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Meteorites Brought Ingredients of Life To Earth

Roblimo posted more than 3 years ago | from the we-have-met-the-aliens-and-they-are-us dept.

Earth 199

Meshach writes "A new analysis of a meteorite found in Antarctica is leading scientists to think that life on Earth may have come from outer space. Chemical analysis of the meteorite shows it to be rich in ammonia and containing the element nitrogen. Nitrogen is found in the proteins and DNA that form the basis of life as we know it. The prevailing theory is that our planet may have been seeded by a comet or asteroid because the formative Earth might not have been able to provide the full inventory of simple molecules needed for the processes which led to primitive life."

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199 comments

fp via meteorite (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344182)

incoming!

Re:fp via meteorite (3, Insightful)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344214)

There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe... Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive somewhere beyond the heavens.

Re:fp via meteorite (1, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344354)

<MUSIC UP>

Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last Battlestar, Galactica, leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest -- a shining planet, known as Earth.

Re:fp via meteorite (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345306)

...upon their arrival into its atmosphere, through the use of low-flying shuttles, open bay doors and copious amounts of beer, the crewmembers embarked on their ultimate goal for the planet: spreading life.

wow (1)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344184)

Spore was correct then.

Re:wow (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344546)

and Asteroids(video-game) was anti-life, telling us that asteroids and meteorites are all bad and we should destroy them all. Tsk tsk...

Re:wow (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345192)

actually, that could be interpreted as pro-life - after all, you're breaking up large asteroids into smaller meteorites that could scatter everywhere. Of course, there would have to be an optimal balance between small enough to scatter but large enough to survive falling through the atmosphere...

Re:wow (1)

Wrexs0ul (515885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345666)

Gives you a whole new way of thinking "illegal alien" then, eh?

I, for one, would like to see a fence erected to keep out comets potentially seeding our planet with life. In 3-5 billion years those spores may take our jobs!

-Matt

Yes, but.... (4, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344186)

..the meteorites were intelligently designed!

Boom.

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

dudpixel (1429789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344312)

"What specifically caused life to begin on Earth remains a mystery. Professor Pizzarello hypothesises material from a meteor may have interacted with environments on Earth such as volcanoes or tidal pools, but says all remains a matter of guess work."

We should totally base our worldview around this.

Re:Yes, but.... (5, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344356)

Well, lets try to up the quality of the discussion and at least provide the abstract [pnas.org] :

Abundant ammonia in primitive asteroids and the case for a possible exobiology

1. Sandra Pizzarelloa,1, 2. Lynda B. Williamsb, 3. Jennifer Lehmanc, 4. Gregory P. Hollanda, and 5. Jeffery L. Yargera

Abstract

Carbonaceous chondrites are asteroidal meteorites that contain abundant organic materials. Given that meteorites and comets have reached the Earth since it formed, it has been proposed that the exogenous influx from these bodies provided the organic inventories necessary for the emergence of life. The carbonaceous meteorites of the Renazzo-type family (CR) have recently revealed a composition that is particularly enriched in small soluble organic molecules, such as the amino acids glycine and alanine, which could support this possibility. We have now analyzed the insoluble and the largest organic component of the CR2 Grave Nunataks (GRA) 95229 meteorite and found it to be of more primitive composition than in other meteorites and to release abundant free ammonia upon hydrothermal treatment. The findings appear to trace CR2 meteorites’ origin to cosmochemical regimes where ammonia was pervasive, and we speculate that their delivery to the early Earth could have fostered prebiotic molecular evolution.

Without the full article it's hard to really follow why they think the earth needed excess organic chemicals, even specific amino acids, to be provided from meteorites. There is a large body of data that shows that amino acids, nucleic acids, lipids and a host of other moderately complex organic molecules could have been formed on earth at various times in it's development. As far as I can tell, there is nothing magical about the meteorite derived molecules and hence invoking panspermia (or more accurately, panorganicmoleculermia) is really unnecessary.

Anyone else out there with either access to PNAS or some better insight? So far it's a big meh.

Re:Yes, but.... (3, Interesting)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344654)

I'm not an expert - so I may be wrong here.

As I understand it, life evolved QUICKLY on Earth. I mean, we went from a barren rock with magma flows and some water to teeming lakes of bacterium in the blink of an eye. (Relatively speaking). Only 500 million years after the heavy bombardment from meteors, and a mere 25 million years after the moon formed, Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes formed. As far as the universe goes, that's hardly any time at all.

The best explaniation for this rapid growth is that life didn't actually have to start here, but came from meteorites.

Again, I am not an expert, just an interested college student. Anyone with real knowledge, please correct me.

Re:Yes, but.... (5, Informative)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344778)

I'm not an expert - so I may be wrong here.

As I understand it, life evolved QUICKLY on Earth. I mean, we went from a barren rock with magma flows and some water to teeming lakes of bacterium in the blink of an eye. (Relatively speaking). Only 500 million years after the heavy bombardment from meteors, and a mere 25 million years after the moon formed, Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes formed. As far as the universe goes, that's hardly any time at all.

  The best explaniation for this rapid growth is that life didn't actually have to start here, but came from meteorites.

  Again, I am not an expert, just an interested college student. Anyone with real knowledge, please correct me.

Your numbers seem off...

It was about 200-400 million years from the end of major bombardment to the first geological evidence of life on Earth. The moon formed before major bombardment ended. Approximate dates are 4.6Gya for Earth, 4.5Gya for the moon, 4.2Gya for the end of late heavy bombardment, and 3.8Gya for the first fossil evidence of life). The Wikipedia article on geologic time [wikipedia.org] gives a pretty good overview. :)

As for the GPP, I agree. Every time they find something like this, there's always the "So Earth was seeded by these" speculation. It seems that such materials are rather common in our solar system, both here on Earth, on other planets, and on meteors and asteroids. If such organic molecules can form with relative ease in so many other places in the solar system, I see no reason why they couldn't have formed on Earth as well as it went through it's own geological evolution. Especially when geological processes for forming many complex organic chemicals abiotically have been documented. No doubt that stuff falling from the sky could contribute to organic materials on Earth, but I see no reason to believe that they are a major contribution.

As for TFS, I found this to be rather humorous:

Chemical analysis of the meteorite shows it to be rich in ammonia and containing the element nitrogen.

Well, I should hope so. I'd be very surprised and impressed if the meteorite were rich in ammonia but didn't contain nitrogen. :p

Re:Yes, but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35345098)

Michael Tsarion

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

Woek (161635) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345466)

Thank you for that comment; this is exactly what I came here to post. It's nice to see other people having the same opinion... I mean 'common sense'.

Re:Yes, but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344958)

How about this scenario,

Life evolved on a young earth by taking it's own sweet time about it. Then out of nowhere, BAM! a mars-sized planet sharing our orbit smashes in and kills everything. Earth is molten again. The new, previously non-existent moon forms from the debris, and the remnant building blocks of life rain down on their former home over the next million or so years, giving a kick-start to new life developing here. Perhaps those "mars meteors" were really "pre-moon Earth" meteors too. I'd be curious to know how they rule those possibilities out.

duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35345000)

The Earth was formed in outer space...yes?

And then life formed on the Earth as it continued to orbit the Sun in outer space.

So.....life formed in outer space.

I really don't see what the big deal is.

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345388)

In my undergrad biology lab, we replicated the Miller-Urey experiment that created some amino acids from water and a few gases in a sealed system with a spark gap in a few days.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller%E2%80%93Urey_experiment [wikipedia.org]

The earliest known fossil evidence of prokaryotic life is almost 1 billion years after the Earth's formation. I can't imagine how you can call 1 billion years any time at all, even in the scale of the universe :)

But if you are curious about the history and research on the topic, the Wikipedia article isn't half bad...

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

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345678)

The earliest known fossil evidence of prokaryotic life is almost 1 billion years after the Earth's formation. I can't imagine how you can call 1 billion years any time at all, even in the scale of the universe :)

It's easy. I call it on the order of 10% of the current age of the Universe.

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344668)

"What specifically caused life to begin on Earth remains a mystery. Professor Pizzarello hypothesises material from a meteor may have interacted with environments on Earth such as volcanoes or tidal pools, but says all remains a matter of guess work."

We should totally base our worldview around this.

