Bob Bruner's2023 Exhibit NoRCEL

Here is the story:
It is commonly accepted that you need three conditions for life to start:
  • A source of Organic Molecules
  • A solvent (water )
  • A source of energy to power the start of life
Each of the minerals shown in this exhibit are hypothesised to comply with a certain context for the origin of life, i.e.:
  • Under water to protect from impacts on surface [1]
  • On surface to get wet/dry cycles [2]
  • Compartments on surface for organic molecules [3]
  • Enough dry land to create boron to help RNA [4]
  • Method to transfer Mars life to Earth [5]
  • Method to transfer organic molecules to planet [6]
  • Method to transfer water to planet [7]
  • Method totransfer phosphorus to planet [8]
  • Protection and wet/dry cycles [9]
Apart from the above mentioned conditions for life to originate, additional considerations, historically, include:
  • The piece of the Murchison meteorite contains organic molecules
  • The crust of a rocky planet contains enough water to create an ocean
  • The sources of energy and location for the start of life have changed over 50 years

    • In the 70's, it was thought to be clay (i.e., see montmorillonite phyllosilicate)
      In the 80's, it was thought to be black smoker vents on the ocean floor (i.e., see pyrite mineral)
      In the 2000's, it was thought to be white smoker vents on the ocean floor (i.e., serpentinization of the mineral Olivine forming serpentine, magnetite, brucite)
      In 2013, it was thought to be Mars because it had enough dry land to create boron to stabilize ribose in RNA (A Martian meteorite like Tissint. Here we give you a photo of Black Beauty )
      In 2015, it was thought to be surface hot springs (sinter)
      In 2016, it was thought to be volcanic island splash pools (opaline silica)
      In 2017, it was thought to be sediment at the bottom of the ocean in silica gel which precipitates into chert

      In future years, we expect that there will be new sources of energy and additional locations for the start of life from new theories.
R.B. Bruner
Denver Museum of Nature and Science volunteer

associated with the
Origin of Life

Pyrite FeS2

Wachtershauser el al


Campbell et al

Opaline silica SiO2 · nH2O

Deamer et al


Westall et al


Jerome et al, Astrobiology 2022

(Phyllosilicate minerals)

MONTMORILLONITE (Na,Ca)0.33(Al,Mg)2(Si4O10)(OH)2 · nH2O
Caims-Smith et al

Hashizume et al

Salt NaCl

Carrier et al, Astrobiology 2020

(Fe, Mg)2SiO4

Russell et al


Valley et al.


Russellet al


Russell et al


Benner et al


Benner et al

(Ca[B3O4(OH)3] · H2O)

Benner et al

Aguas Zarcas
(CM2 meteorite)

This is a Carbonaceous chondrite meteorite which provides good evidence of the first organic molecule synthesis in the Early Solar System
Pizzarello et al., Metoritics and Planetary Science 2020.
Read a story of how it has been found here.

(Pyroxene mineral)

Piani et al., Science 2020


Kvenvolden et al., Nature 1970

Tambo Quemado
(Fe-Ni meteorite)

This meteorite contains the mineral Schreibersite

Pasek et al

Black Beauty
(Martian meteorite)

Agee et al