Quantifying the origins of life on a planetary scale

Scharf, C. and Cronin, L. (2016) Quantifying the origins of life on a planetary scale. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(29), pp. 8127-8132. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1523233113) (PMID:27382156) (PMCID:PMC4961144)

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Abstract

A simple, heuristic formula with parallels to the Drake Equation is introduced to help focus discussion on open questions for the origins of life in a planetary context. This approach indicates a number of areas where quantitative progress can be made on parameter estimation for determining origins of life probabilities, based on constraints from Bayesian approaches. We discuss a variety of “microscale” factors and their role in determining “macroscale” abiogenesis probabilities on suitable planets. We also propose that impact ejecta exchange between planets with parallel chemistries and chemical evolution could in principle amplify the development of molecular complexity and abiogenesis probabilities. This amplification could be very significant, and both bias our conclusions about abiogenesis probabilities based on the Earth and provide a major source of variance in the probability of life arising in planetary systems. We use our heuristic formula to suggest a number of observational routes for improving constraints on origins of life probabilities.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cronin, Professor Leroy
Authors: Scharf, C., and Cronin, L.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
Journal Name:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
ISSN:0027-8424
ISSN (Online):1091-6490
Published Online:05 July 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113(29):8127-8132
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under PNAS open access option

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
646611Programmable 'Digital' Synthesis for Discovery and Scale-up of Molecules, Clusters and NanomaterialsLeroy CroninEngineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/L023652/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
577391Programmable Molecular Metal Oxides (PMMOs) - From Fundamentals to ApplicationLeroy CroninEngineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/J015156/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY