Living and Nonliving Matter

Observer exists. If existing is time-based event, then nothing exists in eternity.

We should consider the earliest living molecule to be a proto-observer.

Life can reflect non-life, but non-life cannot reflect life. If that is true, then living can be interpreted as meta-nonliving, since living matter could reflect non-living and its properties are the opposite of non-living matter. Interestingly, below certain level of magnitude any living matter consists of nonliving matter (atom, molecule).

Living matter can always become dead, but so far there is no example of nonliving matter becoming alive with one exception, the very first living matter from which all known living forms on Earth originate.

So far the question of the origin of life was approached primarily as a metabolic or bio-chemical, molecular phenomenon. In some way these are the views from the “outside”, from the position of the present-day scientists. Another possible approach would be to try to imagine a view from “within”. It would still remain an outside view, but with an attempt to understand how the first living matter (molecule) might have perceived the world around it – to “see” the world through the “eyes” of the earliest form of life. The question of course is, to what degree it is possible to imagine (“reconstruct”) the very first pictures of the world recorded by those early living molecules. And whatever answer we come up with, it would just be an interpretation by contemporary living matter (organism, observer) of its earliest (imagined) ancestor. However, the very fact that there must be an uninterrupted continuity from the first successful living (surviving) molecule and present-time living organisms, means that some fundamental properties of all living forms are an echo of the properties of first living matter -”relics of emergence”. Since those earliest properties were most likely binary by their character, it is reflected in our capacity today to structure the world around us in binary oppositions(hot-cold, light-dark, inside-outside, big-small, food-hunger, full-empty, dead-alive, close-distant, change-no change, etc.). If we make a parallel between a geological strata and  an RNA strand, these binary stretches would most likely be on the “bottom”, as the oldest on the timeline. It seems it would be reasonable to assume that the first “picture” of the world could be imagined as a “white noise” that might be identified/interpreted as “light” (“white”), and it is also reasonable to assume that its opposite “dark” (“black”) was distinguished at the same time, also as a property of the world.

                        1. white                                              2. black                                 light                                                                  dark

At some point these “light” and “dark” properties, here represented with values “white” and “black” as non-“white”, became incorporated in the first living matter (proto-RNA), impressed on it as some kind of early memory (proto-memory). This was necessary in order for life to be able to recognize these properties at any instance in order to maintain its structural integrity. Perhaps it is these subsequent interactions with its environment and their recording that gradually led to the formation of longer linear molecules (strands). In the case of proto-RNA one possibility is that these were strands based on Uracil and Adenine*).

3. binar      U                  A                  U               A               A                U                 A                U                 U

Thus the image of the world at that point consisted of two values represented as “white” (Adenine) and “black” (Uracil), which occupied several positions on a linear structure. The binarity of the values, which was more general in the beginning, giving a very simple picture of the world, gradually became a bit more diverse, more nuanced, due to the length and variety of sequences. Life became capable to distinguish various opposite properties of the environment (world) thanks to the binary value structure and a small number of codons (proteins): UUU, UUA, UAU, UAA, AUU, AUA, AAU, AAA. A more refined picture of the world became possible when the third base was included as one that was between “white” and “black”, represented here with the value “gray”. At that point, it seems, it was Adenine that assumed the role of “gray” while the value “white” became attached to Thymine, a new base that was incorporated, assuming a symbolic role opposite to Uracil. If the value for Uracil is defined as 100% “black”, for Thymine its 0% “black”.**)Adenine was from then on defined as a value between these two: A=50% of “black”. While the values for U and A relate to each other as positive to negative (negative of U is T and vice verse), the negative of the value “gray” (A) is also “gray”.  Gray is neutral to the transformation (operation) “negative”.

                                                         4. gray


5. RDNA              U              A               T                 A                 T               U               A                  T               U

This strand with an unusual combination of bases might have been the origin of both RNA and DNA as we know them today. It now became possible to define, not only the DNA-RNA relationship (transcription) but also DNA-DNA replication. We could imagine that one stretch of a longer strand, with only DNA properties, bends and interacts with another stretch that has the properties of RNA (transcription). Also a DNA stretch could bend and interact with another, corresponding, DNA stretch on the same strand (replication).

At this point it became possible for all the main characteristics of RNA and DNA and their relationships to be defined including the two base-pairs: A-U for RNA and T-A for DNA. It is interesting to notice here that the value difference between the base-pairs is the same – “gray” (50% “black”) value for A. Furthermore, in this interpretation the base-pairs are in fact transactions: A-U and T-A are additions, while U-A and A-T are subtractions, and the exchange  value is “gray”.     

  1. 6. Untitled                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

The next step was the separation of DNA from RNA, when they became two different kinds of strands. The DNA strand became based on deoxyribose, forming the double helix structure as we know it today. At some point along that process another two bases were added as well (Cytosine and Guanine), to enhance the complexity of both strands, enabling a more nuanced picture of the world, one of “higher resolution”.

The value representation of these two bases is C=75% “black” and G=25% “black”, forming a base-pair C-G that plays a role in both RNA and DNA. The values for C and G relate to each other as positive toward negative.

             7. DRNA

With these two additions the value stricture was completed as presented above. All the neighboring bases for both RNA and DNA have a value difference of 25%, while the value difference for all the base-pairs is 50%

            8. DNA-RNA

                         9. positive-negative

  10. rep-trans

Perhaps it is worth noticing that corresponding DNA and RNA bases have positive-negative relationships. However, only one of these (C and G) is at the same time a base-pair as well, since the value difference between them is 50%. On the other hand, U and T also relate to each other as positive-negative, but they could not form a base-pair because the value difference between these two is 100%. This is why it is necessary to have two 50% steps to get from T to U: one is the base-pair T-A, and the other is A-U. As though the main reason for having both replication and transcription is to get from T  to its negative U. Finally, as mentioned earlier, in these relationships the value for A which is “gray” is neutral (indifferent) to the positive-negative relationship.

11. observer-observed

In addition to the interpretation of the five bases as five values of the gray scale and DNA and RNA as it subsets with two exclusionary elements U (black) and T (white) and three elements overlapping: C (dark), A (gray) and G (white), It is seems it would be possible to give additional meanings/ interpretations of these values on binary phenomena, like observer-observed. If the DNA part represents the observer (“I”) and RNA is representing the observed (world), then in these interpretations the observer-observed is not a simple binary case but one that has more nuances. We could identify black (U) as the “unknown world”, dark (C) as the “known world”, gray (A) as the “receptor”, light” (G) is the “processor” (brain) and white (T) would be the “I”. From the position of the observer there is a part of the observed (world) that will always remain unknown to “I” and there is a part of the observer that will always remain outside of the observed (world).Similarly, we could represent another binary relationship like living-nonliving as five stages, in which there are three transitional stages that are parts of both living and nonliving, and that there is “pure living” and “pure nonliving” completely excluded from each other.

12. living-nonliving

Any form of observation includes a process of change, in both the observer and often in what is being observed as well. The observer changes itself and the world, while observing it. The emergence of life from the stage of the earliest living forms is at he same time the emergence of its environment However, the self-awareness of the observer also implies an awareness of the environment(world) that is not possible without memory. Memory could be defined as a set of information with an algorithm deployed to store, retrieve and interpret them. Since there is an order in storing information, there is a process that can be associated with acquiring memory, which is opposite of entropy. It goes from the state of low organization(less information) toward one of the higher organization(more information). By remembering the previous state(higher entropy), we could compare it with the next state(lower entropy). And it is memory itself that enables this distinction. Thus the entire evolution of life could be interpreted as a process of acquiring memory. It has a direction of change, it appears to be irreversible, and it shifts from simpler toward more complex ways of organizing living matter. It seems that the entire evolution of life on Earth could be interpreted as an anti-entropic but also an irreversible process – except for the case of its total destruction. 

Gregor Mobius

New York, March 2017

*) We should consider a possibility that the earliest living, most likely binary, molecules consisted of C and G. The value difference between these bases is 50%, also they relate to each other as positive-negative and as base pair they could enable replication. In that case at some point later was first added A(50%black) placed in the middle between C and G, while, most likely, T and U came at the end. Although these two bases relate to each other as positive-negative, they couldn’t form the base pair because the value difference between them is 100%. This is why another kind of exchange- transcription, had to be introduced.

**) It is also possible that the first binary strands were consisting of Uracil as “black” and Thymine as “white”, while it was Adenine (“gray”) that was included between in the next step .

13. DNA Semantics





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