Was life inevitable?

From PhysOrg:

Inorganic-LifeA new synthesis by two Santa Fe Institute researchers offers a coherent picture of how , and thus all life, arose. The study, published December 12, 2012, in the journal , offers new insights into how the complex chemistry of metabolism cobbled itself together, the likelihood of life emerging and evolving as it did on Earth, and the chances of finding life elsewhere. “We're trying to bring knowledge across disciplines into a unified whole that fits the essentials of metabolism development,” says co-author Eric Smith, a Santa Fe Institute External Professor.

Creating life from scratch requires two abilities: fixing and making more of yourself. The first, essentially hitching together to make living matter, is a remarkably difficult feat. (CO2), of which Earth has plenty, is a stable molecule; the bonds are tough to break, and a chemical system can only turn carbon into biologically useful compounds by way of some wildly unstable in-between stages. As hard as it is to do, fixing carbon is necessary for life. A 's ability to bond stably with up to four atoms makes it phenomenally versatile, and its abundance makes it suitable as a backbone for trillions of compounds. Once an organized chemical system can harness and manipulate carbon, it can expand and innovate in countless ways. In other words, is the centerpiece of metabolism – the basic process by which cells take in chemicals from their environments and build them into products they need to live. It's also the link between the geochemistry of Earth and the biochemistry of life.

More here.

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