Günter Wächershäuser

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Günter Wächershäuser

Günter Wächtershäuser (* 1938 in Gießen ) is honorary professor for evolutionary biochemistry at the University of Regensburg and a Munich patent attorney . In the early 1980s he developed a theory about the chemical evolution of the first living beings on mineral surfaces, the theory of the iron-sulfur world .


Wächtershäuser studied chemistry from 1958 to 1965 at the University of Marburg , where he received his doctorate in chemistry in 1965. From 1966 he trained as a patent attorney in a German law firm and at Eastman Kodak Co. in the USA, in 1969 he was licensed as a patent attorney in Munich, and in 1970 he founded what is now Wächtershäuser & Hartz. In 1983 he made personal acquaintance with the philosopher Karl Popper , whose recommendation enabled him to be published in specialist journals. In 1988 he published his theory on the origin of life for the first time. The chemist Claudia Huber carried out experiments at the Technical University of Munich to test his theory, also with the microbiologist Karl Stetter he worked together.

Origin of life in the iron-sulfur world

According to Wächershäuser, life on earth originated on the surface of iron - sulfur minerals, i.e. sulphides that are still formed today through geological processes in deep-sea volcanoes, so-called black smokers , and which may have occurred much more frequently in the early days of the earth . The advantage of this concept over other theories is that it can explain how the formation of biomolecules could be linked to a continuously available and reliable energy source. This energy source consists in the reduction of partially oxidized iron-sulfur minerals such as pyrite with hydrogen and provides enough energy for the endergonic synthesis reactions of monomeric building blocks of biomolecules and for their polymerization .


Wächtershäuser received the annual honor of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in 1993 , an honorary professorship for evolutionary biochemistry from the University of Regensburg in 1994 and the Bonn chemistry prize in 1999 .


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