A reconceptualization of origins research that exploits a modern understanding of non-covalent molecular forces that stabilize living prokaryotic cells.
Scientific research into the origins of life remains exploratory and speculative. Science has no definitive answer to the biggest questions – "What is life?" and "How did life begin on earth?" In How Molecular Forces and Rotating Planets Create Life, Jan Spitzer reconceptualizes origins research by exploiting a modern understanding of non-covalent molecular forces and covalent bond formation – a physicochemical approach propounded originally by Linus Pauling and Max Delbrück. Spitzer develops the Pauling–Delbrück premise as a physicochemical jigsaw puzzle that identifies key stages in life's emergence, from the formation of first oceans, tidal sediments, and proto-biofilms to progenotes, proto-cells and the first cellular organisms.
Spitzer argues that non-covalent molecular forces, acting in cycling geochemical processes, bring about phase separations – the creation of purified, lower entropy, potentially living biological matter. Geochemical cycling processes – diurnal solar radiation and tidal hydration-dehydration – underpin life's emergence and evolution. After presenting a physicochemical view of how non-covalent molecular forces stabilize a bacterial cell during its cell cycle, Spitzer assembles the puzzle pieces into a working provisional picture of life's emergence. He classifies early Archaean evolution as micro-evolution, meso-evolution, and macro-evolution according to physicochemical mechanisms that can modify the nucleoid during a prokaryotic cell cycle. Finally, he describes some experimental ideas, based on cyclically driven processes.
Jan Spitzer, a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Queen Elizabeth College at the University of London, has had a long career in chemistry and polymer science, as Associate Professor, and Research and Development Manager in the synthetic latex industry. He is the author or co-author of numerous peer-reviewed papers, technical articles, and book chapters.