When classical monster films and ancient scientific experiments are to be believed, life begins with a spark.
This story of origin is not for everyone, so it looks for sources of energy that can turn a prebiotic soup into a life-enhancing bowl. Maybe the secret ingredient is not more shocking than a pinch of salt.
A new study, conducted by scientists at the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan, focused on common old sodium chloride as a potential channel for chemical energy used in the early biochemistry is required.  Sodium chloride consists of a 1: 1 ratio of sodium and chloride ions. In this case, the chloride ions could be responsible. Once you have received a dose of intense electromagnetic radiation, that is.
The origins of life on Earth have always sparked our interest.
Science has pretty well explained how life has developed a degree of diversity. However, we can use explanations such as natural selection to rewind the clock only.
At some point, we have to jump from a chaotic vortex of organic chemicals to replicate incompletely codes that could be considered the very first glimmer of life. the first ecosystem commonly referred to as the RNA World Hypothesis.
Unfortunately, this whole hypothesis involves a small problem with chickens and eggs.
Life depends on taking energy from a source ̵
While all modern organisms inherit the necessary cellular machinery, the first metabolic leap had to be a more ubiquitous source. Something simpler was not found in life, but in the environment.
In the early 1950s, two chemists named Stanley Miller and Harold Urey were known to produce a series of amino acids from simpler materials, which for the first time showed that the raw materials for proteins are not necessarily a living source.
They supplied their medium with a voltage, provided that the early Earth had had a generous current flow in the form of lightning strikes.
Even if this process produced amino acids, RNA is a different alphabet of basic chemicals. The question of how they were generated also presented an energy problem.
A team of researchers suggested last year that plasma from shockwaves resulting from asteroid impacts could have been sufficient to convert organic building blocks into formamide Parent molecule for the four RNA letters.
Part of the problem of dramatic events such as asteroid attacks and lightning is that they explain a reasonable task to explain the production of a handful of key players. Meanwhile, there are a number of other chemicals that may have had supporting roles and also need a background story.
This new study goes back a little further to include the story of a broader cast that is also considered essential to the life-generating reaction cascade. One such example is a compound called cyanamide.
Previous work by other investigators has traced the path from compounds such as hydrogen cyanide to basic RNA starting blocks in the presence of little more than UV light. But the production of cyanamide was required, and this was a chemical for which no one was responsible.
"Our goal was therefore to develop a reaction network that produces both simple sugars and cyanamide and thus many important precursors in particular for RNA synthesis in a stew," the researchers write in their report.
After analyzing the chains of reactions that were driven not by UV light but by the more intense gamma radiation, they found that the cyanamide content increased with a rather surprising reagent – chloride ion.
Of the two ions present in salt, sodium usually receives all the attention, and its chloride counterpart, which seldom participates in reactions, tends to be overlooked.
In this case it appears that when irradiated with gamma rays, the electrons of the chlorides are loosened and the mixture is supplied with the energy required for the formation of cyanamide.
In some ways this sounds more complicated (and less exciting) than lightning strikes and lightning strikes. But life does not have to start with a boom.
It might just have been launched with a generous shot of spice.
This research was published in ChemistrySelect .