Origin of Life

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Scientists have been continuously presented with questions regarding the mystery that is life. What is life, and how did it get started? Their responses to these questions has varied over the years as advances in technology have led to new evidence being brought in from a ranging variety of fields.

In the summer of 1993, J. William Schopf, a paleobiologist reportedly found fossilized imprints of microbial communities between layers of rock that were 3.5 billion years old. This, along with other evidence indicated that life was well established only a billion years after earth's formation, which is a faster evolution than previously thought (Time, 1993, p.40). This belief that life evolved ever so quickly, induced scientists to attempt to create real life in the lab. The goal was to simulate the earliest organism in existence.

Theories for the origin of life has been around since the beginning of civilization. However, It was Charles Darwin who first introduced a biologically possible theory that is still intact today. Darwin suggested that life grew in a "warm little pond" of organic chemicals that, over a long period of time, gave life to the first organisms. As this theory evolved, the pond became an ocean. In a breakthrough experiment conducted by Stanley Miller in 1953, the first reasonable experimental evidence for Darwin's theory was developed. This evidence lay in a glass jar, in which a simplified version of earth in its infancy was created. Using water, ammonia, hydrogen and electrical discharge, Miller created organic chemicals, including a large quantity of amino acids. Although Miller's experiment presented the building blocks of proteins, many current researchers believe that a larger molecule - RNA - came before proteins. Meanwhile older fossils and organisms in oceanic hot springs contradict Darwin's vision of a peaceful evolution.

Around 4.5 billion years ago, the solar system was composed of merely gas and dust. Planets were created by...
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