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Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe


Image: © Zbynek Burival /


Graphite —- better known as ordinary pencil lead —- likely triggered the onset of the first prebiotic molecules here on earth. But there was nothing simple about it. The creation of enough graphite to push along the needed chemical complexity to vector towards life was arguably due to a series of giant impactors that hit Earth beginning some 4.3 billion years ago.

In a paper submitted to the MDPI journal Life, Paul Rimmer and Oliver Shorttle, two planetary astrochemists at Cambridge University in the U.K. detail their laboratory simulations indicating that graphite offers a potential route towards prebiotic chemistry. That is, the basic chemistry that enables the onset of that mysterious ‘X factor’ we call ‘life.’

To read the full article.

To read the full paper on MDPI Life.