The origin of life I: When and where did it begin?
For decades most scientists assumed that life emerged billions of years ago in a “primordial soup” somewhere on the Earth’s surface. Evidence is mounting, however, that life may have begun deep beneath the surface, perhaps near a volcanic ocean vent or even inside the hot crust itself. Since there are hints that life’s history on Earth extends back through the phase of massive cosmic bombardment, it may be that life started on Mars and came here later, perhaps inside rocks ejected from the Red Planet by large impacts. The traffic of intact rocks between Mars and Earth is now an established fact, and experiments confirm that microbes could survive the rigours of the journey through space if cocooned within such material. Unfortunately, this planetary cross- contamination compromises astrobiologists’ hope of finding a second genesis in the solar system.
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