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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7551/978-0-262-32621-6-ch080
Pages 498-505
First published 30 July 2014

Self-Organising Autocatalysis

Nathaniel Virgo, Simon McGregor and Takashi Ikegami

Abstract (Excerpt)

Life on Earth must originally have arisen from abiotic chemistry. Since the details of this chemistry are unknown, we wish to understand, in general, which types of chemistry can lead to complex, life-like behaviour. Our recent work has shown that the inclusion of thermodynamic principles in simple artificial chemistry models can result in the selforganisation of autocatalytic cycles. In this paper we present some new insights into why this happens. Our model is given a more mathematical treatment, allowing us to better understand the assumptions that lead to this phenomenon. The simplest type of autocatalytic cycle results in exponential growth. Through dynamical simulation we demonstrate that when these simple first-order cycles are prevented from forming, the system achieves super-exponential growth through more complex, higher-order autocatalytic cycles. This leads to non-linear phenomena such as oscillations and bistability, the latter of which is of particular interest regarding the origins of life.