'Photo-electrochemical cell' was origin of life

Published: 30 July 2001

Professor Michael Russell will tell a conference this week that the Earth may have begun 4.4 billion years ago as a giant photo-electrochemical cell.

The onset of life as we know it is the subject of a talk to be given by Professor Michael Russell of the University of Glasgow as part of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Annual Conference this week at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham.

Professor Russell will explain how the Earth may have begun 4.4 billion years ago as a giant photo-electrochemical cell - a huge light-powered battery - producing the exact voltage required to create life on the young planet.

Early metabolism and genetics will be outlined, and the formation of early geological features relevant to the thesis will be described.

Professor Russell suggests that life emerged on Earth as a response to the chemical imbalance that occurs in low temperature (50oC) alkaline submarine springs. He suggests that the hydrothermal solutions, which had reacted with native iron, went on to form the simple components of early life.

Professor Russell is the Dixon Research Professor at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, where one of his main research projects is the geobiochemistry of the emergence of life.

Further information for the media is at http:www.newsdesk.gla.ac.uk/pressreleases

Media Relations Office (media@gla.ac.uk)

Issued on behalf of the Royal Society of Chemistry Press Office

For more information, contact:

Claire McLoughlin, Royal Society of Chemistry at the Conference Press Office - see below

e-mail: McLoughlinC@rsc.org

Professor Michael Russell Tel: +44 (0) 141 339 2711

Isotope Geology Unit

Scottish Universities

e-mail: M.Russell@surrc.gla.ac.uk

Conference Press Office (30 July - 2 August 2001): Media Suite, International Convention Centre, Birmingham, UK. Tel: 0121 335 8442, Fax: 0121 335 8443, Mobile: 07773 642557 or 07957 341929

1) Professor Russell will speak at 2.40 p.m. on Thursday 2 August 2001 as part of the multidisciplinary symposium ?Astrochemistry of Life?.

2) The Royal Society of Chemistry's Annual Conference 2001 will run from 30 July - 2 August 2001 at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham, UK. More information concerning content and speakers can be found on the web at www.rsc.org/lap/confs/annconf2001.htm

3) Journalists are welcome to attend all conference sessions free of charge, provided they register beforehand.

4) The Royal Society of Chemistry is the Learned Society for chemistry and the Professional Body for chemists in the UK with 46,000 Members world-wide. It can trace its history back to the Chemical Society founded in 1841. The Society is a major international publisher of chemical information, supports the teaching of chemistry at all levels, organises hundreds of chemical meetings a year and is a leader in communicating science to the public.

First published: 30 July 2001

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