For eighty years, scientists have had a theory about how and where life got started on Earth. It’s known as the Organic Soup theory, which suggests that early life got started in a soup of methane, ammonia and water that combined into the first organic compounds in the ocean when they were bombarded with UV radiation. It’s a widely accepted theory, but so far, no one has been able to replicate these supposed events in a variety of laboratory attempts.
Now another theory of life is being tested in a NASA laboratory in California. It’s the Hot Bubbles theory, developed after scientists discovered that, against all expectations, bacteria called “extremeophiles” could survive – even flourish – under conditions of extreme heat. Scientists are trying to discover if carbon molecules, the early building blocks of life, could have been transformed into the hydrocarbons methane and ethane, the next step up toward the construction of chains of DNA and RNA.
Their set up doesn’t look very primitive, but the vials and tubes contain the same elements subjected to the same conditions as those existing around the ocean vents at the deep floor of the ocean almost four and a half billion years ago.
If their research produces positive results, the bubble bath may replace hot soup as the source of our origins.