Experiment objective

To learn about early life and the early history of the Earth.

Read more background about this activity in Jack Szostak's bio...

You need

  • Large clear bowl or glass, bar of soap, microscope.

Many kinds of soap yield cloudy solutions when dissolved in water. Fill a large glass bowl with water. Take a bar of soap and rub it in the water until the water is cloudy.

The cloudiness is a result of the scattering of light by large molecular aggregates of soap, which may be droplets or vesicles.  For those with access to a microscope, try looking at a few droplets of the cloudy solution under the microscope. The soap structures may be visible as spherical particles floating in the solution. These are the same kinds of structures that Jack Szostak and his team of researchers have been studying as models of primitive cell membranes in early forms of life.

Szostak adds: "Canada has some of the oldest rocks in the world.  Learning more about Canadian geology is a window onto the early history of the earth."