In-Class Activity 1_Origin of Life
Julia Kahmann-Robinson PhD and Marjorie Chan PhD, University of Utah Department of Geology & Geophysics
Have an Internet connection to view the associated video and websites.
Questions for students:
- In your own words, define "life":
- List four requirements of life:
- Students can debate the different definitions of life. A general definition of life is as follows: an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.
- Requirements for life are: chemical building blocks, energy, and a liquid medium.
- Most researchers would general agree that life requires water; hence NASA's campaign "Follow the Water".
- Energy need not be sourced from photosynthesis, rather chemosynthesis for example.
View the following YouTube animation of the Miller-Urey Experiment:
- Describe at least (4) conditions of the experiment.
- What was "applied" after the gases travelled through the horizontal tube?
- Was O2 a gas applied to this experiment? Why or Why not?
- Do you think that the Miller-Urey experiment was a good experiment? Do you feel that the researchers set up the conditions of early Earth properly?
- Would the Miller-Urey experiment be applicable to Mars?
- How would you modify the experiment, if at all, to represent what might have occurred on Mars?
- Visit NASA's NAI-Astrobiology website: https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/ and explore the various "headlines". List at least (2) ongoing investigations that are applicable to researching the "origin of life"
- Read "About NAI" on NASA's above website. Are investigations into the origin of life a NAI focus? Why or why not?
Students could also consider exploring a planet in a habitable zone and compare it to Earth and Mars, using data from the Kepler mission (See Missions Outside our Solar System Module).
- When students consider the present and/or past environment of Mars, do they feel all the requirements for life can be found?
- When discussing the origin of life, what is meant by "chemical building blocks"?