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Origin of life: Hydrothermal vents spouting again?

“Lost City” vent formation/Kelley, Elend/U Washington

Maybe briefly.

Origin of life studies, like all science thinking influenced by Darwinism, focus on a single accidental event that made all the difference. (Remember, a suite of events that made a lot of difference would add up to design.)

At a recent NASA conference, hydrothermal vents were offered as the big explanation:

Three new papers co-authored by Mike Russell, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., strengthen the case that Earth’s first life began at alkaline hydrothermal vents at the bottom of oceans.

A paper published in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta analyzes the structural similarity between the most ancient enzymes of life and minerals precipitated at these alkaline vents, an indication that the first life didn’t have to invent its first catalysts and engines.

“Our work on alkaline hot springs on the ocean floor makes what we believe is the most plausible case for the origin of the life’s building blocks and its energy supply,” Russell said. “Our hypothesis is testable, has the right assortment of ingredients and obeys the laws of thermodynamics.”

Hydrothermal vents have come and gone before. And they’ll be back, with bells and whistles.

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17 Responses to Origin of life: Hydrothermal vents spouting again?

  1. Spontaneous life generation, I fear it every time I open a new jar of peanut butter, sleepless nights for me!!!!!

  2. Andre

    You should be OK if you don’t eat your peanut butter in a thermal vent.

  3. And from 1989: A theory that life on earth began at hydrothermal (hot water) vents in the ocean floor has been proved false by recent experiments. “This is probably the most unlikely area for the origin of life to occur,” said chemist Jeffrey L. Bada of the University of California. The theory had been advanced after the discovery of thriving bacteria and other organisms, such as giant clams and worms, around the hydrothermal vents. Simulating the temperatures and pressures of the vents, Bada and his colleague, Stanley L. Miller, found that amino acids, the building blocks of life, decomposed rapidly under such conditions. “The combination of amino acids into larger peptide molecules, known as polymerization, was found to be impossible in the presence of water at any temperature,” notes The New York Times. “And more complex molecules carrying the genetic code, a requirement for living organisms, did not last long in the extreme heat.”

    According to the Times, the researchers concluded “that the hot waters in the primitive oceans would have destroyed rather than created organic compounds in the primitive oceans.”

    So what comes out of these vents? Hydrogen sulfide—an offensive-smelling and highly poisonous chemical that is abundant in hydrothermal vents. Vent water is also highly acidic and contains many metals, including copper, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Oddly enough, though, as the “sunlight” of the vent community, hydrogen sulfide provides the energy that the bacteria need to have to go about their food-manufacturing business.

  4. A theory that life on earth began at hydrothermal (hot water) vents in the ocean floor has been proved false by recent experiments.

    Oh, I doubt that!

    Let’s have the link to the paper, Barb!

  5. Here, let me Google that for you:

    Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere
    June 1995, Volume 25, Issue 1-3, pp 111-118

    “The stability of amino acids at submarine hydrothermal vent temperatures” Jeffrey L. Bada, Stanley L. Miller, Meixun Zhao

    http://link.springer.com/artic.....BF01581577 (abstract)

  6. nice one barb!

  7. Don’t worry, Alan! There’s still bare, near-impossible chance to cling to!

  8. From the link tha Barb provided:

    It has been postulated that amino acid stability at hydrothermal vent temperatures is controlled by a metastable thermodynamic equilibrium rather than by kinetics. Experiments reported here demonstrate that the amino acids are irreversibly destroyed by heating at 240 °C and that quasi-equilibrium calculations give misleading descriptions of the experimental observations. Equilibrium thermodynamic calculations are not applicable to organic compounds under high-temperature submarine vent conditions.

    This is the abstract as the article (from 1995, nearly 20 years ago)is behind a paywall. Of course the first question to ask is what was the model used for experimentation and how closely did it correspond to reality. The important issue with sea-floor vents is gradients, turbulence and gradients – especially of temperature. The abstract suggests a straight observation of equilibrium conditions with temperature as a variable. At face value that seems too simplistic. Water, laden with nutrients, emerges from the sea-floor in a jet that may reach 450°C which will then mix with sea water at a temperature that can be as low as 3°C. This mixing is turbulent and chaotic. So you have a dynamic gradient over very short distances. Thermal equilibrium? I don’t think so!

    There’ lots more recent stuff but I have family commitments over the weekend. I’ll see what I can squeeze in.

  9. Oops, gradients are so good, I named them twice!

  10. LoL! Hydrothermal vents can’t do it. For one there is too much water and for another cytosine deanimates rather quickly at high temps.

    And Alan is still confused about science. He thinks it is up to people to falsify things that don’t have any supporting evidence.

  11. Alan Fox notes, “This is the abstract as the article (from 1995, nearly 20 years ago)…”

    Yes, Alan, if you’d have bothered to read my initial comment I stated clearly that it was posted in another journal (nonscientific) in 1989. My reason behind posting it is simply to show how science at times seesaws back and forth: no, life is impossible in hydrothermal vents; 20 years later, yes, it is.

    And even if you allow for life to begin way down there, how did life eventually leave that area, make its way up to the surface, and get onto dry land? And wouldn’t going from the ocean floor, where atmospheric pressures are great to the surface kill any living form by explosive decompression? If not, what or how did life survive? What did they evolve to help them make this journey?

    And also note that one of the authors of the paper is Stanley Miller (of the infamous Milley-Urey experiment), who basically rigged his experiment to get the results he wanted. That alone makes these findings highly suspect in my view.

  12. My reason behind posting it is simply to show how science at times seesaws back and forth: no, life is impossible in hydrothermal vents; 20 years later, yes, it is.

  13. My reason behind posting it is simply to show how science at times seesaws back and forth: no, life is impossible in hydrothermal vents; 20 years later, yes, it is.

  14. Oops, rushing and finger slipped!

    My reason behind posting it is simply to show how science at times seesaws back and forth: no, life is impossible in hydrothermal vents; 20 years later, yes, it is.

    Fair enough!

    I misunderstood you to mean that some evidence existed that purported to rule out hydrothermal vents as a venue for Ool. If you now are backtrackingon this, I’ll leave it at that. Must rush.

  15. There is evidence that rules out hydrothermal vents as a venue for Ool, Alan. I’m not backtracking on anything. I pointed out several questions related to the Ool of life in hydrothermal vents that, to my knowledge, science hasn’t answered yet.

  16. There still isn’t any evidence that rules in hydrothermal vents for the OoL. Science needs POSITIVE evidence and Alan’s position still doesn’t have any.

  17. He’s not called Reynard for nothing, Barb…! Now you see it.. now you don’t!

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