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Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the i-knew-i'd-left-those-somewhere dept.

Space 366

smooth wombat writes "NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope has detected the basic organic building blocks of life in a ring orbiting in the 'habitable zone', that area where Earth orbits the Sun and where water exists on the borderline between gas and liquid, in a nearby stellar nursery. When acetylene and hydrogen cyanide combine with water they form adenine, one of the four bases of DNA. The detection supports the widely held theory that many of the molecular building blocks of life were present in the solar system even before planets formed, thus assisting the initial formation of complex organic molecules and the start of life itself." Though it was a little shakier than this observation, we've discussed the possibility of life elsewhere in the galaxy before.

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Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (5, Funny)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326891)

What, you mean concrete evidence of an Intelligent Designer?

Love,
Kansas Board of Education

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (5, Funny)

ahsile (187881) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326921)

I do believe there is evidence of "His Noodly Appendages" visible from Earth.

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14327208)

Among the "ways of knowing", Science, with DNA as its totem pole, can only tell us so much. In other words, there are limits to what we can know with Science. Beyond those limits lie questions such as these: What was "before" the big bang? Why are we here? Why are Java developers so insufferable?

Like in open source, capitalism, and other human endeavours, Choice and the freedom to choose is a good thing. Enter religion: a free open-source alternative to other "ways of knowing." Whereas science can only provide the "how", religion picks up the slack and provides the "why" where other methods for discovering knowledge fall short.

Fundamental theists and atheists would do well to not blindly discredit other epistemological methods. If we can all get along and lay down the weaponry of this culture war going on right now in our courts, schools, and government, we could finally begin to approach real problems, like Man's Greatest Question: Were the dinosaurs killed off on purpose to allow humans to purple monkey dishwasher?

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (5, Insightful)

ozydingo (922211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327319)

Funny thing is, whenever I ask a "why" question, regarding the origins of life, God's intentions, etc, to one who professes that religion contains all the answers, the answer I typically get when my questions get deep enough is always along the lines of "we cannot profess to know or understand the motive of God and His infinite wisdom; for to do so would be to place ourselves on His level. We must only have faith in His divine plan." Doesn't seem to answer much of anything, in my opinion.

42 purple monkey dishwashers!

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (1)

syd2000 (318027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327211)

Relevant link [venganza.org] needed.

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (4, Funny)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327223)

The debate between ID and anti-ID zealots doesn't really interest me all that much, but every time the "flying spaghetti monster" argument gets invoked, I get really hungry for pasta.

Is that just me?

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14326949)

NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope has detected the basic organic building blocks of life in a ring orbiting in the 'habitable zone'

Nope. In fact, they've found the ringworld.

Yeah yeah, its unstable -- but only when those goddamn insane puppeteers are nearby.

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (1)

TexVex (669445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327087)

No, it's the smoke ring!

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (4, Funny)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326992)

The correct spelling is Kansas Board of "Education"

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (3, Funny)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327044)

Kansas Bord of Edyookashun

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (2, Funny)

jdbartlett (941012) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327148)

Other spelling variations found in KBE literature: - "Kansas" "Board" of "Education" - Kansas Board of Education. Honest. - Kansas, Bored with Education - Kansas Mod of Education - Kansas Board of Holy Education - The Lord's Board

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327037)

Can't believe the parent was modded as Flamebait. It was funny as all hell.

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327085)

Can't believe the parent was modded as Flamebait. It was funny as all hell.

You must piss yourself from laughter every time somebody posts an "In Soviet Russia" joke.

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (1)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327154)

It is funny, but it's also flamebait. It just depends on your perspective.

Maybe. (1)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327094)

We are made of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, phosphorus, sodium, iron, etc. Those building blocks are strewn throughout the universe, as far as we know. Now we think we see some complex, life-like compounds. We assume that means those formed where they are.

But it's a common violation of scientific principles to assume that the conditions we see now are those that have always existed. It makes for neater theories, but counterexamples are ubiquitous.

The FA merely suggests that DNA components could form in space. The same evidence suggests that if a planet is destroyed by catastrophic collision, it's hard to find the DNA afterwards.

I hope we never get hit.

Re:Ingredients of Life Found Around Sun-Like Star (2, Informative)

Viper Daimao (911947) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327144)

The best argument I've read for both Intelligent Design and Evolution are from Scott Adams [typepad.com] the writer of Dilbert [dilbert.com] .

