The biggest question that science has been trying to answer since its creation is the origin of life on Earth. What exactly brought life to Earth from a biological perspective? Today, we are lucky enough to have access to technology that allows humanity to look at its evolution from a molecular level, the truth is hidden somewhere at this very small level and Scientists may have just found an answer.
Scientists at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution recently announced today that ribonucleic acid (RNA), spontaneously forms on basalt lava glass. RNA is considered the first genetic material for life and this forms on basalt lava glass. The reason why this theory is groundbreaking is that this basalt lava glass used to be an abundant material on Earth 4.35 billion years ago.
The study, led by Elisa Biondi shows that RNA molecules that are 100-2000 nucleotides in length form when nucleoside triphosphates filter through the basaltic glass. Despite the scientific jargon sounding complex, the study has been described by experts to be quite simple and this is why its results are so promising.
"For several hundred million years after the Moon formed, frequent impacts coupled with abundant volcanism on the young planet formed molten basaltic lava, the source of the basalt glass. Impacts also evaporated water to give dry land, providing aquifers where RNA could have formed." (Quote by Stephen Mojzsis)
RNA is quite similar to DNA as it carries out two distinct processes vital for life. RNA carries genetic information and also catalyzes chemical reactions needed for life. The only problem is that RNA does not seem to support the complex chemistry needed to ignite evolution. DNA can form long strains of genetic information that have allowed all living organisms to evolve and develop for millions of years.
The study showed that RNA can actually form long strains of genetic information, but it has to be in the right conditions, such as mixed with glass powders from volcanic lava which allows a natural chemical reaction to take place which in theory ignites life. Scientists consider that this could be how life originated on Earth.
This simple theory also raises another suspicion, the same process could have occurred on Mars where basalt lava glass has been found. This means that some sort of life may have existed on Mars billions of years ago. Some experts consider that extreme climate change could have led to the extinction of life on Mars. There could have been many different factors that led to the extinction of life on Mars, this is a very debated topic in today's scientific environment.
Other missions on Mars had discovered all the needed materials for the creation of life. Due to the simplicity of the model presented in theory, it is being criticized by other experts within the field, but this could be the right way towards finding the origin of life, even the meaning.