The Advent of Cells – Chapter One

Chapter 1

Summary    Chapter 2    (hyperlinks to be added)

by Joseph S. Brown III © November 1992, 1994

This is a presentation of a viewpoint involving many sciences and tying them together in an effort to describe the advent, the beginning of cells on Earth. Featured is the application of more physical sciences than any other approach to the advent of cells where before this event, there were no cells. Our image of cells is of an organized or structured device which performs some function. A condition of an Earth without cells is different to the world in which we live. Without cells, or the organized brain, there is no detailed record of this era. Statistics becomes the realm of scientific truth in this environment, and since this article is formed as a theory, for each facet, the statistics must be convincing.

Where I present probabilities, there is included a mountain of indication, often billions of items within the survey set, and the possibility of many, many years in which the set may function. Some descriptions will include modern, tangible examples I try to relate to the ancient item or event. If the relationship is considered valid, then the statistical probability is 100%. My intention is to create enough surety in the reader to promote investigation.

I wish to express a view on the advent of life that has as its setting, a flat topography in a region which is continually frozen then thawed. Cracks form, collect moisture, freeze forming a slightly wider crack, then thaw. This activity is not uniform across the flat surface. Local variations of inorganic material initially promote or repress the activity relative to their material. Water collects, and when it freezes, crumbles this material with its crushing ice. At thaw, the material held in the ice decants as the volume maintained by the ice reduces to that of water. As the freeze/thaw process continues, the material and forming ice are pushed up at the center to form a bump. Thaw cycles leave a depression whose size is directly related to the size and density of the raised area.

Throughout the world where there are freezing temperatures, this activity occurs. Our portion of the world refers to it as “frost heave”. For those who drive vehicles, the resultant depression is called a “pothole”.

Without the yet-to-develop vegetation, in many place on the Earth sediments are brushed smooth by receding oceans and harried by wind and water. With no resistance, rates of erosion were very great, and it is difficult for us to grasp the extent of the phenomenon, with low regions bounded by primitive rock filling with inorganic material. Of the topographical differences between that era and now, the harshness is often underestimated. Erosion has done much since then to soften the edges and round the sharp. I believe that most scholars overlook the stark flatness as a form of harshness in this era. Imagine vast stretches of virtually flat surface at all latitudes and elevations. This is important for the general nature of the theory: [For all sets of theoretical environmental circumstances involving latitude and elevation, there existed sufficient flat surface on the Earth to maintain a statistically significant survey.]

Scientists will involve themselves in determining the optimal conditions for individual theories, and one will be latitude. Some will study the required angle of solar rays on the subject materials, and the consistency of seasons. Both change as the sample’s latitude increases. For reasons explained later, the equatorial region is not the optimal site, so the latitude selected will significantly affect the sample as a direct relationship with the latitude’s exposure to the Sun.

As the site of a given survey gains elevation, many things change. Barometric climate diminishes, temperature is colder, and solar bombardment is more dynamic, less filtered by atmosphere. It will be shown below that the complexity of material combination sets available to the sample also diminishes as elevation climbs.

Research will model a range of maximum and minimum for elevation and latitude within which cellular life began. The above premise states that there was sufficient real estate within all “windows” of latitudes and elevations to satisfy the remaining conditions within the scientist’s presented statistical model.

Remember the potholes? As scientists probe further into theory, each model will maintain a range of size and geometry for the potholes for each event in the era. Depth, irregularity of shape, and other aspects affecting its performance will be qualified to fit the researcher’s model. In sunlight, a deeper pothole responds differently to a shallow version, affecting also the interaction with atmosphere. Steep walls and a flat bottom also respond differently than a hemispheric-formed pothole in sunlight.

On the flat ground we have established, there is opportunity for frost heave activity to occur, and it can be statistically demonstrated that it did most probably occur. Scientists will establish what form it took and its range of distribution on the Earth.

A description of what is a most probable site for the advent of cells would be a region as flat as Bonneville Salt Flats and with its surface comprised of potholes separated by earthen walls. This would be the result of long periods of freeze/thaw cycle in regions of moderate rain, gentle flooding, minimal temperature fluctuation which is centered around freezing, and other conditions which permit the addition of water without the force to destroy the walls.

When the pothole’s water freezes, the tendency is to crush other material present into powder and to expand its volume, as a function of the physics of a change of state from water to ice. This pushes the boundary of the pothole outward on the flat, and down. In conditions which place a second pothole closely positioned, the adjacent pothole is also performing the same function at almost the same rate. This creates a compression of the material between the two, forming a wall which is smashed, squeezed, and ultimately pushed upward in response to the pressure from both sides.