Intelligent Design (5, Funny)

setirw (854029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326894)

Definitive proof that the building blocks of life were purposefully placed here by a space alien :-)

I think I'm desperate for entertainment... (2, Funny)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326956)

I find myself strangely hoping that someone gives you some insightful karma for this...

Re:I think I'm desperate for entertainment... (1)

setirw (854029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327095)

Your wish was granted...

Wow...

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

IDontAgreeWithYou (829067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327010)

Actually, when I read the article, I had a thought. Billions of years ago, some alien creature was reading a news story about organic molecules discovered in the dust of our solar system. They've been watching us ever since...

Dear Slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14327031)

You suck ass. Thank you. That is all.

Nah it's just... (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327036)

Nah these are not the building blocks of future planet earths. These are the remants of destroyed planet earths. For a while the aliens were recycling the planets they were destroying but then the bottom fell out of the market for the raw materials, so they began dumping the refuse in rings around the suns where the planets once orbitted. THey are hoping that the market picks up.

Re:Nah it's just... (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327166)

You're not L Ron Hubbard by any chance, are you?

Re:Intelligent Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14327078)

Its not an alien rather the flying spaghetti monsters noodley appendages that put it there.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

Apreche (239272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327112)

A flying space alien made of pasta with noodly appendages.

It's all in Xenu! (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327255)

My! What DO they teach you young Scientologists these days?

aka (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14326896)

aka, God's moneyshot

In other news (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14326898)

Ingredients for bleu cheese found in my bathroom... but that doesn't mean it is bleu cheese or that I'd want to eat it even if it were.

Re:In other news (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327032)

Ingredients for bleu cheese found in my bathroom... but that doesn't mean it is bleu cheese or that I'd want to eat it even if it were.

W1n!

So far, you've made the only insightful observation on TFA in the entire thread.

It was never in doubt that we would see other planets with acetylene, hydrogen cyanide, and liquid water, if we looked long enough. Finding an example of such a planet doesn't mean there's anybody there to add to our AIM buddy lists.

Re:In other news (1)

jdbartlett (941012) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327097)

I think the argument is that if your bathroom were involved in an earthquake and all those ingredients - against a bit of probability - were flung together in just the right way... Earthquakes have also been known to erect entire cities. That's how Rome got built in a day.

MMMMMM CHEESE (1)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327210)

Mmm ... 52 crumbles of Bleu cheese

Wow (-1, Redundant)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326899)


Intelligent Design works in mysterious ways...
Bwahahahaha...

Dupe?! (3, Funny)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326902)

"Though it was a little shakier than this observation, we've discussed the possibility of life elsewhere in the galaxy before."

Oh, so you've bourght us another dupe, huh? Well, thanks, Slashdot mods, thanks! FOR NOTHING!

Re:Dupe?! (1)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326961)

No, not at all. The other story was about the discovery of acetylene on Titan, a moon orbiting Saturn, which is, of course, in our own solar system. Thise new article is about the discovery of acetylene and hydrogen cyanide in a dust cloud orbiting a young star. If discovering the same chemical in two different places makes a dupe, then reporting on proccessor advancements, or updates on relevent lawsuits (like the lego's one) must be dupes too.

Re:Dupe?! (1)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327145)

Well, thanks, Slashdot mods, thanks!

You do realize that the mods had absolutely nothing to do with this story being posted, right?

Re:Dupe?! (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327315)

Technically given that there is an infinite amount of energy available (thus infitite possibility) then somewhere in the universe, sometime we have already discussed this, and will discuss this again. Except that in one of the last times we discussed this you were the opposite gender and I was a talking peguin with a linuxphobia.

Wait - so Moby had it right? (1, Funny)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326905)

We are all made of stars?

Re:Wait - so Moby had it right? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326967)

No, Rush had it right, back in 1990. We are made from the dust of stars, and the oceans flow in our veins.

Re:Wait - so Moby had it right? (2, Informative)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326970)

Yes, like CSNY said --

Woodstock - CSNY
Well I came across a child of God, he was walking along the road
and I asked him tell where are you going, this he told me:
Well, I'm going down to Yasgur's farm, going to join in a rock and roll band.
Got to get back to the land, set my soul free.
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
and we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Re:Wait - so Moby had it right? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327056)

Nice humorous post :)

Though, just to start a potentially off topic thread which will (as many off topic threads do) end in flame wars and tears, I think the actual line was 'we are caught in the devil's bargain'.

