Serpentinization of Ocean Crust: Life’s Mother Engine? | NASA Astrobiology

In a new study published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, NAI-funded scientists advance a theory about life’s origins based on the idea of “reservoir-mediated energy.” This paradigm—in cells—involves constantly filling up and depleting a kind of chemical reservoir that is created by pushing a lot more protons onto one side of a membrane than the other—just like pumping water uphill to fill a lake behind a dam.

Then, mimicking how hydroelectric turbines are driven by water flowing downhill, these protons are only allowed to flow back “downhill” through the membrane by passing through a turbine-like molecular “generator” which creates, instead of high-voltage electricity, a chemical fuel called ATP, the cell’s “gasoline.” All cells then “burn” ATP in order to power their vital processes. 

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On a side note: guys, this is literally what I want to do with my research; biogeochemistrySPACE, I mean, just look /AGRICULTURAL DOMESTICATION/ ON A MOLECULAR LEVEL, LIKE WHAAAAT. The way I see it is that while our metabolism suggests the potentiality of destruction (because we age, because of free radicals, because of oxygen, all that jazz)—these biological conundrums are really the result of chance and laws of physics. Because it worked against the physical entropy of the planet when life was originating. It was what got us started; it all boils down to the way the molecules moved, and the way it worked creating more ordered stuff, while everything else becomes disordered, the efficient survived and it’s literally evolution on the chemical level. Science though SCIENCE