Standing on Earth almost 4 billion years ago would have been unbearably hot, lonely, and brief due to the lack of oxygen.
This could affect any theories that suggest lightning sparked the earliest life on our planet.
Researchers studied how streamer discharges – the sparks that start lightning – form in an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide and molecular nitrogen
A discharge requires stronger electric fields in nitrogen and carbon-rich atmospheres
"If lightning discharges produced prebiotic molecules, it's critical to understand how that happened," says Köhn.