Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Volcanoes May Have Provided Sparks Of First Life

Date:
October 16, 2008
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
New research suggests that lightening and volcanoes may have sparked early life on Earth. Researchers have reanalyzed Stanley Miller's classic origin of life experiment, offering a new analysis on how the essential building blocks of life may have arisen from volcanic eruptions.

Scripps professor of marine chemistry Jeff Bada produces an electrical stark in an experimental apparatus to show how the atmospheric conditions during volcanic eruptions may have led to early life on Earth.
Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

New research suggests that lightening and volcanoes may have sparked early life on Earth. Researcher Jeffrey Bada at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and colleagues reanalyzed Stanley Miller's classic origin of life experiment, offering a new analysis on how the essential building blocks of life may have arisen from volcanic eruptions.

Related Articles


Bada, Scripps professor of marine chemistry and graduate student of Miller's in the Chemistry Department at the UC San Diego in 1960, preserved Miller's original chemical samples. Bada along with lead author Adam Johnson, Indiana University graduate student and colleagues, reanalyzed the samples to determine if new chemical compounds could be detecting using modern equipment. The paper, "The Miller Volcanic Spark Experiment," is published in the Oct. 17 issue of the journal Science.

"We believed there was more to be learned from Miller's original experiment," said Bada, co-author in the paper. "We found that a modern day version of the volcanic apparatus produces a wider variety of compounds."

Miller's classic "primordial soup" experiment, published in Science in 1953, is still widely used today in high school chemistry labs to mimic chemical reactions that occur in vapor-rich volcanic eruptions. The experiment circulated methane, ammonia, water vapor and hydrogen in a closed experiment, simulating the earth's early atmosphere and sent a lightning-like spark through it. Over a series of days, organic compounds formed in the mixture, demonstrating how Earth's primitive atmosphere may have given rise to life.

It is commonly thought that early Earth was comprised of many small volcanic islands. This study suggests that lightning and the release of gases associated with these volcanic eruptions could have produced the necessary chemical components to give rise to early life.

Bada's lab is the first to perform follow up studies using Miller's original apparatus and chemicals samples, which were discovered following Miller's death in 2007. Researchers reanalyzed 11 of the original samples using contemporary analytical chemistry techniques and produced 22 amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, 10 of which had not been identified previously by Miller.

"Historically, you don't get many experiments that might be more famous than these; they redefined our thoughts on the origin of life and showed unequivocally that the fundamental building blocks of life could be derived from natural processes," said lead author Adam Johnson, a Indiana University graduate student with the NASA Astrobiology Institute team.

Henderson Cleaves (Carnegie Institution for Science), Jason Dworkin and Daniel Glavin (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) and Antonio Lazcano (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) also contributed to the report. It was funded with grants from the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., and Mexico's El Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Diego. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "Volcanoes May Have Provided Sparks Of First Life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081016141405.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2008, October 16). Volcanoes May Have Provided Sparks Of First Life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081016141405.htm
University of California - San Diego. "Volcanoes May Have Provided Sparks Of First Life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081016141405.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
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