How Earth was able to produce life step by step

And which other worlds could have done the same. Looks like answers are emerging.

Colin Robinson
Predict

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Artist’s impression of Earth in Archean Eon, 4 to 2.5 billion years ago, by Tim Bertelink. Via Wikimedia Commons

How could life emerge on a previously lifeless planet? Is life’s origin a chance event, or a stepwise process? Is it likely that worlds other than Earth have also come up with life; and if so, which ones?

After many frustrations and false starts, developing lines of research are finally offering answers to these questions.

A recent paper in the scientific journal Astrobiology concludes — subject to further testing — that life could be produced via a step-by-step process in and around hot springs on a volcanic island about four billion years ago.

Like earlier theories of life’s origin, the described process begins with simple chemical building blocks forming in an atmosphere quite different from Earth’s atmosphere today.

A wet-dry cycle — waters evaporating and returning — is an important part of the process.

Evaporation causes the chemical building blocks to clump together into cell-like structures with oily membranes (consisting of lipids) around a moist interior (consisting of water and various carbon compounds). Each is like a tiny test-tube, doing its own experiment.

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Colin Robinson
Predict

Someone who likes sharing factual information and fragments of the big picture