Re:Wait - so Moby had it right? (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327061)

I believe that is a James Taylor song. I heard him sing it live on Howard Stern a number of years ago.

Re:Wait - so Moby had it right? (2, Funny)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327104)

I sang it in the shower this morning, does that make it my song now?

Made of star stuff (1)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326977)

I think Carl Sagan preceded Moby in presenting that idea to popular culture. See Cosmos [wikipedia.org] . I just re-watched this series and it's just as good 25 years after it originally aired...

Re:Wait - so Moby had it right? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14327049)

We are all made of stars?
The Big Bang produced very little but hydrogen and helium, with some lithium (Thielemann et al. 2001). Various other elements (heavier than carbon but lighter than iron) are produced by fusion in the red giant stage of stars (Table 3). ... most of the elements that make up the computer you're using to view this article, the world around you, the solar system and your body, were originally produced in a supernova (Cameron & Truran 1977; Harper 1996).
In short, yes. [talkorigins.org]

Re:Wait - so Moby had it right? (1)

Ced_Ex (789138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327140)

We are all made of stars?

        The Big Bang produced very little but hydrogen and helium, with some lithium (Thielemann et al. 2001). Various other elements (heavier than carbon but lighter than iron) are produced by fusion in the red giant stage of stars (Table 3). ... most of the elements that make up the computer you're using to view this article, the world around you, the solar system and your body, were originally produced in a supernova (Cameron & Truran 1977; Harper 1996).


Someone explain this to me. If what you say is true that the carbon is produced from the supernova, how is it that using carbon dating we aren't all of the same age?

For instance, H2O is recycled through the water cycle, therefore the H, and O are essentially the same atom, except maybe combined with a different H or an O.

So, assuming that C atom stays the same, only perhaps combining with other different elements over time, isn't it not possible that I may have a 5 billion year old carbon in me?

Re:Wait - so Moby had it right? (2, Informative)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327179)

Carbon dating measures the ratios of various carbon isotopes (C-12 and C-14 I believe), not the age of individual carbon atoms.

Re:Wait - so Moby had it right? (3, Informative)

saider (177166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327234)

Carbon dating measures the ratio of C14 to C12. C14 is radioactive and decays over time. When an organism is alive it is constantly ingesting outside sources of carbon and so the C12-C14 ratio is the same as that of the environment. The environment gets C14 when cosmic rays interact with C12 in the upper atmosphere. When the organism dies, it stops ingesting carbon, the C14 decays and the ratio changes. The change in this ratio can tell you how long ago something stopped ingesting C14 (when it died).

You are not really measuring the age of the carbon atoms, just the ratio of a certian short-lived version of Carbon.

Re:Wait - so Moby had it right? (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327332)

The environment gets C14 when cosmic rays interact with C12 in the upper atmosphere.

It's N14 the cosmic rays interact with, not C12.

Re:Wait - so Moby had it right? (3, Interesting)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327092)

We are all made of stars?

Actually, even the bible tells us this is so. "Ashes to ashes... dust to dust...".

Could interpret this literally and say that we (the Sun, Earth and life on it) are made from interstellar dust initially, and that's where we end up when the solar system ends its life and turns back to ashes and dust when the sun explodes.

Re:Wait - so Moby had it right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14327190)

no dude, moby stole it from Delenn (babylon 5)

"the borderline between gas and liquid" (0, Offtopic)

dirtsurfer (595452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326909)

Shouldn't it be where water exists on the borderline between gas and solid?

I would think liquid water would be just fine for life. It's always worked for me.

Re:"the borderline between gas and liquid" (4, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326996)

" Shouldn't it be where water exists on the borderline between gas and solid?"

No. Liquid water doesn't exist at the temp and pressure where there is a borderline between gas and solid, you get direct sublimation from solid to gas under those conditions -- unless you happen to be at exactly the triple point.

Conversion between gas and liquid would help in the formation of life precursors, since the phase changes could help concentrate compounds in acqueous solution, resulting in greater rates of reaction. I'm sure there are other reasons why acqueous phase changes would help formation of complex organic molecules.

