back to article How life started on Earth: Sulfur dioxide builds up, volcanoes blow, job done – boffins

Clouds of sulfur dioxide billowing from erupting volcanoes may have kickstarted a chemical process that led to life on Earth more than four billion years ago, according to new research. Earth contained little oxygen and was mainly filled with carbon dioxide, water vapor, and nitrogen billions of years ago. The planet was also …

  1. detuur

    Ashes to ashes

    They've given rise to humans—and if we piss off Mother Earth for much longer, they may decide to put an end to us.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ashes to ashes

      Whom is "they?" I didn't know "Mother Earth" was a plural...

      1. detuur

        Re: Ashes to ashes

        Volcanoes

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ashes to ashes

          "Volcanoes."

          I stand corrected.

          BTW, I'm currently living just a mile from one of those. Nice well-defined cindercone, about 200 meters high. Sure glad it's not active anymore...

      2. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Ashes to ashes

        Pedantically; Mother relates to being a parent which in and of itself relates to one or more children. Therefore, the plural would not be incorrect.

        More importantly , why suggest Mother Nature rather than just Pure Chance and/or simply Chemistry/Physics and Biology, commonly known as Science... or the laws of Science.

        Not to be confused with Scientology which has its own doctrine concerning the creative process.... ;-)

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Ashes to ashes

          Not to be confused with Scientology which has its own doctrine concerning the creative process

          The doctrine known as 'lying'.

      3. oiseau
        Coat

        Re: Ashes to ashes

        Whom is "they?" ...

        Emm ...

        The gods?

        ---

        Θα πάρω το παλτό μου

      4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Ashes to ashes

        Whom is "they?"

        Since we're griping about usage, why do you think the objective case is appropriate here?

        Now, had you written "to whom does 'they' refer?" you'd have had a reason for it. In your formulation, though, it's just false elevation.

    2. Qwertius

      Re: Ashes to ashes

      Relax -- it was only a nightmare --- now go back to smoking your crack

  2. ravenviz Silver badge

    blow, job

    Yes, very good!

  3. Rattus Rattus

    I had some rather sulfidic anions last night in my dinner and my volcano is belching pretty large concentrations this morning.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You want white anions, not those yellow ones, oy.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What these researchers have come up with is a hypothesis which has no chance of being tested. Their statements are a long way off explaining biogenesis, and closer to the results that were found in the 1960s.

    1. ToddRundgrensUtopia

      Yep must have been God after all

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Curse you, Noah Webster!

    Life may have begun with sulfur compounds, but it rapidly evolved to use the far better spelt sulphur compounds instead!

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Curse you, Noah Webster!

      The correct spelling of sulfur, as determined by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, is with an 'F'. In return, USians have agreed to spell aluminium correctly :).

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Curse you, Noah Webster!

        In return, USians have agreed to spell aluminium correctly :).

        <pantomime>Oh no they haven't!</pantomime>

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Scroticus Canis
            Headmaster

            Re: Curse you, Noah Webster! - Well phuck'em!

            Is all I can say to that.

          2. USER100

            Re: Curse you, Noah Webster!

            Spelling should not be decided by IUPAC bureaucrats. How we (in Britain) arrived at 'sulphur' is a matter of history and culture - they do not have the right to tell us how the word is to be spelled.

            To people who say 'What does it matter?', indeed - but then if it doesn't matter, why should the IUPAC decide?

            Whether people spell it with an 'f' or 'ph', the meaning is unambiguous: it's quite clearly the element, S, with 16 protons in its nucleus - so why insist upon one spelling over another?

            Also, with 'aluminum/aluminium', they at least said 'aluminum' was an accepted variant - why was this courtesy not also extended to 'sulphur'?

            It may seem trivial, but it's depressing - a bunch of unelected, faceless managers trying to impose their pettiness onto a whole culture, just to make their mark and feel important. They are pathetic.

  6. Faux Science Slayer

    Earth has 800,000 cubic miles of Uranium with 4.4 billion year half life....

    So we've burnt up half of our original U-238....producing heat and elemental daughter atoms.

    Jurassic pterodactyl wingspans indicate four times air density 60 million years ago.

    Likely original atmosphere was magnitudes greater, but life is likely conscious manifestation.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Crisp

      Re: Earth has 800,000 cubic miles of Uranium with 4.4 billion year half life....

      Which bit of the above post is supposed to make sense?

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Earth has 800,000 cubic miles of Uranium with 4.4 billion year half life....

        None of it, as usual.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Boffin

        Re: Earth has 800,000 cubic miles of Uranium with 4.4 billion year half life....

        Faux Science Slayer normally has a link to his/her/its crackpot "science" site. I looked into some of it once, a spiel about supposedly recent and strange blast craters in Mexico.

        A quick squiz via Google Earth revealed the truth soon enough. The "crater" in question is a sizable natural erosion basin with a defined outlet, ringed by a thin flat caprock layer. It happens to have the vague appearance of a blast crater when viewed from above, especially when the photo is grayscaled and noised up a bit as it is on that site.

        So yes, we have a genuine crank on our hands.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Earth has 800,000 cubic miles of Uranium with 4.4 billion year half life....

      "Jurassic pterodactyl wingspans indicate four times air density 60 million years ago."

      No, it doesn't.

    4. cray74

      Re: Earth has 800,000 cubic miles of Uranium with 4.4 billion year half life....

      Jurassic pterodactyl wingspans indicate four times air density 60 million years ago.

      1) Jurassic pterodactyl wingspans work fine in current air density, too

      2) Fossil rain drop craters indicate Earth's air density has been constant for billions of years

  7. Aspie73

    Sulfur?

    Sulfur?

    So we're finally succumbing to the Septic's bastardisation of our language are we?

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: Sulfur?

      Like you succumbed to the EU's metrification of measurments?

      Or perhaps some of this is by consensus and agreement.

      1. Geoff May (no relation)

        EU's metrification?

        And of course the Imperial measures are so much more simpler. I mean, everyone can remember the sequence:

        12 inches in a foot

        3 feet make a yard

        22 yards make a chain

        10 chains make a furlong

        8 furlongs make a mile

        And don't forget thous, links, rods and leagues ...

        All much simpler than this stupid EU metrification where everything is based on 10. I mean, who the hell can remember that ...

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: EU's metrification?

          And don't forget thous, links, rods and leagues ...

          You forgot poles and perches. It was always rods, poles and perches on the back of the book when I was young.

          1. The Nazz

            Re: EU's metrification?

            Two parrots sat on a perch.

            Says the first "hey, can you smell fish?"

            1. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: EU's metrification?

              Two parrots sat on a perch.

              An Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman walk into a bar.

              "Ouch!," they say.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: EU's metrification?

            "You forgot poles and perches. It was always rods, poles and perches on the back of the book when I was young."

            Was that a book on perch fishing by any chance? Presumably not by J.R. Hartley

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: EU's metrification?

          Can you please clarify if you mean a US, Canadian or British inch? The newfangled 'standard' inches which replaced them are practically metric, so must be avoided (along with the French, scottish, German, swedish, Danish etc inches which are obviously deeply suspect).

        4. Jtom

          Re: EU's metrification?

          OTOH, try doing construction work using the metric system. Need a standard, 8-foot, 2 by 4 (two inches by for inches) stud? What would you be asking for in metric units? Metric is great when solving problems on paper. It's tragic when you try to use it on measurements greater than a decimeter and less than a meter. Further, you can divide twelve (as in inches to the foot), by two, three, four, and six, making it easy for many calculations.

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: EU's metrification?

            OTOH, try doing construction work using the metric system.

            Easy peasy, if you think about it. Just use the metric foot of 300 mm and it can be divided 16 ways rather than the piddling 4 ways that twelve can be divided. Also 2x4 is only 2x4 when rough cut. After planing to a smooth surface it's smaller (which caught me out as a teenager) so 50x100 works.

          2. strum

            Re: EU's metrification?

            >Need a standard, 8-foot, 2 by 4 (two inches by for inches) stud? What would you be asking for in metric units?

            You might ask for it in imperial - but what you'll get is metric (2.4m x 100mm x 50mm).

          3. Lars Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: EU's metrification?

            "try doing construction work using the metric system.".

            I can assure you it's done all over Europe, hard work, hard work it is, no idea how they mange it.

            I once built a sauna, hard work, and only now I know why.

