[meteorite-list] The new science of the origins of life

From: Shawn Alan <shawnalan_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 09 Apr 2015 09:46:43 -0700
Message-ID: <20150409094643.e8713c95af9984a493c5db01816d4c10.0c4f92c809.wbe_at_email22.secureserver.net>

Hello Listers


Shawn Alan
IMCA 1633
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The new science of the origins of life

After being pelted with meteorites for half-a-billion years, life began
to appear on Earth.


After being pelted with meteorites for half-a-billion years, life began
to appear on Earth. The miraculous leap happened around four billion
years ago, when the atmosphere was blanketed with lethal gases and the
ocean was thick with iron. Wendy Zukerman examines how life formed in
these conditions and why it didn?t appear anywhere else nearby.

Despite phenomenal advances in modern science, the fundamental question
of why life started on this planet remains unanswered. Over the past
century, however, scientists have slowly been piecing together the story
of our very first ancestors.

They have been cooking with chemicals they believe the early Earth was
swimming in and they are forging the molecules which, over billions of
years, are thought to have evolved to become, well, you and me. There is
still much to understand, however.

?There are huge difficulties in looking back to see exactly how life
did get established,? says Matthew Powner, a professor of chemistry at
University College London. ?The rock record runs out before life was

For life to have begun, something that could encode information and
replicate itself was necessary. A molecule?or perhaps a group of
molecules?would have done the trick. Once these substances could
replicate themselves, it?s believed that natural selection would have
stepped in to create new versions of the ?Great Starter?.

?Slight errors in that replication give rise to slight variations on
the theme,? says Powner. ?That can give them an evolutionary
advantage which can then be potentially passed on more readily, and then
you have, effectively, an evolutionary arms race.?

These Generation 2.0 molecules, for example, would be better equipped to
multiply and survive than their predecessors. What was that first
ingredient that kicked off life on Earth, though?"

Received on Thu 09 Apr 2015 12:46:43 PM PDT

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