Chemists are turning to blockchain to discover the origins of life

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A team of chemists led by Bartosz A. Grzybowski from the Korean Institute of Basic Sciences and the Polish Academy of Sciences took an unprecedented initiative, using blockchain technology to simulate over 4 billion chemical reactions crucial to unraveling the mysteries of the Earth’s origins. This groundbreaking approach repurposes cryptocurrency mining processes to meet sophisticated scientific research, demonstrating blockchain’s versatility beyond its financial applications.

Scientists decided to investigate the potential emergence of primitive forms of metabolism without relying on enzymes. To do this, they carefully selected primary molecules such as water, methane and ammonia and established the principles of potential reactions.

Chemists harness the power of Blockchain

By converting this data into a language the computer could understand, the team used blockchain technology to perform calculations on a massive reaction network called the Network of Early Life (NOEL). The computations were distributed globally using the Golem platform, rewarding participating computers with cryptocurrency for their computational contributions.

Starting with over 11 billion reactions, the NOEL network was eventually refined to almost 5 billion reliable reactions. Within this extensive network, researchers identified echoes of known metabolic pathways and observed the synthesis of 128 plain biotic molecules, shedding novel featherlight on early prebiotic chemistry.

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Interestingly, only some of the responses examined showed “self-replicating” behavior, challenging previous hypotheses that suggested self-replication was the main mechanism for the origin of life. Beyond its scientific implications, this study highlights the potential for democratizing scientific research.

Grzybowski highlighted how this approach makes science more accessible to smaller universities and institutions around the world, especially in developing countries. By leveraging platforms like Golem, large-scale computing becomes more cost-effective and inclusive, revolutionizing scientific computing.

blockchainImage: Pixabay

The role of cryptocurrencies in the development of science

Looking to the future, Grzybowski sees a future in which Cryptocurrencies contribute to global science. He hopes that blockchain technology can redefine the perceived value of cryptocurrencies, encouraging society to employ them as tools to discover novel biological laws and breakthrough medicines.

“I hope that people in computer science will discover how we can tokenize cryptocurrencies in a way that benefits global science,” Grzybowski said.

This pioneering research is a significant step towards connecting the worlds of blockchain technology and scientific discoveries. By using blockchain technology to simulate chemical reactions relevant to the origins of life, scientists have not only deepened our understanding of the chemistry of early prebiotics, but also opened the door to novel approaches in scientific research.

With the potential for wider availability and cost-effectiveness, this creative employ of blockchain technology has the potential to change the landscape of both fields, driving scientific progress into electrifying novel fields.

Featured image from Pixabay, chart from TradingView


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