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NASA Discovers Life's Building Block In Comet

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the low-glycemic-index dept.

Space 148

xp65 writes "NASA scientists have discovered glycine, a fundamental building block of life, in samples of comet Wild 2 returned by NASA's Stardust spacecraft. 'Glycine is an amino acid used by living organisms to make proteins, and this is the first time an amino acid has been found in a comet,' said Jamie Elsila of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. 'Our discovery supports the theory that some of life's ingredients formed in space and were delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite and comet impacts.'"

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148 comments

How sure? (2, Funny)

Hammer (14284) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105115)

Are we sure it is not an alien spaceship ?

Re:How sure? (0, Redundant)

tankadin (1175113) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105181)

So we are basically aliens on our own planet?

Rob Malda wishes to make an announcement (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29105347)

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Re:How sure? (4, Insightful)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105393)

No, all it means is that some of the chemicals needed for Earthly life are also found in elsewhere in the Solar System. Given that the entire Solar System formed out of the same molecular cloud that is not very surprising.

Re:How sure? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29105593)

This comet orbits the Sun every 6.39 years.
The chemicals on it might just as well have been knocked off from Earth to begin with as coming from elsewhere in the Solar System.

Re:How sure? (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106131)

It is hard to imagine a situation where enough organic or pre-organic material is knocked of the Earth that it would leave that much material on a single comet. Still, there probably some exchange back into space when Earth is hit by a large meteoroid.

hypotheses (4, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106345)

1) it was scooped from earth or another planet with life by the comet: dubious

2) a planet with life somewhere got crushed and the ejected material that formed the comet got some amino acids in it. weakly possible.

3) Given it's been shown that freezing primordial materials found in space actually promotes the formation of nucleic acids, it might not be much of a reach to suppose that there are natural processes in cold space that will form amino acids.

4) there are life forms that live on comets. presumably then panspermia is ubiquitous.

5) the gel got contaminated on earth. or the mass spec is not definitive about the molecule in question.

I lean towards 5, and then 3 as a close second. Of course 4 would be interesting, as it's direct panspermia. But if indeed the building blocks of life as we know it pervade the universe and occur naturally it also suggests there probably are a lot of similar nucloetide/peptide base life forms out there.

Re:hypotheses (2, Informative)

Cattus Curiosus (970543) | more than 4 years ago | (#29107977)

5) the gel got contaminated on earth. or the mass spec is not definitive about the molecule in question.

I lean towards 5, and then 3 as a close second.

I would have agreed with you before I RTFA. The authors acknowledged contamination as a confounding factor, and tested for it by isotopic analysis of the C13:C12 ratio, where glycine from space is expected to have a greater amount of C13. This is precisely what they found, allowing them to conclude that the glycine did, in fact, come from the comet.

Re:How sure? (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106189)

This is turn lends credence (but certainly not proof by any stretch of the imagination) to the hypothesis that life is abundant in the Universe and is bound to arise in physical systems in which moderately acceptable conditions are present, in the same manner that clouds of hydrogen tend to coalesce into stars and chunks of inorganic debris tend to form planets. This is unsurprising for anyone moderately versed in physics or chemistry, but it is still exciting to see us take another step toward finding life "out there".

Re:How sure? (2, Interesting)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106583)

The competitive, and somewhat older, hypotheses were that glycine and other amino acids were formed in primordial tidal pools, or in the atmosphere during lighning storms, and so on. So this finding is significant in demonstrating that at least some amino acids can be formed under extraterrestrial conditions. This weakens the "Earth is a very special place" arguments. So this is a fairly important finding.

Also kudos to the analyst teams for finding ways to handle such small specimens. This result is the product of a technology that could not even be imagined 15 years ago.

A question for anyone who has studied the subject: do we have any idea why there is a difference between terrestrial and extraterrestrial carbon isotope ratios? Or for that matter, the higher presence of iridium in space rocks, etc?

Re:How sure? (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105663)

No no no....we are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon.

stardust, maybe, or alternatively.... (1)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105957)

No no no....we are stardust

Alternatively, as (IIRC) Bill Bryson says in "A short history of everything", we could just consider ourselves to be nuclear waste.

Re:How sure? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106683)

Well, my solution to the question "if there's other life in the galaxy, why haven't we seen their von neuman machines? is: we are their von neuman machines.

Re:How sure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29107155)

Well, my solution to the question "if there's other life in the galaxy, why haven't we seen their von neuman machines? is: we are their von neuman machines.

I think you mean "intelligent, techonologically advanced life" rather than just "life". Trilobytes and mammoths were around for a lot longer than humans, but they weren't even capable of concieving of machines, much less self-replicating machines that travel through space!:p Potentially, the galaxy could have billions of planets with various forms of life, but few of them with life both intelligent and technologically sophisticated enough to create Von Neuman machines. After all, we could be surrounded by a dozen of planets populated by peaceful philosophers whose civilizations never felt the need to advance much beyond the Iron Age. Just because we (a more or less intelligent species) have evolved and have developed increasingly complex technology doesn't mean that is the predestined or even most likely outcome for a planet with life.

Re:How sure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29105219)

It was an alien spaceship until the Zxirmtoz Xizda 537.AF98X.H245-W'Umpge Hivenest Ultimate Imperator edition system in the matter stability generator did crash.

Re:How sure? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29105829)

Speaking of which, how much energy would it take to me the entire EARTH a spaceship? Like completely knocking it out of the gravity well of the sun so that we could travel on it to another place. Of course we would have to do something about light for the plants and animals that are living here, but imagine creating a large reflector that we rotated around the entire earth and shine down light transmitted from the ground. We could have an entire planet as a spaceship, which might be useful if this sun starts to blow up on us.

Glycine Deficiency (3, Funny)

Falstaft (847466) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105117)

Strange, we think that a comet wiped out the dinosaurs, and yet another comet like this one could sustain the glycine-deficient dinosaurs at Jurassic Park!

Re:Glycine Deficiency (2, Informative)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105405)

That was lysine. Muppet.

HAL.

Re:Glycine Deficiency (1)

jerep (794296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106067)

I thought a comet like that was what gave life to earth in the very first place.. maybe this one is coming to replace humans with a more evolved species, this would be convenient.

Re:Glycine Deficiency (1)

zygotic mitosis (833691) | more than 4 years ago | (#29107027)

There's a lot of carbon here and it likes to form bonds. Why can't we accept that amino acids formed independently here, away from comets and such? The theory of abiogenesis doesn't need a comet to bring us glycine. Occam's razor

Panspermia? (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105149)

Or "space spooge" as the kids call it these days. So where'd that life come from?

Re:Panspermia? (1)

ayahner (696000) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105287)

Jesus, of course. Don't you read?

Re:Panspermia? (1)

ad0n (1171681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105779)

It was ported over from a precursor interstellar goo, obviously.

Re:Panspermia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29107967)

Q: What's white and shoots across the sky?

A: The Coming of the Lord

Where did that stuff come from? (0, Offtopic)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105165)

I'm not going to say that God created the world in 6 days or any crap like that. Anyone who thinks that Creationism has any validity at all is seriously deluded and should probably be kept away from sharp objects and steep dropoffs.

But they do have a point when it comes to abiogenesis. It's fine and dandy to push the building blocks of life off-planet, but how can those blocks then be explained? A large planet with all sorts of chemical and physical processes seems like a much better place for life to arise than on some desolate block of ice flying around the universe. What caused the life to form way out there?

Re:Where did that stuff come from? (-1, Flamebait)

Kratisto (1080113) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105295)

I'm more in favor of letting nature take its course when it comes to Creationists, sharp objects and steep dropoffs.

Re:Where did that stuff come from? (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105361)

That only works on intelligent falling [theonion.com] theorists.

Stuff != life (4, Interesting)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105467)

What caused the life to form way out there?

Um... it didn't. "Building blocks for life" does not equal "life". But once the 'building blocks' formed, life could get started... almost certainly on Earth. See, e.g., here [discovermagazine.com] .

Re:Where did that stuff come from? (4, Interesting)

SevenHands (984677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105531)

"What caused the life to form way out there?"

As far as we can tell life didn't form way out there. Just an amino acid fundamental to life. Life as we know it requires liquid water, a certain atmosphere, gravity, and a bunch of other requirements.

"It's fine and dandy to push the building blocks of life off-planet, but how can those blocks then be explained?"

The building blocks for life have to come from somewhere, they don't just appear out of nowhere (or do they?). After all, isn't life really just the combination of left over heavier elements created through exploded stars and other space junk that just happened to end up on earth through meteorites, comets, and the accretion process...

