News Origin Of Life

Extraterrestrial mineral provided essential spark for life?

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Seymchan meteorite/darker-colored structure at center is schreibersite

Lights. Camera. Action.

Well, admit it, it does sound like a great sci-fi premise.

From ScienceDaily:

On the early Earth, light came not only from the sun but also from the incessant bombardment of fireball meteorites continually striking the planet. Now, the recent work of University of South Florida (USF) associate professor of geology Matthew Pasek, USF researcher Maheen Gull, and colleagues at Georgia Institute of Technology, has demonstrated that these meteorites may have carried within them an extraterrestrial mineral that, as it corroded in water on Earth, could have provided the essential chemical spark leading to the birth of biological life on the planet.

In a recent study appearing in Nature Publishing Group’s Scientific Reports, the researchers focused on the properties of schreibersite and conducted experiments with the mineral to better understand how — in a chemical reaction with the corrosive effects of water called “phosphorylation” — schreibersite could have provided the phosphate important to the emergence of early biological life.

“The reactions we observed in our experiments have shown that the necessary prebiotic molecules were likely present on the early Earth and that the Earth was predisposed to phosphorylated biomolecules,” the researchers concluded. “Our results suggest a potential role for meteoritic phosphorus in the development and origin of early life.”

The researchers also concluded that the mechanism of phosphorylation was still unknown and actively being investigated. “It is possible that the process occurs in solution or on the surface of the schreibersite,” they explained.More.

Fun but a lot of hedging here.

See also: Maybe if we throw enough models at the origin of life… some of them will stick?

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3 Replies to “Extraterrestrial mineral provided essential spark for life?

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    If we add just one more chemical, it will be alive!

  2. 2
    Vy says:

    Don’t forget the pixie dust 😉

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    Argh! I always forget the pixie dust!

    But this is the OOL project. Add another chemical. Delete a chemical. Change the order of the chemicals. It’s pure reductionism.

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