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Evolution and the Emergent SelfThe Rise of Complexity and Behavioral Versatility in Nature$
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Raymond Neubauer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231150705

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231150705.001.0001

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The Origin of Life

The Origin of Life

(p.207) 10 The Origin of Life
Evolution and the Emergent Self

Raymond L. Neubauer

, Xuan Yue
Columbia University Press

This chapter explores the origin of life by focusing on at least three sources for molecules that could be precursors to life: chemical processes in interstellar space and at hydrothermal vents, and electric discharge through primitive atmospheres. We cannot yet say whether life exists beyond Earth, but we have found that the precursors to the molecules of life are much more widespread and easily made than previously thought. This suggests that evolutionary processes may be prevalent all over the universe. This chapter also examines how the three possible sources for the molecules of life mentioned above might be made and the role they play in the life of cells. In particular, it discusses four different groups of molecules: proteins, lipids, DNA and RNA, and sugars. It also considers impact craters as ideal sites for experiments leading to life on the early planet, along with the origins of metabolism.

Keywords:   origin of life, molecules, chemical processes, interstellar space, hydrothermal vents, electric discharge, cells, impact craters, metabolism, evolution

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