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The autocell proposal for the emergence of life and natural selection through the interaction of two reciprocally coupled self-organizing processes specifically provides a protein-first model for the origin of life that can be explored by computer simulations and experiment. Beyond the specific proposal it can be considered more generally as a thought experiment in which the principles deduced for the autocell could apply to other possible detailed chemical scenarios of catalytic polymers and protometabolism, including living systems emerging within membranelike barriers. The autocell model allows for the analysis of the emergence of not only agency and purpose but also of interpretation and semiosis as true living systems arise.
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Keywords: autocell; biogenesis; chemiosmotic; emergence; information; interpretation; membrane; natural selection; origin of life; semiosis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-06-01

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