Ancestors of life on early earth
Before the first life appeared on the earth there would have to be giant organic molecules, but where did these come from? Join Dr. John Holloway, Professor of Geology, on Thursday, February 21st at 7pm for a discussion on the origins of life on earth.
Charles Darwin, in private correspondence, suggested life could have arisen through chemistry "in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etc. present". A bit more than a “warm little pond”, scientists now theorize that black smokers – or deep-sea, hydrothermal vents – may provide clues about the origin of life on earth.
For example, the early Earth environment was very harsh, with constant bombarding of the planet by asteroids and comets. In addition, the atmosphere had not yet formed, making conditions even harsher. Sunlight may have also been diffuse because of volcanic eruptions and impacting space bodies. Did smaller organisms develop deep on the ocean floor, surviving around ocean vents in much the same way bacteria, clams and crabs survive today around black smokers? Were early hydrothermal vents safe havens for several forms of life—a place to hide from the harsh environment of the surface?
John will take us on a tour of a black smoker on a mid-ocean ridge at 9° North on the East Pacific rise and explain how certain molecules could have been made in such under-sea environments – molecules that would eventually combine to form the diversity of life we see today.
John grew up in Eugene and got his Bachelors of Science degree in Geology at University of Oregon. He then spent 3 years in the U. S. Navy as a communications watch officer. He received a Ph. D. in geochemistry at Pennsylvania State University. He then spent 37 years at Arizona State University spending half-time teaching geochemistry in the chemistry department and the other half in the geology department. His research was based on determining the mineralogy of Earth materials at high pressures and temperatures.
Admission is free with a $5 suggested donation.