Photochemistry and the origin of life (Conference Presentation)
To understand the origin of life on Earth, and to evaluate the potential for life on exoplanets, we must understand the pathways that lead from chemistry to biology. Recent experiments suggest that a chemically rich environment that provides the building blocks of membranes, nucleic acids and peptides, along with sources of chemical energy, could result in the emergence of replicating, evolving cells. Diverse photochemical processes are thought to have been important for the origin of life, from photochemical steps in prebiotic synthetic pathways, to the generation of useful forms of chemical energy, to the selection of the canonical nucleotides based on their photostability. I will discuss the many ways in which UV light may have influenced the origin of life.