Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cutting-edge Computing Helps Discover Origin Of Life On Earth

Date:
March 19, 2008
Source:
National Grid Service
Summary:
Computing grids have helped scientists shed light on how life on earth may have originated. Deep ocean hydrothermal vents have long been suggested as possible sources of biological molecules such as RNA and DNA but it was unclear how they could survive the high temperatures and pressures that occur round these vents.

Deep ocean hydrothermal vents have long been suggested as possible sources of biological molecules such as RNA and DNA but it was unclear how they could survive the high temperatures and pressures that occur round these vents.
Credit: OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP); NOAA

The UK’s national computing grid, along with their counterparts in the US (TeraGrid) and Europe have helped UCL (University College London) scientists shed light on how life on earth may have originated.

Related Articles


Deep ocean hydrothermal vents have long been suggested as possible sources of biological molecules such as RNA and DNA but it was unclear how they could survive the high temperatures and pressures that occur round these vents.

Professor Peter Coveney and colleagues at the UCL Centre for Computational Science have used computer simulation to provide insight into the structure and stability of DNA while inserted into layered minerals. Computer simulation techniques have rarely been used to understand the possible chemical pathways to the formation of early biomolecules until now.

Professor Coveney explains, “Computational grids are only now being made easy to use for scientists, enabling simulations of sufficient size to model these large biomolecule and mineral systems”.

Previous experimental studies have shown that molecules such as DNA can be inserted into minerals called layered double hydroxides (LDHs) but no one has thus far been able to show at the level of atoms and molecules how the DNA interacts with the mineral, or how the DNA might look inside the mineral layers. These minerals would have been common in the earliest age of Earth 2500 million years ago.

The simulations reproduced the high temperatures and pressures that occur around hydrothermal vents. It was shown that the structure of DNA inserted into layered minerals becomes stabilized at these conditions and therefore protected from catalytic and thermal degradation.

“Grids of supercomputers are essential for this kind of study”, says Professor Coveney, “The time taken to run these simulations is reduced from the years that a desktop computer would take, to hours by using the many thousands of processors made available across continents”.

Professor Coveney’s group has been researching into the routes to the origin of life for a number of years, studying the way that genetic information may have arisen and been replicated, as well as how small molecules may have formed, working together with colleagues at Nottingham and Durham Universities.

Journal reference: ‘Computer Simulation Study of the Structural Stability and Materials Properties of DNA-Intercalated Layered Double Hydroxides’ by Mary-Ann Thyveetil, Peter Coveney, H. Chris Greenwell and James Suter, is published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on Tuesday 18 March 2008.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Grid Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Grid Service. "Cutting-edge Computing Helps Discover Origin Of Life On Earth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080318212430.htm>.
National Grid Service. (2008, March 19). Cutting-edge Computing Helps Discover Origin Of Life On Earth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080318212430.htm
National Grid Service. "Cutting-edge Computing Helps Discover Origin Of Life On Earth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080318212430.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) Wrongly categorized as lizard fossils, snake fossils now show the reptile could have developed earlier than we thought — 70 million years earlier. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Moscow Exhibition Showcases Gulag Letters

Moscow Exhibition Showcases Gulag Letters

AFP (Jan. 28, 2015) Written on cigarette packs or scraps of newspaper, embroidered with a fishbone on shreds of cloth or scratched on birch bark, clandestine letters from the Soviet Gulag were composed by any means prisoners had. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Was Blackbeard a Caring Pirate?

Was Blackbeard a Caring Pirate?

Buzz60 (Jan. 27, 2015) A new discovery from Blackbeard&apos;s ship, Queen Anne&apos;s Revenge, suggests the infamous pirate may have been a caring leader. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gallery Takes Two Years to Carefully Repair Hole Punched in $12 Million Monet

Gallery Takes Two Years to Carefully Repair Hole Punched in $12 Million Monet

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) An Irish art gallery details the extensive surgery a priceless Monet underwent after being punched by some crazy Irish guy. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins