A reconceptualization of origins research that exploits a modern understanding of non-covalent molecular forces that stabilize living prokaryotic cells.
Scientific research into the origins of life remains exploratory and speculative. Science has no definitive answer to the biggest questions—“What is life?” and “How did life begin on earth?” In this book, Jan Spitzer reconceptualizes origins research by exploiting a modern understanding of non-covalent molecular forces and covalent bond formation—a physicochemical approach propounded originally by Linus Pauling and Max Delbrück. Spitzer develops the Pauling–Delbrück premise as a physicochemical jigsaw puzzle that identifies key stages in life's emergence, from the formation of first oceans, tidal sediments, and proto-biofilms to progenotes, proto-cells and the first cellular organisms.
Spitzer argues that non-covalent molecular forces, acting in cycling geochemical processes, bring about phase separations—the creation of purified, lower entropy, potentially living biological matter. Geochemical cycling processes—diurnal solar radiation and tidal hydration-dehydration—underpin life's emergence and evolution. After presenting a physicochemical view of how non-covalent molecular forces stabilize a bacterial cell during its cell cycle, Spitzer assembles the puzzle pieces into a working provisional picture of life's emergence. He classifies early Archaean evolution as micro-evolution, meso-evolution, and macro-evolution according to physicochemical mechanisms that can modify the nucleoid during a prokaryotic cell cycle. Finally, he describes some experimental ideas, based on cyclically driven processes.