The new arsenic based life that we spoke about yesterday, found in Mono Lake, California, seems to me to say that life can exist in many very different packages. It reminds me of the children’s building blocks from Lego. Lego’s come in a limited number of shapes and have holes to connect other blocks. There are rules on how to connect things (you have to use the holes). This is similar to amino acids that also have chemical rules on how they can connect. Both Lego’s and amino acids can build a vast number of structures from simple ones to very complex ones. Lego’s can also be used as a memory of sorts when you build a structure and then reuse it in more complex structures, like a basic car with wheels. Sometimes children build structures that won’t work in our environment. They weigh too much and topple over, gravity wins out and they fall. Nature also has built countless life that has failed because of the environment. Is it any wonder that DNA (a simple structure built from proteins which are amino acids) has adapted to the environment? This is why epigenetics is so influenced by our environment. The environment can destroy life. Life must then learn to adapt to it and change quickly if the environment it finds itself in has changed. Both Lego’s and DNA sometimes build a successful model. It then uses that to build upon it and create more and more complex models from the simpler ones. Lego’s and DNA also have another common trait, they don’t come with instructions. They both are built as experiments. Successful models are kept and failed models are forgotten. What do you think?

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