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If in the least you’ve wondered about how life in outer space and the Universe would be, well, there’s a solution to that. Scientists reveal that life might be common across the Universe, just not in our region.

Building blocks of life did spontaneously assemble under the right conditions. This process is called abiogenesis or spontaneous generation.

Many details are hidden to us, we still don’t know what and the way exactly things happened. We still have to know how frequently it happens too.

World’s religions have various ideas on how life has occurred, with some invoking the magical hands of various supernatural deities to explain it all. Even though they’re told like that, these tales leave us unsatisfied.

‘How did life arise’ is one among life’s most compelling questions, and one that science continually wrestles with.

Tomonori Totani is a professor of Astronomy at the University of Tokyo who is trying to seek out his answer to this question. He’s written a new paper titled “Emergence of life in an inflationary universe.” It’s published in Nature Scientific Reports.

Totani’s work relies heavily on two important concepts. Vast age and Size of Universe, how it’s inflated over time, and the way likely events are to occur is the first concept with the other being RNA: specifically, how long a chain of nucleotides must be to “expect a self-replicating activity.

There’s also one theory in evolution saying that although DNA carries the instructions to create an organism, it’s RNA that regulates the transcription of DNA sequences. It’s called RNA-based evolution, and it says that RNA is subject to Darwinian natural selection, and is also heritable. That’s a number of the rationale behind looking at RNA vs DNA.

DNA structure
The structure of the DNA double helix. The atoms in the structure are colour-coded by element and the detailed structures of two base pairs are shown in the bottom right. (Credits – Wikimedia Commons)

A chain of chemicals called nucleotides is understood as RNA. Few researchers show that a chain of nucleotides must be a minimum of 40 to 100 nucleotides long before the self-replicating behavior called life can exist. These nucleotides over time can form a chain to satisfy the length requirement. But the question arises, has there been enough time in the lifetime of the Universe? Well, we’re here, therefore the answer must be yes, isn’ it?

Current estimates suggest that a magic number of 40 to 100 nucleotides should not have been possible in the volume of space we consider the observable universe.

Observable Universe is the key term here. Totani adds that there’s more to the universe than the observable.

Our Universe came into being during the Big Bang, a single inflation event. According to Totani’s paper, our Universe “likely includes over 10^100 Sun-like stars,” whereas the observable Universe only contains about 10 sextillions (10^22) stars.

“Therefore, if extraterrestrial organisms of a special origin from those on Earth are discovered, it’d imply an unknown mechanism at work to polymerize nucleotides much faster than random statistical processes.”

Totani’s work has by no means provided an answer. But like a lot of scientific work, it helps refine the question and invites others to study it.

“Like many in this field of research, I am driven by curiosity and by big questions,” said Totani.

“Combining my recent investigation into RNA chemistry with my long history of cosmology leads me to comprehend there is a plausible way the universe must have gone from an abiotic (lifeless) state to biotic one. It’s an exciting thought and I hope research can build upon this to uncover the origins of life.”



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