A Collaborative National Center for Fusion & Plasma Research
October 12, 2016,
4:15pm to 5:30pm

MBG Auditorium, PPPL (284 cap.)

COLLOQUIUM: Estimating the Age of Life Using Moore's Law

Dr. Alexei Sharov
National Institutes of Health

Moore's law is an empirical observation that the complexity of computer chips measured by the number of transistors doubles every 18-24 months. Because there is similarity between the evolution of human technology and living organisms, it is intriguing if an exponential increase in complexity can be found in the evolution of living organisms. Functional complexity of organisms can be roughly approximated by the size of non-redundant functional genome. It appears that genome complexity indeed increased nearly exponentially and doubled in size every 340 million years. Several positive feedback mechanisms including gene cooperation and duplication with subsequent specialization may have caused the exponential growth. An extrapolation of this trend to earlier times suggests that life originated 9.7 billion years ago, assuming that life started from systems with simple heritable molecules that are functionally equivalent to a nucleotide or coenzyme. The predicted age of life far exceeds the age of the Earth, which indicates that our planet was likely contaminated with living bacteria from the very start. It is possible that life originated on a planet of another star that exploded and yielded material for the formation of the solar system. Evolution of advanced organisms has accelerated via development of additional information-processing systems: epigenetic memory, primitive mind, multicellular brain, language, books, and computers. These higher-level systems are characterized by much faster rates of complexity increase as compared to genome complexity.

Colloquium Committee: 

The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory 2016-2017 Colloquium Committee is comprised of the following people. Please feel free to contact them by e-mail regarding any possible speakers or topics for future colloquia.

Carol Ann Austin, caustin@pppl.gov
Soha Aslam, saslam@pppl.gov
Ilya Dodin, idodin@pppl.gov
Dave Johnson, djohnson@pppl.gov

  • Carol Ann Austin 609-243-2484

U.S. Department of Energy
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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