How a life-like system emerges from a simple particle motion law

Schmickl, T., Stefanec, M. & Crailsheim, K. How a life-like system emerges from a simplistic particle motion law. Sci Rep 6, 37969 (2016).

Self-structuring patterns can be observed all over the universe, from galaxies to molecules to living matter, yet their emergence is waiting for full understanding. We discovered a simple motion law for moving and interacting self-propelled particles leading to a self-structuring, self-reproducing and self-sustaining life-like system. The patterns emerging within this system resemble patterns found in living organisms. The emergent cells we found show a distinct life cycle and even create their own ecosystem from scratch. These structures grow and reproduce on their own, show self-driven behavior and interact with each other. Here we analyze the macroscopic properties of the emerging ecology, as well as the microscopic properties of the mechanism that leads to it. Basic properties of the emerging structures (size distributions, longevity) are analyzed as well as their resilience against sensor or actuation noise. Finally, we explore parameter space for potential other candidates of life. The generality and simplicity of the motion law provokes the thought that one fundamental rule, described by one simple equation yields various structures in nature: it may work on different time- and size scales, ranging from the self-structuring universe, to emergence of living beings, down to the emergent subatomic formation of matter.

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