The First Cell pp 161-171 | Cite as

Life = Order + Complexity

  • Ulrich C. Schreiber
  • Christian Mayer


We know that life requires a high degree of structural order. However, even extremely ordered structures like crystals have no tendency to be alive. Likewise, it is accepted that life is based on a high degree of complexity. However, even very complex systems like mixtures of numerous organic compounds formed by uncontrolled reactions just remain dead matter. So neither order nor complexity alone can guarantee for life. In order to cross the limits toward life, a system has to fulfill both conditions simultaneously. Order and complexity together turn out to be an essential pair of characteristics for life. It actually has the power to define life and its evolution, as well as to explain the principle for the first steps of prebiotic chemistry.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich C. Schreiber
    • 1
  • Christian Mayer
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty for BiologyUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany
  2. 2.Faculty for ChemistryUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany

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