Posted by: zyxo | March 28, 2008

Natural selection of dead matter


Since Charles Darwin we ware aware that natural selection favors the fittest individuals. What does this mean ? Simply that these fittest ones have relatively more offspring that survive to the next generation.

But I wonder : is this only applicable to living organisms ?

Let us take a closer look at the significant words:

offspring : individuals that are more or less alike to their parents. This is caused by the mechanism of reproduction which is more or less a copy machine.

next generation : means “at a later point in time”.

So if we rephrase it : natural selection causes some types of things to be more abundant at a later point in time.

Why is a type of things more abundant then another ? Two events are accountable : i) creation of things and ii) destruction of things (by their own forces or by their environment). If some types are created much faster than destroyed, they get more abundant. With humans this is simple : if a couple has more than two children, their gene pool is growing (actually it is more complex than that, but the simple explanation is enough for now).

Great ! And … have these things to be alive ? Could this not be also the case with dead matter ?

Right after the big bang there was nothing but a bunch of elementary particles. You know a lot of them have the habit of dissapearing after a fraction of a nanosecond or so. You will find not much of them in your body, because they were selected away by … natural selection. The more stable ones of them accidentally formed more complex structures we know as atomes and later on molecules. The stable ones survived and kept cluttering together (accidentally ?) to form whole packs of inert matter (rocks, sand …), the hughest of which we call planets, stars, galaxies. Some of the complex molecules had the characteristic of acting like a mould where similar complexes where easily formed, the xerox machine was born which gave rise to all the living things we know and not yet know.

But this is not the end !

(to be continued …)


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