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Using Blockchain Technology To Simulate The Chemical Reactions That Formed The Origin Of Life

A team of chemists used blockchain technology to create a network of chemical reactions that could identify the molecules that existed when life formed on Earth.

The study aimed to identify an early form of metabolism on Earth that did not use enzymes, in a notable use case of blockchain beyond finance. This was done by redesigning the distributed ledger to generate chemical reactions instead of solving complex mathematical problems for mining cryptocurrencies.

Researchers from several universities around the world started by studying molecules such as water, ammonia and methane, which were expected to be present during the formation of Earth. Using smart contracts, the scientists set basic rules for the interactions between the molecules to increase the validity of the research.

The network, which the experts called “Network of Early Life” (NOEL), generated 11 billion reactions, of which only 4.9 billion were considered “reasonable” by the researchers. When the scope was further narrowed, they found that more than 100 reactions could self-replicate, which is an essential feature for creating the life we know.

The lead researcher, Bartosz Grzybowski, thought that this concept might have occurred in the later stages of Earth’s formation, rather than at the beginning, because only a small fraction of the reactions were found to be self-replicating.

Grzybowski said: “Our results imply that self-amplification is a rare event when only small molecules are present.” “I think that this type of self-replication would not work on the primitive Earth before larger molecular structures formed in some way.”

The blockchain-based research relied on computer experts from Allchemy, who decentralized the computation to hundreds of computers in a spirit of decentralization. The computers that contributed to the research could earn cryptocurrencies by computing time, thus reducing the cost and time for the researchers to generate 100 billion reactions.

“Developing countries even have difficulty competing with these universities, because they cannot use supercomputers,” Grzybowski said. “But if you can distribute the computation in this way at a fraction of the cost, you can give others the opportunity to participate.”

Grzybowski believed that reusing the distributed ledger and integrating it with artificial intelligence (AI) could open up new use cases beyond non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and decentralized finance (DeFi).

Blockchain-based research is booming

In addition to finance, researchers are exploring new uses for blockchain, with a rising trend in the healthcare and medical fields. A Korean engineer used blockchain to track the country’s bedbug infections, drawing hotspots on an interactive map.

New use cases have been identified in multiple vertical domains, including criminal investigation, humanitarian aid, logistics and real estate. The core of all utilities is the cost-saving, transparency and immutability of blockchain, which experts say can improve the processes of businesses that adopt the technology.

Sentiment: Positive

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