Nautilus

Here Are 5 Ways Lightning Shapes Life on Earth

Lightning is the flash and rumble of an electron swarm leaping across the sky. With extravagant swiftness it moves through a cloud, from one cloud to another, or between a cloud and the ground, millions of times every day. The role of lightning in the world’s affairs is much more substantial than its ephemerality might suggest. For billions of years it has shaped life on Earth, from the first hidden cells on an otherwise barren planet, to the particular menagerie here today.

Here are five ways lightning has made its mark on life on Earth.


1. Origin of life

Let’s start by setting up a lab experiment. Take a glass container and fill the first quarter or so with warm water, fresh or salted. This is a pond or ocean on the recently solidified primordial Earth. Replace the air above the water with a mixture of carbon dioxide, nitrogen gas, and water vapor. This

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