A new MIT study discovers that ponds might be a suitable environment from which earlier life arose, more so than oceans. Researchers informed that nitrogen which is the key ingredient for the sudden start of life was found in high concentrations in the shallow bodies of pond water.
In deeper oceans, there was the least possibility of nitrogen establishing its presence. Sukrit Ranjan, Lead author stated: “Our overall message is, if you think the origin of life required fixed nitrogen, as many people do, then it’s tough to have the origin of life happen in the ocean. It’s much easier to have that happen in a pond.”
If earlier life sprang from a reaction which involved nitrogen, then nitrogen oxides had a chance of getting deposited in the bodies of water inclusive of ponds & oceans as the offcuts of the Nitrogen’ breakdown in the atmosphere. Nitrogen in the atmosphere has triple bond within two of its molecules which can only be broken down by lightning or any strong event.
Ranjan said: “Lightning is like a really intense bomb going off. It produces enough energy that it breaks that triple bond in our atmospheric nitrogen gas, to produce nitrogenous oxides that can then rain down into water bodies.”
However, this new study identifies two important effects or ‘sinks’ that could have possibly ruined the portion of nitrogenous oxides, especially in the oceans. Ranjan said: “We showed that if you include these two new sinks that people hadn’t thought about before, that suppresses the concentrations of nitrogenous oxides in the ocean by a factor of 1,000, relative to what people calculated before.”
In an environment more or less deeper, nitrogenous oxides would have been simply extremely diluted. Ranjan said: “That’s utterly tiny, compared to the amount of lake area we have today. However, relative to the amount of surface area prebiotic chemists postulate is required to get life started, it’s quite adequate.”
He concluded: “This discipline is less like knocking over a row of dominos and more like building a cathedral. There’s no real ‘aha’ moment. It’s more like building up patiently one observation after another, and the picture that’s emerging is that overall, many prebiotic synthesis pathways seem to be chemically easier in ponds than oceans.”