Now, let's see what the article "bbc.com/earth/story/20161026-the-secret-of-how-life-on-earth-began" states: "How did life begin? There can hardly be a bigger question. For much of human history, almost everyone believed some version of "the gods did it". Any other explanation was inconceivable. That is no longer true. Over the last century, a few scientists have tried to figure out how the first life might have sprung up. They have even tried to recreate this Genesis moment in their labs: to create brand-new life from scratch."
"So far nobody has managed it, but we have come a long way. Today, many of the scientists studying the origin of life are confident that they are on the right track – and they have the experiments to back up their confidence. This is the story of our quest to discover our ultimate origin. It is a story of obsession, struggle and brilliant creativity, which encompasses some of the greatest discoveries of modern science. The endeavour to understand life's beginnings has sent men and women to the furthest corners of our planet. Some of the scientists involved have been bedevilled as monsters, while others had to do their work under the heel of brutal totalitarian governments. This is the story of the birth of life on Earth."
"Life is old. The dinosaurs are perhaps the most famous extinct creatures, and they had their beginnings 250 million years ago. But life dates back much further. The oldest known fossils are around 3.5 billion years old, 14 times the age of the oldest dinosaurs. But the fossil record may stretch back still further. For instance, in August 2016 researchers found what appear to be fossilised microbes dating back 3.7 billion years."
"The Earth itself is not much older, having formed 4.5 billion years ago. If we assume that life formed on Earth – which seems reasonable, given that we have not yet found it anywhere else – then it must have done so in the billion years between Earth coming into being and the preservation of the oldest known fossils. As well as narrowing down when life began, we can make an educated guess at what it was."
"Since the 19th Century, biologists have known that all living things are made of "cells": tiny bags of living matter that come in different shapes and sizes. Cells were first discovered in the 17th Century, when the first modern microscopes were invented, but it took well over a century for anyone to realise that they were the basis of all life. You might not think you look much like a catfish or a Tyrannosaurus rex, but a microscope will reveal that you are all made of pretty similar kinds of cells. So are plants and fungi. But by far the most numerous forms of life are microorganisms, each of which is made up of just one cell."
"Bacteria are the most famous group, and they are found everywhere on Earth. In April 2016, scientists presented an updated version of the "tree of life": a kind of family tree for every living species. Almost all of the branches are bacteria. What's more, the shape of the tree suggests that a bacterium was the common ancestor of all life. In other words, every living thing – including you – is ultimately descended from a bacterium. This means we can define the problem of the origin of life more precisely. Using only the materials and conditions found on the Earth over 3.5 billion years ago, we have to make a cell. Well, how hard can it be?"
"....Instead, the big biological breakthrough of the 19th Century was the theory of evolution, as developed by Charles Darwin and others. Darwin's theory, set out in On the Origin of Species in 1859, explained how the vast diversity of life could all have arisen from a single common ancestor. Instead of each of the different species being created individually by God, they were all descended from a primordial organism that lived millions of years ago: the last universal common ancestor. This idea proved immensely controversial, again because it contradicted the Bible. Darwin and his ideas came under ferocious attack, particularly from outraged Christians. The theory of evolution said nothing about how that first organism came into being."
"Darwin knew that it was a profound question, but – perhaps wary of starting yet another fight with the Church – he only seems to have discussed the issue in a letter written in 1871. His excitable language reveals that he knew the deep significance of the question: "But if (& oh what a big if) we could conceive in some warm little pond with all sorts of ammonia & phosphoric salts,—light, heat, electricity &c present, that a protein compound was chemically formed, ready to undergo still more complex changes..." In other words, what if there was once a small body of water, filled with simple organic compounds and bathed in sunlight."
"Some of those compounds might combine to form a life-like substance such as a protein, which could then start evolving and becoming more complex. It was a sketchy idea. But it would become the basis of the first hypothesis for how life began. This idea emerged from an unexpected place. You might think that this daring piece of free thinking would have been developed in a democratic country with a tradition of free speech: perhaps the United States. But in fact the first hypothesis for the origin of life was invented in a savagely totalitarian country, where free thinking was stamped out: the USSR."
"In Stalin's Russia, everything was under the control of the state. That included people's ideas, even on subjects – like biology – that seem unrelated to Communist politics. Most famously, Stalin effectively banned scientists from studying conventional genetics. Instead he imposed the ideas of a farm worker named Trofim Lysenko, which he thought were more in line with Communist ideology."
"Scientists working on genetics were forced to publicly support Lysenko's ideas, or risk ending up in a labour camp. It was in this repressive environment that Alexander Oparin carried out his research into biochemistry. He was able to keep working because he was a loyal Communist: he supported Lysenko's ideas and even received the Order of Lenin, the highest decoration that could be bestowed on someone living in the USSR. In 1924, Oparin published his book The Origin of Life. In it he set out a vision for the birth of life that was startlingly similar to Darwin's warm little pond."
"Oparin imagined what Earth was like when it was newly formed. The surface was searingly hot, as rocks from space plunged down onto it and impacted. It was a mess of semi-molten rocks, containing a huge range of chemicals – including many based on carbon. Eventually the Earth cooled enough for water vapour to condense into liquid water, and the first rain fell. Before long Earth had oceans, which were hot and rich in carbon-based chemicals. Now two things could happen. First, the various chemicals could react with each other to form lots of new compounds, some of which would be more complex."
"Oparin supposed that the molecules central to life, like sugars and amino acids, could all have formed in Earth's waters. Second, some of the chemicals began to form microscopic structures. Many organic chemicals do not dissolve in water: for example, oil forms a layer on top of water. But when some of these chemicals contact water they form spherical globules called "coacervates", which can be up to 0.01cm (0.004 inches) across. If you watch coacervates under a microscope, they behave unnervingly like living cells. They grow and change shape, and sometimes divide into two. They can also take in chemicals from the surrounding water, so life-like chemicals can become concentrated inside them. Oparin proposed that coacervates were the ancestors of modern cells....."