And Heart of the Comet.)
An altogether fascinating prospect, either way.