Generating self-replicating molecules from a “primordial soup”


What exactly can cause a carbon-based molecule to begin absorbing more similar molecules and eventually split off copies of itself?

Is this the right train of thought? I mean the classic scenario is a literal soup of molecules “stricken to life” by a massive amount of energy… But why would that work?


So by sheer randomness, primordial soup and energy results in most molecules, at least occasionally. Some of the molecules will naturally clump into bubbles (think fatty molecules forming cell membranes). However, eventually they will shrink and “die”.

Some groups of molecules can also make more of these fatty molecules using the ambient basic material (CO2, H2, etc.). If one of these groups gets trapped in a fatty bubble (where they can’t escape), you have a naturally growing bubble over time that won’t inevitably die by shrinkage. However, if the bubble splits, the part without this group will eventually shrink and “die”.

The next step is that we need to encounter a new set of molecules to create the ‘fat creators ‘. As with the last step, bubbles without this new group eventually lose part of their fat creators and “die”.

The next step is that we need to encounter a new set to create ‘the creators of our fat creators’. And so on. However, the moment you complete this daisy chain and get a self-sustaining bubble where it can make all its own parts, then you have a complete cell.

This cell then replicates a bunch, eventually becoming all life we have today.

Did that make sense? The short answer is “random luck accidentally created a group of molecules that can eventually create another group of identical molecules”. Store this group in a fatty bubble, and you have a cell.

A replicator can be as simple as a combination of amino acids that just happens to have the right parts sticking out to *catalyze* other reactions of amino acids. So if all you have to begin with are a bunch of amino acids, it’s conceivable for one such replicator to spread by catalyzing more and more chemical reactions that lead back to itself.