+1

Re:Yes, but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344966)

"but says all remains a matter of guess work."

Larry King was there, he could tell us.

Re:Yes, but.... (-1, Flamebait)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344942)

There is no way to prove this theory. They can "think" it all they want but that doesn't make it true. What ever happened to Occam's Razor? The simplest solution is usually the correct one. In the case of human/Earth origin, the simplest answer is God. That eliminates the complex web of lies that constitute evolution and all the "thinks" and "must have been" that scientists have to use when trying to theorize how evolution supposedly made things the way they are. The "must have been" is only used when humans think they know what happened when they weren't around and need something to fit their theory. That's just arrogance. God, however, just created everything from scratch at the same time with no need for the animal kingdom to evolve. Simple. And how do I know this? I have faith...it's also the simplest solution. Can it be proven? I guess that's where faith partially comes into play. Scientists need just as much faith, if not more, in their own theories though. That's why we get the "must have been this way" because otherwise their whole career is demolished and so is their theory. I view everything I can see as proof such as gravity, chemical elements, the effects the laws of physics have on the universe, etc.

Re:Yes, but.... (2)

duggi (1114563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345086)

Do you know why Intelligent design/God still hangs around? It is because we want to. No, not just the uneducated or unwilling, everyone.
Intelligent design means that we have been created by god, and for a purpose. Evolution means that we are here by an accident, we dont really have to do anything except make babies and have a good time (optional). There is no purpose following evolution.
There is a dissonance here. And that is why people have faith that there is god and he created them. We as a species are not good at handling dissonance.

Re:Yes, but.... (2)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345316)

Actually, I thought of that too. I figured my purpose is to leave the earth a little better than it would have been without me around. In other words, if you do not have a purpose, you can make one. No faith required.

Re:Yes, but.... (3, Insightful)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345118)

God (an infinite being beyond space and time) is perhaps the most complicated and paradoxical concept ever conceived by man. It can never be simplest explanation if there in any other explanation for a given phenomenon.

Re:Yes, but.... (2)

Auto_Lykos (1620681) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345158)

God is by definition infinitely complex. Any finite explanation of the universe, no matter how complex, is simpler than an explanation by God. Occam's Razor, correctly stated, is that the hypothesis with the smallest new assumptions is generally the one to be desired. The hypothesis of God is the ultimate assumption since it is supra-rational. Essentially, a million finite (provable) assumptions is still less than one infinite (unprovable) assumption. Is this a problem? Not necessarily since you're already talking about the value of faith, but using Occam's Razor in your argument is dubious at best.

Re:Yes, but.... (5, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345230)

"the answer for the simplest is God."

There. Fixed that for you.

Scientists do not need faith in their theories after they are proven. Scientific theories are verifiable according to a simply describable
rational process that anyone with skills can carry out without faith. Scientific theories are considered promising explanations of
parts or aspects of reality if
a) they are self-consistent,
b) they are logically consistent with other theories which co-define the same
terms (symbols for parts or aspects of reality),
c) they are structured as a mutually supporting set of statements which are particular assertions about the
presence and state of some things; assertions clearly enough stated in terms of other known/accepted concepts/terms/things that the assertions
could be falsified by comprehensible experiments carried out to measure the mentioned/described aspects of reality.
d) they have not been falsified yet, and
e) they are simpler (contain less information, in their so far unfalsified explanation of the same amount of phenomena) than competing theories.

"God did it" definitely fails c) in that the explanation does not explain any phenomena in terms of any other known (already explained)
phenomena/concepts/terms. Instead, it explains just about all phenomena in terms of a completely unknown, undescribed, and unexplained
posited entity, which might as well just be the concept "null" because it does not differ in description or properties from null except in the
completely circular and content-free sense in which it is defined as "the entity which is the cause of all these other phenomena".

God as prime cause stories also fail c) because in form they are generally rambling analogies or vague generalities which are not carefully
or coherently or specifically enough stated to be falsifiable assertions. Those specifics which are stated in the "God" stories have the
safety (from falsifiability) of being about alleged episodes lost in the mists of the past.

Most more detailed description of what this prime cause is like also fail b) in that the stories about God's appearances and works on aspects of reality are not consistent with other verifiable measures of those aspects of reality and also different versions of the God and God-cause stories are inconsistent with each other in many specifics.

