Why We Should Thank ‘Killer’ Asteroids for All Life on Earth

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

Scientists consider it a matter of when, not if, an asteroid big enough to wipe out human civilization swings onto a collision course with Earth. That’s why these same scientists are working on methods of blowing up or nudging away this inevitable apocalyptic rock.

But these efforts might be a tad ironic. While a future giant space rock could very well end life on Earth, it’s possible a past giant space rock helped create life on Earth. That hypothetical Genesis rock is the subject of a new study from Nicholas Wogan, a University of Washington astrobiologist.

The asteroid, or several asteroids, may have mixed up Earth’s sterile, nitrogen-rich atmosphere—blending just the right elements in just the right mixture to kickstart a chemical chain reaction. This process lasted eons, and ultimately seeded the planet with the raw materials for life—most importantly, a crucial, life-seeding compound called hydrogen cyanide.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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