QUESTION TYPE: Paradox
PARADOX: Lighting could create amino acids. Without a reducing atmosphere, amino acids break apart and can’t form life.
At the time life formed, Earth did not have a reducing atmosphere.
ANALYSIS: First, it’s important to read the scientific words carefully.
Reducing atmosphere: Has much hydrogen and little oxygen.
Earth’s atmosphere when life formed: rich in oxygen and low in nitrogen.
So when life formed, Earth did not have a reducing atmosphere. This means amino acids could not have stuck together and formed life.
The right answer explains this by saying that a local reducing atmosphere protected the amino acids.
- CORRECT. This shows that there was a local reducing atmosphere in the area where life began.
- This doesn’t explain how the amino acids formed life in a reducing atmosphere.
- This doesn’t explain how life formed billions of years ago, when Earth had a reducing atmosphere.
- The lighting isn’t the issue. We need to explain the reducing atmosphere. Though fewer lightning strikes make it less likely for life to form.
- That’s nice. But once the amino acids survived the impact, they would encounter Earth’s non-reducing atmosphere, and they would break apart.
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