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

i-reek (1140437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345270)

Of course ... the simplest explanation is that a magical sky-daddy waved his hands around and created everything. Case closed.

Let's get over our silly preoccupation with gaining systematic knowledge through observation, hypothesis, and experimentation and just say "God did it".

I mean, since scientists only possess a faith analogous to your average Christian's (for instance) faith, we know science has achieved nothing.

Vaccines? God did it.

Electricity? God did it.

Modern agriculture and food production? God did it.

The myriad of other "advantages" humans now have at their disposal? God did it.

Let's stop this ridiculous pursuit of "knowledge" when we can all just sit back and say "God did it".

Re:Yes, but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35345274)

    Actually, the simplest answer is 7.

Of course, it makes no fucking sense.

Re:Yes, but.... (0)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345294)

Your thinking process (if I can call that thinking ...) is so flawed.

You can't accept the fact that life simply evolved. To you, the idea that life and the universe just came to be is impossible. So you put god as a proxy. He created everything, and that's it. So, when I ask you who created god, and how did god get to be here, you just answer that god as always been, and he's eternal, and all that bullshit.

So, you say that god just exists, why do you need that proxy? Why can't the universe just exist?

Your justification for the existence of god nullifies your argument against evolution, therefore taking you back to there-is-no-god land.

Your kind are the worst thing that has ever happened to humanity, and I hope you are sterile and can't reproduce, so you don't further pollute our gene pool with your defective religious genes.

Re:Yes, but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35345308)

I hope you are trying to be funny, otherwise I do not know where to begin. The Wrongmonkey response correctly indicates that something or someone capable of designing the intricacies of life has to be very complex indeed! And where did god come from? was he designed by a meta-god? My Occam's razor works in the following way: if there is no evidence for the existence of god (and it would be trivially simple for him to make some), and we need faith and rather obscure explanations for most phenomena (by the way, "god did it" is not an explanation because it does not explain anything, it is more an elaborate way of saying *I do not know and I do not care to find out"), and we need a book of annotations around the statement "be kind to others" (which the bible is) and we need to select this (supposedly Christian) god out of all the possible gods, and so on and so forth, before we have a statement like "god did it", I like to go for the simpler (and testable) scientific approach. Anyway, I digress...

Secondly, science does not need faith. Essentially, science is the search for evidence. If you have a theory, and you have some evidence to support it, I may subscribe to your theory. If then someone comes with evidence to invalidate that theory and comes with a better one (i.e. that can describe all prior evidence as well), I will abandon theory number one and go for number two. No faith required. I do not need to believe in what I do for my science to work! If someone comes tomorrow showing that there are observations unexplained by science, and comes up with a more elegant and more complete way of explaining everything, I will abandon all prior science in a split second and start learning about that. So far though, the current explanations are more than sufficient for describing all observations. Anyway, I digress...

What we try to find is the truth, and it looks like it is a little more complex than what can be described in a 600-page bible, but at least there is no god (unprovable thing) required. Is it not cool to have a world with tiny tiny details and mechanisms, a self-correcting and adapting set of species, fascinating details on the placebo effects, all of which can be investigated at will? I would rather investigate all these myself than to take things in a 600-page book for granted.

We look at things, we try to describe what we see, we try to get hypotheses about why it would work this way, and then try to predict the outcome of the next observation based on that. What could be simpler than that!

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345418)

Yes, but how did God come to being? If "in the beginning He was there and then He created everything" is a simple answer, then "In the beginning everything was there" is simpler still.

What the fuck Slashdot? (1)

caius112 (1385067) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345488)

Seriously, what the fuck? The religious-relativist banter gets modded +4 INTERESTING and some of the best rational rebuttals get modded down to ONE? I hate to repeat myself, but what the fuck is going on?

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

Zalbik (308903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345514)

the simplest answer is God.

Note, that this answer is only viable for extremely complex values of "simple".

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

Zalbik (308903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345546)

Wow, how insightful.

The problem is the same "logic" can be used for any bothersome problems.

How did the universe start? God did it.

What caused life to evolve? God did it.

Why does a rotating magnetic field induce electrons to move? God likes it when rotating magnetic field cause the motions of electrons.