Re:Where did that stuff come from? (1)

dk90406 (797452) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105893)

Panspermia adds a level of complexy to evolution we really do not need. I have seen people argue that life on Earth came from microbes in comets or even from meteorite fragments bouncing of Mars. Sure, that may explain how life ended up on earth, but how did start in a comet or Mars - an question much harder to explain that how the organic soup on early earth cooked up life.

Now, I know that this amino acid in RTFA is not life. I am not really surprised that it is found - space observations have shown a large amount of more or less complex organic molecules in space or nebulae.

"The building blocks for life have to come from somewhere, they don't just appear out of nowhere (or do they?)"

They were very likely created by chemical reactions on earth. Earth is a better laboratory than any meteorites, comets ect. because here is heat, infrared light and most important of all: Liquid water.

Re:Where did that stuff come from? (1)

wasabii (693236) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106857)

Well, we know the components of glycine, and we can synthesize it. It's not unreasonable to imagine that it can form from reaction with other elements: on or off our planet.

Just so happens we found some off.

It's even STILL possible that terristerial glycine is responsible for us, and this is just some other source.

Re:Where did that stuff come from? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106259)

Life forms on planet. Planet hits other planet. [slashdot.org] Building blocks of life fly off in a zillion directions. It's a rough neighborhood out there. How stuff that was on planets made it into space is not difficult to imagine.

Jumping straight from "amino's exist in space" to supernatural abiogenesis is pretty weak.

Re:Where did that stuff come from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106469)

I'm not going to say that God created the world in 6 days or any crap like that.

I'm not trying to start a flame war or any crap like that. But, to whoever is reading this, your local area deity sure does lack validity!

Tin Foil Hat (3, Interesting)

BurzumNazgul (1163509) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105189)

'Our discovery supports the theory that some of life's ingredients formed in space and were delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite and comet impacts.'

It also supports the theory that some other planet full of life went *KA-BOOOM*

Aliens of said planet are now patrolling the galaxy looking for the next M class planet to colonize.

Re:Tin Foil Hat (2, Funny)

Miros (734652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105417)

Quick! We've got to try to render this planet as depleted and undesirable as possible as swiftly as we can...

Re:Tin Foil Hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29105525)

What you didn't mention teh evil Republicans?!?! "loose" all karma!

Re:Tin Foil Hat (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105645)

No, only that there's a high chance of life very similar to us existing on other earth-like planets. At least, similar in the sense that they are made of carbon-based proteins. They might not be intelligent, but at least they'll be edible.

On the other hand, we might just end up being some research team's biosociology experiment.

Re:Tin Foil Hat (5, Informative)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106507)

They might not be intelligent, but at least they'll be edible

Actually, you're wrong there. As one example, life on earth is composed of right-handed sugars and and left-handed amino acids, but as far as we can tell there's no particular reason why that configuration had to happen - it was a random configuration which manifested early in the development of terrestrial life and spread to all existing species. This means we can only process food with that particular molecular makeup. Early artificial sweeteners took advantage of this fact - their manufacturers figured out how to make left-handed sugars which we could taste, but couldn't digest. In other words you can eat it and it won't cause you any harm, but you won't get any energy from it. What this means is that there would be, at best, only a 25% chance of us being able to use your hypothetical life-forms as a food source, and that's without having to worry about whether they provide us with the right vitamins/nutrients, what sorts of hormones and toxins might be in them, etc.

Re:Tin Foil Hat (3, Interesting)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 4 years ago | (#29107167)

And lets not forget that it would work both ways.

If we can eat, and be nourished by, alien life then any bacterium from the same environment could use US as food as well.

And even then alien predators would likely still TRY to eat us if they thought we might taste good, or could be used as incubators for their parasitic, chest busting, off-spring, or they might just want to hunt us for sport with plasma based weapons while using active-camo.

Re:Tin Foil Hat (3, Funny)

tool462 (677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#29107853)

So what you're saying is that we only have a 25% chance of being able to digest the alien species, but a 75% chance of being able to use them as a calorie-free artificial sweetener?

Queue the countdown to NutraSweet funding the SETI program in 3...2...1..

Re:Tin Foil Hat (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106035)

Aliens of said planet are now patrolling the galaxy looking for the next M class planet to colonize.

