Researchers at the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung have now disclosed the secret of a reaction that has to do with the synthesis of complex organic matter before the origin of life.
Since the 1960’s it has been well known that when concentrated hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is irradiated by UV light, it forms an imidazole intermediate that is a key substance for synthesis of nucleobases and nucleotides in abiotic environment. The way how UV radiation acts in this reaction to produce complex organic matter was, however, never clarified. Dr. Mario Barbatti and his colleagues in Germany, India and Czech Republic have now shown how this process occurs via computer simulations.
Using diverse computational-chemistry methods, the team has arrived at astonishing conclusions: For example that the reaction does not take place in the hot spot created by the solar radiation. “This has nothing to do with heat, but with electrons,” says Mario Barbatti.
It is noted that
The transformation works in a cold environment, as in comets and in terrestrial ices, where spontaneous HCN polymerization is most expected to occur.
So this theory would favour the “life came to earth via comets” thesis.