Why do the planets revolve around the sun? God likes circles.

Sure, its an "answer". But it's an entirely vapid answer. It doesn't expand our knowledge of the universe, and is the scientific equivalent of sticking our collective heads in the sands and shouting "don't ask uncomfortable questions!".

Fred Hoyle? (1, Informative)

incy_webb (1090779) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344190)

Didn't Sir Fred Hoyle say this in, what, 1982?

Panspermia (1, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344192)

    Welcome to the Theory of Panspermia.

    And why did they have to call it something that sounded so perverse?

Re:Panspermia (2)

shawb (16347) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344246)

This is far from panspermia. That is the theory that life itself came from space. This is just saying that Nitrogen is brought to the earth by meteorites.

Really, this should just be one big "duh" to anyone who has read up on theory of planetary formation. Basically, the whole planet is made up of meteorites that crashed together. And maybe a couple times it was large aggregations of meteorites that collided into the growing mass, and even small planetoid bodies such as the event that is theorized to have created the moon. But those planetoid bodies were made by the collisions of numerous meteors, dust particles, etc.

Re:Panspermia (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344564)

    I'll kind of give you that one. We're really splitting hairs though. All of the pieces, or a complete basic organism, which one wins.

    I will agree totally on the planetary formation though. Planets are large lumps in space that grew through contributions of generally disorganized matter colliding. If it ends up being a sufficient side, in an orbit, and rotating, it's probably a planet. If it doesn't achieve an orbit it'll likely become a contribution to the next closest body. So what's on the chunks of disorganized matter? Could be anything. Pieces of another planet? Waste emissions from a star? Debris from a Death Star? :)

Re:Panspermia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344376)

Peter North would be hard-pressed to make THAT distance.

Re:Panspermia (1)

Latinhypercube (935707) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344576)

how about EXOGENESIS

Re:Panspermia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344604)

Because "pansploogia" and "panfacial" were both already in use.

Makes sense (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344204)

They had to come from somewhere right?

Re:Makes sense (3, Insightful)

Palmsie (1550787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344256)

Not quite, complex organic compounds are found throughout our solar system. For example, on Titan it literally rains organic compounds that, when mixed with water, form amino acids. It is a plausible hypothesis that a third party could have brought such compounds to earth but it is also equally likely that earth simply formed them on its own. If Earth could have formed them on its own it doesn't require the third party hypothesis.

Well, yes, of course... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344226)

TFS says that the meteorite is "rich in ammonia and contains the element nitrogen." Considering that the chemical formula for ammonia is NH3, it's hard to see how it could possibly not contain nitrogen.

Think != Definite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344236)

It is so hard to have some integrity and not deliberately write conclusive sounding titles to scientific (albeit well founded) speculation? Just because you rescind your egregious claims, mere words later, does not excuse you from being considered "part of the problem" when it comes to exaggeration of research for journalistic effect.

That's the answer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344240)

So scientists found a rock with elements.

What a breakthrough discovery!

Re:That's the answer! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344476)

In other news, Hydrogen and Nitrogen like each other - A LOT. Comments from Carbon at 11:00.

Might != Did (2)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344248)

Article says the theory is that metorites brought it required ingredients to Earth.

Summary says might.

Title says did.

In reality, everything on Earth came from space according to current scientific theory, the planet coleased into existence from matter orbiting Sol a few billion years ago.

So, I'm not really sure why you would consider this news, the 'ingredients for life' were more than likely ALREADY HERE by the time the Earth qualified as a planet, and most certainly by the time it cooled enough to not destroy any molecular combinations that would eventually turn to life.

My problem is when people say 'this is what happened 4 billion years ago!' or even 'this is what happened 20 thousand years ago'.

If you want to make absolutely sure I don't believe a word you're saying, tell me you KNOW what happened before recorded history without proving to me that you can travel through time in both directions as well.

We don't KNOW shit, but we have some pretty good theories. When you say 'We know what happened X thousands of years ago' you sound as idiotic as a bible thumper. We've learned time and time again that our methods for doing measurements are flawed. Too many people think we KNOW how things happened before human beings existed ... unless you know every single variable in the equation, you can only assume and theorize. Calling it anything other than a theory means you don't understand how science works at all.

