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Stars Found To Produce Complex Organic Compounds

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the galaxy-seeding dept.

Space 93

InfiniteZero writes "Researchers at the University of Hong Kong observed stars at different evolutionary phases and found that they are able to produce complex organic compounds and eject them into space, filling the regions between stars. The compounds are so complex that their chemical structures resemble the makeup of coal and petroleum, the study's lead author Sun Kwok, of the University of Hong Kong, said."

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Well (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37865672)

Frostie Piss?

Re:Well (0)

vencs (1937504) | more than 2 years ago | (#37865728)

no its stargasm.. stop rooking..

Re:Well (1, Insightful)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37867120)

...that about wraps it up for God.

(Oolon Colluphid)

Re:Well (1)

KingBenny (1301797) | more than 2 years ago | (#37886342)

yup...looks like Isis was in charge all along...time to close down the churches and the mosques and recycle the fanatics

Oil amongst the stars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37865674)

That's all we need to know to get interstellar spaceflight up and going!

Re:Oil amongst the stars? (4, Funny)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 2 years ago | (#37865736)

The Cat: I say let's get into the jet-powered rocket pants and Junior Birdman the hell out of here.
Kryten: An excellent and inventive suggestion, sir, with just two tiny drawbacks. A, We don't have any jet-powered rocket pants. And B, There's no such thing as jet-powered rocket pants outside the fictional serial "Robbie Rocket Pants".
The Cat: Well, that's put a crimp on an otherwise damn fine plan.

- Red Dwarf "Terrorform"

Re:Oil amongst the stars? (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#37865806)

That's all we need to know to get interstellar spaceflight up and going!

Great. Now it's just a question of how long it will be before we go to war with Betelgeuse.

Re:Oil amongst the stars? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866624)

Great. Now it's just a question of how long it will be before we go to war with Betelgeuse.

Not very - thanks to the speed of light, by the time we get there, we'll find that a hrung has already collapsed on everyone there.

Re:Oil amongst the stars? (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866942)

That's all we need to know to get interstellar spaceflight up and going!

Great. Now it's just a question of how long it will be before we go to war with Betelgeuse.

Let's send Hillary.

Obligatory Vonnegut (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37865682)

Maybe the rocket ship full of jizm veered off course and crashed into a star?

Free Gas, Next station 200 light years? (1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#37865716)

The compounds are so complex that their chemical structures resemble the makeup of coal and petroleum, the study's lead author Sun Kwok, of the University of Hong Kong, said.

Free Gas, Next station 200 light years?

Re:Free Gas, Next station 200 light years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37865904)

Why not send troops there?
GWB

Re:Free Gas, Next station 200 light years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37870362)

They clearly have a nuclear bomb!

Re:Free Gas, Next station 200 light years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871220)

And even where they don't, "they do."

Space whales (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#37865742)

This is just the fecies of space whales. They gotta poop to ya know!

Re:Space whales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37865968)

So, how come Japan didn't invent interstellar travel yet? I'd say some whale hunting would be incentive enough for them...

Re:Space whales (3, Funny)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866364)

We're whalers on the moon,
We carry a harpoon.
But there ain't no whales
So we tell tall tales
And sing our whaling tune.

Re:Space whales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37867578)

Thank you for that completely random reply. Yes, we have all seen Futurama.

Re:Space whales (1)

The Askylist (2488908) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866522)

It could just be pyrolised petunias...

Re:Space whales (1)

SlashV (1069110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866990)

Oh no, not again.

Startdust? (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 2 years ago | (#37865770)

Maybe Joni Mitchell was right - we are stardust ater all!

Re:Startdust? (5, Interesting)

dido (9125) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866000)

Stardust is exactly right. Most of the heavy elements (non-hydrogen or helium) were produced, if not by the mechanism described in the article, in the death throes of heavy stars that go supernova. All the Big Bang gave us was a lot of hydrogen, a small amount of helium, and a negligible quantity of everything else. The rest had to wait for the stars and stellar nucleosynthesis [wikimedia.org] to be produced.

Stardust my ass. (1)

deego (587575) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866046)

> Stardust is exactly right. Most of the heavy elements (non-hydrogen or helium) were produced

Enough with the PC "stardust" already. Let's say it how it is.

We are starpoop!

Re:Stardust my ass. (1)

Lockyy (2486084) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866080)

Another new euphemism to use now, "brb, gotta dust the bathroom"

Re:Stardust my ass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37867294)

We are the all-singing all-dancing crap of the world ^W stars.

Re:Stardust my ass. (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 2 years ago | (#37867878)

Actually, some of the heavier elements only came about from supernovae (and even the lighter elements were only scattered about thanks to supernovae). Therefore, we are star debris!

Re:Startdust? (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884772)

Carl Sagan said "star stuff" . A little less poetic, but the same idea.

Mystery Solved! (4, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37865792)

the compounds are so complex that their chemical structures resemble the makeup of coal and petroleum,

So THAT's where the dinosaurs went 65 million years ago!

They built starships and flew into the sun!

Re:Mystery Solved! (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37867544)

I know it's a joke... ... but just want to point out that the dinosaurs -> petroleum thing is mostly a myth- most of the oil came from microscopic organisms not dinosaurs.

Re:Mystery Solved! (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#37868062)

Really *tiny* dinosaurs. After all, aren't most of those microscopic species extinct too?

Re:Mystery Solved! (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871814)

and those microscopic organisms ate corpses, i.e. dinosaurs. When they say "dinosaurs" they mean "decomposing dinosaurs" and yeah, decomposing is done by micro organisms

I knew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37865802)

We are all aliens, could be illegal too.

Re:I knew it (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866972)

We are all aliens, could be illegal too.

Which is why the Vogons only posted the notice at AlphaCentauri a century ago. We aren't supposed to be here anyway.

Carl Sagan (3, Insightful)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 2 years ago | (#37865842)

He said it best. We are made of star stuff!

Re:Carl Sagan (1)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 2 years ago | (#37865896)

No...

He said "billions and billions and billions" best. Over and over and over.

Re:Carl Sagan (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866150)

No, that was just a retcon propagated by people who probably never saw "Cosmos" in the first place, or if they did, it's all they remember. Just think of the total lack of imagination at seeing a wondrous series like "Cosmos" and the only thing you come away with is "durrr, he said billions LOL". Munchkins.

Re:Carl Sagan (1)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 2 years ago | (#37868376)

Oh please give me a break! Yes I did watch Cosmos and he did say "billions and billions" an awful lot during that show. Just because somebody lampoons him doesn't mean they don't have respect for his intelligence, so don't get all balled up in a tongue-in-cheek comment.

Oh, BTW, he even wrote a book called "Billions and Billions." [wikipedia.org]

Re:Carl Sagan (2)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 2 years ago | (#37868414)

No, he didn't [wikipedia.org] . At least he says he didn't.

Re:Carl Sagan (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | more than 2 years ago | (#37868514)

No. That was Moby [youtube.com] .

Science: It works.... (2)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37865868)

The 'question' of how life started on our amazing planet gets easier to 'answer' with every new discovery.

"Just the facts, sir." (apologies to Sgt. Friday)
To me the facts are even more amazing and awesome than any myths or superstitions that persist, to explain our world and universe.

There are many times I feel humbled and awed by the scientific discoveries and technological advances I have witnessed in my lifetime. (reference: I'm coming up TOO QUICKLY! on 54 years old)

Just the amount and nature of 'former Sci-Fi' tech that has become reality in my time boggles my mind...Wow!

[disclaimer: yes, I did RTFA, please put away your torches and pitchforks] :-)

Re:Science: It works.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37866510)

But we're still waiting for flying cars.

Re:Science: It works.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37866970)

You can have one today if you want to as long as you don't have odd requirements like "It may not have a propreller!" or "It may not use any technology physically possible."

Re:Science: It works.... (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37870250)

Just 4 more years [wikipedia.org]

ugg clearance (-1, Offtopic)

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New source (1)

neonv (803374) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866050)

Forget fusion, the next source of energy is STAR POOP!!! Now, who do we send out to gather it?

Re:New source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37866078)

US Marine Corps, of course. If there is petroleum, there must be some dictatorship urging to be destroyed.

P.S. Captcha - "overkill".

Re:New source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871354)

Forget fusion, the next source of energy is STAR POOP!!! Now, who do we send out to gather it?

Whoever gets the quickest/largest grant/funding.

Sorry... do I sound bitter?

TFS Fails (1)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866198)

Stars are too hot for compounds to exist in them. The componds are actually synthesized in what TFA calls the circumstellar enviroment.

Re:TFS Fails, or not (2)

Khenke (710763) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866302)

Just my first thought too but...

TFS is actually correct, as it is taken directly from the article.
And, no it don't says it produces it IN the star, but that the star produces it. That is, if the star produces the compounds around it, it is still the star that makes is, just not inside it.

So for a long long time in /. history, the summery is actually very correct :)

Re:TFS Fails, or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37868786)

And the summery is much to be preferred over the alternative, which is the wintery.

Re:TFS Fails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37868944)

>> synthesized in what TFA calls the circumstellar enviroment

So, they're made by star-mohels then?

Not enough imagination... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37866246)

"... Nature is much more clever than we had imagined."

I'd say Dr. Kwok doesn't have enough imagination then, because it should have been pretty obvious.

Sun Kwok? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37866296)

Did anybody else find this name amusing within the context?

Sons of the starts (1)

scamps (2495374) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866322)

So finally we are sons of the starts ? Curious

Origin of Oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37866870)

So is that the real origin of Oil?
  And methane also?

Abiotic Oil (2)

dammy (131759) | more than 2 years ago | (#37867004)

That brings into play the hotly debated Abiotic Oil theory. Conspiracy rumors have been the Deep Horizon disaster was based on BP hitting Abiotic oil and the pressure was too great for the faulty design and faulty materials used. Rumors also have been the Russians tapped into Abiotic oil during their deep drilling experiments. If this paper is correct that complex carbon chains are common in the universe, I'm wondering if the oil companies have known about it on Earth and didn't want to tell us about it till they got the price of crude high enough? That might explain the Liberty Rig that was erected about this time last year off the North Slope on a gravel island that was also known as Gull Island. Liberty Rig can drill 8 miles for slant drilling, that might be deep enough to hit Abiotic oil locked just at or just below the Earth's crust.

Re:Abiotic Oil (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37867280)

If the Abiotic oil theory is correct, then the idea that "BP hit Abiotic oil" is an attempt to use poorly understood concepts to support a conspiracy theory. The abiotic oil theory is that most if not all oil is formed near the core as a side effect of the heat and pressure. It seems like every time the theory of abiogenic origin for oil is dismissed/debunked new evidence arises that does not fit nicely into the theory of biogenic origins of oil. So far, no one has come up with a theory of abiogenic origin of oil that makes useful predictions (such as where to find oil).

Re:Abiotic Oil (2)

Rotten (8785) | more than 2 years ago | (#37867670)

Oil needs a proper environment to stay as "Oil". When i read "below earth's crust"...well, your conspiracy theory is kind of weak to say the least.

You are implying that you can find Oil in a 300+ Celcius degrees environment, wich is unreal.

Re:Abiotic Oil (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37870418)

Yes because oil will burn itself without an oxidizer as long as you heat it up to 300C and under extreme pressure.....

Since there is not much oxygen under the surface of the earth the oil must be burning constantly, this must be what is causing volcanoes to "burn".. /sarc

Fox News coverage (3, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#37866908)

I can't wait for Fox News to bash the sun as a net-carbon-emitter.

Re:Fox News coverage (0)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37867022)

I can't wait for Fox News to bash the sun as a net-carbon-emitter.

The first thing I thought of was that the Right Wing media is going to come up with some preposterous explanation that blames some fundamentally obvious exploit on the Sun.

Death by Doofus!

Re:Fox News coverage (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871604)

The first thing I thought of was that the Right Wing media is going to come up with some preposterous explanation that blames some fundamentally obvious exploit on the Sun.

Apparently you haven't been educated, Tsingi. That exploit of the sun *IS* why and how the dinosaurs died. Didn't you read your (c)2012 Science of the Universe school book??

Re:Fox News coverage (1)

RustyShackleford007 (2485098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871664)

The first thing I thought of was that the Right Wing media is going to come up with some preposterous explanation that blames some fundamentally obvious exploit on the Sun.

Apparently you haven't been educated, Tsingi. That exploit of the sun *IS* why and how the dinosaurs died. Didn't you read your (c)2012 Science of the Universe school book??

Careful, I don't think you studied up on that one. The 2009 edition explained that it was a joke the dinosaurs were playing on the mammalian hunters.

--
Guns don't kill people. Dinosaur soup does.

Re:Fox News coverage (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 2 years ago | (#37875774)

No - this is exactly the fodder needed for the abiogenesis whackos out there; who are going to keep saying that if we only drill harder and deeper, we'll find more oil, and we'll all be just fine.

Re:Fox News coverage (1)

RustyShackleford007 (2485098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871512)

I can't wait for Fox News to bash the sun as a net-carbon-emitter.

I can't wait to watch the "fair and balanced" rebuttal on that one.

Rich Republicans and limo Democrats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37866954)

This is clearly from wealthy extraterrestrials who cause space polar bears to drown and baby space seals to die.

One of them is manbearpig.

Oil in them there stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37867026)

Well, that is the best news for the space program yet.
we don't build spaceships...we build oil tankers to go out into the void and return full with that natural petroleum goodness.
Thank the gods, now we can all go back to driving V-8s at 25 cents a gallon.

Tell me again... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#37868034)

How "they" know that these chemicals aren't the result of organic processes? If a few thousand planets in the vicinity were ground up in a traffic jam after life formed, wouldn't we see something like this?

sh1t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37868422)

How it was ssuposed

Origin of Life? (4, Interesting)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#37868446)

"The compounds are so complex that their chemical structures resemble the makeup of coal and petroleum"
Who cares if it produced a little bit or even a lot of fuel like substances, could they have produced the organic matter needed to kick start life?
From what I understand the only real missing link in explaining how life started on this planet is the formation of some relatively simple organic compounds (not that they do not have some very good theories and promising results).

Re:Origin of Life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37869468)

And further than just Earths case, if these are very common from abiotic sources,
those necessary compounds shouldnt be hard to find in ANY suitable environment for development of life.

Re:Origin of Life? (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37869668)

Relatively simple? We've not managed to work out an experiment to form a protein through nature, and we are a long way off from figuring out the formation of the first functional nucleic acid chain. That's pretty complicated stuff. After that, we gotta work out a chain that can replicate itself, which is hugely complicated. We've managed to form some amino acids, and even making anything past the simplest of them is pretty difficult. Still, the fact that any organic compounds are produced from stars is new and interesting, I should think it'd be awhile before they can talk in much detail about which compounds are, and which compounds are not formed.

Re:Origin of Life? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871162)

I think you need to work on understanding time scales, quantities, and probability.

If life were started by an accident so improbable that in the entire history of experimentation (starting back with flint knapping) it would be unreasonable to expect it to have happened, it could still be nigh unto a certainty given the whole planet's oceans, and a billion years to work in. Now that's NOT the most likely way for complex molecules to have originated. I'm no expert, but I suspect that small volcanic bubbles in stone near underwater volcanoes are the most likely site. But the argument "we haven't seen it" is silly. People can't understand what probability means when you translate into "all the molecules in solution in the oceans over a couple of billion years". The things that we think of as ridiculously improbably tend to become near certainties.

Re:Origin of Life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871324)

I absolutely agree to the first half of your post

However, my conclusion is different, especially considering what this article is about.

Given an extremely unlikely event (the development of a self-replicating organic molecule), then the larger the time scales or volume of organic molecules, the more possible the event. Hence I believe early life started in space, in the giant nebula of organic molecules, over the space of billions of years.

This would also explain the Cambrian explosion.

Re:Origin of Life? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881926)

I really, really, doubt that chemical compounds expelled by a star would be similar to cellular life. There needs to be a long period of evolution first. The Cambrian explosion only happened after life had been on earth long enough to raise the Oxygen levels considerably. So it could be involved in giving the primitive replicators a running start, it couldn't have much to do with the Cambrian explosion.

N.B.: In large part the "Cambrian Explosion" is caused by telescoping time. Another contributory factor is that the older fossils get, the fewer of them remain to study, because the rocks that hold them are destroyed in one way or another. (Erosion, volcanic eruptions, plate tectonics, etc.) So one small area that holds a number of fossils, and is REALLY old, is going to be a treasure house of unprecedented species. Another reason is that skeletons evolved at around that time. Before skeletons, things almost didn't fossilize at all.

So the "Cambrian Explosion" is largely an "optical illusion" caused by the way that we are doing our observations. It's not something that needs a separate explanation.

Re:Origin of Life? (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37875904)

I'm fully aware that long time frames are used as part of the explanation for abiogenesis. The long time frames and random factors are all in relation to producing the proper conditions come into alignment to allow the reaction to take place. My point was, the molecules are so complex that we are not able to reverse-engineer them to come up with any set of conditions that might conceivably have occurred in nature that, when recreated in a experiment, creates the compounds again. Compare this to simple amino acids that are simple enough that we can create them with the Miller-Urey experiment. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm saying if we saw such complicated compounds formed by stars, it'd be a huge deal that would result in a new alternative theory for the origin of those compounds.

Re:Origin of Life? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881978)

The problem isn't that we can't come up with an explanation. The problem is that there are LOTS of potential explanations, and the evidence is too scanty to really eliminate most of them.

E.g., we say that DNA couldn't have been the first replicator, because it isn't stable enough. But it could have evolved in a micro-clime that happened to stabilize it. This is quite improbable, but it can't really be ruled out. (It is so improbable that nobody seriously considers it, which is why I mention it as an example.)

But was RNA first? Some other set of nucleic acids? Clay particles? All have their proponents, and none can be ruled out on the evidence.

For that matter, was there initially only one set of replicators, or were several originally "competing"? We don't know. The evidence isn't sufficient to decide.

Re:Origin of Life? (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882056)

I haven't heard of any replicatable potential explanations. Regardless, my point was and continues to be, it isn't simple.

Re:Origin of Life? (1)

schlachter (862210) | more than 2 years ago | (#37873700)

so these are renewable energy after all? :P

Interesting Support for Old Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37868528)

A book written a 20 years or so ago posited that the oil in the earth is not the remains of dinosaurs and plants but were the product of complex organic compounds present at the formation of the earth that terapascals of pressure had converted into our familiar liquid hydrocarbons. The author makes a pretty good case, including some empirical lab experiments, to back up this theory.

I personally find amazing the number of new data points that astrophysics is introducing.

How can they tell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37869332)

that it's the stars, and not

a) fumes from supernova watchers who got too close?
b) that anakin doesn't drive a hybrid?
c) from the pre-stellar phases of the star where it, presumably, must resemble a planet (with a solar-system sized ring system) at some point?

My God if this is true (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37869674)

Then life must be everywhere in the universe!

