Oparing (right) in his laboratory
|Born||March 2, 1894
Uglich, Russian Empire
|Died||April 21, 1980 (aged 86)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, USSR
|Institutions||Moscow State University
USSR Academy of Sciences
|Alma mater||Moscow State University|
|Known for||Theory of the origin of life|
|Notable awards||Hero of Socialist Labour (1969)
Lenin Prize (1974)
Lomonosov Gold Medal (1979)
He was notable for his contributions to the theory of the origin of life, and for his authorship of the book The Origin of Life. One of his ideas was that oxygen would tend to destroy organic molecules essential for the evolution of early life. It was later found that the earth's atmosphere at first had almost no oxygen in it.
His theory [change]
These were some of the main ideas in his first book: 1. There is no fundamental difference between a living organism and lifeless matter. Life must have arisen as a natural evolution of matter.
2. Methane in the atmospheres of Jupiter and the other giant planets, so Oparin thought the infant Earth had a strongly reducing atmosphere, containing methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water vapor. In his opinion, these were the raw materials for the evolution of life.
3. At first there were the simple solutions of organic substances. The behaviour of these was governed by the properties of their component atoms and the arrangement of those atoms in the molecular structure. But gradually, as the result of growth and increased complexity of the molecules, structures with new properties developed. These newer properties were determined by the spatial and mutual arrangement of the molecules.
4. In this process biological orderliness already exists. Competition, speed of cell growth, survival of the fittest, struggle for existence and, finally natural selection produced the characteristics of living things.
Oparin outlined a way in which basic organic chemicals might form into microscopic localized systems. These would be precursors of the cell from which primitive living things could develop. He cited work done into organic chemicals which, in solution, may form droplets and layers. Oparin suggested that different types might have formed in the Earth's primordial ocean and been subject to a selection process leading eventually to life.
- Oparin A.I. 1924. The origin of life. Moscow: Moscow Worker, (in Russian).
- English translation: Oparin A.I. The origin and development of life. (NASA TTF-488) Washington: D.C.L GPO, 1968.
- Oparin A.I. 1924. The origin of life, 2nd edition. Moscow.
- English translation of 2nd ed: The origin of life. 1938, reprinted Dover 1952.
- Oparin A. & Fesenkov V. Life in the Universe. Moscow: USSR Academy of Sciences publisher, 3rd edition, 1956 (in Russian)
- English translation: Oparin A. and V. Fesenkov. Life in the Universe. New York: Twayne Publishers 1961.
Related pages [change]
- Russian: Алекса́ндр Ива́нович Опа́рин; in English, Aleksander Ivanovich Oparin. Britannica Encyclopedia - Aleksandr Oparin
- Oparin A I. The Origin of Life. Moscow: Moscow Worker publisher, 1924 (in Russian)
- Knoll, Andrew H. 2004. Life on a young planet: the first three billion years of evolution on Earth. Princeton, N.J. ISBN 0-691-12029-3
- Schopf J.W. 1992. Geology and paleobiology of the Archean Earth, in Schopf J.W., and Klein C. The Proterozoic biosphere: a multidisciplinary study. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-36615-1
- Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd edition, entry on "Опарин", available online here