"Self-organized plasma blobs as possible precursors of life"
Experimental results already described  prove that a spark, produced in a plasma is able, under certain prerequisite conditions, to initiate a self-organization process whose final product is a complex space charge configuration (CSCC) whose structure and behaviors satisfy all criteria for an operational definition of life. Thus the CSCC contains a nucleus bordered by a cell-like membrane assembled by self-organization, the membrane supports a potential drop sufficient to perform all operations required for the cell existence, the cell duplicates by division and is able to communicate information by emitting electromagnetic energy. Recently dubbed as plasma blobs these CSCCs were considered a hint for a new form of life . In respect to the opinion that life is the result of an evolution over millions of years, related to chemical reactions initiated by random processes at microscopic scale , our experiments prove that life occurs through an instability taking place at mesoscopic scale governed only by nonlinear physical processes in a time span of a few microseconds. Investigation of the nucleus of the CSCC reveals the presence of an environment that is, in our opinion, the prerequisite condition for a further longtime biochemical evolution towards the contemporary cell. Concerning the central issue of complexity/SOC discussions, namely if natural phenomena like the emergence of life violates the second law of thermodynamics, our experiments prove that this is locally possible for a short time span. Thus the gaseous cell emerged in laboratory work as an “engine” whose duty cycle comprises a branch during which, for a short time span, thermal energy is directly converted in energy used for maintaining the existence of the CSCC in a “viable” state. This is a state in which a rhythmic exchange of matter and energy between the CSCC and the surroundings ensures its survival. For nanoscale science and technology the knowledge of the scenario of self-organization whose finial product is a CSCC in a state exclusively attributed to living beings is of great interest since it potential offers a new insight into the intrinsic mechanism able to explain the emergence and behaviors of biochemical assemblies . The importance of the knowledge of the scenario of self-organization revealed by plasma experiments for other branches of science was pointed out in an invited paper recently presented by us (in collaboration with S. Popescu) at the XXVI Int. Conf. Phen. Ionized Gases, Greifswald, Germany, July 15 2003 (in press in Contr. Plasma Phys.). References:  E. Lozneanu & M. Sanduloviciu, Chaos Solitons & Fractals 18 (2003) 335.  New Scientist 20 September 2003 p. 16.  G. Nicolis, The New Physics ed. P.A. Davies, Cambridge 1999.  E. Lozneanu et al., J. Appl. Phys. 92 (2002) 1195 (reproduced in Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science & Technology, volume 6, Issue 5, July 29, 2002.