Diamonds not only for ever, they led to life

July 30th, 2008 - 11:43 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 30 (IANS) Diamonds could have played an important role in the origin of life on Earth, according to a new study by German scientists. Scientists have long theorised that life on Earth started in a primordial soup of precursor chemicals. But it is unclear how these simple amino acids - the building blocks of life - were assembled into complex polymers needed for the beginning of life.

Diamond is the crystallised form of carbon and predates the oldest known life on the planet. In experiments, researchers found that when treated with hydrogen, natural diamonds formed crystalline layers of water, which is an essential requirement for life, on the surface.

The tests also found electrical conductivity that could have been key in starting chemical reactions needed for the birth of life, reported.

When primitive molecules landed on the surface of these hydrogenated diamonds in the atmosphere of early Earth, a few billion years ago, the resulting reaction may have been sufficient to generate more complex organic molecules that eventually gave rise to life, the researchers said.

“Hydrogenated diamond advances to the best of all possible origin-of-life platforms,” the researchers said.

The new research does not conclusively determine how life began, but lends support one of the possible ways.

The research, by German scientists Andrei Sommer, Dan Zhu, and Hans-Joerg Fecht at the University of Ulm, has been published in the Aug 6 issue of the American Chemical Society’s journal Crystal Growth & Design.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |