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Scientists propose new hypothesis on the origin of life

September 5, 2009
clipped from www.physorg.com

Zinc and UV Zapped Life into Being?
The Miller-Urey experiment, conducted by chemists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey in 1953, is the classic experiment on the origin of life. It established that the early Earth atmosphere, as they pictured it, was capable of producing amino acids, the building blocks of life, from inorganic substances.

Now, more than 55 years later, two scientists are proposing a hypothesis that could add a new dimension to the debate on how life on Earth developed.

The scientists suggest that life on Earth originated at photosynthetically-active porous structures, similar to deep-sea hydrothermal vents, made of zinc sulfide (more commonly known as ). They argue that under the high pressure of a carbon-dioxide-dominated atmosphere, zinc sulfide structures could form on the surface of the first continents, where they had access to sunlight. Unlike many existing theories that suggest was a hindrance to the development of life, Mulkidjanian and Galperin think it actually helped.

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