The Guardian features an interesting article
by Paul Davies: “The secret of life won’t be cooked up in a chemistry
lab: Life’s origins may only be explained through a study of its unique
management of information.” Davies writes,
"If we cast the problem of life's origin in computer jargon, attempts at
chemical synthesis focus exclusively on the hardware – the chemical
substrate of life – but ignore the software – the informational aspect.
To explain how life began we need to understand how its unique
management of information came about.
To take a simple example; whether a cell expresses a gene can depend on
mechanical stresses or electric fields acting on the whole cell by its
environment. Thus, a change in global information (a pattern of force)
at the macroscopic level translates into a change in local information
movement at the microscopic level (switching on a gene). More generally,
a range of signals received from its environment help to dictate how a
cell's DNA is distributed and transcribed. Walker and I propose that the
key transition on the road to life occurred when top-down information
flow first predominated. Based on simple mathematical models, we think
it may have happened suddenly, analogously to a heated gas abruptly
bursting into flame"