The Chemical Origins of Life

23 January 2020




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Life began on Earth about 3.7 billion years ago but exactly how the first cells evolved is still speculative. Most organic chemicals required by those primordial cells occur naturally on Earth and have been found in some meteorites.

Whilst we contemplate the possibility of life on other planets, are we any closer to understanding how these precursor molecules could have been assembled into such complex, coordinated and self-sustaining structures that are sensitive, selective and reproductive?

We may be accustomed to marvelling at Earth’s infinitely rich biodiversity but it is the astonishing chemical foundations on which life originated that are the real wonders of this world.

Dr Tim Hooker, BRLSI Science co-convenor