Re:"the borderline between gas and liquid" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14327287)

Conversion between gas and liquid would help in the formation of life precursors, since the phase changes could help concentrate compounds in acqueous solution, resulting in greater rates of reaction.

Your point is sound. But why do you need the temperature to be near boiling? Even if it isn't, evaporation is going to take place, causing the primordial broth of any lake to become more concentrated as long as there isn't any inflow of water. It happens here on Earth as well, isn't that why the Dead Sea is so salty?

(Okay, I know that the closer the temperature is to boiling, the greater will be the rate of evaporation, making concentration more likely. The only reason I posted this is to bring up the Dead Sea. Did you know that the Dead Sea [wikipedia.org] is an endorheic [wikipedia.org] basin? And that the shore or remnant of such a basin is known in US and Mexico as ... a playa [wikipedia.org] ? And any nigga who don't like that ain't nothin' but a playa hater [ohhla.com] , aight?)

News from Fark. Stuff that we already read (-1, Redundant)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326912)

Nothing to see here, Farkers, move along. This story is at least a day old.

Re:News from Fark. Stuff that we already read (0, Offtopic)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327075)

It's Not News, It's Slashdot.org

Couldn't resist :)

Drake equation (5, Interesting)

tpjunkie (911544) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326915)

I'd say this would definitely incresase the probability of the drake equation resulting in a non-zero answer. Complex organic molecule formation is one of the biggies that you need for development of life.

Re:Drake equation (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326962)

I'm inorganic you insensitive clod!

Re:Drake equation (2, Informative)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327066)

Complex organic molecule formation is one of the biggies that you need for development of life.

Too bad we're talking about very simple molecule formation here, or they would really be on to something. Adenine is just a relatively easy-to-form glob of hydrogen and nitrogen.

Wiki has a map of the molecule in question, if you are curious. [wikipedia.org]

Gives a whole new meaning... (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326933)

... to Helloween's song that goes "tonight we are staaaaaaaars, staaaaaaars..." :)

Or Dirk Diggler's... (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327020)

I'm a staaah, I'm a staaah, I'm a staaah. I'm a big, bright shining staaaah.

Wow, artists rule. (1)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326934)

These spectrograms! Artists can infer a lot from them, just look at that fine picture that they extrapolated from the data [for planet forming]

Since they took care of the latter half of the article, I figure I'll cover for the former.

Here is an ASCII artist's impression of what the organic material might look like, circling that sun-like star! .O.

DNA in space? (5, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326944)

I just thought of something while looking at the graphic -- what if RNA and DNA originally assemble in the pre-planetary cloud and hang around, falling into condensing planets and so forth?

I think the current popular theory, IIRC, is that RNA molecules somehow stack up in a tidal pool, where they are gently rocked back and forth. Some correct me please.

So how hard would it be to get DNA to link up in microgravity? Sure, there's more radiation around to blast things apart, but that might be a good thing -- you could get molecules you might not get otherwise without the blowing apart. Also, in microgravity, molecules can float around in 3 dimensions.

That's a lot to get from an artist's impression! (1)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327045)

Just imagine if you saw the actual spectrograph!

oh... you were inspired.

*runs off*

Re:DNA in space? (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327059)

Last I followed this (which was a while ago) the prevailing idea was that the sloshing around produced RNAs with catalytic activity, which enabled the cascade of new activities that eventually led to the DNA-RNA-protein system. In space, you might be able to get the same initial sequence but it's hard to see what it would then do out there.

(Honestly, once you've dismissed the creationism/ID crowd and declared that there must be some scientific explanation for life, it remains that the current theories demand some ludicrously improbable sequence of events, regardless of which one you choose. So who knows?)

Re:DNA in space? (5, Insightful)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327121)

There is no such thing as "ludacrously improbable" when it comes to cosmology - real world probabilities are tried in parallel not in serial.

They worked out the probabilities for life as we know it occuring randomly - they were small per trial however you must apply the Law of Extremely Large Numbers - ie a huge ammount of trials. Turns out the number of stars likely to have planets in the habital zone overwhelmed the probability by about 10,000 planets likely to have life of some form.

Don't try to fathom real world probabilities in terms of serial trials of flipping a coin.

Re:DNA in space? (1, Flamebait)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327233)

Turns out the number of stars likely to have planets in the habital zone overwhelmed the probability by about 10,000 planets likely to have life of some form.

