Radicals, and their unique chemical attributes, pervade nearly every origin of life scenario that has been investigated over the last 50 years. If a theory or setting that you read about relies on molecules formed from prolonged exposure to space (comets, meteors or the interstellar medium), solar flares, upper atmospheric chemistry, radioactive minerals, particles entrained on magnetic lines (i.e., icy moons around large planets) or UV photolysis from stellar irradiance, then that theory implicitly or explicitly relies on chemical interactions between radicals:
REPO was established to investigate the roles that radicals play in chemical synthesis that transcend the specifics of these (very different) settings.
Here we outline the specific examples of radicals in different origins theories:
- UV photolysis in surface terrestrial chemistry
- Powerful particles generated by solar flares
- Radiolysis on icy moons of the outer planets
- Phosphorus radicals generated by meteoritic schreibersite
- Radioactive minerals can produce water-alternative solvents