Life on Earth evolved under the ground

04 Feb

Strictly speaking, the hypothesis that the first cells originated not in the seas, and somewhere in the faults of the crust itself is not new. Drilling of deep and ultra deep wells has allowed geologists to conclude that the bowels of the planet does not consist of a continuous layer of granite or basalt: they are down to depths of several kilometers are everywhere signs of active processes. Along the cracks of rocks moved saturated solutions of mineral salts, they can detect various gases, and some researchers even inclined to believe that at great depths can be formed from the emissions of the mantle gas oil.
The hypothesis of “primeval soup”, which gave rise to the first living cells to the aqueous solution may be wrong, the article says. The first organisms, as scientists believe, arose in the crevices of rocks, and the key role played in their appearance as a warm interior, and a mixture of different gases, rising to the surface from the depths.

Life has risen from below

The hypothesis of the oil offered by Soviet scientists as far back as 1950, groundwater bacterial community were described by American geophysicist Thomas Gold in the 1990’s, the unique ecosystems on the seabed near the hot springs biologists have discovered in the late 1970’s. That is direct evidence that the well depths are inhabited, scientists enough. But the question of where life began, remains open.

Now in favor of the view that it was the bowels become a source of life, a new argument. William Martin, one of the authors of the study, said that scientists calculate saturated with organic substances “soup” in the ocean is simply not allowed to be the first cells to receive enough energy. The energy needed for life, is only in the depths – more precisely, there is the necessary gradient energy.

The point difference

Professionals in thermodynamics it is known that some useful work done is not where a lot of power or necessary to “build” something (eg, cell membrane) substances. To carry out the work necessary to place power in one or more substances were, in the other – smaller, in the language of scholars, the difference in the quantity of something between adjacent points is called a gradient.

Energy gradient – this is what is necessary not just for chemical reactions, but also for the formation of membranes. It is great near the surface of the liquid (as above may be a different atmosphere with the temperature), but more in a thin layer of rocks near a variety of voids. If we add here that for these voids below raised various gases from hydrogen sulfide to carbon dioxide, it turns out that the conditions were for the synthesis of organic substances and the formation of the first cells even better than in the “soup”. At least this is confirmed by the calculations of scientists, and John Allen, co-author Martin drew attention to the similarity of chemical properties of living cells and those hypothetical bubble, from which they could arise in the bowels of the planet.

“The magnitude of the concentration gradient of protons, and, most importantly, its direction, – said Allen, – in modern cells coincide with what should have been in the more non-living entities, from which they emerged.

Inside the cells now accumulated a negative electrical charge, and outside, on the contrary, the positive: it is by creating a concentration gradient of protons, hydrogen ions. This gradient plays a crucial role in various processes, from receiving cell transfer of energy to nerve impulses, and its value, as scientists believe, was determined by conditions at great depth, somewhere below the surface of the Earth more than 3 billion years ago.

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Posted by on February 4, 2010 in Earth


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