            1. Kyle Roberts

              Re: EU's metrification?

              I started working in imperial. If your verandah is 16 feet, 3 and 7/8 inches and you have to divide it into three equal sections with posts 4 inches thick, this is a tricky calculation. Not so hard in metrics, even if you have to do long division:-)

        5. Lars Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: EU's metrification?

          "The metric system was first described in 1668 and officially adopted by France in 1799.".

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_measurement

          "The metric system was designed to have a set of properties that make it easy to use and widely applicable, including units based on the natural world, decimal ratios, prefixes for multiples and sub-multiples, and a structure of base and derived units. It also has a property called coherence, which means its units are related 1:1, so that conversion factors are unnecessary. In science, it has a property called rationalisation which eliminates certain constants of proportionality in equations of physics."

          "On 20 May 1875 an international treaty known as the Convention du Mètre (Metre Convention) was signed by 17 states...".

          The British problem was, of course, that is was French and strongly supported by Napoleon.

          The wonderful and decisive, on going since 1875, story of Britain's move towards the metric system seems to have disappeared from the Wikipedia, sad.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Sulfur?

        "Like you succumbed to the EU's metrification of measurments?"

        FYI, the UK started going metric in 1965. Long before joining the Common Market.

        1. david 12 Silver badge

          Re: Sulfur?

          FYI, the UK started going metric in 1670.-- Long before the United Kingdom was joined.

          International agrrement was defered in 1790 because London wanted London to be the base lattitude for measurement of length: the French agreed in 1871

          And I get downvoted for suggesting that the UK uses metric measures by consensus and agreement? Evidentally any mention of metrification triggers rabid responses.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sulphur?

      Sulphur?

      So we're phinally succumbing to the Septic's bastardisation oph our language are we?

      phixed it phor you.

    3. handleoclast

      Re: Sulfur?

      Could be worse.

      In Welsh it's sylffwr.

  8. x 7

    So next time the wife complains about an eggy fart, I can just point out that I'm creating new life (without her participation)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obligatory

    "In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."

    - Douglas Adams

  10. Tim Kemp

    Punctuation...

    ... congratulations on hiding "blow job" in the headline!

  11. Jtom

    Should the odds of finding other life in the universe be adjusted to reflect the increasingly bizarre set of circumstances that must occur for it to be created? Now, in addition to having the right atoms and molecules coming together, they must do so with the right catalysts and energies, and be absent any chemicals that could undermine the processes. Sounds like a once in a googol, or maybe a googolplex, event.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on a minute. I was told years ago that all you needed was some soup, lightening and hey presto you had life. For years atheists have been telling us its must be so. Of course it turned out to be wishful thinking.

    So atheists I challenge you - go on then make a cell. Just a really simple one. Oh wait - you can't can you. Now I know that its a 'god of the gaps argument but seriously after decades of research its a bloody big gaping hole of a gap which has got wider and wider as we find out how complex a simple cell is !

    No I don't believe in life evolving on earth from naturalistic means - and I've seen nothing here to suggest otherwise. It should be easy because it has to happen under inhospitable conditions with an unguided process - and yet with all the supercomputing power we have, all the knowledge we've gained, all the intelligent design we possess - we can't make a cell from inorganic chemicals in ideal controlled, designed lab conditions let alone those of early earth. We can't even get all the building blocks ! DNA is a coded language with error correction. Most of the junk DNA has turned out not to be junk at all. The time available for the Cambrian explosion is incredibly small and well below the time required for a model based on natural selection. Far from science proving a naturalistic origin for life, its actually getting further away.

    If that doesn't worry you atheists reading this then you don't understand the science !!!

    Right I'm off to stare at a rock for a few billion years to see if I'm right.

    1. Kyle Roberts

      Seven down votes, yet not a single refutation?

      I wonder how it is there are still speculations about RNA 'appearing' in various water based soups when water quickly destroys the 'building blocks'?

  13. Ima Ballsy
    Holmes

    So .....

    Let me get this straight .... I'm a product of a Volcano Fart?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Devil

      Re: So .....

      No, millions of them...

  14. Fred Tourette
    Alert

    Comma Caution

    ...volcanoes blow, job done...

    There's a comma best not misplaced.

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