Re:Might != Did (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344402)

Article says the theory is that metorites brought it required ingredients to Earth.

Summary says might.

Title says did.

Shush, you with your accurate distinctions!

Re:Might != Did (3, Insightful)

tragedy (27079) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344474)

To be fair to modern observational evidence versus historical record, historical record often isn't really all that good. Even big, fairly educated civilizations like the Romans didn't leave behind particularly reliable history. Take Caligula, for example, we know a few things about him, but many of the things we think we know are probably just made up. Historians throughout the ages have also often been popular fictional writers and little effort seems to have been put into distinguishing between their fictional works and their factual ones at the time (of course, they were writing for a contemporary audience who probably knew through context). Not to mention all of the propaganda.

On the observational evidence end, dating by geologic layers isn't perfect, but it's still pretty good at telling us that A happened before B, which happened before C. Sure, the dates we ascribe to the events aren't perfect, but, unlike recorded history, we usually have a pretty good idea of what actually happened. We can see flood, fire, meteorite impact, earthquake, continental drift, this species vanishing, this one arising, 1000s of different species all over the globe vanishing at once, etc., etc. Even geological evidence isn't perfect and it apparently can even lie sometimes, but nowhere near as much as a human writer who may well be on drugs, just plain insane, repeating common misconceptions and rumors as fact, or just plain lying like crazy to support an agenda.

Re:Might != Did (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344480)

"Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow." - Agent K, Men In Black

Negroadmus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344260)

...but where did the comet come from?

The meteorite (1)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344294)

It possessed Dr. Fred!!

Duh (1)

flyingkillerrobots (1865630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344304)

Didn't the entire Earth come from meteorites and other space junk?

Re:Duh (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344398)

Pretty much. As such we're creatures of the entire universe and not just of this earth. Just so happen that things worked out better for our model on this planet.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344496)

Oh for a lack of mod points...

The fact that we're made of star stuff and that our planet is made from comets and asteroids is pretty much non-news. We know that there are organic compounds to be found in the Kuiper belt. They're everywhere. I don't know why people continue to act like this is a revelation.

At first I thought that the submitter missed a bigger point to be made by the article but everything I read is just a rehash from the same stuff that has been published for 20 years or so if not longer. Aside from pointing out a specific study there is no new material to be found here.

Not so prevailing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344308)

Panspermia is pretty far from being the 'prevailing theory' in the field - not to say that it isn't taken seriously.

Beware! The Blob! (1)

quenda (644621) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344310)

OK, it took a few hundred million years, but it did cover the planet.

Ammonium Nitrate? (2)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344318)

That's a fertilizer bomb! Thanks a lot, outer space.

Re:Ammonium Nitrate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344672)

This simply proves that the Young Earth was an administrative centre of an interplanetary federal government. The outer space will be executed once caught.

meteorite as the seed of life is farfetched (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344332)

Although it makes a certain amount of sense in the case of Charlie Sheen.

And what seeded the comet or asteroid? (4, Interesting)

thepainguy (1436453) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344380)

Seriously, I find ideas like this to be unsatisfying because they just pass the buck. Why is it any more likely that life would arise in a comet, asteroid, or other planet than it would be for life to arise on earth? Maybe if the earth was wiped clean by some cataclysm, but I don't know of anyone who's proposed that.

Re:And what seeded the comet or asteroid? (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344582)

No but many experts believe that Uranus was wiped clean at one time.

Re:And what seeded the comet or asteroid? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344658)

Why is it any more likely that life would arise in a comet, asteroid, or other planet than it would be for life to arise on earth?

Why is it more likely that life arises anywhere that isn't point X, versus on point X? Well, maybe because there's trillions of places that aren't point X but only one point X. For starters.

Re:And what seeded the comet or asteroid? (1)

Diaghilev (1766016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345002)

I'm fairly certain that the idea isn't a passing of the buck, that life arose on the meteorite and was transfered to the earth, but rather that some of the *ingredients* required for the formation of amino acids and whatnot were contained in/on that meteorite. When the rock delivered them to the surface of the planet, the disparate piles of otherwise inert ingredients were introduced to each other.

