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      The drive to life on wet and icy worlds.

      Astrobiology
      Biogenesis, Carbon Cycle, Earth (Planet), Exobiology, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Hydrothermal Vents, chemistry, Inorganic Pyrophosphatase, metabolism, Oxidation-Reduction

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          Abstract

          This paper presents a reformulation of the submarine alkaline hydrothermal theory for the emergence of life in response to recent experimental findings. The theory views life, like other self-organizing systems in the Universe, as an inevitable outcome of particular disequilibria. In this case, the disequilibria were two: (1) in redox potential, between hydrogen plus methane with the circuit-completing electron acceptors such as nitrite, nitrate, ferric iron, and carbon dioxide, and (2) in pH gradient between an acidulous external ocean and an alkaline hydrothermal fluid. Both CO2 and CH4 were equally the ultimate sources of organic carbon, and the metal sulfides and oxyhydroxides acted as protoenzymatic catalysts. The realization, now 50 years old, that membrane-spanning gradients, rather than organic intermediates, play a vital role in life's operations calls into question the idea of "prebiotic chemistry." It informs our own suggestion that experimentation should look to the kind of nanoengines that must have been the precursors to molecular motors-such as pyrophosphate synthetase and the like driven by these gradients-that make life work. It is these putative free energy or disequilibria converters, presumably constructed from minerals comprising the earliest inorganic membranes, that, as obstacles to vectorial ionic flows, present themselves as the candidates for future experiments. Key Words: Methanotrophy-Origin of life. Astrobiology 14, 308-343. The fixation of inorganic carbon into organic material (autotrophy) is a prerequisite for life and sets the starting point of biological evolution. (Fuchs, 2011 ) Further significant progress with the tightly membrane-bound H(+)-PPase family should lead to an increased insight into basic requirements for the biological transport of protons through membranes and its coupling to phosphorylation. (Baltscheffsky et al., 1999 ).

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          Is Open Access

          Van der Waals heterostructures

          Research on graphene and other two-dimensional atomic crystals is intense and likely to remain one of the hottest topics in condensed matter physics and materials science for many years. Looking beyond this field, isolated atomic planes can also be reassembled into designer heterostructures made layer by layer in a precisely chosen sequence. The first - already remarkably complex - such heterostructures (referred to as 'van der Waals') have recently been fabricated and investigated revealing unusual properties and new phenomena. Here we review this emerging research area and attempt to identify future directions. With steady improvement in fabrication techniques, van der Waals heterostructures promise a new gold rush, rather than a graphene aftershock.
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            Towards a natural system of organisms: proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya.

            Molecular structures and sequences are generally more revealing of evolutionary relationships than are classical phenotypes (particularly so among microorganisms). Consequently, the basis for the definition of taxa has progressively shifted from the organismal to the cellular to the molecular level. Molecular comparisons show that life on this planet divides into three primary groupings, commonly known as the eubacteria, the archaebacteria, and the eukaryotes. The three are very dissimilar, the differences that separate them being of a more profound nature than the differences that separate typical kingdoms, such as animals and plants. Unfortunately, neither of the conventionally accepted views of the natural relationships among living systems--i.e., the five-kingdom taxonomy or the eukaryote-prokaryote dichotomy--reflects this primary tripartite division of the living world. To remedy this situation we propose that a formal system of organisms be established in which above the level of kingdom there exists a new taxon called a "domain." Life on this planet would then be seen as comprising three domains, the Bacteria, the Archaea, and the Eucarya, each containing two or more kingdoms. (The Eucarya, for example, contain Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, and a number of others yet to be defined). Although taxonomic structure within the Bacteria and Eucarya is not treated herein, Archaea is formally subdivided into the two kingdoms Euryarchaeota (encompassing the methanogens and their phenotypically diverse relatives) and Crenarchaeota (comprising the relatively tight clustering of extremely thermophilic archaebacteria, whose general phenotype appears to resemble most the ancestral phenotype of the Archaea.
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              The Grotthuss mechanism

              Noam Agmon (1995)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                24697642
                3995032
                10.1089/ast.2013.1110

                Chemistry
                Biogenesis,Carbon Cycle,Earth (Planet),Exobiology,Hydrogen-Ion Concentration,Hydrothermal Vents,chemistry,Inorganic Pyrophosphatase,metabolism,Oxidation-Reduction

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