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Meteorite Contains Complex Organic Molecules

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the fun-with-space-rocks dept.

Space 106

An anonymous reader writes "Previously unknown organic molecules have been discovered in a 100 kg meteorite that hit Australia in 1969, suggesting that our early Solar System contained a soup of highly complex organic chemistry long before life appeared. Quoting: 'According to [the study's lead author], the newly discovered compounds in the Murchison meteorite "may have contributed to the organic complexity of the early 'soup' that led to the development of life on Earth." The findings also suggest that extraterrestrial chemical diversity surpasses that found on Earth. The meteor probably passed through primordial clouds in the early solar system, accumulating organic molecules in a snowball effect along the way. By tracing the sequence of organic molecules in the meteorite, researchers believe they may also be able to create a timeline for their formation and alteration since the early days of our solar system.'"

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I for one (3, Funny)

koreaman (835838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155348)

welcome our new meteor-dwelling overlords.

Re:I for one (1)

adosch (1397357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155750)

Could it be that Futurama is becoming reality? It's only a matter of evolutionary time before that chemical blob morphs into Yivo [wikia.com] , and not only becomes a meteor-dwelling overlord, but our planet-sized, tentacled, omnipotent alien overlord that controls us all!

Re:I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31155838)

Could it be that Futurama is becoming reality? It's only a matter of evolutionary time before that chemical blob morphs into Yivo [wikia.com], and not only becomes a meteor-dwelling overlord, but our planet-sized, tentacled, omnipotent alien overlord that controls us all!

Hentai lovers rejoice!

Re:I for one (1)

RavenChild (854835) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156430)

Look at the world today. Perhaps we are ex-meteor-dwelling overlords.

Re:I for one (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156550)

This finding can only mean one thing: Space dolphins passed by billions of years ago, dropped some bricks behind, and we resulted.

I shit organic material, but so does Kilauea (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155380)

Before we get all excited about finding "organic" material in space rocks, it's important to remember that organic doesn't really mean anything unless it is certified by the government. There is a battery of tests and criteria that must be passed before anything can truly be referred to as organic.

I doubt anyone has certified a ROCK from OUTER SPACE as anything but a space rock. You can't eat it anyway, so there really isn't any reason to get it certified organic.

Re:I shit organic material, but so does Kilauea (-1, Troll)

EdZ (755139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155450)

I.. I really can't tell if this is deliberate humour or just stunning stupidity. I'm really hoping for the former, but you can never tell these days. For the record, 'organic' means 'contains carbon' in the context of chemistry.

Re:I shit organic material, but so does Kilauea (3, Insightful)

koreaman (835838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155486)

Check out the name of the guy who posted that...

Re:I shit organic material, but so does Kilauea (0, Redundant)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155602)

You got Punk'd.

Re:I shit organic material, but so does Kilauea (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31155718)

Well, to make your statement 100% perfect, please say "contains Hydrocarbons", because molecules like CO2 and CO don't count as organic material compound (though they are used/produced in a lot of organisms through organic chemistry of course)

but i guess he was joking of course... ;)

Re:I shit organic material, but so does Kilauea (4, Funny)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156586)

But it contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer.

Re:I shit organic material, but so does Kilauea (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159428)

I thought a cancer in the state were undesirables. At least, they're always characterized as being a cancer.

2323 Origin of life in our solar system discovered (4, Funny)

Orga (1720130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155404)

A passing space cruise liner flushing passenger waste as it passed our primordial solar system injected the base complex organic molecules needed to form life on our planet.

Re:2323 Origin of life in our solar system discove (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31155680)

Boy, if the creationists were upset at the idea of being related to Chimps, imagine how they'll go ape over being the spawn of alien space dung!

Re:2323 Origin of life in our solar system discove (3, Funny)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156318)

You mean they'll go ape-shit?

Re:2323 Origin of life in our solar system discove (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156508)

Hahahahaha!

Teeming with organic molecules (0)

proverbialcow (177020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155434)

A giant rock has been on Earth for forty years, and just now they're discovering that it's contains organic compounds? Um...did it fall directly into a controlled vacuum?

Re:Teeming with organic molecules (4, Informative)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155634)

A giant rock has been on Earth for forty years, and just now they're discovering that it's contains organic compounds? Um...did it fall directly into a controlled vacuum?

