Juan Manuel García Ruiz: The scientist who explains the origin of life because of a mineral and with none god | Science | EUROtoday

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A 22-year-old boy, the American Stanley Miller, proposed to his boss in 1952 one of many easiest and most formidable experiments in historical past: imitate the circumstances of the primitive Earth in a glass container, to see if it could emerge from nothing. one thing just like life in his laboratory on the University of Chicago. They injected ammonia, methane, hydrogen and water vapor to simulate the environment, they utilized electrical discharges as in the event that they have been storms and “Eureka!”: quickly amino acids appeared, the constructing blocks of residing beings. The crew of Spanish geologist Juan Manuel García Ruiz repeated the experiment in 2021 in a Teflon container and stunned the world: nothing appeared there. “The key was the silica in the glass!” exclaims the researcher, who has simply acquired 10 million euros from the EU to check the position of silica (a mineral fashioned by silicon and oxygen) within the origin of life within the earth.

García Ruiz, born in Seville 70 years in the past, continually talks concerning the Granada poet Federico García Lorca, even to elucidate his personal research. The geologist has lived greater than 30 years in Granada, as a researcher on the Andalusian Institute of Earth Sciences. The scientist recites verses from reminiscence Poet in New Yorkthe 1929 assortment of poems by which Lorca denounced the dehumanization of the good industrial metropolis: “Killed by the sky, / between the forms that go towards the serpent / and the forms that seek the crystal, / I will let my hair fall.”

García Ruiz turns to Lorca to elucidate the rejection that his personal concepts concerning the origin of life suffered some 4 many years in the past. When the geologist was a pupil in his twenties on the Complutense University of Madrid, round 1979, he by chance found some wonderful microscopic mineral buildings, with unusual curves and spirals, just like the sinuous snakes (the sierpes) that Lorca talked about earlier than the imposing straightness of the mountains. glass skyscraper. Those uncommon shapes appeared like residing beings, however they have been merely self-organized precipitates of silica and carbonate of their laboratory containers. Nothing prefer it had ever been seen.

The geologist remembers that, in a problem of EL PAÍS from June 1980, he noticed a historic photograph information merchandise: the crew of American biologist William Schopf had introduced the invention of bacterial fossils in an Australian desert area, which might exhibit that there was already life in Earth 3.5 billion years in the past. García Ruiz was surprised when he appeared on the {photograph}: the supposed stays of the primary residing creatures have been just like the mineral buildings that had fashioned in his laboratory.

Self-organized mineral structures, called biomorphs, that have nothing to do with living beings.
Self-organized mineral buildings, referred to as biomorphs, that don’t have anything to do with residing beings.Juan Manuel García Ruiz/CSIC

Years later, he attended a global convention in Prague on the origin of life to current his discovery. “I was very young and it was the first time I used a laser pointer. He put the laser in my mouth to speak and pointed the microphone at me,” he remembers with amusing. “At the end, a guy told me: 'Thank you very much, but everything you are saying is completely false.'”

García Ruiz ended up calling these curvilinear mineral microstructures biomorphs, which appeared like residing beings, however weren’t. The younger geologist encountered worldwide skepticism. “I said that what are considered the first fossils could simply be self-organized structures. It took me years to publish it. They told me that I was doing the experiments wrong, that there was biological contamination, that it was impossible for something inorganic to have those morphologies,” he remembers. The disbelief, in response to the geologist, was because of the deep-rooted perception in two separate worlds: the straight geometry of crystal and the exuberant curvature of life. Like Lorca's hair in New York.

The then US president, Bill Clinton, offered to the world on August 7, 1996 a meteorite of Martian origin. “It tells us about the possibility of life. If this discovery is confirmed, it will be one of the most astonishing revelations that science has ever made about our universe,” Clinton celebrated. NASA scientists argued that the filaments discovered within the extraterrestrial rock have been an indicator of fossilized microbes. García Ruiz, from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), insisted that not.

The geologist Juan Manuel García Ruiz and the Maasai guide Lucas Sossoika, on an expedition to Lake Magadi, in Kenya.
The geologist Juan Manuel García Ruiz and the Maasai information Lucas Sossoika, on an expedition to Lake Magadi, in Kenya.Javier Trueba

The Spanish scientist claimed victory in 2003, lastly publishing his leads to the celebrated journal Science: His crew had synthesized filamentous and curved microstructures, virtually similar to the supposed fossils of micro organism discovered within the Warrawoona formation, in Western Australia. “There was the idea that the inorganic world cannot take on the complex and curved shapes of microfossils. We prove that yes. Morphology cannot be an unequivocal criterion for identifying life,” he says now, throughout a stroll by way of the exhibition on the British evolutionist Alfred Wallace on the National Museum of Natural Sciences, in Madrid.

García Ruiz's discoveries forged doubt on the solemn bulletins about relics of residing beings which might be 3.5 billion years outdated, however the geologist doesn’t query the antiquity of life. His speculation is that 4.4 billion years in the past—after the collision of one other planet with the Earth, whose stays gave rise to the Moon—there have been already giant plenty of water, with a superficial cap by which the curves of the silica biomorphs facilitated the interactions between the primary bricks of life, just like the glass container in Miller's experiment. There are hundreds of religions on this planet, with hundreds of contradictory tales concerning the look of residing beings, however García Ruiz believes that none of these hundreds of incompatible gods are wanted to elucidate the phenomenon. “I am an atheist,” he ditches.

Starting in May, the Spanish geologist will coordinate the PROTOS challenge, funded by the European Research Council with virtually 10 million euros. He will go away Granada, Lorca, behind to hitch the Donostia International Physics Center. García Ruiz's crew, along with colleagues from France and Germany, will perform numerous experiments to grasp, even at a scale of millionths of a millimeter, how fluids interacted with rocks on the early Earth, to go from a dull mineral planet to a world with poets who recite verses on curved strains. “We are going to reinterpret Miller's experiment, because he forgot about silica,” García Ruiz proclaims.

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