However it began on Earth, life may have been inevitable

In a universe filled with prebiotic compounds,it may be only a small step for some of them to hook up in ways that lead directly to life

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Only a few years ago, a well-known scientist said that the odds of life arising anywhere in the Universe are about the same as those that a Boeing 747 will be assembled when a tornado rips through a junkyard. But if ideas circulating in the scientific community turn out to be right, we may find that the occurrence of life isn't as random as we had thought.

The picture of the origin of life that is emerging these days involves a certain inevitability. Life didn't happen by chance but according to the same kinds of laws that govern ordinary chemical reactions. Scientists say that given the right mix of molecules something will surely happen, and probably pretty quickly at that. As the late Cyril Ponnamperuma, director of the Laboratory of Chemical Evolution at the University of Maryland, said: "The business of the Universe is creating life."

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