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."
In the 1950s, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey of the University...
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Oliver Spalt
Download Flash player to listen to an astrobiologist's take on the study
Astrobiologist David Grinspoon of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
describes the opposing ideas about the early atmosphere and why
these experiments are still meaningful.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
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