Abiogenesis is the natural process by which we believe that life should have originated from inorganic compounds and inanimate substances. It is believed that the conditions on Earth about 4 billion years ago were ample enough for the geological and chemical reactions to form organic molecules that were capable of self-replication. Though it is impossible today to know about the molecules and the conditions at that time, some experiments like the Miller–Urey experiment show that this could be the plausible explanation for the origin of life on Earth. The other explanations include the hypothesis that life must have originated in space and must have ended up on Earth from asteroids or meteorites like the chondrites.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of elements form life?
The basic building blocks of life are proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids and amino acids. These organic compounds are made up of chemical elements like carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen. It is believed that these elements constitute the essential elements to form life. But the elements that should have formed such organic molecules must have been inorganic. One of the key inorganic compounds that should have enabled the formation of the organic compounds is the water. The Miller–Urey experiment clearly showed that this is plausible as the experiment used inorganic materials as water and gas with electric discharge to create an aggregation of amino acids called coacervates.
Why abiogenesis is not happening today?
It is believed that abiogenesis should have happened during a time on Earth, where the conditions were favourable for inorganic compounds to form organic compounds. The environment of the primordial earth was completely different from what we have today. Also, it could have taken millions of years and different geological and chemical processes for it to happen. In the current Earth, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to witness such event, naturally.
Could artificial abiogenesis be created in laboratories?
The closest we ever achieved to create abiogenesis artificially is in experiments like Miller–Urey experiment, where simple organic molecules are created. It is unsure if we will ever be able to create complex organic molecule structures out of inorganic compounds under artificial conditions.