Process that might have led to first organic molecules: New research could


Hey, more progress in origins of life research. Ideas not previously tested suddenly get tested, and negative experimental results are some times overturned with more realistic simulation conditions.

I remember Nick Lane reported on attempts to simulate primordial carbon fixation by CO2 reduction under a pH gradient, in a public lecture back in may of 2019. They couldn’t get the chemistry to work as calculations implied it should, as it apparently required a sufficient concentration of dissolved hydrogen gas in the simulated hydrothermal fluid.

But dissolving the necessary amount of hydrogen gas in water required for the chemistry, requires high pressure, and can be dangerous. They were looking to get the equipment necessary to accurately reproduce the conditions. Which in this case shows that some times the more realistic prebiotic conditions are actually conducive to the envisioned hypothetical chemistry, rather than the opposite.

The originator of the alkaline hydrothermal vent hypothesis for life’s origin, Michael Russell, even said at one point in a public talk, that “maybe we just can’t do it”, referring to numerous failed attempts to reduce CO2 with H2 under a pH gradient under laboratory settings. But now it turns out they can.

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