Planet Earth

Life May Have Been Born in Ice

80beatsBy Andrew MosemanSep 22, 2010 2:46 PM

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From Ed Yong

The origin of life is surely one of the most important questions in biology. How did inanimate molecules give rise to the “endless forms most beautiful” that we see today, and where did this event happen? Some of the most popular theories suggest that life began in a hellish setting, in rocky undersea vents that churn out superheated water from deep within the earth. But a new paper suggests an alternative backdrop, and one that seems like the polar opposite (pun intended) of the hot vents –ice.

Like the vents, frozen fields of ice seem like counter-intuitive locations for the origin of life – they’re hardly a hospitable environment today. But according to James Attwater form the University of Cambridge, ice has the right properties to fuel the rise of “replicator” molecules, which can make copies of themselves, change and evolve.

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at Not Exactly Rocket Science. And for more about the possibly frigid origins of life—and the implications of that for finding life beyond Earth—check out the DISCOVER feature "Did Life Evolve in Ice?

" More Related Content: Not Exactly Rocket Science: Tree Or Ring: The Origin of Complex Cells

80beats: Earth Raised up Its Magnetic Shield Early, Protecting Water and Emerging Life

80beats: Dust Collected From Comet Contains a Key Ingredient of Life

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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