ABIOTIC HYDROCARBONS = COAL / OIL / GAS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37869696)

If formation in the penumbra of stars is possible and common,
what does that imply for the theory of abiotic formation of hydrocarbons,
as opposed to the theory that only transformation of dead plants/dinosaurs/etc
  is responsible for hydrocarbond deposits in the earths crust?
Biotic sources probably IS responsible for some portion of that,
but could extra-terrestrial asteroids or internal terrestrial processes also be responsible?
The theory didnt seem to impact Russian hydrocarbon prospecting...
  WHO KNOWS!? THATS SCIENCE! :-)

As complex as coal and petolreum? (1)

Jon_S (15368) | more than 2 years ago | (#37869822)

Since when are coal or petroleum complex molecules? Coal is to varying degrees just carbon (the harder the coal, more it is just plain C) and petroleum is chains of Carbon with hydrogens haning off the sides. These are pretty simple molecules.

Re:As complex as coal and petolreum? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37870096)

The point may be not so much how life originated; I'm here already so that part is taken care of; but from where our energy to live on originates. If carbon-based sources of energy did not necessarily originate as dinosaur poop, the assumptions about where to find additional sources may be totally wrong.

Velikovsky was right? (2)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 2 years ago | (#37870472)

Don't tell me that Velikovsky [wikipedia.org] was right after all! All that blarney about biblical "manna from heaven" being edible hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere by an interplanetary event?

Re:Velikovsky was right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37964654)

I thought he was more about the interstellar electric currents ...

Solar Power. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871182)

So using petroleum is just a form of solar power. sweet. Im going to drive my solar powered car now. ;)

As a chemist... (1)

chihowa (366380) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871726)

I'm horrified that this made it to Nature. It has certainly sealed my opinion that Nature publishes based more on name than content. Aside from nitpicky little things like leaving the structure such a horrible looking mess (when even my undergrads know how to use the clean-up tool in ChemDraw), why do they think that they can recreate a molecular structure from an IR spectrum obtained from a heterogeneous point source? Occam's Razor would suggest that this bizarrely complex structure isn't what they are actually seeing; they're seeing a population of less complex molecules whose signals are all added together.

Yuck.

Thomas Gold was right? (Deep Hot Biosphere, etc) (1)

doom (14564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872132)

Here is one of my bi-annual posts reminding all about Thomas Gold [wikimedia.org] 's theory about the abiological origin of natural gas, oil and/or coal (which we call "fossil" fuels, perhaps erroneously). He published a book about this: The Deep Hot Biosphere [barnesandnoble.com]

One part of this theory has apparently become commonly accepted: "extremophiles" extend deep throughout the earth's crust [newscientist.com] . Cosmic hydrocarbons had already been observed in nebula, this new result appears to be another pointer in the same direction.

There's a certain kind of conservative that likes this theory-- see, we're not Running Out of Oil! The peakies are wrong!-- but there's no particular reason this would be good news for environmentalists. There may be enough hydrocarbons in the crust to completely combine with all the earth's oxygen...

It's not just stars! (1)

dylsexia (1921540) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872654)

I have empirical evidence that you don't need to be famous to do this... Given a large burrito, I too can "produce complex organic compounds and eject them into space, filling the regions between stars".

Oil!!! (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37873996)

Americans, do you hear that?

"The compounds are so complex that their chemical structures resemble the makeup of coal and petroleum"

There is oil up there. Oil. OIL!

Now can you please start financing NASA moar so that they can do more cool stuff and let you keep driving your Chevy Tahoes?

~

Re:Oil!!! (1)

Lando (9348) | more than 2 years ago | (#37875308)

Doesn't one of Saturn's moons have a lot of petroleum? Seems to me that there was an article posted some time ago here that was about an engineer that said that the quantities of oil produced by rotting material was more than should be expected and thus there had to be a different source and pointed out a spectrogram that showed significant quantities on one of Saturn's moons.

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