Next Article in Journal
Double Hydrogen Bonding between Side Chain Carboxyl Groups in Aqueous Solutions of Poly (β-L-Malic Acid): Implication for the Evolutionary Origin of Nucleic Acids
Previous Article in Journal
Characterization of Reconstructed Ancestral Proteins Suggests a Change in Temperature of the Ancient Biosphere
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessHypothesis

Life’s Late Digital Revolution and Why It Matters for the Study of the Origins of Life

Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin, 430 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Department of Chemistry, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97207, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 August 2017 / Revised: 23 August 2017 / Accepted: 23 August 2017 / Published: 25 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Chemistry)
Full-Text   |   PDF [204 KB, uploaded 25 August 2017]


The information contained in life exists in two forms, analog and digital. Analog information is manifest mainly in the differing concentrations of chemicals that get passed from generation to generation and can vary from cell to cell. Digital information is encoded in linear polymers such as DNA and RNA, whose side chains come in discrete chemical forms. Here, we argue that the analog form of information preceded the digital. Acceptance of this dichotomy, and this progression, can help direct future studies on how life originated and initially complexified on the primordial Earth, as well as expected trajectories for other, independent origins of complex life. View Full-Text
Keywords: origins of life; information; digital; genetic inheritance origins of life; information; digital; genetic inheritance
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Baum, D.A.; Lehman, N. Life’s Late Digital Revolution and Why It Matters for the Study of the Origins of Life. Life 2017, 7, 34.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Life EISSN 2075-1729 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top