By Natural Philosopher Mike Prestwood
Timeline Story

Inorganic Precursors to Organic Molecules

Inorganic Precursors to Organic Molecules

From Year 0 (BCE/CE): -4250000000
Post Date: 04/09/2024

The chemical evolution from inorganic precursors to organic molecules is a fascinating story of transformation driven by Earth’s dynamic early conditions and possibly assisted by the input from space in the form of meteorites rich in organic compounds. During this period, the Earth witnessed a series of complex chemical reactions facilitated by its primordial atmosphere, volcanic eruptions, deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and irradiation from the Sun. These conditions led to the synthesis of simple organic compounds from inorganic substances—a foundational step towards life.

This phase of chemical evolution is characterized by:

  • Energy Sources: UV radiation from the Sun, electrical discharges from lightning, and heat from hydrothermal vents provided the energy needed for the synthesis of organic molecules.
  • Catalysts: Mineral surfaces, such as those of clay and pyrite, might have acted as catalysts, facilitating the formation of more complex organic molecules.
  • Environmental “Labs”: Varied environmental settings, including tidal pools, volcanic islands, and ice, offered unique conditions that could concentrate and protect these nascent organic compounds, allowing for further complexity.
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May 26, 2024 Edition
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