Did life begin on a radioactive beach?
By Lewis Dartnell DID life on Earth begin on a radioactive beach? That’s the claim of one astrobiologist, who says that life’s ingredients could have emerged from the radioactive sand grains of a primordial beach laced with heavy metals and pounded by powerful tides. Any origin of life theory needs to explain how the building blocks of cells – such as amino acids and sugars – assembled into complex molecules, and how certain elements came to be incorporated. Though radiation might seem an unlikely source to kick-start such processes because it breaks chemical bonds and shatters large molecules, including DNA,