Theory of the Earliest Nanotechnology

Endymion endymion at mail.ameritel.net
Fri Apr 12 08:30:33 EST 1996


I will post this revised / edited version of the original draft paper
in the sci.nanotech and sci.bio.evolution newsgroups.

Probably, those other categories are more appropriate for the
discussion of nanotechnology, so I will place any related threaded
postings in those areas.

Theory of the Earliest Nanotechnology

Sun, April 7, 1996.

While I was observing the most recent Lunar eclipse, a theory occurred
to me which explains how the Lunar tides would have been involved in
the formation of the first one-celled life forms.

This theory is based on the idea that self-replicating molecular
nanomachines would have been present in the young Earth's ocean
waters.

Instead of thinking that the one-celled systems would have been formed
in a single step up from the simpler self-replicating molecules, it
makes more sense to think that there would have existed a period of
transition during which the existing populations of self-replicating
molecules would not have been able to replicate their bubble shells,
even though some of the self-replicating molecules would have been
occasionally captured inside temporary protective bubbles in their
environment.  

There would have been many waves splashing on the ocean's beaches,
forming continuous turbulence, and there would have been a large
number of small bubbles continuously forming.

Sometime after the Earth had already come into existence, the solid
core was pushed "off-center" by a substantial shift of the center of
gravity in the submerged rock.  It is not necessary to know exactly
how this happened.  As it relates to this theory, it only matters that
we know that the rocky, solid, part of the Earth did become exposed.
The result of this was the formation a very large super-continent
where the rocky land had emerged from one side of the uniform
water-sphere.  

Therefore, the young Earth was equipped with a very large amount of
land mass, due to the rock being no longer submerged uniformly beneath
the sea.

(Genesis, chapter 1, verse 9.) 

Next, due to the Moon's strong gravitational pull, there came to be
many billions of opportunities for waves to pound on the shores of
this large super-continent.  This caused many [place a large number
here] opportunities for the pounding waves to form small bubbles and
turbulence near the beaches.  On a global scale, there would have
existed a very large number of opportunities for the systems of
self-replicating molecules to have become repeatedly encapsulated.  

These bubbles would have been forming and breaking continuously, in
practically every possible configuration of molecular structure.
Thus, there would have been a very large number of opportunities for
the various types of self-replicating molecules to have been
repeatedly captured, and then released from the small temporary
"shells" which would have been forming from the films of organic
matter which would have been floating on the surface of the water.  

The surface films would have been composed mostly of various types of
self replicating organic molecules, forming emulsion mixtures which
would have been slightly different from the types of self-replicating
molecules which would have been dwelling deeper in the water.

The various types of self-replicating molecules in the water would not
have been equally able to take advantage of these recurring bubble
shells as a temporary refuge.  

At first, the types of self-replicating molecules which happened to
have been the most able to use the temporary bubble shells as a shield
against competitors would have been the types most able to enjoy a new
survival advantage.  Their populations would have increased more
rapidly compared to the other types of self-replicating molecules.
Soon, at least near the beaches, the ocean's population would have
become dominated by the self-replicating molecules which would have
been most easily encapsulated.

Next, with there being enough opportunities, some small percentage of
the new populations of self-replicating molecules would have had
chances to discover a competitive survival advantage if they were more
often able to slightly prolong the structural integrity of a temporary
bubble shell.  This new form of self-replicating molecule would thus
enjoy more of a survival advantage.  It would breed faster, and it
would replace the previous populations.

Next, some colonies of self-replicating molecules would have had
enough opportunities to have discovered how to make small repairs to
tiny rips or tears in a temporary bubble shell.  Again, this new type
of molecular colony would have proceeded to replace the ocean's
population of previous nanomachines, and this would become the new
standard level of survival capability, for a time.  

This first capability to make limited repairs to a temporary "cell
wall" membrane would not cause the protective shells to exist
permanently, but it would be enough to provide a survival advantage
for colonies of self-replicating molecules by extending the usefulness
of a temporary protective shield.  

At this point in time, the various competing types of self-replicating
molecules would be able to function well in the water when not
encapsulated by a temporary bubble shell, but rather like tiny
molecular "hermit crabs," these types of nanomachines would have been
able to frequently take advantage of those times when they were lucky
enough to find a suitable bubble shell in their environment.  

Moreover, at this stage of progress, the molecular hermit crabs would
have been able to make minor repairs, and to perform minor
maintenance, in order to increase the durability of their temporary
bubble shells.  This kind of symbiotic relationship between bubble
membranes and the temporarily encapsulated nanomachines would have
been the very last precursor before the earliest forms of cellular
life in the ocean.

