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Researchers: Lightening strikes, not just comets, played a vital role in origin of life


Fulgurite, a rock formed when lighting strikes the ground, may contain phosphorus, they say:

Phosphorus is essential to life and plays a key role in all life processes from movement to growth and reproduction. The phosphorus present on early Earth’s surface was contained in minerals that cannot dissolve in water, but schreibersite can.

Mr Hess, now a PhD student at Yale University, Connecticut, USA, said: “Many have suggested that life on Earth originated in shallow surface waters, following Darwin’s famous “warm little pond” concept.

“Most models for how life may have formed on Earth’s surface invoke meteorites which carry small amounts of schreibersite. Our work finds a relatively large amount of schreibersite in the studied fulgurite.

“Lightning strikes Earth frequently, implying that the phosphorus needed for the origin of life on Earth’s surface does not rely solely on meteorite hits.

“Perhaps more importantly, this also means that the formation of life on other Earth-like planets remains possible long after meteorite impacts have become rare.”

The team estimate that phosphorus minerals made by lightning strikes surpassed those from meteorites when the earth was around 3.5 billion years old, which is about the age of the earliest known micro-fossils, making lightning strikes significant in the emergence of life on the planet.

Furthermore, lightning strikes are far less destructive than meteor hits, meaning they were much less likely to interfere with the delicate evolutionary pathways in which life could develop.

University of Leeds, “Lightning strikes played a vital role in life’s origins on Earth” at ScienceDaily

The paper is open access.

But then a question arises: There are plenty of lightning strikes. Why isn’t life always coming into existence? Why does it only ever come from previous life?

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips – origin of life What we do and don’t know about the origin of life.

asauber If Darwin can get away with being called something other than fiction, why not Mary Shelley? BobRyan
I just have a question of the moderators. I am new here and have posted a few comments. They have all gone into moderation and never appeared (as far as I can tell). Is this normal? If so, I will have to bid you farewell. I have no desire to participate in a discussion that relies on someone to approve every comment posted. count of crisco
Asauber a good one :) Seriously, when this Darwinian craziness will stop ? Why these Darwinians clowns don't take meteorites, fulgurite, schreibersite, phosphorus, and whatever they want, and FINALLY CREATE LIFE IN LAB ????? martin_r
So all those Frankenstein movies where the Dr. jolts life into the Monster with lightening are true. I guess we can count 'em as successful model tests. Igor asauber
This theory has a special problem: Lightning is most common in unfashionable places like Oklahoma and Florida where life couldn't POSSIBLY have originated. Elite scientists CAN'T come from Neanderthal or Okie ancestors. This year those unfashionable places have become doubly unfashionable to SCIENCE, with governors who seceded in various ways from the "virus" holocaust sponsored by SCIENCE. polistra
Hey, Sev! If you want a glimpse of a few of the other obstacles to the abiogenesis of the OOL besides phosphorus check out this Dr. James Tour video (it's the summary video of a 13 part series but it might raise your eyebrows a little anyway) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71GTCHkId6M&t=1s Also, cover your ears for the first 30 seconds of the video. BleacherBum
How do we know that precursor chemicals to life are not being created by lightning strikes? If we assume it takes hundreds of millions of years to get to basic, recognizable organisms then we haven't been around nearly long enough to observe such a thing happening and, in any event, all the environmental niches are already occupied so any newcomers have virtually no chance of making headway against the current well-established occupants. Seversky

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