I first read this as "colorize", and I think I like it better that way. Somewhere out there is a super-advanced race that couldn't care less about biospheres and intelligent races and such, but just really likes blues and greens a lot better than browns and reds.

Call them the Turnerites.

Re:Tin Foil Hat (1)

kyriosdelis (1100427) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106997)

It also supports the theory that some other planet full of life went *KA-BOOOM*

Then where is the KA-BOOM? There was supposed to be an Earth-shattering KA-BOOM!

Delivery (1)

DrugCheese (266151) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105215)

The universe has delivery now? If only it'd get an internet presence I bet it'd really take off.

Again? (2, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105253)

Don't they make a claim like this every other week? It isn't getting any more interesting. Elements of life found in an old pile of pancakes left behind in an abandoned nuclear power plant, now that would be interesting.

Re:Again? (4, Funny)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105419)

Ha!

q: Whats the difference between average slashdotter and average comet?

a: one gets to spread its "life's building blocks" around

Re:Again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29105579)

Mod parent up. Hilarious

Re:Again? (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105731)

Mod parent up! Damnit you mod points, where are you when I need you...

Re:Again? (2, Funny)

BradleyAndersen (1195415) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106491)

Clearly I am getting them all :(. I am now on my 5th batch of mod points in 2 weeks. grrr ...

Re:Again? (4, Funny)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105905)

We spread "life's building blocks" around too. It's just that there's no fertile "tracts of land" to receive them.

Re:Again? (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105491)

Yeah, and each time, it's obvious the evidence was planted.

Re:Again? (2, Interesting)

American Terrorist (1494195) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105635)

Yeah, and each time, it's obvious the evidence was planted.

I RTFA and tried to figure out how they are 100% certain the glycine is from space. Apparently it's because of the isotope ratios of C12 and C13, with more C13 being present in space. My question is, how much glycine did they collect? The link to the analytics on NASA's website keeps timing out.

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29105255)

That is the most interesting news I have heard all week, and probably the closest thing to proof that life "could" exist on other planets. Although like sperm making its way to the egg, the chances of success are one in millions and probably more so in our case. As a statistical impossibility, we should consider ourselves lucky to even exist. Its amazing that all that chaos could have so complex of a result.

Anticlimactic (2, Funny)

ayahner (696000) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105271)

So now we know

  • the building blocks of life can come in from external sources
  • Earth/Sun relationship isn't likely the "perfect" ecosystem for sustainence of carbon based organic life forms

Obviously, the discovery of sentient life "abroad" is going to be anticlimactic now.

Way to ruin it.

Re:Anticlimactic (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105551)

We're also assuming that any "alien" life form must come from the same "building blocks" that life as we know it does.

Who says this must be this way? For all I know, the building block of life on planet X-471 could be oil-stained pizza boxes.

Tourists or flu vaccine? (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105281)

Just comets. Now get back to work Mulder.

The explanation: (1)

raffnix (1472681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105297)

somebody at NASA had a fatty burger for lunch

Glycine isn't that complex (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29105299)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycine formula is NH2-CH2-CO-OH
It's not that complicated. Shouldn't we be waiting to get excited about something more complex?

Re:Glycine isn't that complex (2, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105421)

It's not that complicated. Shouldn't we be waiting to get excited about something more complex?

Yeah, I'm waiting for: 'Scientist find building blocks for taco's in comet, decide to build lunch.'

Re:Glycine isn't that complex (1)

Cattus Curiosus (970543) | more than 4 years ago | (#29108443)

Well, I agree that one of my first thoughts was that glycine is the simplest amino acid and therefore not quite as exciting as finding one or more of the other amino acids. However, it's important to remember that the important characteristic of amino acids is their ability to polymerize via condensation reaction of the amino group of one with the carboxyl group of another. The only thing that distinguishes glycine from the other amino acids (except for proline) is that it "only" has a H for its R group. All it takes is substitution of a methyl group at that position and suddenly you have alanine, one of the most abundant amino acids found in proteins.

Panspermia (2, Informative)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105341)

Adama: "Life here began out there." These are the first words of the Sacred Scrolls...

We may have sent men into space (2, Funny)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105367)

but the prime constituent of the soya bean got their 1st. Just one small fart for man one giant harumph for mankind

What's all this I must wait & try again stuff about did someone /. /.?