If you find organic molecules which do not exist on Earth OTHER than on this meteorite, the likely conclusion is that the meteorite is the source, not the recipient.

Re:Teeming with organic molecules (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31158826)

A giant rock has been on Earth for forty years, and just now they're discovering that it's contains organic compounds? Um...did it fall directly into a controlled vacuum?

If you find organic molecules which do not exist on Earth OTHER than on this meteorite, the likely conclusion is that the meteorite is the source, not the recipient.

I saw that movie, it had Fox Mulder innit, and he shot a dragon! :)

Re:Teeming with organic molecules (0, Troll)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159400)

If you find organic molecules which do not exist on Earth

And you know this with scientific certainty because... you've analyzed every organic molecule on Earth?

That certainly must have taken a long time

FWIW, I don't remember when you stopped by to sample my organic molecules.

Re:Teeming with organic molecules (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31163008)

The above comment brought to you by the society for replacing the scientific method with a brute force search.

Re:Teeming with organic molecules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31155702)

Well, it's one thing to have it covered in moss, it's another thing to find complex carbon-based molecules embedded into the structure. Rocks generally contain pockets, so you can tell if a molecule was there when the rock solidified or not. Plus, I'd imagine that the organic compounds found in space would have different concentrations than what you'd expect to find breezing around the outback.

Re:Teeming with organic molecules (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156730)

I have often wondered how this worked with the "martian" asteroids. The news articles never explained why the scientists involved were certain they came from Mars and why the bacteria in them had to have come from there - the answers to your post are somewhat helpful but I would still like to understand the methods behind it all a bit better.

Re:Teeming with organic molecules (1)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156856)

Could be wrong, but I think the martial meteorites (not asteroids, wiktionary that if you don't know why), were fossilized bacterial cells that were fossilized within the martian rock, which has a different composition than any rock on earth (due to its distance from the primordial sun during planet formation).

This article claims complex organic molecules that they do not name, which means they might not have a common chemical name and no one cares about IUPAC nomenclature. I would assume the chemicals were similarly embedded. I doubt someone would put their career on the line saying they found extraterrestrial organic chemicals unless they could not easily be refuted (but that's just my trusting nature) ... I have no reason to discredit the claim, at least.

Re:Teeming with organic molecules (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 4 years ago | (#31157510)

Thank you - and like most lay people, asteroids tend to be my way of referring to any rock from outer space (though I do know that is not technically true). Your explanation on the rock origination was most helpful.

Re:Teeming with organic molecules (2, Informative)

thrawn_aj (1073100) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159656)

To build on your point, I read the same story yesterday (could be the same source, I don't recall) and their work is based on mass spectrometry only (from the vague, unscientific, dumbed down crap that finally makes it to the popular press so I could be wrong). Essentially, they would crush a small sample of the meteorite, analyze it for known compounds/elements (dunno what instruments they use) and infer the composition. Their spokesperson also mentioned that their instruments aren't sensitive to every single ion species so they might even be missing things. Also, since their selection is just that - a selection - the actual number of different compounds may be much higher!

At this point, people that are really interested in understanding the science should look up the working of a mass spectrometer. The toy model is that you volatilize ("gassify [sic] by heating") your sample and electrically tear apart the molecules using a high voltage between (canonically) a pair of electrodes. Guide the ions electromagnetically into a chamber with a magnetic field perpendicular to the ions' motion. This bends the ions in different circular paths (the radii are different because of the ions' charge/mass ratio). Now, here is where the sophistication (read: cost) of the instrument comes into play - the detectors that measure the incidence of these separated ions. For organic chemistry, your instrument would have C, H, O, N and other common elements calibrated. Of course, this is all just a toy model of how things work - the specific instrument you use would of course have its own pros/cons. Cheaper ones might have more assumptions built into them (where you know what you're trying to measure and just wanna know relative element ratios - clearly this is not what you would want to use for exobiology where assumptions can be fatal).

Here's the abstract of the actual paper: http://www.pnas.org/content/107/7/2763 [pnas.org]
Full text requires a subscription, alas.

From a quick perusal of the text (University library FTW), this paper is a breakthrough for precisely the reason I alluded to above, i.e. for exobiology, you want to have little to no assumptions built into your investigation - a so-called 'non-targeted investigation' as the authors say. The newer analytical methods they used include (for keyword searches by interested readers): Electrospray ionization (ESI) Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance/mass spectrometry (FTICR/MS), Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) and ultraperformance liquid chromatography coupled to quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-QTOF/MS). This was from the actual paper.

Intuitively, you can sort of see what all that jargon means (thank science for meaningful terminology). FTICR/MS sounds like making the ions go in a circle using a magnetic field (the rotation frequency for a given charge/mass and mag field is the cyclotron resonant frequency - can be found via Fourier transform methods I presume - this sounds quite interesting and I believe I'll look this up to see exactly how they do it). NMR is simply MRI (the latter is a term used because neobarbs get their panties in a bunch when they hear "nuclear"). Vaguely speaking: you flip nuclear spins using an oscillatory mag field and measure the response - tells you what stuff is made of. Time-of-flight spectrometry is exactly what it sounds like. Recall my toy model of spectrometry. Well, instead of a mag field, you use an electric field to accelerate the ions and figure out how long it takes to make a given trip. Simple high school kinematics tells you the rest. Dunno offhand what the chromatography or ESI are but I'm sure you can google them if you're interested.

By the way, I see that there are many here who bring up the question of whether this is just terrestrial contamination. While the question is legit, the idea that scientists routinely ignore such obvious questions is a symptom of the irresponsible and incomplete nature of science reporting. The paper itself contains a large section addressing this very issue.

Here's an older paper (last year) by a different group on Arxiv: http://arxiv.org/abs/0806.2286 [arxiv.org] [full text]
(Different kind of investigation but it's full text so what the hey ;-)).

Discrimination of rocks. (-1, Offtopic)

Polarina (1389203) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155448)

Find a rock, ???, report to the press, ???, profit!

This rock looks exactly the same as the one I got at home -- it has the same shape, color, size and is just as aggressive as the rock advertised, yet, my rock doesn't get all the fame.

Really? (5, Funny)

mujadaddy (1238164) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155470)

The Murchison meteorite contains complex organic molecules – including carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulphur.

Molecules do not work that way!

TFA is short on details.

Again, TFA: Now, for the first time, scientists have used advanced analytical methods to conduct a non-targeted experiment....wtf?

Re:Really? (2, Funny)

xavieramont (1356337) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156124)

hey now, that article summary was outsourced to bangladesh. just be glad its in english.

Hey... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31157620)

I was outsourced to Bangladesh, you insensitive clod!

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160194)

You mean: it's

science-ignorant article (5, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155490)

Looking at better news sources, one finds the scientists found over 14,000 organic compounds which contained (besides carbon), the hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen, etc. None of those things by themselves constitutes an organic substance. Do kids even study chemistry in high school anymore?

Re:science-ignorant article (4, Informative)

Bowling Moses (591924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156326)

With a few exceptions like carbonates, cyanide salts, or allotropes of carbon (graphite, diamond, buckyball, etc), if it contains carbon it's an organic molecule. Since there aren't all that many molecules that meet these exceptions it's pretty safe to apply the rule: they found a crapload of different organic molecules.

A different news writeup (the actual paper isn't available yet on PNAS, not even online) says millions of compounds, including 70 different amino acids. It'll be interesting as details unfold.

Re:science-ignorant article (2, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160492)

A different news writeup (the actual paper isn't available yet on PNAS, not even online) says millions of compounds, including 70 different amino acids. It'll be interesting as details unfold.

The abstract is up now:

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/02/12/0912157107.abstract [pnas.org]

High molecular diversity of extraterrestrial organic matter in Murchison meteorite revealed 40 years after its fall

Numerous descriptions of organic molecules present in the Murchison meteorite have improved our understanding of the early interstellar chemistry that operated at or just before the birth of our solar system. However, all molecular analyses were so far targeted toward selected classes of compounds with a particular emphasis on biologically active components in the context of prebiotic chemistry. Here we demonstrate that a nontargeted ultrahigh-resolution molecular analysis of the solvent-accessible organic fraction of Murchison extracted under mild conditions allows one to extend its indigenous chemical diversity to tens of thousands of different molecular compositions and likely millions of diverse structures. This molecular complexity, which provides hints on heteroatoms chronological assembly, suggests that the extraterrestrial chemodiversity is high compared to terrestrial relevant biological- and biogeochemical-driven chemical space.