Re:And what seeded the comet or asteroid? (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345038)

Say ... any one thing can happen. Anywhere. For no particular reason. Granted: but, since a life-spectrum cannot possibly arise on earth ( Leventhals Paradox ) either there is **no** life anywhere, or life arose elsewhere. **Real scientists** trust LP. to keep out the intellectual chaff ... like Darwins just-so stories. But, L.P. does more and harsher things. It makes life a thing that cannot be, and the earth is no-great-lay to make the impossible true. Deal with it or amuse yourself with fufoo "natural history" discriptivism.

Re:And what seeded the comet or asteroid? (5, Informative)

Ouka (1621177) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345102)

The article didn't say life starting in space. One of the major problems with the leading hypothesis about how life began here on Earth is that many of the chemical elements required by said hypothesis were not present in sufficient quantities in early Earth. Or at least were not present based on what we think we know about the early composition of the planet. Chief among these problems is the absence of organic compounds in the rock matrix of the oldest known rocks.

Fast forward a few hundred million years and now these ancient-but-not-oldest rocks now have organic traces. What was different from when Earth cooled vs a few hundred million years later? Uncountable millions of comet and meteor strikes. Objects that have been shown to contain just the missing ingredients needed to complete the shopping list for the formation of Life.

Inert organic compounds have since been found throughout the known cosmos, from nebula containing ethanol to ammonia in asteroids. There are a multitude of hypothesis about why organic compounds form better in cosmic bodies instead of planets, from ionizing radiation in solar wind to the fact that planet formation is too hot an event for any traces of the compounds to remain after consolidation.

Turtles (2)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345282)

It's asteroids all the way down

Ehm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344386)

seems like a total copout.

News flash... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344412)

Photons bring light to Earth. More proof of Gods non-existence at 11:00.

Editors appear not to know the difference... (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344432)

...been "brought" and "could have brought".

Re:Editors appear not to know the difference... (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344702)

They've found _one_ meteorite with the ingredient, so we know for a fact that it was 'brought' to earth... Or are you trying to claim that meteorite was planted there by some meta-physical being?

Re:Editors appear not to know the difference... (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344740)

They've found _one_ meteorite with the ingredient, so we know for a fact that it was 'brought' to earth... Or are you trying to claim that meteorite was planted there by some meta-physical being?

I took "ingredients of life" to mean "the ingredients from which life was made", not "a bunch of stuff chemically similar to the ingredients from which life was made".

Warning, completely non-technical/hippie comment (1, Informative)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344436)

A few months ago I was walking with my wife/son back to our home from the library. In the seam of a manhole of an asphault jungle (I.E. downtown) ~175k population city, I saw thriving sprouts. Life will always find a way.

If we were seeded by intelligent life, that is awesome and I can't wait to find out more. If it were completely random that in our universe, which we have no idea even the size of, meteors with just the right contents to start life in the Earth's environment came to us, then awesome as well.

Just don't give me any "I *know* where we came from" cuz you just don't.

Re:Warning, completely non-technical/hippie commen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344748)

Random Creation!!!
That's VERY insightful

Damn Bruce Willis (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344470)

He blowed up the last chance to finally get intelligent life on earth getting rid of that meteorite.

Um (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344478)

Given the whole accretion disk theory of planet formation - didn't the whole damned planet come from just a bunch of meteorites clumping together and falling to an ever larger body?

"Life here began out there." (0)

sgraar (958944) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344482)

It seems that Battlestar Galactica's authors have been right all along.

Dog bites.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344490)

...man.

Ingredients of Life (2)

TandooriC (1525601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344504)

Meh, some of the ingredients of life are also spread by me

Re:Ingredients of Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344562)

Meh, some of the ingredients of life are also spread by me

But, as a Slashdotter, to no effect.

Not so sure (4, Informative)

jmv (93421) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344552)

So the Earth's atmosphere contains about 4*10^19 kg of Nitrogen (surface of the earth * 100 kPa/g * 80%). That's a *lot* of mass. A 10 km asteroid (like the one that could have wiped the dinosaurs) is maybe 10^12 kg. So it would take more than 10 *millions* of those to provide the Earth with its current atmosphere -- assuming these asteroids were pure frozen nitrogen.

