Volcanic origin of proteins?

The reanalysis of a 1958 experiment suggests that volcanic eruptions may have spawned the amino acids that contributed to the rise of life on earth

Hannah Waters
Mar 20, 2011
Scientific debates don't get much hotter than the one surrounding the origin of organic molecules at the dawn of life on Earth. New findings, based on a reanalysis of a 50-year-old experiment, suggests that ancient volcanic activity was the source of the very first amino acids.The linkurl:findings,;http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/03/14/1019191108.abstract published open access today (March 21) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lend support to the theory that the building blocks of organic life spewed from volcanoes billions of years ago."Volcanic discharges could have been important in forming pre-organic molecules, which is consistent with this experiment," said volcanologist linkurl:Clive Oppenheimer;http://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/people/oppenheimer/ of the University of Cambridge, who was not involved with the study. "And it's a nice piece of science revisiting itself."
Lightning struck during the eruption of Mount Rinjani in Indonesia in 1995
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Oliver Spalt
In the 1950s, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey of the University...

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Astrobiologist David Grinspoon of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
describes the opposing ideas about the early atmosphere and why
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Miller's spark apparatus he designed with Urey in teh 1950's.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
E.T. Parker et al., "Primordial synthesis of amines and amino acids in a 1958 Miller H2S-rich spark discharge experiment," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011, DOI: linkurl:10.1073/pnas.1019191108;http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/03/14/1019191108.abstract


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