The study is already generating strong disagreement among other early-life experts. Nick Lane, a biochemist at University College London, UK, points out that the geothermal-pool hypothesis is problematic both biologically and geologically. “There was almost certainly very little land 4 billion years ago and terrestrial systems would have been unstable, short-lived, and severely limited in distribution,” Lane says. Such conditions would have made it difficult for early life to gain a foothold, he says.
Lane also notes that the study has a significant conceptual flaw. “To suggest that the ionic composition of primordial cells should reflect the composition of the oceans is to suggest that cells are in equilibrium with their medium, which is close to saying that they are not alive,” Lane notes. “Cells require dynamic disequilibrium — that is what being alive is all about.”
Molecular biologist Jack Szostak of Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says that “geothermal active areas provide numerous advantages” and are a plausible staging area for the origin of life, but points out that we can’t be sure that the chemistry of modern cells reflects the chemical conditions in which the first cells emerged.
If dynamic disequilibrium is required, and “we can’t be sure that the chemistry of modern cells reflects the chemical conditions in which the first cells emerged,” then the origin of life has no traceable history.
See also: If today’s origin of life theorists are right, life did not originate.