Reminds me of Spore... (1)

gapagos (1264716) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105377)

Didn't you start life on a planet in Spore with a comet?

Maybe we are all part of a gigantic video game like spore?
Maybe the "gamer" is a gigantic A.I. person?
Maybe The Matrix is real??

Re:Reminds me of Spore... (1)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106513)

In this case WE are the AI. In fact, this would explain a lot of things.

Sci-fi (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105477)

It's quite amusing to think of all the games and sci-fi plots that have been based around alien life forms landing on a planet and taking it over in the context of this theory, because, well, if true, then we're those alien life forms, the only thing we're missing from most plots is a hive mind!

Re:Sci-fi (1, Funny)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105741)

only thing we're missing from most plots is a hive mind!

Don't Rush Limbaugh fans qualify?

Re:Sci-fi (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106453)

he said "Hive Mind".

Re:Sci-fi (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106627)

Whatever we may be missing, it isn't hive mentality. As Monty Python (in "Life of Brian") put it:

Brian: Please, please, please listen! I've got one or two things to say.
The Crowd: Tell us! Tell us both of them!
Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't NEED to follow ME, You don't NEED to follow ANYBODY! You've got to think for your selves! You're ALL individuals!
The Crowd: Yes! We're all individuals!
Brian: You're all different!
The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!
Man in crowd: I'm not...
The Crowd: Sch!

dubious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29105495)

Hmm, I'm dubious, how do we know that the evidence is real and wasn't fabricated by clever scientists?!? [slashdot.org]

What they did not tell you. (4, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105609)

Glycine is the only thing they are willing to admit. NASA believes the world is not in a position to digest, (ha, ha) the more significant finding in the comet: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Glycine is simple... (5, Informative)

cfa22 (1594513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105659)

Glycine is the simplest amino acid, and it the only one that lacks a chiral center on the alpha carbon. Of the four groups attached in a tetrahedral arrangement to the alpha carbon, two are hydrogen atoms. In all other amino acids, one of the two hydrogens of glycines is replaced by a distinct functional group. The really interesting thing about biologically used amino acids is that it is always the same hydrogen of the two that is replaced -- all the 19 non-glycine amino acids are so-called "L-stereoisomers." Discovery of any one of the 19 amino acids other than glycine in a comet would be quite a story, and it would be even more surprising if there were a mixture of "L" and "D" stereoisomers other than 50/50. My bet is that if another amino acid is found in cometary debris, it is asparagine, since it can form by the reaction 2*glycine - water.

Re:Glycine is simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106245)

Exactly, Glycine != life.
A little ammonia, water, and something to catalyze the reaction like sulfur or iodine and there ya go. No biological processes necessary.

so Spore is correct ! One for the corporates! Yaay (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105735)

Great!
So Spore was actually right.
Now i can let my son play spore and help him learn that life came from comets and that we ought to smash each others heads to become civilized.

Aren't these people supposed to be scientists??? (2, Funny)

ewenix (702589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105823)

Seriously...

Apparently they can't be bothered to pick up a textbook and learn that Redi and Pasteur proved it doesn't work like that a couple hundred years ago.
It's call the law of biogenesis.
Stop spending tax dollars trying to prove your Theory when there is already a scientific law disproving it.
If you want to spend your own money on it fine, just stop spending mine on your junk 'science.'

Re:Aren't these people supposed to be scientists?? (2, Insightful)

jj110888 (791178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106121)

Apparently they can't be bothered to pick up a textbook and learn that Redi and Pasteur proved it doesn't work like that a couple hundred years ago.
It's call the law of biogenesis.
Stop spending tax dollars trying to prove your Theory when there is already a scientific law disproving it.


Because, you know, a scientific "law" is the absolute truth........
Wikipedia happens to say that the law of biogenesis is "that modern organisms do not spontaneously arise in nature from non-life." Really, what makes you think that we are talking about modern organisms? This "law" is just meant to codify that the common wisdom of the day, that flies will comes from rotten meat, was incorrect.

Aside from a creationist perspective, you need some kind of abiogenic beginning, and this research helps us understand how this might take place.

Re:Aren't these people supposed to be scientists?? (1)

ewenix (702589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29107065)

First: Scientific Law vs. Theory. Perhaps you should learn the difference.

Second: Are you seriously trying to make an argument based off of what wikipedia says? Let's try to deal with the facts, okay?

