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The article seems to suggest he's simulating a "soup" of many different molecules and seeing which combinations lead to sustained reactions. Nick Lane's book "The Vital Question" [1] discounts the primordial soup idea (that life arose in tidal pools or streams near volcanos due to the right chemical mixture being present in the water at that time) and suggests underwater alkaline hydrothermal vents as the location of the first formation of life. The hydrothermal vents produced (see also his recent paper [2]) alkaline fluids which mixed with acidic seawater within micropores provided by the geological structures of a particular type of vent. This, he hypothesises, led to proton gradients which are essential for life.

Of course, both these guys are experts at the top of their fields, at respected institutes. I possess neither of those qualities.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Vital-Question-Evolution-Origins-Comp...

[2] http://nick-lane.net/publications/origin-life-alkaline-hydro...

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