Abiotic emergence of ordered information stored in the form of RNA is an important unresolved problem concerning the origin of life. A polymer longer than 40-100 nucleotides is necessary to expect a self-replicating activity, but the formation of such a long polymer having a correct nucleotide sequence by random reactions seems statistically unlikely. However, our universe, created by a single inflation event, likely includes more than 10100 Sun-like stars. If life can emerge at least once in such a large volume, it is not in contradiction with our observations of life on Earth, even if the expected number of abiogenesis events is negligibly small within the observable universe that contains only 1022 stars. Here, a quantitative relation is derived between the minimum RNA length lmin required to be the first biological polymer, and the universe size necessary to expect the formation of such a long and active RNA by randomly adding monomers. It is then shown that an active RNA can indeed be produced somewhere in an inflationary universe, giving a solution to the abiotic polymerization problem. On the other hand, lmin must be shorter than ~20 nucleotides for the abiogenesis probability close to unity on a terrestrial planet, but a self-replicating activity is not expected for such a short RNA. Therefore, if extraterrestrial organisms of a different origin from those on Earth are discovered in the future, it would imply an unknown mechanism at work to polymerize nucleotides much faster than random statistical processes.
- Pub Date:
- February 2020
- Quantitative Biology - Populations and Evolution;
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics;
- Quantitative Biology - Biomolecules
- 9 pages, 1 figure. matches the published version from Scientific Reports