Mica, a term that refers to silicate-based minerals that layer in very thin sheets, may seem to be a strange home for earth’s first life. However, University of California–Santa Barbara scientist Helen Hansma speculates that nascent life may have found just the right niche between sheets of mica.
Hansma’s idea is that these mica compartments could have protected biomolecules from outside disturbance, the same way cells protect organelles and thereby sustain life. Safe from destructive external forces, the molecules could have slowly coalesced into larger organic molecules and, eventually, the first true cells.
As evidence, Hansma points out that mica sheets include potassium, which is also found in high levels in human cells. She also argues that mica sheets provide all the advantages of other materials previously conjectured to have hosted the first life, such as clay. “Mica would provide enough structure and shelter for molecules to evolve but also accommodate the dynamic, ever-changing nature of life,” Hansma explained.
Mica would provide enough structure and shelter for molecules to evolve.
Do we buy it? While the idea seems intriguing as far as origin-of-life hypotheses go, like most, it leaves out the tricky details of how inanimate matter—even biomolecules, such as amino acids or proteins—could have surmounted unfathomable odds to end up as even the simplest form of reproductive life. But for evolutionists who reject any presence of God in nature as unscientific, the answer is simple: we’re alive today, so those inanimate biomolecules must have found a way somehow!
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