Diamonds may have been life's best friend on primordial Earth

Jul 28, 2008
Scientists are reporting that diamonds could have created chemical reactions billions of years ago that were believed to have caused life on Earth. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Diamonds may have been life's best friend. Billions of years ago, the surface of these gems may have provided just the right conditions to foster the chemical reactions believed to have given rise to life on Earth, researchers in Germany report. Their study is scheduled for the August 6 issue of ACS' Crystal Growth & Design.

In the new study, Andrei Sommer, Dan Zhu, and Hans-Joerg Fecht point out that scientists have theorized for years that the chemical precursors of life gradually evolved from a so-called "primordial soup" of simpler molecules.

But the details of how these simpler amino acids molecules, the building blocks of life, were assembled into complex polymers, remains one of science's long-standing mysteries.

To find out, the research team studied diamonds, crystallized forms of carbon which are older than the earliest forms of life on Earth. In a series of laboratory experiments, the scientists showed that after treatment with hydrogen, natural diamond forms crystalline layers of water on its surface, essential for the development of life, and involved in electrical conductivity.

When primitive molecules landed on the surface of these hydrogenated diamonds in the atmosphere of early Earth, the resulting reaction may have been sufficient enough to generate more complex organic molecules that eventually gave rise to life, researchers say.

Article: dx.doi.org/10.1021/cg8005037

Source: ACS

Explore further: Technique simplifies the creation of high-tech crystals

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magpies
3.5 / 5 (2) Jul 28, 2008
So does that mean we are actualy crystal based life forms?
gmurphy
4.3 / 5 (3) Jul 29, 2008
no, just that diamonds facilitated the development of a protective membrane structure which then provided a safe environment for the nascent forms of life.