Another thing I don't quite understand is why the nitrogen would have to come from somewhere else. As far as I know, stars produce plenty of it (CNO cycle and all), so if we have carbon and Oxygen, why not nitrogen as well. Am I missing anything?

Come on (0)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344964)

Stop dragging facts and logic into this.

Re:Not so sure (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345394)

No, you're not missing anything at all.

The 'meteorite idea' seems moot from the start: for a meteorite to have some importance in the 'creation of life', it has to either a) bring the elements lacking (until then) from a life-creating environment for the planet (a theory that you've disproven quite eloquently), or b) somehow be the 'instigator', between ingredients already existing on the planet, of the process that was the creation of life.

Bioforms are a natural occurance even in space; it is their environment that limits (or accellerates) the degree and speed of their evolution into more 'adapted' forms.

Grammar (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344602)

I hate to carp, but shouldn't the lead read, ...life on Earth may have come... ??

"...may have came from outer space..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344618)

Christ on a bicycle, WTF is happening to peoples' ability to write a simple English sentence with the correct form of the verb? Clueless, careless twit.

Harrummph!

Get off my lawn!

Oblig (2)

StupiderThanYou (896020) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344624)

Personally, I welcome our meteorite-borne ancestral overlords.

Nitrogen!!! Amazing... (1)

neurocutie (677249) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344656)

Chemical analysis of the meteorite shows it to be rich in ammonia and containing the element nitrogen.

So meteorites brought the life-critical element Nitrogen(!) to Earth... that truly is an astounding finding... no way that life could have evolved here without that contribution from space...

oh wait... doesn't the Earth already have "some" nitrogen? And ammonia? is that hard to make? (no don't think it is...)

Re:Nitrogen!!! Amazing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35344688)

Ammonia is actually quite hard to make from just nitrogen. Unless you have some nitrifying bacteria (which you don't) or you have some condition similar to the Haber process, what other ways are there?

Would it help if we named that meteor God? (2)

RexDevious (321791) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344674)

Then scientists and creationists would at least *sound* like they agreed.

Of course, it would make life tough for Muslim cartoonists... not being able to draw rocks anymore. But hey, even if they did and we're sentenced to stoning - as soon as someone picked up a rock to throw they could just point and yell "Forbidden Idol!!!", and nonchalantly amble away in the ensuing confusion.

Geez, when you said it brought the ingredients for (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344908)

life I thought you were going to say it brought beer.

What are you talking about? (1)

okmijnuhb (575581) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344918)

Earth is in outer space. We are all from outer space. Depends on your perspective. Earth is not the center of the universe.

Re:What are you talking about? (2)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345412)

Well, if space stretches on all sides of me to infinity, that would mean that ~I~ am the centre of the universe.

So many theories... (1)

pyrothebouncer (1595641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35344944)

So many theories as to how this meteor could have changed into life as we know it. Theories about how long the time was before life on earth began. How come it has to be so confusing? At least the creationists seem to like to agree that:
God created the universe
He/She/It did it in less than a million years
God created life as we know it

I'd rather focus on the future than try to figure out the past though...

The toilets of the Gods (2)

Randyll (1914386) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345066)

Perhaps the great author Arthur C. Clarke was not far off in his hypothesis [astrobiology.com] .

Being descendants of... alien poo... is a humbling thought.

Summary is wildly inaccurate (2)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345096)

Neither the BBC article nor the abstract* of the original paper mention 'life on Earth may have come from outer space'. They say that the nitrogen may have come from outer space. From the abstract "we speculate that [ammonia rich comets] delivery to the early Earth could have fostered prebiotic molecular evolution" (emphasis mine).

* Alas, my institution only has free access to PNAS articles older than 6 months, so I haven't seen the paper. I could probably get up and read it in the library, but reading a paper off paper just seems morally wrong. Won't somebody please think of the trees?

Interesting... (1)

SwampChicken (1383905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345224)

So does this mean that other planets, elsewhere in the universe, may have been seeded in a similar fashion... and therefore have *similar* flora / fauna to our own?

just like women (2)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35345356)

Meteorites are like women: they bring life and love; and then smash it all to hell in a jealous fit such that you have to start all over again in another town.

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