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"Revolutionary" New Theory Of How Life Began On Earth


A totally new and highly controversial theory on the origin of life on
earth, is set to cause a storm in the science world and has implications
for the existence of life on other planets. Research* by Professor William
Martin of the University of Dusseldorf and Dr Michael Russell of the
Scottish Environmental Research Centre in Glasgow, claims that living
systems originated from inorganic incubators - small compartments in iron
sulphide rocks. ...

 Since the 1930s the accepted theories for the origins of cells and
therefore the origin of life, claim that chemical reactions in the earth's
most ancient atmosphere produced the building blocks of life - in essence
- life first, cells second and the atmosphere playing a role.

Professor Martin and Dr Russell have long had problems with the existing
hypotheses of cell evolution and their theory turns traditional views
upside down. They claim that cells came first. The first cells were not
living cells but inorganic ones made of iron sulphide and were formed not
at the earth's surface but in total darkness at the bottom of the oceans.
Life, they say, is a chemical consequence of convection currents through
the earth's crust and in principle, this could happen on any wet, rocky

Dr Russell says: "As hydrothermal fluid - rich in compounds such as
hydrogen, cyanide, sulphides and carbon monoxide - emerged from the
earth's crust at the ocean floor, it reacted inside the tiny metal
sulphide cavities. They provided the right microenvironment for chemical
reactions to take place. That kept the building blocks of life
concentrated at the site where they were formed rather than diffusing away
into the ocean. The iron sulphide cells, we argue, is where life began."