So, how is our definition of life related to our evolutionary stages of the universe? If we understand that a living system requires an information code that produces a behavior which is capable of preserving this information code, then this information code had to evolve from some simpler system which was also able to preserve itself. If this simpler system was preserving itself before it evolved into a more complex system, then a simpler life system is always a requirement for the evolution of a more complex life system. This means that prokaryotic cells had to evolve from a proto-cell which was capable of preserving itself, and this proto-cell evolved from a bunch of complex molecules which were also capable of preserving themselves, so each stage in the evolution of the universe is “alive” in its own way, but at a different level. Therefore, right after the Big Bang, we had “energy living systems”, which evolved into “particle living systems”, then “molecular living systems”, “cellular living systems” and finally, “multicellular living systems”. The stages in the evolution of the universe are based on how each stage stores the information code that controls its preserving behavior. At each stage, the information code is made up of systems from the previous stage. For a stage to evolve into the next stage, the most complex structures from the previous stage have to become the building blocks that form the information code in the next stage. For this to happen, we need to go through several sub-stages where basic structures from one stage become complex structures which eventually evolve into the next stage’s basic structures. It’s a cycle that repeats in each stage but at a more complex level.
To understand how this evolutionary process can occur, we need to correctly identify what the information code in each stage is, what are its component parts and how it evolved. Then we need to identify which complex structures use this code as an algorithm to control their behavior. Finally, to be able to identify what the next stage is, we need to see which complex structures from the previous stage are being used as building blocks to a more advanced information code in the next stage. After completing this analysis, I have come up with what could be the main stages. The first two stages are not very clear because we do not really know so much about how sub-atomic particles are created or what they are made of. Maybe they are both just one stage where space-time vibrations create particles and atoms. In any case, here is a preliminary analysis from what is known or theorized:
· Energy Stage (String or M Theory): right after the Big Bang, the universe was made up of pure energy created from the separation of positive energy and negative energy. This stage is still not well understood but theoretically we could say that this energy might be produced by the vibration of space-time in one or two dimensions, creating strings and membranes from which sub-atomic particles are later created. So an energy living system, if we apply String Theory, could be a brane, its information code being made up of different vibration types which create energy (behavior) exchanged with the environment to obtain other vibrations which maintain the system vibrating and producing more energy.
An Energy Living System
But the interesting thing is that this combination of different vibration types are capable of creating new vibrations and energy which eventually evolved into 3D vibrations, which we call sub-atomic particles.
· Particle Stage (Quantum Theory): Subatomic particles, since they are made of brane vibrations, create quantum fields or forces which attract or repel them from each other. So the information code of a particle living system would be its different charges (made of branes) which create forces (behavior) exchanged with the environment to obtain other forces which maintain the system working.
A Particle Living System
But the interesting thing is that the strong force or color charge in quarks holds them together to form protons and neutrons which join to form the nucleus of atoms. The electric charge (electromagnetic force) in protons attracts electrons to form atoms and the combination of different atomic patterns evolve into what we call molecules.
· Molecular Stage (Chemistry): Different kinds of atoms get together to form molecules according to the number of electrons available in each atom, until complex organic molecules evolve. So a molecular living system has an information code which is made up of different particles (atomic structure) recombining these particles (behavior) to create other atoms which are exchanged with the environment to obtain more atoms which maintain the system active.
A Molecular Living System
But the interesting thing is that this recombination of different atoms produce different molecules of different types and in different patterns, some of which form many types of polymers (RNA, lipids and proteins) which then evolve into proto-cells and eventually into cells.
· Cellular Stage (Microbiology): Here proto-cells evolve into cells by developing DNA and use this genetic code to create ever more complex colonies of cells. So a cellular living system has an information code which is made up of complex molecules or polymers (genetic structure) which recombines other molecules (behavior) to create more polymers (proteins, lipids) exchanged with the environment to obtain other molecules which maintain the system active.
A Cellular Living System
But the interesting thing is that bacteria and archaea prosper and combine to create eukaryotic cells with a nucleus protecting their DNA and develop more efficient machinery created from the assimilation of smaller prokaryotic cells. Some of these eukaryotic cells finally evolve into the first multi-cellular fungus, algae and mold, and eventually into plants and animals.
· Multi-Cellular Stage (Macrobiology): Plants and animals evolve from basic multi-cellular organisms but only animals have a nervous system (information code) to move, feel and produce sounds (behavior).
A Multi-Cellular Living System
But the interesting thing is that some brains also allow thinking, speaking and the development of technology. This is as far as we have reached on Earth since we still just use our technology as tools but not yet to evolve into the next stage. Hopefully that will change in the future when multi-cellular organisms will combine to create a more complex living meta-organism.