Re:science-ignorant article (0, Flamebait)

burningcpu (1234256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156448)

This depends on your definition of organic compound. If you are referring to the prevalent definition in chemistry, then yes, these are organic compounds. If you are going to be snarky about it you should at least double check yourself first. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_compound [wikipedia.org]

Re:science-ignorant article (0, Troll)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156888)

Wikipedia is not a source.

Re:science-ignorant article (2, Informative)

burningcpu (1234256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31157130)

Erm, ok, how about Organic Chemistry 6th Edition, by L.G. Wade? I'm not writing a paper here... show a little initiative and look it up yourself.

Re:science-ignorant article (1)

HeadlessNotAHorseman (823040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31164176)

Erm, ok, how about Organic Chemistry 6th Edition, by L.G. Wade? I'm not writing a paper here... show a little initiative and look it up yourself.

I only have Organic Chemistry 5th Edition, by L.G. Wade, you insensitive clod!

Re:science-ignorant article (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159934)

problem was wording of linked article implying that hydrogen, sulphur, nitrogen, oxygen were organic molecules in picture caption and in text; they are not. They should for picture and in article have said "organic molecules containing atoms of ....."

Re:science-ignorant article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156524)

He got the answer to "what is organic chemistry" on Jeopardy.

Re:science-ignorant article (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31157372)

I didn't RTFA because I read it here the other day: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8516319.stm

I thought it was informative.

organic sources (1)

Scarumanga (1022717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155504)

Well the thought of the building blocks for life to have just "formed" on earth is too far fetched. This just helps solidify that earth was somehow seeded by meteorites long before life started and that is where life started up from i believe. It just makes more sense. Also once you do the math as to how many galaxies there are just in the visible portion of the sky, it just becomes even more realistic that we are not alone, but space is just so big that we pretty much are alone in our tiny sector of the Galaxy perhaps. Its like living out in the boonies where everyone house would be separated by 5 miles with trees in the way, just because you can't see their house, doesn't mean its not there, but just out of sight.

Re:organic sources (4, Informative)

CyberBill (526285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155670)

"Well the thought of the building blocks for life to have just "formed" on earth is too far fetched."

Why is it far fetched? We've generated nearly every one of the bases of RNA and DNA in conditions that mimic the early Earth - Some from experiments like the Miller-Urey Experiment [wikipedia.org] created a whole slew of different organic compounds, and more recent studies have shown the synthesis of an amino acid resulting from exposure to ultra-violet light (I believe it was uracil?) - showing that there are many many different ways to create complex organic compounds.

Re:organic sources (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31157832)

There is a difference between forcing a monkey smash every letter of the alphabet on a keyboard, including some chance words up to 8-letters in length, and having a monkey voluntarily type out all of the works of Shakespeare, in the order they were written by Shakespeare, and then turn the typewriter into a primitive compiler, using only the information he typed; a compiler (using a language that is much more intricate, error-resolving, and efficient than any of our own) that starts building walking libraries, out of nothing but typewriters and monkeys, who recite the complete works of Shakespeare, in order (while subconsciously discarding any mispellings one of the typewriters could make). The difference is not a small one.

The Miller Urey experiment did manage to show that our atmosphere (and subsequently, the biosphere) knows what to do with excess carbon.

Re:organic sources (1)

primenerd (100899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159444)

Good of you to bring up the Miller-Urey experiments. Those experiments and subsequent ones with different atmospheric conditions have demonstrated how easy it is to create complex organic molecules under fairly common conditions (common in a cosmic sense).

Uracil is not an amino acid, it is a pyrimidine. Very necessary for RNA and life, but not an amino acid.

Re:organic sources (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160002)

AOL.

The thing that always bothered me about pansperima and related theories is that, while exciting, they depend on the premise that there must be a certain concentration of places out in space that are better suited for generating life or its basic compunds than here on earth. I have a hard time imagining such a place, and have yet to see any of the proponents describe even the rudimentary properties of such a place would need to have.

I find much more encouragement in recent theories (as described recently in Sientific American) concering deep-sea vents here on earth, and the combination they offer of vital and complex compounds, microscopic fluid-filled compartments, any life-suporting temperature you like within short reach, and acidity gradients that might power complex chemical cycles to produce and concentrate the building blocks for the most primitive of life-like systems.

I have little doubt that lif has also arisen elsewhere in the universe. The question is whether it is more likely to have traveled here than arisen here. My impression is that as our understanding of the possibilities expands, the need for the space connection just keeps slimming, and there is no reason to assume that trend is going to abate anytime soon.