Due to the large number of opportunities in the replicating of
populations, there would have been a constant appearance of new
systems which would have been progressively more competitive at
reproduction.

The reason for this is because within a large enough population of
many billions of similar self-replicators, there would be plenty of
room for countless billions of occasional mutations during each stage
of development.  Most of the various deviations from the currently
established norm would be non-competitive failed mutations.  Yet,
given enough chances, the probability would be very high that some
individual in the large population would be able to appear as a more
competitive form of life.  Due to the astronomically large numbers of
simultaneous copy operations occurring everywhere in the ocean for
molecule-sized systems, the unique new stages of development would
have been able to appear very rapidly.

Therefore, the key concept in understanding the development of early
self-replicating nanomachines would be in accepting that there would
have been a very large number of opportunities available for the
appearance of each successive, more competitive, self-replicating
system.

The second key idea is in realizing that the earliest, primitive,
self-copying molecules would not have been very sophisticated about
always making perfect copies of themselves 100% of the time.  

Therefore, if variations were to have happened only 1% of the time,
and there were countless billions of copying operations, then there
would be many billions of variations available during each generation
of the population’s existence.

If the probability that a poorly copied individual system (a mutation)
were to have resulted in an "improved" life form were very small, say
one chance in one hundred billion trials, then even with such a low
probability for an individual system, if we consider an ocean-sized
population of molecules, then there would be a high probability for
improved forms to appear rapidly in the population.

More importantly, after each more competitive form did appear, the new
type of system would have been able to reproduce itself more rapidly
compared to the previous ocean full of competitors.  After the
appearance of each improved life form, the new life form would have
abruptly spread throughout the entire ocean by a sudden geometric
population expansion.  Each newer, more competitive, self-replicating
system would have always been able to abruptly spread everywhere in
the ocean, and each would have quickly formed an astronomically large
population of the new life form.  This would have immediately set the
stage for providing large numbers of opportunities for the cycle to
continue endlessly.

Therefore, the third key concept in understanding the development of
“improved” self-replicating systems is in being able to appreciate how
quickly each more competitive molecule-sized self-replicating system
would have been able to become countless billions in a new population.

Molecule sized systems would have been able to reproduce very rapidly,
so the vast ocean would have been suddenly filled with each new
improvement, shortly after its appearance.  For molecule sized
systems, therefore, the global evolution would have been proceeding at
a rapid pace.

This might seem like a very strange idea to many people due to the
misconceptions which have been popularized during the past few decades
for the sake of attracting attention in sensationalized arguments
about creation and evolution.  Yet, the most striking aspect of this
theory is that it does not agree with the established "billions of
years" concept of evolution.

Instead, the development of the first life in the early ocean would
have proceeded in a way which would have been powerfully swift.  In
this theory, the creation of life would have happened in a process
which would have been more similar to the sequence which has been
described in the Biblical account of creation in the book of Genesis.

In a close parallel, the logic of this shift from self-replicating
molecular life forms into the "hermit crab" form of transitional
cellular life is similar to the original process of transformation
which would have produced the first crude self-replicating molecular
nanomachines out of the original non-replicating atoms which were
available in the lifeless water.  

At the start of the process, this planet had already been in
existence, equipped with a lifeless ocean of water.  The original
lifeless ocean contained a profoundly "large" number of atoms, so that
there were a very large number of opportunities for atoms to combine,
and to continually break apart and to recombine, in practically every
possible molecular configuration.  With such a large number of
chances, it would have produced a very high probability that some
molecules would have eventually existed in configurations which would
have been capable of building copies of themselves using atoms as raw
materials.

This is the fundamental idea for understanding the mechanism for
self-replicating molecules having originated in the Earth's young,
lifeless, ocean.  

The first successful self-replicating molecule form would have had no
competition in its environment for raw materials, and it would have
instantly spread everywhere in the ocean by geometric expansion.
Suddenly, there would have been countless billions of concurrent
copying operations going on continuously.  Competitive variations
would have appeared immediately.  After some time, the early ocean
would have been crowded with a fantastic assortment of
self-replicating molecule machines.  

In order for this early ocean to have had a high probability for
developing cellular life forms, it would have needed a large number of
daily opportunities for the simpler self-replicating molecule systems
to become encapsulated in small bubbles.  A very large number of
opportunities available would have made a very high probability for
the emergence of an encapsulated system which would have been more
competitive at reproducing itself compared to previous non-cellular
systems.  

