Essay on The Origins of Life
Before any speculation toward the origin of biotic forms, what was present at the formation of the earth that could result in inorganic, then organic, and later biotic creatures? Early atmospheric conditions have been theorized to be present due to planetesimal collisions releasing gases present in the Earth, after the initial atmosphere of Hydrogen and Helium escaped Earth’s gravity assisted by heat energy. The earlier atmosphere is believed to have consisted mainly of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen (bonded to other elements) in such forms as CO2/CO, N2, and H20. Stanley Miller, through experimentation, shows that given an energy source like heat or electric charge it is possible to form reactions …show more content…
Gunter Wachtershauser’s experiments forced the scientific community to recognize that life originating in “hot” conditions was a plausible theory. Wachtershauser understood that molecules needed a meeting place to be able to form and he proposed that the surface of iron-sulfur minerals and pyrite proved to be very favorable. He was able to prove that the driving force in the creation of amide bonds could be pyrite formation. Using conditions similar to that of volcanic vents Wachtershauser and Claudia Huber joined two carbon atoms to form activated acetic acid and eventually was able to link amino acids into short peptides (Hagmann 2006). Since Wachtershauser's discovery further experiments have been conducted which support his theory.
One experiment supports that under hot conditions elements crucial to metabolism could form. Pyruvic acid is essential for extant intermediary metabolism. Using a high temperature and high pressure, 250 degrees Celsius and 200 MPa, the experiment showed that pyruvic acid forms from formic acid in the presence of nonylmercaptane and iron sulfide (Wachtershauser 1307-1308). Also, it has been suggested that COS could be an intermediate in the hydrothermal formation of dipeptides from amino acids, but only in the presence of nickel and iron sulfides (Leman 283-286). This tells us that this reaction probably occurred in regions close to volcanic