Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Glycine Found in Comet Particles

The Los Angeles Times article Ingredient for life detected in comet dust mentions the finding of the amino acid glycine in comet material. Glycine is the simplest of the 20 standard amino acids found in living organisms. The article quotes a research scientist as mentioning the possibility that life was seeded on earth by cosmic material. This is not a new theory for previous findings of biochemical building blocks were discovered in meteorites.

This type of evidence for the origin of life falls within a building block rubric which is characteristic of OOL research. Different types of biomolecules are found in different conditions and theories are woven as to how more complex molecules and biological systems developed from these initial meager starts. Some amino acids here, some there. Some nucleotides here, other types there. Enclose them within lipid chains, add some enzymes, hope for some replication and whala, whala, we're on our way.

The last few sentences of the article are telling:

Just having the right materials is no guarantee that life will begin, of course, any more than leaving a hammer, nails and planks lying around will cause a barn to rise. Brownlee pointed out that many of the 30,000 or so meteorites that have been found on Earth bear traces of organic compounds, and there also is evidence that they were once warm and wet, all necessary conditions for life. Yet none of the meteorites has shown any evidence of life forms.

"They are all failed places where life could have arisen," Brownlee said.

The universe is one big lab and the real evidence for life arising in lifeless environments is paltry to put it kindly.

HT: Clare



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