Abstract

Life arose on the young Earth as a natural chemical process. More than half a century of experimental research has underscored the dynamic interactions of atmosphere, oceans, and rocks that fostered this ancient transition from geochemistry to biochemistry. Researchers on the origin of life now conclude that rocks and minerals must have played key roles in virtually every phase of life's emergence—they catalyzed the synthesis of key biomolecules; they selected, protected, and concentrated those molecules; they jump-started metabolism; and they may even have acted as life's first genetic system.

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