What Kind Of Energy Fueled The Development Of Life?

What Kind Of Energy Fueled The Development Of Life?

Where on Earth life originally arose is a topic of some debate among biologists. Its origins are open to several hypotheses, including development in deep sea environments, in sheltered rock pools, or using components brought by asteroids. All life on Earth need water, thus it stands to reason that this is where it began. However, life requires more than just water; it also needs a source of energy.

Sugars are a primary source of energy for most organisms today, but they weren’t there when life first emerged, 3.7 billion years ago.

If true, then what kinds of energy were accessible to the early humans to assist them emerge onto the planet? Around 4.6–4 billion years ago (during the Hadean eon), Earth was dominated by water, with just a few volcanic islands rising above the surface. According to Eloi Camprubi-Casas, a scientist at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley who investigates the beginning of life, UV light from the sun had a role in the creation of complex molecules in shallow rock pools on volcanic islands.

Radiation from the sun is ideal because its high energy level causes molecules to become ionized, making them “more reactive” and therefore more likely to combine into the bigger, more complex molecules required to produce the building blocks of life.

The issue that UV radiation causes is that it essentially destroys everything you possess. Thus, the sun’s radiation would have led to the degradation of complex molecules even as they created. For this reason, Camprubi-Casas and coworkers believe that life’s beginnings occurred far from the warm ponds at the ocean’s floor, where hot, alkaline water combined with cold, acidic water to produce a soup of chemical energy that may have served as a spark for life’s development.

Magma rising from the Earth’s mantle creates hotspots of geothermal activity far below the surface of the ocean at plate borders. Minerals in the sandstone are dissolved by cold ocean water that penetrates through fractures in these heated locations. Minerals precipitate out when the hot water travels through the gaps and into the cool ocean, creating biological “chimneys.” Because of the abundance of hydrogen gas and the high alkalinity of the fluid, the oceans were somewhat acidic during the Hadean because of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.The carbon dioxide dissolved in the hydrothermal vent water made the resultant molecules far more chemically active, allowing for the addition of nitrogen to produce amino acids and the addition of nitrogen and oxygen to produce DNA.

Asteroids were more abundant in the Hadean epoch than they are now, and this has led to the hypothesis that they provided the chemical components necessary for the emergence of life on Earth. It is likely that simple sugars and tiny amino acids on asteroids were preserved by a covering of ice. Over millions of years in the sun, these objects generate radicals, or active components, that may react with each other at room temperature.

The extremely reactive chemicals would have reacted with other simple molecules in the water to form the complicated chemistry required to kick-start life, according to this life-origin concept. According to Bera, geothermal heat would have been used as an energy source in this instance as well. We can’t say for sure whether the sun, geothermal chemistry, or geothermal heat initiated the emergence of life on Earth, since so few rock samples from this time period survive today. We can filter through the many explanations for our existence, though, via laboratory study and heated discussion.


Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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