Could this be how life began? Unique lightning hit births mystery new mineral

By Denis, 13, Jill Dando News @ Worle Community School Academy

A unique lightning strike has created a brand new material seen on Earth ‘for the first time’.
How life began has always been a mystery to baffle the best of brains including Einstein, Pascal and Hawkins. Yet now a new lightning strike in Florida could give us some huge clues.

The bolt left a unique new phosphorus mineral in a rock, similar to that found on meteorites and in space.
Scientists are now investigating if the strike could hold the clue to how chemical reactions like this kick-started life on earth.
Similar materials have been found in meteorites and space but this is the first recorded example of it being created on earth.

The world-shattering find was made following the strike on a tree in New Port Richey, Florida.

What boffins call a fulgurite, or fossilised lightning, was sold by the landowners to a geoscientist who then had it analysed.
Fulgurites are formed by the high energy electrical discharge of lightning through rock, soil and sand.

Professor Matthew Pasek, fom the University of South Florida, said: “We have never seen this material occur naturally on Earth—minerals similar to it can be found in meteorites and space, but we’ve never seen this exact material anywhere,

“When lightning strikes a tree, the ground typically explodes out and the surrounding grass dies, forming a scar and sending electric discharge through nearby rock, soil and sand, forming fulgurites.”

After lightning struck a tree in a New Port Richey neighborhood in Florida, the homeowners discovered that the intense heat of the electric discharge melted the sediment around the tree roots, forming droplets and tube-like fulgurites made of a glass-like material. 

Pasek purchased some samples and later began a collaboration with Luca Bindi, a professor of mineralogy and crystallography at the University of Florence in Italy.

For more stories from Jill Dando News click: