Where Smokers Rule

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Science  11 Apr 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5310, pp. 222
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5310.222

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How were complex carbon compounds formed in the earliest stages of the development of life on Earth? In his Perspective, Crabtree discusses results reported by Huber and W&aumlchtersh&aumluser (p. 245) in the same issue showing that nickel-iron sulfides can act as catalysts for the formation of complex organic compounds. This chemistry can take place at "black smokers," the deep hydrothermal vents that discharge sulfide compounds under the ocean. Such vents may therefore represent one location on early Earth where prebiotic chemistry could have taken place.