Ken Larsen's web site - My views on the origin of life


How did life originate on our planet?  How prevalent is life across our universe?  These are questions that have intrigued me for a long time.


Recently I've begun looking at the Periodic Table of Elements.  It's fascinating to realize that everything in our universe is built from the elements listed in that table. 


The most common elements in the universe are, in order:


Rank Element Symbol Comments
1 Hydrogen H  
2 Helium He Is rare on the earth. 
Is inert (not capable of bonding with other elements.
3 Oxygen O  
4 Carbon C  
5 Nitrogen N Exists in all living organisms.


Hydrogen and oxygen combine to make water.  If hydrogen and oxygen are near each other and get ignited by a spark (e.g. lightening), water results.  "Hydrogen" is Greek for "water producing". 


Water, carbon, and nitrogen are fundamental components of all living things.


I conclude that if you have a planet where the temperature is moderate ... mostly above water's freezing point and well below its boiling point ... , then life (as we know it) has an opportunity to thrive.


Besides the elements, you need an energy source.  On earth, that's readily available in the form of lightening.


There are two types of life on earth:  Plant and animal.  Plants intake carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen.  Animals do the opposite.  They inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.  Both work together to stabilize the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.


Nitrogen fixation:  This is a process by which nitrogen in our atmosphere is converted into ammonia ... which aids in plant growth.  Lightening is one process which does nitrogen fixation.


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