Scientists have addressed an essential question to understand the existence of life on the planet: How did the first forms of life come about? The discipline that tries to answer this question is known as abiogenesis. What is Abiogenesis?
The founder of abiogenesis was the Russian scientist Aleksander Ivanovich Oparin (1894-1980).
Abiogenesis is focused on rebuilding the natural processes that created life
It is now known that life on planet Earth began approximately 4,500 million years ago. Oparin has carried out several researches to try to reconstruct how the first forms of life arose. For that, it started from an initial hypothesis : that the original atmosphere was formed from four elements (ammonia, water, methane and hydrogen).
In his laboratory he carried out a series of simulations with these substances. After combining them properly, he could see that different organic amino acids were spontaneously formed from these four inorganic elements.
According to Oparin, there were several factors that triggered the appearance of the first amino acids (the substances that later evolved to form the primitive life forms). In this sense, the planet’s high temperatures, the action of ultraviolet rays from the Sun and the action of electrical discharges from the atmosphere were the three factors that caused chemical reactions on ammonia, water, methane and hydrogen. What is Abiogenesis?
With the formation of amino acids , proteins appeared , that is, the main constituents of amino acids and other organic molecules. Over time, the planet’s temperatures decreased and the generated steam turned into rain. With rain, new molecules were created in the oceans.
The modalities of molecules were multiplying and after a process of evolution enzymes and yeasts appeared that facilitated new chemical reactions. These rudimentary life forms finally became cells and with them the first living beings emerged.
From mythology to abiogenesis
In all ancient civilizations there are mythological accounts that explain the origin of life. In mythology there is a supernatural explanation. The will of the gods was the generator of life as we know it today. Thousands of years ago it would have been unimaginable to understand the phenomena of nature in terms of strictly biological mechanisms.
Between the mythology of three thousand years ago and the abiogenesis of the twentieth century there was a long period of time in which philosophers tried to understand the processes of life following the dictates of reason. What is Abiogenesis?