We’ve managed to answer several of the world’s most long-standing questions, but some answers have continued to elude today’s scientists, including how life first emerged from the Earth’s primordial soup.
A collaboration of physicists and biologists in Germany may have just found an explanation to how living cells first evolved. In 1924, Russian biochemist Alexander Oparin proposed the idea that the first living cells could have evolved from liquid droplet protocells.
In their hunt for the origin of life, a team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, both in Dresden, drew from Oparin’s theory by studying the physics of “Chemically active” droplets.
“This behavior mimics the division of living cells and could therefore be the link between the nonliving primordial liquid soup from which life sprung and the living cells that eventually evolved to create all life on Earth.”It makes it more plausible that there could have been spontaneous emergence of life from nonliving soup,” said Frank Jülicher, co-author of the study that appeared in the journal Nature Physics in December 2016.
Some have speculated that these protocellular droplets might still be inside our system “Like flies in life’s evolving amber.” To explore that theory, the team studied the physics of centrosomes, which are organelles active in animal cell division that seem to behave like droplets.
If the very complex life on Earth could have begun from something as seemingly inconspicuous as liquid droplets, perhaps the same could be said of possible extraterrestrial life? In any case, this research could help us understand how life as we know it started from the simplest material and how the chemical processes that made our lives possible emerged from these.