From Lisa Zyga at Phys.org:
Adam and others have been investigating a leading candidate for a water alternative called formamide, a clear liquid that consists of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen. Not only does formamide favor polymer bond formation more than water does, it also reacts with other molecules to form nucleobases, amino acids, and some of the other basic compounds needed to make nucleic acids.
But there is a glaring problem with this proposal: formamide does not occur naturally in any significant quantity anywhere on Earth. Although formamide is widely used in industry as a solvent for making pharmaceuticals and pesticides, all of this formamide is synthetically produced.
Formamide does exist in space, however, which has previously motivated researchers to suggest that it may have been transported to Earth via comets or meteors. But it is unlikely that this scenario could have produced the large, concentrated reservoirs of formamide needed for life’s precursors to form.
Now in a new paper published in Scientific Reports, a team of researchers, led by Adam and coauthor Masashi Aono at Keio University and Tokyo Institute of Technology, have demonstrated the possibility that formamide may have been produced in abundance by radiation in some pockets of the early Earth.
Reduced, again, to may-have-beens. Which, for some reason, are never happening now. Interesting comment:
“Often the problem of the origins of life is considered to be solved if we could understand how prototypical building blocks of life such as biopolymers and metabolites could form in plausible early-Earth environments,” Aono said. “But we are not satisfied with this way of thinking. Life should not be treated as a bag full of the building blocks, but should be understood as a complex network of chemical reactions.” More.
Life is more than a “complex network of chemical reactions,” it is full of codes and languages. But current biology need not go beyond may-have-beens. There must be ten thousand more papers in that.
See also: Desperate times: Should we look for alien life that doesn’t need oxygen? Mustn’t put all our eggs in one basket? But there are no eggs. There is no basket. At this point, now that SETI is uncertain about even looking for intelligence as such, it is not clear what we are looking for or why. They now say that really good space alien technology would appear to be just nature. So why might not ET life forms appear to be just rocks?
Experimental physicist Rob Sheldon on the recent merely “plausible” origin of life find
Steve Benner: Origin of life field beset by shortage of ideas, science by overflow of consensus
What we know and don’t know about the origin of life