Bagley, Richard J., and J. Doyne Farmer. Spontaneous emergence of a metabolism . No. LA-UR-91-1707; CONF-9002163-2. Los Alamos National Lab., NM (USA), 1990.
Networks of catalyzed reactions with nonlinear feedback have been proposed to play an important role in the origin of life. We investigate this possibility in a polymer chemistry with catalyzed cleavage and condensation reactions. We study the properties of a well-stirred reactor driven away from equilibrium by the flow of mass. Under appropriate non-equilibrium conditions. The nonlinear feedback of the reaction network focuses the material of the system into a few specific polymer species. The network of catalytic reactions digests’’ the material of its environment, incorporating it into its own form. We call the result an autocatalytic metabolism. Under some variations it persists almost unchanged, while in other cases it dies. We argue that the dynamical stability of autocatalytic metabolisms gives them regenerative properties that allow them to repair themselves and to propagate through time. 43 refs., 16 figs., 3 tabs.