Re:organic sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31155976)

.............umm.......... and it's less far fetched it was formed on some tiny asteroid in the middle of nowhere?
The universe might be filled with lots and lots of galaxies and planets, but it contains a several magnitudes greater amount of void, hence, the chance of this asteroid forming life, traveling across the galaxy, surviving a kiloton/megaton impact against earth is more likely?
If the earth was blasted into pieces right now, do you seriously think anything would survive and any of those pieces would spread life to other solarsystems?

What 'makes more sense' to me is that you wish you had some 'ancient' alien dna in you, that would allow you to control a starship and save the earth one day or that you would 'know' what the meaning of life is blahblahblah...

Re:organic sources (1)

Scarumanga (1022717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31157860)

Of course, some pieces of earth would travel through space, extremophiles would remain alive on the pieces of rock, after all extremophiles are our most ancient ancestors.

Re:organic sources (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155984)

Well the thought of the building blocks for life to have just "formed" on earth is too far fetched.

Basically you're promoting "vitalism"

Organic chemistry dropped vitalism around 1828 more or less due to Wohler synthesis.

Looks like biology still hasn't made that advance yet, OR your belief is a bit out of date, out of step with modern bio beliefs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wohler_synthesis [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitalism [wikipedia.org]

Re:organic sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156934)

All this really proves is that these compounds are actually quite common, and all the talk about them being rare is baseless.

Re:organic sources (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31158712)

Well the thought of the building blocks for life to have just "formed" on earth is too far fetched.

Why is it so hard to imagine organic molecules forming on Earth, if they for on asteroids (or wherever the meteorite came from), and, for that matter, in deep space [nrao.edu] ?

I agree with your suggestion that we're probably not alone, though.

Re:organic sources (1)

Scarumanga (1022717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31158880)

I should have worded it a bit differently, what i mean its more of a possibility that the key ingredients to form those essential building blocks for life, may have come from elsewhere in the solar system/galaxy. One thing we know is our planet gets showered with meteorites on almost a daily basis, most of which are just so small we cant see them. Then again its know that earth used to have a sister and both collided to form our current earth, and the leftover debris is what formed our moon, its more possible that everything was on both these planets, just when they combined it created the right kind of "soup" to spawn life.

Panspermia? Yeah right. (3, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155532)

I tried to explain on another website how this means life may have come to earth from space, and the only response I got was someone pointing out how I'm an idiot because this meteor is only from 40 years ago. He must be right, given no one would call someone an idiot when he himself is the idiot, so I must inform all of you panspermia is wrong and you should be ashamed of yourselves for believing it.

Re:Panspermia? Yeah right. (-1, Troll)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155656)

Wow. You had an argument on the internet. Then you came here to report it. Maybe you can report on digg how you explained your brilliance on Slashdot and just got a sarcastic reply.

Re:Panspermia? Yeah right. (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31157276)

Some idiots are amusing. Bash.org is evidence of that.

Re:Panspermia? Yeah right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156936)

The part I prefer is the "sperm" part of Panspermia.

Re:Panspermia? Yeah right. (1)

Scarumanga (1022717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31158056)

I think life came from space, and did not originate here on this planet. I have just come to accept that there is more at play than any human can understand at the moment, and probably won't be understood for a very long time. I also believe that all religions (in general) might have stemmed up from something else all together, someone passes a story on and changes it when he tells it to someone else, the process repeats itself until you have several different version of the same story (all religions have "a higher power" in common). Obviously something happened in human history that no one understood at all and that's where religion started, this is why i am not religious as i know its all baloney. No one is an idiot for having their own concepts, without different concepts or theories, well we would be lost.

Re:Panspermia? Yeah right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31159688)

It seems inevitable that panspermia exists. So I propose a radical rethink in how we conduct space missions. We have been careful to not contaminate other planets with Earth microbes, etc. Lets take the gloves off and load up our probes with all sorts of organic matter, maybe giving greater attention to adding extremophiles to the mix. Especially for Mars, this could help the terraforming process. Add lichens and stuff, and let it stew for a few thousand years, and we can watch evolution in action. If meteorites have been dropping random stuff on planets, the concept of contamination no longer exists. You could say we have a duty to spread our lifeforms onto as many places as possible. Recently they even said ice was found on the our moon, a place with no atmosphere. Lets shit bomb the planets and asteroids!