As the material continues upward, it reaches a point of collapse, shedding the upper-most crust of particles which falls back into the pothole to be caught-up in the next freeze. Note that the collapse of the wall would occur when the pothole wall is thawed. The pothole water would also be thawed at this moment, which allows particles to immediately sink. Capillary action within the elevated wall maintains moisture content among the particles, improving retention of the materials which then sinks rather than being driven off in the wind. Since there is little loss of material in the process, it cannot be considered a limit to the continuance of the survey, so that other forces are the limiting factors.

It is thus possible to generate hypothetical regions, the size of which are statistically significant for establishing the existence of a pothole set which resides in the latitude, elevation, and pothole size required for the advent of cells for a given survey. What I have done is to establish the existence of such potholes since they exist today. Within the complete description, I will statistically assert the existence of pothole sets which are at the proper latitude, elevation, and size to satisfy the researcher with ample survey material to proceed in a normal fashion toward the formulation of the remaining characteristics of cell structure at the beginning of the era.

This topographical concept is not just theoretical. Modern rice paddies are the standard for farming our most abundant land-grown subsistence food; fish still lay eggs in depressions in the mud floor; mud puppies can be seen frolicking and courting from the walls of depressions most similar to the model’s form. The proof that vast pothole-filled regions existed naturally is that a few still exist and can be studied.

Another general characteristic of the pothole is its included liquid, and the progression of materials contributed to an individual pothole. Its wall material is source for some aqueous material, as is surface water. Wind may contribute a significant quantity to the pothole, and later, the processes performed within the cell and nearby cells will contribute as well. In the earliest stages of the model, the most important material contributions will be from moving water and the walls. As the process continues with time, the wall’s contribution to the material content will diminish as the pothole’s liquid becomes saturated with the ever-present matter.

Equalization occurs in time, altered only by partial-pressure physics. This leeching process can be appreciated if there is an understanding that in the model I propose, these cells have the potential to remain intact for many centuries of freezes and thaws, during which any soluble contents of the walls will have accessed on a particle-to-particle basis. Further, it appears that the walls should contain excesses of important stabilizing elements to replenish those lost to wind and spring overflow, and later, chemical synthesis.

In the entire set of these earthen potholes, there will be a subset whose wall content will render them unsuccessful: within the process I call the Lattice, my assertion is that there is a processional sequence. Successful cells contribute to the overall Lattice. At earlier stages, these cells will generate organic chemicals, yet not be described as life. Their contribution to the Lattice is just as significant, thus successful. Each step required the conditions that preceded it and that permitted it to occur.

Since this model is progressive, certain conditions will be satisfied as life continues. The model is pyramidal, and as the progression moves in time, the number and sequence of conditions becomes the factor which defines the set of regions capable of supporting the diminishing numbers of remaining cell candidates. Eventually as the study of the survey set of topographical, climactic, chemical, etc. requirements is defined, the object region will be reduced to what may only be a region only a few kilometers square only. Also, as the time line continues, improved integrity within each candidate permits increased mobility and durability. This geometrically increases opportunity for the individual candidate. Statistically, the region of successful cells must be a continuously existing entity for all moments after initiation, or you wouldn’t be here to read this

Another concept to embrace is that the sequence of event that is the Lattice contains different kinds of events and until the individual scientist is satisfied that his model constitutes life, then the entire set of events which manipulates his model is random. The ability to complete the next step within the Lattice is determined solely by the actual location and time of the survey. Every model cannot avoid environmental destruction except by being the set of cells which happen to be positioned to avoid that moment’s fatal catastrophe.

A local volcanic eruption could eliminate a thousand square mile region of candidate cells if it appeared at the wrong time. Conversely, by simple coincidence the conditions for the next developmental step may require diminished solar exposure or elements supplied by the residue of the volcanic dust.

The object of the researcher’s study will be to define the sequence required for the creation of life, and to incorporate these steps into the Lattice. Contributory sources for the candidate cells will include adjacent and local successful cell sets which, though not candidate cells, are contributors by producing or filtering chemicals that later appear by various means in the candidate cell set. Unless the candidate cell continues to become cellular life, then it falls into the category of successful cell. Permafrost is a major contributor to the model. It provides a permanent foundation for the model, keeping whole regions as intact as was possible at the time.

At the very start of the Lattice was the ‘flat’, which is described as a region of stated area. So, that is where we begin.

Table of Contents   Summary    Chapter 2     (hyperlinks to be added)

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