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Formation of life’s building blocks recreated in lab

Posted on 8 Dec 2014 in Earth Science, Evolution, Journalism, Life

Talk about making an impact. One of the meteorites that slammed into the planet early in its history could have kick-started life: the collision may have generated all four of the bases in RNA. Image: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

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No more primal soup: Creating life without water

Posted on 16 Apr 2014 in Earth Science, Evolution, Featured, Journalism

Water covers around 70 per cent of our planet’s surface. It makes up 60 per cent of our body weight. Without a supply of the stuff, very few living things can survive for long. But, perhaps surprisingly, water is bad news for life. Was it conspicuously absent at the dawn of life on Earth? Image: szeke

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Alzheimer’s molecules may have powered early life

Posted on 16 Mar 2014 in Alzheimer's, Earth Science, Evolution, Featured, Journalism

Amyloid plaques, a hallmark of diseases like Alzheimer’s, are bad news for humans – but they could have been drivers of the earliest life on Earth. A new study shows that these amyloid clusters can behave as catalysts, backing a theory that they helped trigger the reactions that sustain life, long before modern enzymes appeared. Image: euthman

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Russian hot springs point to rocky origins for life

Posted on 13 Feb 2012 in Chemistry, Earth Science, Evolution, Featured, Journalism, Life

Where on Earth is the cradle of life? The widespread view is that life began in the oceans, in the water that surrounds deep-sea hydrothermal vents. But that story is being challenged by new evidence that life began on land, which is deepening a rift between origin-of-life biologists. Image: Anna S. Karyagina

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