ohn Sutherland and his team at the University of Cambridge show in a paper published this week in Nature Chemistry that all the elements and energy to create the three systems would have been present in the primordial soup of early Earth. The research shows how the common compounds hydrogen sulfide and hydrogen cyanide, in a bath of UV light and water, could morph into dozens of nucleic acids and lipids. With all the building blocks formed simultaneously, the rest of the process was free to take place.
Perhaps the one prominent theory discounted by Sutherland's work is exogenesis, the idea that life may have been brought to Earth by a meteor or other celestial object. But even that gets a nod: Meteoric bombardment would have helped supply hydrogen cyanide, iron and other essential elements.