School of Computer Science THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM CoSy project CogX project

Did life on earth start on dust particles?
The theory of Nasif Nahle, Monterrey, Mexico.
(DRAFT: Liable to change)

Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham.
(Philosopher in a Computer Science department)

Installed: 30 Dec 2012
Last updated: 30 Dec 2012
This paper is
A PDF version may be added later.

A partial index of discussion notes is in

Did life start in a chemical soup or on dust particles?
The ideas of Nasif Nahle.

In various slides, and web pages, discussing the development of forms of information
processing in the earliest organisms I have, for the sake of illustration, considered life
starting in a chemical soup. But that is merely a hypothetical illustration, not an
endorsement of the theory that life on earth began in liquid environments.

See for example:

I make no claims about the details of the earliest forms of life, or prebiotic molecules,
though various facts about physics and chemistry make specific types of hypothesis worth

E.g. on his web site, Nasif Nahle presents an argument that the earliest
life forms could not have developed in a watery environment (because of problems of
controlling osmotic pressure) though they could have started in shelters against solar and
cosmic radiation provided by dust grains covered in ice.

He writes:

"The dust grains (fractals) acted like the biomolecules protective ``eggshells''
against the ionizing solar radiation. Thus, the chemical changes allowed the
synthesis of more complex carbohydrate, proteins and lipids molecules, which
reached to the structure of quasi-stable and highly-lasting membranes in the
shape of microspheres. Nevertheless, those membranes persisted on being ephemeral
by the intensity of the cosmic radiation that could destroy them. Many microspheres
that were enclosed by membranes subsisted in that hostile atmosphere thanks to
that they were into solid dust grains covered by water ice."

The longer, more detailed, paper, has a final section
``Summary of the origin of living beings in the universe'', which proposes that at a later
stage water vapor condenses ``forming heavy drops that precipitate on the planetary soils
dragging the grains of dust with and without microspheres with them'', allowing a subset
to persist, then later amalgamate through electrochemical affinity, fusing and forming
vesicles with continuous membranes, that rest on the humid soils or in the bottom of
shallow or subterranean ponds, where holes of soils, full of chemical substances, are
covered by the microenvironments chemically similar to the fluids within modern cells.

I am not sufficiently knowledgable to evaluate this theory, but for now it suffices to
illustrate some possible stages in the transition from clouds of dust to early life on
this planet.

His theory, if correct, will have implications for the earliest requirements for
information processing, which he does not mention.

Maintained by Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham