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Origins of RNA

October 5, 2017

Ephemeral pools of water may have been the cradle of life.

Transcript

This is a photo of a warm little pond on present day Earth on the Bumpass Hell trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. Ben K.D. Pearce, McMaster University

A warm little pond on the Bumpass Hell trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. (Ben K.D. Pearce, McMaster University)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Did life originate in puddles? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Meteorites falling into small pools of water on the early Earth may have created RNA, a key building block of life. This according to McMaster University astrophysicist Ralph Pudritz and his colleagues, writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

RALPH PUDRITZ (McMaster University):

The meteorites bring us materials that were made in the gaseous disks out of which planets were formed.

HIRSHON:

He says those materials include compounds that can form RNA when subjected to cycles of wetting and drying- conditions found in small seasonal pools like those that pocked the early Earth. Meteorites also contain amino acids, which form proteins, and fats, which dissolve in water to form blobs within which reactions can take place. Together, these three elements may have provided the precursors to the first living cells. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon