Inverse Daily

Life on Earth may have formed without this key ingredient

Plus: What’s in your apocalypse bag?

OUNILA VALLEY, MOROCCO - 23rd APRIL 2016 - The Oued (River) Ounila running through the the heart of ...
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The oxygen levels on Earth some 4.5 billion years ago, when the planet was forming, were effectively zilch. So, does life need oxygen to form? Based on this information, the answer is nope — life doesn't need more than traces of oxygen to start developing at a basic level.

This fascinating theory is the subject of our lead story by Passant Rabie. Here’s Passant:

“There’s a theory that in the very earliest days of life emerging on Earth, there were self-replicating RNA molecules. RNA is similar to DNA in that it acts as a set of blueprints for the cell to produce proteins from genes, but unlike DNA, RNA is single-stranded, it can act similarly to a protein, and it can regulate genes.

“In this hypothesis, scientists believe RNA molecules would have emerged before DNA and even given rise to DNA molecules which we today recognize as part of the building blocks of life.”

🤯🤯🤯 A wild theory that I hope sticks on your brain for a few days like it will mine.

I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief at Inverse. That story and more are in this edition of Inverse Daily. The Inverse mission is to share big ideas about science and innovation in an entertaining style and look at entertainment and culture with deeply curious methods. I’m glad you’re with us this Thursday morning.

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Mailbag — What’s in your apocalypse bag? You know, the backpack you carry when the world ends. These are your essentials for the post-apocalyptic world that you can fit in a standard backpack. Take the anonymous survey here. We’ve had more than 1,600 respondents so far! We will publish the results later this summer in a special guide.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for July 8, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

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How much oxygen does life need? Oxygen levels during Earth's early history were significantly lower than today, suggesting life in space may not need that much oxygen to survive and thrive, reports Passant Rabie:

What makes Earth special? Our planet is the only one we know of where life persists thanks to a perfect marriage of chemistry and physics — and one of the key ingredients in that happy mix is oxygen.

We need oxygen to breathe and thus to live. The element is perhaps as vital to life thriving on Earth as is the Earth’s distance from the Sun. So it is reasonable to assume that this lifeforce would be part of the sustenance of any life in the universe. But while we need a precise amount of oxygen in our atmosphere to survive (19.5 percent), the amount of oxygen needed for any form of life to survive on another planet may not be the same.

The reason why scientists think this might be the case has, somewhat counterintuitively, to do with our own planet.

Read the full story.

Go deeper:

Fasting may alter your mood — meaning you could celebrate like Matt Barnes and Christian Vázquez of the Boston Red Sox.

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Intermittent fasting may improve your mood The science of the effects of fasting on mental health is very much in its infancy. But research in humans so far holds clues to fasting’s influence on mood, writes Sophie Putka:

If you’ve ever forgotten to pack a granola bar for the day or maybe even (yes) fasted on purpose, you might recognize a weird feeling that creeps over you after going without a snack for longer than usual.

Is it giddiness? Elation? A little clarity? Well, it might be in your head. But there’s also some, albeit preliminary, science to suggest you’re not imagining it. Your fast may be altering your mood.

Read the full story.

Go deeper:


The rebooted Ford Bronco The 2021 Ford Bronco presents a solid off-road competition for the Jeep Wrangler. Here’s everything you need to know, from release date to price and mileage to all the best features, compiled by Jordan Golson:

There are only a handful of vehicles with the cultural impact of the Ford Bronco. Whether it's the O.J. Simpson chase or simply decades of memories of the original, there’s something special about the Bronco.

Old school purists are very upset, as always, about the Bronco (like they were for the Mustang Mach-E or basically anything else that’s new and different). They’re wrong, as always. I just drove the new Bronco, and it’s fantastic on-road and off.

Buyers think so, too. Some variants of the Bronco won’t be delivered until 2022, and that’s after a year of delays thanks to Covid and semiconductor shortages. Still, if you pick one up, know that it’s worth the wait.

Here’s everything you need to know about Ford’s new Jeep-killing off-road monster, from the Ford Bronco’s release date to price and mileage to all the best features.

Read the full story.

Go deeper:


7 newly discovered animal species Monkeys, mice, and sea sponges: These creatures are new to science, but they've been living right under our noses. Jenn Walter presents seven spectacular tales of discovery:

Every year, researchers catalog a swath of species that are new to science.

It’s no surprise considering one study estimates 80 percent of existing species on Earth haven’t been documented. But the most shocking finds might be the ones that hide right under our noses. Here are seven new species that were discovered hiding in plain sight:

See the full gallery.

Go deeper:

Here’s Kevin Bacon as seen in the cult classic Tremors. The actor marks a birthday today.

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  • Before we go: Kevin Bacon (63; seen in the photo above in his role in the cult classic Tremors), Anjelica Huston (70), Beck (51), Wolfgang Puck (72), and Jaden Smith (23) were all born on this day. (Source: AP.)
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