CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Sector 6

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Have we discovered evidence for life on Titan?
07-01-2010  16:48:03

sobrient60 (Jun 9, 2010), robin (Jun 9, 2010 at 9:09 AM): Possibly most here are aware of it, but I thought it worth mentioning the (Farmer et al. 1986) results examining the likelihood of formation of autocatalysis in random reaction sets. Quoting from the abstract, "When the initial set exceeds a critical diversity, autocatalytic reactions generate large molecular species in abundance. Our results suggest that the critical diversity is not very large." Basically, cycles in the graph of chemical reactions become very likely, very quickly with graph node and edge counts. And then it's off to the evolutionary races. It's an encouraging result for finding at least simple life in even the starkest of environments. As long as there are any chemical reactions proceeding, and clearly there are on Titan, then there's at least some hope. Kauffman published a good deal more on this and related topics.

Farmer, J. Doyne, Kauffman, Stuart A. and Packard, Norman H. (1986) Autocatalytic replication of polymers. Physica D 22:1-3, 50-67. DOI: 10.1016/0167-2789(86)90233-2