As the study showing that the amino acids, are the building blocks of proteins; could have forming spontaneously under the atmospheric conditions of the early Earth. However, just because molecules could form does not mean that the process was likely. This demonstrating that energetically feasible interactions between just two small molecules hydrogen cyanide; and water could give rise to most of the important precursors of RNA and proteins.
But some of the experiments like Urey Miller experiment involving running electrical sparks; which simulating lightning, through a flask containing water, methane, ammonia and hydrogen. These simple chemicals, present on early Earth, reacting to form hydrogen cyanide; formaldehyde and other intermediates that reacting further to make amino acids and other biomolecules.
Building blocks of proteins
The seminal Urey Miller experiments showed that molecules crucial to life such as HCN could have formed in the reducing atmosphere of the Hadean Earth and then dissolved in the oceans. Subsequent proponents of the “RNA World” hypothesis have shown aqueous HCN to be the starting point for the formation of the precursors of RNA and proteins.
But some scientists now believe that Earth’s hazy atmosphere of roughly 4 billion years ago would have made it difficult for high energy photons, such as those in lightning or ultraviolet light, to reach the earth’s surface; heat from ocean waters; which were near boiling at the time, could have been the driving force for the reactions. To find out, the researchers used a recently developing tool called the ab initio nanoreactor, which simulates how mixtures of molecules can collide and react, forming new molecules.
New potential pathways
The researchers finding that hydrogen cyanide; which condensed into oceans from the early Earth’s atmosphere and water could create the molecules necessary to produce the amino acid glycine and the precursors of RNA. Importantly, these reactions were both thermodynamically and kinetically feasible. In other words, they did not require a lot of energy or metal catalysts. The simulations reveal interesting new potential pathways for the formation of life’s precursors.
If so, what mechanistic routes would have been following; The current computational study, with the aid of the ab initio nanoreactor (AINR); a powerful new tool in computational chemistry, addresses these crucial questions. Gratifyingly, not only do the results from the AINR approach; show that aqueous HCN could indeed have been the source of RNA and protein precursors; but they also indicate that just the interaction of HCN with water; would have sufficing to begin a series of reactions leading to the precursors.