Albany 2013: Book of Abstracts

category image Albany 2013
Conversation 18
June 11-15 2013
©Adenine Press (2012)

Mechanical Energy, Protein Motion, and the Possible Origin of Life between Mica Sheets

The origins of life require reliable energy sources. One feasible energy source has not been considered until recently. This is mechanical energy - work (Hansma, 2010, 2012). The spaces between moving muscovite mica sheets are the environment in which mechanical energy is hypothesized to have been involved in the origins of life. Mechanical energy from moving mica sheets has two main sources: 1, The open-and-shut motions of mica sheets in response to water movements in and out between the sheets, and 2,Thermal cycles of day and night acting on bubble 'defects' between mica sheets. This mechanical energy is hypothesized to have been involved in the formation (and breaking) of covalent bonds, the rearrangement of polymers and molecular aggregates, and the budding off of protocells, in the earliest form of cell division. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that: The mechanical energy from mica sheets moving open-and-shut is the source of the common open-and-shut motions of enzymes, originating from a protobiotic era when mechanical energy was plentiful and chemical energy was not yet available.


    Hansma, H. G. (2010). Possible origin of life between mica sheets. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 266(1), 175-188.

    Helen Greenwood Hansma (2012): Possible origin of life between mica sheets: does life imitate mica?, Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, DOI:10.1080/07391102.2012.718528

Helen Greenwood Hansma

Department of Physics
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA