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Christoph Adami (Michigan State University)

Date: Wed. March 18th, 2020, 4:30 pm-5:30 pm
Location: Rockefeller 301

The importance of bias in the search for the origin of life

The origin of life is a notoriously difficult subject, but assessing the likelihood of the spontaneous emergence of information is a mathematically tractable task. I show that the spontaneous emergence of sufficient information for life is impossible in a finite universe when assuming unbiased priors, but that biases that are reasonable in complex environments can significantly alter this likelihood, and move the process of spontaneous biogenesis into the realm of the possible. I mainly discuss the bias emerging from altered monomer probability distributions, but also present results from altered dimer frequencies. Because these biases change the exponent of the likelihood function, such priors can also dramatically influence the success rate in the search for active molecules in combinatorial chemistry. 

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