New research has officially “over turned” the “Primordial Soup” theory of the origin of life. It had an 80-year run where it was the dominant paradigm.
But the geochemical energy of hydrothermal vents is the new hotness:
“Textbooks have it that life arose from organic soup and that the first cells grew by fermenting these organics to generate energy in the form of ATP. We provide a new perspective on why that old and familiar view won’t work at all,” said team leader Dr Nick lane from University College London. … “It is time to cast off the shackles of fermentation in some primordial soup as ‘life without oxygen’ — an idea that dates back to a time before anybody in biology had any understanding of how ATP is made.”
Someone be sure and tell Tommy Gold, whose eye has been on deep sea vents for some time, in relation to the origin of life. Gold’s “Deep Hot Biosphere” theory (presented in a book of that title based on this paper) argues that life teems at the vents because it is upwelling from deeper inside the planet. Life’s true origin is in the geological depths, by Gold’s reckoning. And Gold is no slouch.
So, glad to see we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty, and this “primordial soup” nonsense doesn’t have to get in the way any more.
Still panspermia to contend with too, re: origin of life. Remember, even if panspermia champion Fred Hoyle was wrong about why the primordial soup idea was incorrect - it turns out it is incorrect anyway. So seems to me that Hoyle’s modern-day panspermia work should be given a second look. Because he wasn’t just criticizing the primordial soup theory, he was also advancing a positive case for panspermia, before it was cool as it were.
[The biographical side note I would offer is that Gold and Hoyle were close associates and shared a similar cognitive style - in that each found it fruitful to simply invert the common idea and see where it leads you. Don’t be too surprised if they turn out to have been right about everything.]