Third, I'm open to all possibilities (can you say the same?) and science has proven abiogenic beginnings do not occur. As I stated before if you want to spend YOUR money try to prove otherwise, please feel free to do so. Just stop spending MY money on a flawed theory that has already been proven impossible both scientifically and mathematically.

Re:Aren't these people supposed to be scientists?? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106205)

Seriously...

Apparently they can't be bothered to pick up a textbook and learn that Redi and Pasteur proved it doesn't work like that a couple hundred years ago. It's call the law of biogenesis. Stop spending tax dollars trying to prove your Theory when there is already a scientific law disproving it. If you want to spend your own money on it fine, just stop spending mine on your junk 'science.'

Would you mind stating what "it" you're referring to? Are you trying to say that it's physically impossible for glycine to form outside of a living organism?

Re:Aren't these people supposed to be scientists?? (1)

ewenix (702589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29107193)

Are you trying to say that it's physically impossible for glycine to form outside of a living organism?

No. I'm saying Redi and Pasteur have already proven that life does not spontaneously generate.

Re:Aren't these people supposed to be scientists?? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#29108039)

No. I'm saying Redi and Pasteur have already proven that life does not spontaneously generate.

Then where did the first living organism come from? They only demonstrated (remember that scientists don't prove anything, only mathematicians do that) that insects, specifically flies in the case of Pasteur, if I remember correctly, don't spontaneously grow from dead meat. Before Pasteur, bacteria and viruses were practically unknown, never mind the biochemistry behind them.

Re:Aren't these people supposed to be scientists?? (1)

ewenix (702589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29108427)

Then where did the first living organism come from?

There are only two options, and based on science and math we can eliminate one.
You have the law of biogenesis showing that life does not come from non-life, and math showing us that abiogenesis is statistically impossible.

The question for most is how much evidence do you need to give up the dogma of darwinistic evolution?
If you start out by saying there is no four. You will never be able to determine what 2+2 equals.

Re:Aren't these people supposed to be scientists?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29107417)

Pasteur disproved that bacteria do not magically appear in a vat of broth. He did not disprove abiogenesis. He knew nothing about amino acids, RNA, or DNA. Self-replicating RNA has already been produced in a lab. It's only a matter of time until we discover the full process.

Contamination (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105887)

Anyone familiar with The Big Bang Theory will not be surprised by this finding. I bet they did not find any traces of peanuts, though.

Contamination most likely. (1)

matthewmok (412065) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105931)

In the end they will find out it is due to some sort of contamination from earth.

They can't do anything right these days.

Can't blame it on the stork anymore. (1)

The Altruist (1448701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29105947)

"Mommy, where do babies come from?" "Well, dear, the comets bring them." "Really?" "Yes, like when you were born. A naturally-occurring cataclysmic engine of destruction descended from the sky and destroyed our house and ruined our lives forever." "Really?" "Yes, dear. It's time for you to run along to school. NOW."

Mabye it's fabricated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106081)

Mabye scientists fabricated the evidence. FYI, one of today's headlines is that Scientists Learn To Fabricate DNA Evidence (Just Like the Comet)

Link:
http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/08/18/0043212/Scientists-Learn-To-Fabricate-DNA-Evidence

Faulty Logic? (5, Interesting)

psnyder (1326089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106141)

Maybe I'm missing something (and point it out if I am) but from what I'm reading this does NOT support what Dr. Elsila is saying in the article:

"Our discovery supports the theory that some of life's ingredients formed in space and were delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite and comet impacts."

Instead it only supports what Dr. Pilcher says in the article:

"The discovery of glycine in a comet supports the idea that the fundamental building blocks of life are prevalent in space, and strengthens the argument that life in the universe may be common rather than rare."

In other words, it's just saying that amino acids are not that rare. If they're not that rare, why can't Earth have made them on it's own?

After all the Miller/Urey experiment [duke.edu] in 1953 showed that amino acids can be produced fairly easily if a few simple conditions are met.

Miller took molecules which were believed to represent the major components of the early Earth's atmosphere and put them into a closed system

The gases they used were methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen (H2), and water (H2O). Next, he ran a continuous electric current through the system, to simulate lightning storms believed to be common on the early earth. Analysis of the experiment was done by chromotography. At the end of one week, Miller observed that as much as 10-15% of the carbon was now in the form of organic compounds. Two percent of the carbon had formed some of the amino acids which are used to make proteins.

