How a Building Block of Life Got Created in a Flash

When lightning strikes sand, soil, or stone, it immediately melts the materials into a glassy clump known as a fulgurite, or lightning rock. When geologists excavated a fulgurite that resulted from a 2016 lightning strike in an Illinois backyard, they found something unexpected inside — an important ingredient for life that had long been thought to be delivered to early Earth by meteorites. A report on the find, in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that this could have been a way for lightning to have played a key role in the emergence of life.

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