Microbes or the Olden Days

  • E. J. Ferguson Wood


The early atmosphere of the earth was composed of gases such as nitrogen and hydrogen, but no oxygen. When the first oxygen was released from rocks, it probably combined with hydrogen to form water. We thus have a picture of the hollows of the earth’s surface containing a quantity of water produced by chemical means from oxides, but not life. Other inorganic chemical compounds and gases such as carbon dioxide (formed from carbonates) were released from the bowels of the earth, and in the absence of a protective atmosphere, the ultra-violet light of the sun’s rays was able to act as a sort of catalyst to provide the energy for combining some of these carbon compounds into primitive organic compounds. As these compounds became more complex, there were probably formed larger and larger molecules, capable of self-replication and on the threshold of life.The waters on the earth’s surface, the primitive ocean, as a result of ultra-violet catalysis must have contained a large number of unorganized chemical entities, forming a sort of organic soup which the Germans call the ‘Weltschlamm’ or world-slime. Ultra-violet light, which is toxic to living matter, is able to supply the energy for making amino acids from ammonia and carbon dioxide and for piling amino acid molecules together to make more complex substances such as proteins. Somewhere in this mess, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and its associated compounds were formed. These phosphate complexes are essential to life and reproduction, though it may not be true that if we could synthesize them all and control their production we could create life.


Coral Reef Hydrogen Sulphide Green Sulphur Bacterium Organic Detritus Sulphur Cycle 
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© E. J. Ferguson Wood 1975

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  • E. J. Ferguson Wood

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