Soup Again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31155596)

We already had soup yesterday http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/02/15/1729253/ [slashdot.org]

Re:Soup Again? (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31157008)

Yes, ya right. That's exactly what I thought. But I think that in both cases, the word was used incorrectly. When I hear "soup", I think about a liquid in which stuff is floating. Where's the liquid here?

Yesterday's story was no better, since there was no liquid, the stuff was barely matter as we know it!

I would have changed the word "soup" for something more appropriate, like "a mix"

Proof there is a god (5, Funny)

meekg (30651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155622)

"The Murchison meteorite landed near a town of the same name... "

What are the odds for THAT happening?!

Re:Proof there is a god (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31155898)

"The Murchison meteorite landed near a town of the same name... "

What are the odds for THAT happening?!

It's a conspiracy. Call the Tea Party.

Re:Proof there is a god (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156066)

Proof that he is opposed to panspermicidal Oz filtering of space porn too!

Re:Proof there is a god (1)

garompeta (1068578) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156862)

Maybe it has the same odds of a town landing on a meteorite of the same name

Re:Proof there is a god (2, Informative)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31157660)

Well played!

wouldn't it be awesome (3, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155626)

if, as we sample more planetary, asteroid, and interstellar matter, that we simply find RNA everywhere?

that RNA simply permeates the entire universe: in the oort cloud, on europa, on ceres, in interstellar dust, in the data sent back to from probes to other stars/ exoplanets, etc

that life is not unique to earth, and that life is pretty much inevitable wherever the conditions are right. we got used to the fact that earth is not the center of the universe, and then that our star isn't even that notable. as we discover more exoplanets, we'e beginning to come to grips with the ho hum mundane facts of the existence of millions of planets. yet right now we operate on the assumption life on earth is this rare unique thing native to here. really?

and then the question would be: why RNA everywhere? how long has this been going on? where did it start? or for all practical purposes has it always been so and the ubiquity of panspermic RNA makes it pretty much a pat cosmological fact without discoverable cause or reason?

it would be a pretty awesome intersection of; astronomy, cosmology, theology, biology, and even mathematics/ physics/ information technologythat complexity is simply inevitable, and that information storage and retrieval is an emergent phenomenon intrinsic to the way physical laws inexorably play out... and that this is "God". deus ex machina

and it's entirely possible, as we keep looking

ok, sorry, i'll put down the marijuana. dude: have you ever looked at your hand? l mean REALLY look at your HAND

Re:wouldn't it be awesome (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156190)

that we simply find RNA everywhere?

There have been alot of stupid asses in the universe blowing themselves up. We just collect the last piece of their asploded civilization.

THIS COULD BE YOU!! IF YOU DONT RECYCLE! THE METEORITES ARE A WARNING!!!

Re:wouldn't it be awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31157032)

All of this has happened before, and will happen again. so say we all.

Re:wouldn't it be awesome (1)

panda.punter (1734284) | more than 4 years ago | (#31158154)

Don't confuse how life arose on Earth with how it may have evolved elsewhere. It's unlikely that RNA is the universal carrier for genetic information.

but that's exactly my point (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31158448)

life can of course evolve in a myriad ways, and rna might very well be unique to earth alone

however, what if the rna template for retrieval/ storage is actually just floating out there, everywhere, ubiquitously? the earth, and all celestial bodies, are constantly seeded from/ seeding everything else

you say "It's unlikely that RNA is the universal carrier for genetic information". how can you be certain? you'd have to tell me for certain there is no rna floating out there, and that rna can only possibly have been created right here on earth. currently you have no cause for saying that your speculation: rna is unique to earth, is any less or more speculative than my speculation: rna is everywhere

i am openly admitting that my words are conjecture, speculation. but you need to admit to yourself that saying rna is unique to earth is also equally speculative an assumption

Re:but that's exactly my point (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31164168)

BTW - DNA is the storage mechanism in life - RNA is used in a step for transcription. It is hypothesised that rna used to the primary storage method before but this is still up in the air.

As for whether its universal - that depends on how many other molecules exist that could potentially fill the role that is played by dna. All life needs a way of storing information in a durable way (with about 1 defect/offspring if you want good evolvability). If it turns out the dna is the only way of doing this properly (or the best way) then we would expect to see it everywhere there is life. For all we know there could have been a number of competitor systems but DNA won hands down due to its superior properties and/or ease of evolutionary access - in which case we can expect it to be ubiquitous as well. This is basically a variation of the contingency vs inevitability argument.

