Blockchain Used to Investigate the Origins of Life

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  • A group of chemists has used blockchain technology to investigate the origins of life, showcasing its adaptability beyond finance
  • The Golem platform, which allows users to rent out spare computing power, supports their groundbreaking exploration
  • This unconventional method offers promising insights into life’s mysteries.

A team of chemists, led by Bartosz Grzybowsk of the Korea Institute for Basic Science and the Polish Academy of Sciences, is using blockchain technology to explore the emergence of life on Earth. This unconventional approach not only underscores the adaptability of blockchain beyond financial realms but also promises valuable insights for scientists unraveling the mysteries of life’s origins. The team is specifically using the Golem platform, which allows users to donate computing power in return for GLM tokens, to power its investigations.

Self-replication Under the Microscope

The use of Golem has allowed Grzybowsk’s team to harness the power from approximately 20,000 CPUs, enabling the creation of the Network of Early Life (NOEL), a compilation of starting molecules presumed to have existed on early Earth around four billion years ago.

Despite reducing the multitude of possible prebiotic reactions to a more manageable 4.9 billion, Grzybowsk expressed his surprise at the rarity of self-replication within NOEL, telling Space that such rarity is “very, very rare…something like one reaction or one cycle in 1 million cycles could be self-replicating.” This rarity challenges established theories regarding the crucial role of self-replication in the early stages of chemical evolution.

The findings suggest that self-replication, a process deemed pivotal to the emergence of life, might not have occurred before the evolution of more substantial molecules. Grzybowsk emphasizes, “Although we don’t see it with the origins of life, I’m still not giving up on this idea of self-replication. It must have appeared at some point because we know that now biology self-replicates, but the question is at which stage of their complexity did molecules start replicating?”

Blockchain Can Replicate Supercomputers

Beyond its scientific implications, the utilization of Golem to create potent computer networks opens up new possibilities for researchers lacking access to supercomputers. Grzybowsk envisions broader applications, stating, “There are many more scientists that are not privileged enough to have their own supercomputer. They can hook up on a platform like Golem distributed all over the world and get these kinds of resources at their disposal.”

The team’s groundbreaking use of blockchain technology not only highlights its potential for scientific inquiry but also emphasizes its versatility and applicability in unraveling complex phenomena, such as the origins of life.