University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > The Archimedeans (CU Mathematical Society) > What mathematics tell us about the nature of life ... more than 3,800,000,000 years ago!

What mathematics tell us about the nature of life ... more than 3,800,000,000 years ago!

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Relics of early life, preceding even the last universal common ancestor of all life on Earth, are present in the structure of the modern day canonical genetic code—- the map between DNA sequence and amino acids that form proteins. The code is not random, as often assumed, but instead is now known to have certain error minimisation properties. How could such a code evolve, when it would seem that mutations to the code itself would cause the wrong proteins to be translated, thus killing the organism? I address this paradox, originally due to Francis Crick, and show how dynamical systems theory leads to powerful insights about the nature of very early life that are beginning to be experimentally tested.

This talk is part of the The Archimedeans (CU Mathematical Society) series.

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