Guess what, ceramic lovers? You could have the inside line on the genesis of life on Earth. The Science World Report ran a story on a recent study which suggests that clay, despite being inorganic, could have been the setting for a complex series of biochemical reactions which eventually led to you reading CFile’s weekly articles about all things fascinating and groundbreaking in ceramics.
Clay may just seem like an infertile blend of minerals, but this substance may have been the birthplace of life on Earth. Scientists have discovered that complex biochemical (reactions) may have originated in clay, which could have led to the origins of life.
In simulated ancient seawater, clay forms a hydrogel. This mass of microscopic spaces is capable of soaking up liquids like a sponge. Over billions of years, chemicals confined in those spaces could have carried out the complex reactions that formed proteins, DNA and eventually all the machinery that makes a living cell work. In fact, clay hydrogels could have confined and protected those chemical processes.
“We propose that in early geological history clay hydrogel provided a confinement function for biomolecules and biochemical reactions,” said Dan Luo, one of the researchers, in a news release.
Above image: The study suggests that clay, despite being inorganic, was the setting for biochemical reactions which led to life on Earth. Photograph courtesy of the Science World Report.