A team of scientists from the United States and Great Britain has put forward a new hypothesis for the appearance of life on Earth. Lightning could play a significant role in this process, reports South China Morning Post.
In order for life to arise on Earth, a balanced set of primary elements is necessary. This set includes phosphorus, which is considered a key component of DNA, RNA, and cell membrane lipids. The fact is that all non-biogenic phosphorus on our planet is “locked” in insoluble minerals.
The only exception is schreibersite (another name used for the mineral is rhabdite), which is found only in meteorites. Previously, scientists believed that prebiotic phosphorus could be on our planet solely due to the early meteorite bombardment.
However, a team of American and British scientists have put forward a new hypothesis regarding this phenomenon. They investigated the structures formed in the places of lightning strikes, where, as it turned out, there is a glassy schreibersite.
It turns out that not only meteorites could contribute to the origin of life on Earth. This process could be greatly influenced by lightning.
Hypotheses about the role of lightning in the origin of life were voiced in the last century. The famous Miller-Urey experiment conducted in 1953 showed that electric sparks are capable of producing amino acids and sugars directly from the atmosphere, which contains methane, water, hydrogen and ammonia.
The conclusions of the scientists were as follows: lightning, presumably, contributed to the creation of the building blocks of life on Earth at the very beginning of its existence.