Re:wouldn't it be awesome (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 4 years ago | (#31164154)

'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'

'But,' says Man, 'The Murchison meteorite is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'

'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn’t thought of that,' and promptly vanished in a puff of logic.

They call them fingers but I've never seen them fing... wait, there they go.

Re:wouldn't it be awesome (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 4 years ago | (#31167484)

If life is pretty much inevitable wherever the conditions are right, why resort to space-faring RNA to explain life here on earth?

Published??? (5, Interesting)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155642)

From TFA: ...according to the study published in the U.S. Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

I'm going on the assumption that "published" implies past tense. As in, done. Yet, a search of PNAS finds no connection between the quoted author Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin and the word "Murchison" appearing ANYWHERE in the text of an article. And since no title is mentioned and no other authors are mentioned, I'm not really sure what to say.

I mean, I suppose it's possible PNAS completely screwed up somehow. I tried matching just the guy's first name, just his last name. He has written for PNAS in the past. He's written three articles on wine. That's quite a jump, from wine to meteorites.

I'm not saying it's not there. I just can't find it among the 81 PNAS articles on the Murchison meteorite.

Re:Published??? (1)

Kingleon (1399145) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155918)

Hold your horses! I've discovered in the past that news articles about PNAS articles generally appear a week before the actual article can be found on the PNAS website.

Re:Published??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156692)

Time travel?

Re:Published??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31161468)

I'm not sure what the problem is. Here's a link to the paper:
http://www.pnas.org/content/107/7/2763.abstract?sid=300b2847-a085-4846-b7c6-b0ac3fd6fdc8

Re:Published??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156016)

A search into the isi web of knowledge does not link the mentioned author to the meteorite either. They may just have cited someone who has just commented without participating ?, nooooo ... From his published papers it would appear that he is a good candidate for such an analytical work... I was hoping someone would find the paper... well there are other interesting and related articles available.

Re:Published??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31157724)

Heh.. heh heh..

You said PNAS.

Re:Published??? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31159070)

You internet fu is weak.

Original article.

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/02/12/0912157107.abstract

Titan has complex organics. (0, Offtopic)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155652)

Article in February Scientific American says latest astronomical research shows that Titan has sand deserts where the grains are complex organic molecules. (a great place for a vacation - deserts of bituminous sand, littered with rocks made of water ice, and with occasional heavy methane showers. )

Well, I for one... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155676)

Welcome our dark, smudgy, foul smelling organic overlords.

Oh wait, that's who's been here for millennia already. Damn. Damn. Damn!

Re:Well, I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31158956)

Is that a racist remark?

They made a documentary about this years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31155724)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064393/

Nonbelievers shall perish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31155756)

Hallowed are the Ori!

failzo8S (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31155786)

standPoint, I don'[t you are a screaming Darren Reed, which what we've known

Wildfire alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31155812)

Call in Dr Jeremy Stone and his team

Either that ... (1)

Tired and Emotional (750842) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156070)

or it whacked a dinosaur.

Re:Either that ... (1)

joke_dst (832055) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156794)

40 years ago?

Re:Either that ... (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31157266)

Birds are dinosaurs!

Also, fruit are candy and the cake is a lie.

Re:Either that ... (3, Funny)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31157320)

There's no way to prove with absolutely certainty that there aren't still velociraptors out there hiding somewhere....biding their time.

There Is Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31156170)

There is life on Mars!!! Run, run to the hills!!!

Oh and welcome alien invaders!

anyone ? (0, Redundant)

alobar72 (974422) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156304)

And I, for one, welcome... and so forth Did anzbody mention it by now ?

Re:anyone ? (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31156894)

It was in the first post. Mod me informative.

yuo fail I9t? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31157050)

Does anyone have an actual link. (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31158344)

The author of the original article clearly doesn't understand what a molecule is, and the article is not very informative.

Does anyone have an actual link to a scientific article about this ? ArXiv would do just fine.

Re:Does anyone have an actual link. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31162360)

Like this? [pnas.org]

FRRRRRRP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31158784)

It didn't contain as many as that!

Then again... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31161800)

...organic does not equal building block of life. Because it’s <John Cleese> [youtube.com] just one way... just one way... </John Cleese> [youtube.com] life can evolve.

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