This video segment adapted from NOVA scienceNOW examines how a team of chemists led by Dr. John Sutherland at the University of Manchester discovered a way in which parts of the first RNA molecules could have formed in the primordial soup of early Earth and given rise to life. DNA and RNA are complex molecules that make possible the inheritance of genetic information, an essential component of life. Dr. Sutherland's discovery of a series of inorganic reactions—that used simple chemicals available on early Earth and would proceed naturally under the environmental conditions at the time—solved the long-standing question of how complex molecules such as DNA and RNA could have first formed nonbiologically.
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