The land having been separated from the sea, forming beaches, and the
Lunar tides forming continual waves would have each acted together to
produce an astronomical number of small bubbles near the shores.  This
would have been a very predictable, effective, mechanism for producing
an environment for the formation of cellular life.  Otherwise, the
transition from molecule-sized systems to cellular systems would have
had a much lower probability of occurring.  

If we accept on faith that the Earth was created by Divine intention
in order to function as a "cradle" for the birth of unique cellular
life forms, then this would explain why it would have been important
to form the Earth with an off-center land mass, and to place a rather
large moon in orbit, for producing waves on the beaches.  In any case,
our planet seems to have been a perfectly reasonable machine for the
formation of cellular life forms.  

Next, after the "hermit crab" nanomachines, consider what would have
happened.  

With the molecular life forms producing the molecules needed to repair
and maintain their transitory bubble shells, occasionally, a bubble
shell would rupture, leaving two fragments of a shell floating in the
water, and the nearby populations of molecular life forms would
sometimes be able to succeed in separately repairing each broken half
of a shell.  This would not happen very frequently, at first.  Yet, it
would still represent the very first form of truly successful
one-celled reproduction.  

The types of nanomachines most able to succeed, and most able to breed
competitively at this point in time would have been the types which
were currently most able to shape and to repair their transitory
bubble shells.  After enough opportunities, one of these primitive
systems of nanomachines would occasionally have succeeded in shrinking
the outer flange of a broken shell hemisphere.  This process would
look similar to the way in which a draw stringed purse  closes when
the strings are pulled.  

Occasionally, a complete sphere would break into two hemispheres, and
then each half would be reclosed, forming two cells.

The first forms of self-replicating nanomachines capable of reclosing
the flange of an available half-sphere would be using the exact same
molecular machinery as would have been previously needed for reclosing
small holes in a membrane.  

After a very large number of opportunities (not necessarily a large
amount of time), somewhere the two concurrent hemispheres of a cell
would be drawn together a bit prematurely.  That is, given enough
chances, some complete cell sphere would eventually have had an
opportunity to be acted upon by drawing together the molecular "purse
strings" for both of the two opposite sides of a single sphere,
simultaneously, before the two hemispheres had become separated by a
cell rupture.  

In this important case, the one bubble of cell membrane material would
have become football shaped, and then its middle would have been drawn
together forming two closed, connected bubbles.  This process would
use the same molecule machinery previously used for the purpose of
reclosing the open flanges of broken cell hemispheres.  It would
simply be a case where the reclosing operation would be performed by
each half-sphere, simultaneously.  

After the central constriction, the connection point between the two
new cells would be small, and not very strong, so the turbulence of
the water would be able to finish the primitive cell division by
breaking the two new cells away from each other.  

Instead of waiting around for a cell rupture to prompt this cellular
reproduction, this type of cellular life form would be the first life
form to be actually capable of initiating a very crude form of
mitosis.  This would be almost the same as the process which is now
observed in our more advanced modern single-celled life forms.  The
first systems to take full advantage of this process would no longer
spend a significant amount of time periodically having the interior
contents of a cell spilled, and then recollected from the surrounding
waters.

Instead, the interior cell contents of this new type of system would
mostly remain encapsulated, and the interior nanomachines would spend
more of their time protected from the outside environment.  Also, this
new system would be able to reproduce the cell wall much faster than
the previous "hermit crab" systems, due to being able to self-initiate
the reproduction process.

This new system would have spread rapidly in the ocean by geometric
population expansion.  Relatively abruptly at this point in time, the
ocean would have been filled with billions of self reproducing
one-celled organisms.  This would have made available a very large
number of chances for variations on the copied structures (mutations).
Usually, poorly made cell copies would perish.  Occasionally, a varied
form would exist as a better, stronger, or more rapidly reproducible
life form.

In cellular life forms, positive mutations would happen rarely,
perhaps only one in thousands of cell copies would be a mutation, and
perhaps only one in millions of mutations would be an improvement.
Yet, each day there would be many billions of cell copy operations
happening.  Continual improvements would be almost inevitable.

Therefore, the same logic would explain a high probability for the
continual emergence of more competitive cellular life forms, quite
rapidly.  With each new emergence, there would be a geometric
expansion of the new population, replacing some of the previous
competitors.

With this theory in mind, now I am able to tell my friends why the
Moon seems to be a poetic metaphor representing a watchful mother.
The Lunar tides have helped to give birth to the life forms on Earth,
and the Moon seems to be always keeping her face turned toward us,
attentively.  Having formed the tides, our Moon was able to
metaphorically "rock the cradle" for the birth of cellular life on
Earth.  

Endymion

endymion at mail.ameritel.net





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