How did life originate? This puzzle has been studied by scientists for hundreds of years. Authors of a new paper in Nature have made significant progress towards solving this enigma by using cyanide as a starting material. While cyanide may be poisonous to us, mixing it with a specific chemical solution and heat seems to give rise to many of the molecules of life.
A key point not addressed by the media coverage of this paper is the manner in which the authors made the molecular precursors for life. Rather than relying on an all-at-once reaction to produce all of the key molecules, the authors of this study propose that a series of steps are more practical. In addition, they use phosphates, chemicals that would have been plentiful in the early earth, as a key ingredient in their reactions. These results hint strongly that cyanide and phosphates were key components of the primordial soup that produced life.
Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Olga Taran from the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department at Harvard University.
Managing Correspondent: Adam Brown, Waves Lead Editor
Original article: Chemists claim to have solved riddle of how life began on Earth – Phys.Org
Related SITN article: New route to the origin of life? Probably not.