How did life originate on Earth and what were its chemical building-blocks? One possible source of answers to these questions can be found in outer space. On the surface of comets planetary scientists have detected simple organic molecules that could also have been available on the young Earth — either because they were present in the material from which our planet was formed or were subsequently delivered by comets or meteorites. LMU chemist Thomas Carell and members of his research group have now shown that, under the conditions that prevailed on the young Earth, these simple molecules could indeed have served as precursors for the synthesis of one class of molecules that is an integral part of all forms of life on Earth. In addition, they have validated a plausible reaction mechanism for the production of these compounds. Paper. (paywall) – S. Becker, I. Thoma, A. Deutsch, T. Gehrke, P. Mayer, H. Zipse, T. Carell. A high-yielding, strictly regioselective prebiotic purine nucleoside formation pathway. Science, 2016; 352 (6287): 833 DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2808 More.
We’re actually not short of “could have been’s” and “plausibles.” After all this time, the obvious answer is that the origin of life wasn’t simple and didn’t happen by accident. On the other hand, if one likes complex verb structures, this is the field to be in.
See also: The early Earth oxygen debate Resolved: We don’t know.
Maybe if we throw enough models at the origin of life… some of them will stick?
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