How long did nature take:
If by chance you have taken your foot in your hand and read through the posting about the Triple Nine Society Meeting, you are familiar with the logic:

  1. Life confronts competition
  2. There is competition to be the first species to occupy a niche
  3. There is competition to be the first species to undergo speciation when a new niche appears

Having agreed with that, then you are obliged logically to accept that:

  1. The number of generations to speciation is not unlimited
  2. Population size must be limited to less than roughly half the number of generations to speciation
  3. The threatens extinction of the fittest, like people
  4. There is strong selective pressure for nature to put in a fix

And then of course it goes on to explain the fix and show it at work.

Just recently there is an article (Abigail C. Allwood, Evidence of life in Earth’s Oldest Rocks NATURE vol. 537 no. 7621 September 22, 2016 page 500 and a research article on page 535 in the same issue) saying that the earth’s oldest known rock, and there isn’t much of it, dates back 3.7 billion years, which is within 100 million years of when the early molten earth first hardened, and it contains fossils.  So the emergence of life took 100 million years or less; that is right at the limits of resolution of geology that far back.  In other words it was somewhere between that 100 million and happening instantaneously. 

So it seems life is ready to emerge at the first opportunity.  And there is lots of work on just how life works and even some on how it might have emerged; we had a lecture on that at the same Triple Nine Society meeting. 

So when did the fix emerge?  When did something come along that could, sometimes, limit population size?  Now it seems to me that there are many mechanisms that form such limits.  Male mice fight intruders all the time.  Gerbils never fight.  I suspect population among gerbils is controlled at the gamete level.  The fix is a mechanism that issues the warning, “Mate kin or die out soon.”  That’s easier to deal with than a genetic mechanism of speciation that doesn’t lower the curtain for, well, thousands of generations. 

I think it’s obvious that the fix preceded complex life visible in the fossil record.  There may have been, doubtless were, any number of false starts.  But enter the fix – it’s the Sibly study I have showcased elsewhere – and an explosive proliferation of species becomes possible.  That clearly happened for the first time about 542 million years ago.  So here’s the arithmetic:

  1. Time for life to appear: 100 million years or less.
  2. Time for the Sibly fix to appear: 3,600 million years or more.
  3. Time for abstract reasoning to appear: 542 million years, if at all.  (Hollow laughter.)

So the Sibly fix is the hard one.  And if you go back to that article I posted, you will know a lot about that fix and what it is doing to us.  I have already explained abstract reasoning; it took me 40 years to figure out.  It took 15 to bring me just to the cusp of explaining everything basic about the Sibly phenomenon.  You’d think I could grab a pen and pad and work out life in six months.  Don’t hold your breath. 

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