Oh, not this sort of thing again: Well, yes:
The researchers explored how primitive life may have originated on our planet from simple, non-living materials. They asked what properties define life as we know it and concluded that anything alive would have needed to collect and use energy, from sources such as the Sun or hydrothermal vents.
In molecular terms, this would mean that the ability to shuffle electrons was paramount to life. Since the best elements for electron transfer are metals (think standard electrical wires) and most biological activities are carried out by proteins, the researchers decided to explore the combination of the two — that is, proteins that bind metals.
They compared all existing protein structures that bind metals to establish any common features, based on the premise that these shared features were present in ancestral proteins and were diversified and passed down to create the range of proteins we see today.
Evolution of protein structures entails understanding how new folds arose from previously existing ones, so the researchers designed a computational method that found the vast majority of currently existing metal-binding proteins are somewhat similar regardless of the type of metal they bind to, the organism they come from or the functionality assigned to the protein as a whole.Rutgers University, “New study sheds light on origins of life on Earth” at ScienceDaily (January 14, 2022)
So, if that’s the story, why isn’t life coming into existence all the time? It should be happening in the dustpan. But it isn’t.
The paper is open access.