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New Theory On The Origin Of Life
By Matt J. Weiss, December 21, 2009 @ 03:33 PM (EST)
Source: Livescience.com
Since hydrothermal vents were discovered in the late 70's, they have been the focus of most origin of life studies. Most of these studies focused on the deep water hydrothermal vents.  It was dismissed, however, that life could really begin at these deep hydrothermal vents, which are almost a mile and half down on the ocean floor, because of the high temperature of gas being released from the vents.

The gas can reach up to 300 degrees celsius in the deep water thermal vents. At this temperature, organic molecules are unstable, and so it seems unlikely that these vents are the place where life originated.

However, there are are other, shallower, hydrothermal vents that are in 200 meters or less of water.  Sunlight can still penetrate the water at this depth which can provide the energy required for the chemical processes needed for life, and they are also much less extreme in temperature, reaching around only 96 degree Celsius.

This has prompted a paper  published in the journal Astrobiology to pinpoint these shallow vents as a possible place for the beginning of life. It's an interesting theory. Check out this article on Livescience.com which breaks down the reasoning and explains the theories scientists have on the origin of life.



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