Maybe comets and meteors with amino acids were hitting earth as well. But finding them all over space also strengthens the idea that they're not uncommon to produce, and therefore also strengthens the theory that Earth could have produced them by itself. Either way seems like a guess to me.



Fun fact for the day: The Murchison meteorite [wikipedia.org] which fell in Australia in 1969 also contained common amino acids such as glycine, alanine and glutamic acid as well as unusual ones like isovaline and pseudoleucine.

Re:Faulty Logic? (1)

drunken_boxer777 (985820) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106903)

This is exactly what I was thinking.

Which means that if what Dr. Elsila claims is true, Earth would have been bombarded by an insane number of comets to deliver enough amino acids to the area where life began. (Assuming that comet distribution across the surface of the Earth was somewhat random and not totally localized.)

There's still the problem of the life form being able to create its own amino acids, so a lot would have to 'fall from the sky' until the ability to synthesize them evolved.

At least, this would have to be the case if amino acids came exclusively (or near exclusively) from space.

Re:Faulty Logic? (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 4 years ago | (#29107179)

It doesn't have to be bombarded, though. Dust falls into the atmosphere all the time. It doesn't burn up on reentry because it doesn't have enough mass.

-l

Comets... (1)

LabRat007 (765435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106187)



...the Galaxy's sperm...

Re:Comets... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106473)

That explains the tail.

Contamination (1)

mario_grgic (515333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106275)

I would first suspect contamination of test equipment before announcing a "discovery" of protein building blocks on a comet. Think about it. The gas collection equipment was built on earth, taken to space, used to collect some gas from comet's tail and brought back to earth and inspected by scientists in a lab.

Re:Contamination (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106489)

You're a genius! I'm sure no one considered that and took any precautions.

Re:Contamination (1)

psnyder (1326089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29108201)

The article spends 3 paragraphs on that! I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It's not a long article (>_<)

Earlier, preliminary analysis in the Goddard labs detected glycine in both the foil and a sample of the aerogel. However, since glycine is used by terrestrial life, at first the team was unable to rule out contamination from sources on Earth. "It was possible that the glycine we found originated from handling or manufacture of the Stardust spacecraft itself," said Elsila. The new research used isotopic analysis of the foil to rule out that possibility.

Isotopes are versions of an element with diffehttp://science.slashdot.org/story/09/08/18/1357243/NASA-Discovers-Lifes-Building-Block-In-Comet#rent weights or masses; for example, the most common carbon atom, Carbon 12, has six protons and six neutrons in its center (nucleus). However, the Carbon 13 isotope is heavier because it has an extra neutron in its nucleus. A glycine molecule from space will tend to have more of the heavier Carbon 13 atoms in it than glycine thatâ(TM)s from Earth. That is what the team found. âoeWe discovered that the Stardust-returned glycine has an extraterrestrial carbon isotope signature, indicating that it originated on the comet,â said Elsila.

The team includes Daniel Glavin and Jason Dworkin of NASA Goddard. "Based on the foil and aerogel results it is highly probable that the entire comet-exposed side of the Stardust sample collection grid is coated with glycine that formed in space," adds Glavin.

Why wouldnt there be lifes building blocks found (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106639)

Why wouldn't there be lifes building blocks found on comets, should be the question. If what scientist say is true that there was a comet or asteroid that ended the dinosaurs,why wouldn't there be particles in space?? The comet would have hit so hard many of our life forms would have been ejected into space.Wouldnt it makes since for some of this matter to be found on comets and other planets and moons?

S.T.U.P.I.D. (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106693)

Well, if it can form on that small comet, then it can also form on that much much bigger "comet" circling the sun, called "Earth".

I wonder if it hurts to make up such a dumb argument as the original one.

Hoffa? (2, Funny)

crrkrieger (160555) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106779)

When I first read the headline, I saw "NASA Discovers Life's Building Blocks in Cement". I figured they had found Jimmy Hoffa.

sinema izle (0, Troll)

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I knew it. (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 4 years ago | (#29107675)

Space sperm.

the egg chicken (1)

s1d3track3D (1504503) | more than 4 years ago | (#29108011)

So, we are all composed of materials that come from our universe and we have now found materials in the universe that show we could be formed.
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