Thursday, April 5, 2001
Scripps Professor to Address the Debate About Hydrothermal Life Creation
Scripps Institution of Oceanography / University of California, San Diego
CHEMICAL SOCIETY EMBARGO:
For decades, scientists have debated the idea that deep sea hydrothermal vents, the "hot springs" of the oceans, may have been the birthplace of life on Earth.
Water that has filtered down deep into Earths hot crust comes to the surface, superheated and thought to be loaded with source chemicals for life at these hydrothermal vent locations. Furthermore, deep sea hydrothermal vents may have been protected from meteorite bombardment that could have made it difficult for very early life on the surface of Earth to survive
.However, there is more to the story, according to Gustaf Arrhenius, professor of oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California,San Diego. Arrhenius will discuss the pros and cons of hydrothermal life creation on Thurs., April 5 at the 221st American Chemical Society meeting in San Diego.
One of the basic problems with hydrothermal vent life creation, he says, is an inadequate mix of ingredients.
"There is a common belief that as soon as you find organic compounds life is bound to arise. But there is more needed than carbon-oxygen-hydrogen compounds. The solutions coming out from the seafloor are devoid of some of the most important ingredients for lifemainly nitrogen compounds that provide the chemical letters in the genetic alphabet. Furthermore it takes very specific enzymes and other complex molecules to protect RNA, proteins, and their source compounds against searing temperatures," said Arrhenius, a member of Scrippss Marine Research Division.
"One can contrive possible ways out of these difficulties, but to be believable they have to be experimentally demonstrated. Most important, the origin of life is less about fabricating the inanimate carrier materials than about how to generate and imprint instructional information on them."
# # #
Note to broadcast and cable producers: University of California, San Diego provides an on-campus satellite uplink facility for live or pre-recorded television interviews. Please phone or e-mail the media contact listed above to arrange an interview.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at University of California, San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. The National Research Council has ranked Scripps first in faculty quality among oceanography programs nationwide Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today in 65 countries. The institution has a staff of about 1,300, and annual expenditures of approximately $155 million from federal, state and private sources. Scripps operates one of the largest U.S. academic fleets with four oceanographic research ships and one research platform for worldwide exploration.
Share This Story