A Moment of Science

Geogenesis

Geogenesis is the scientific term for the beginning of something very important, life. How did it all begin?

a droplet of water on a leaf

Photo: Cesar Cabrera

All it needs is a non-hostile environment, the right combination of chemicals and energies, and away it goes.

Geogenesis is the scientific term for the beginning of something very important, life.

As far as we know, the first replicating cells didn’t appear until some 3.5 billion years ago, and they only appeared on a little place called Earth. That’s the “Geo” in geo-genesis.

There’s something odd about life starting on Earth 3.5 billion years ago, however. That is just around the time that the Bombardment Era ends.

The Bombardment Era is a period in Earth’s history where the planet was routinely smacked by enormous asteroids. In geological terms, there’s hardly any time between the period when it becomes even remotely possible for life to form on Earth, and the period when life, in fact, does form.

One way to interpret this data is to conclude that life is an extremely likely event. All it needs is a non-hostile environment, the right combination of chemicals and energies, and away it goes. If so, then it seems likely that life has formed lots of other places as well. Maybe geogenesis is showing us that we aren’t so unusual, and maybe we aren’t even alone.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science