That's precisely my point -- once you're in the realm of multiplying an insanely large number pulled out of your ass by an insanely small number pulled out of your ass, it's arguably irrelevant that the number the OP is pulling out of his ass is even smaller.

Occam's Razor went by the boards long ago on this front, for the reasons you say.

Re:DNA in space? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327077)

It doesn't have to be RNA and DNA exactly, if fact, it probably wouldn't be. Almost any self-replicating error-correcting organic molecule would do, we're just stuck on a local maxima.

Re:DNA in space? (4, Informative)

Hiro Antagonist (310179) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327111)

Well, radiation is the first problem; there's a hell of a lot of organic-molecule-shattering 'waves of doom' in space, way more than on the surface of a planet that has the shielding of both an atmosphere and a magenetosphere[1].

Second, tidal pools on a planet keep everything nicely together in the same general area, courtesey of Our Friend Gravity. Tidal pools, at least on Earth, also provide a very necessary solvent for the whole organic chemistry process -- water. No water, and pretty much all of the organic processes that we know about stop working; in fact, when you look at the chemistry, it almost seems that an oxygen atmosphere is optional, but that water is a base requiremet for life because of its properties as a solvent.

So, no, it's doubtful that complex molecules like Keith Richards will form outside of a suitable gravity well, and doubly doubtful that complex organic molecules (e.g., DNA) will form without liquid water.

[1] That's a magnetic field around a planet, not a hamster ball for Sir Ian McKellen.

Re:DNA in space? (2, Informative)

SigILL (6475) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327118)

So how hard would it be to get DNA to link up in microgravity? Sure, there's more radiation around to blast things apart, but that might be a good thing -- you could get molecules you might not get otherwise without the blowing apart. Also, in microgravity, molecules can float around in 3 dimensions.

They can do the same in water. However, one of the problems with trying to get organic chemicals in microgravity is that the cloud in which they're supposed to originate is very sparse. Thus, spontaneous creation of many of the chemicals we consider important to life simply takes longer than in a gravity well.

Secondly, after having gone through all that trouble you have a big chance of them simply burning up on athmospheric entry.

tis the season (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14326952)

Ok, this is OT, but I've heard this several times in the last couple of days, and I need to quash this nasty little piece of christian propaganda.

My christian friends are fond of telling me, especially this time of year, that famed computer scientist Donald Knuth is a christian.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Knuth is NOT a christian; in fact, he is an atheist and has said so on several occasions. So if a christian tries to tell you he is, tell him to cram it.

Knuth is WAAAAY too smart to fall for a crock of shit like christianity.

Totally agreed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14327038)

Ok, this is OT... Knuth is NOT a christian...

I completely agree with you. Yes indeed, your post was off topic.

Re:tis the season (3, Informative)

Enzo the Baker (822444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327226)

Donald Knuth is a Lutheran, or at least goes to the First Lutheran Church of Palo Alto now and then. See his news [stanford.edu] page for his occasionally scheduled appearances to have informal talks about Bible verses.

I suggest you look into two of his books, "3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated" and "Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About".

He gave some lectures [ddj.com] about how he wrote "3:16", his motivations for doing so, and various thoughts about God. These lectures were the basis for "Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About"

After further consideration... (3, Interesting)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14326976)

"""
The detection supports the widely held theory that many of the molecular building blocks of life were present in the solar system even before planets formed, thus assisting the initial formation of complex organic molecules and the start of life itself.
"""

Wait, so finding organic molecules around a planet supports this how? Can we tell the age of those particles, or that stellar nursery? If we are to believe a lightning strike can create life from amino acids and things of this nature... why would this support that conclusion in particular?

Maybe I'm missing the point. Perhaps someone can explain things to me?

Re:After further consideration... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14327008)

Well basically the darwin force lets call it god assembles the molecules so that very unlikely events become possible. Then after much prayer the darwin force manages to protect the material while it freefalls down a few hundred miles and is unhurt.

praise be the darwin force god....down with the other gods.

Re:After further consideration... (2, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327019)

The solar system in question has no planets yet.

Re:After further consideration... (1)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327026)

Right, so what we have is a possible single case scenario, but there is no evidence of when those aminos may have come from (could have been carried from another location) ... there are just so many variables, that I can't see how this would be anything but a very weak connection.

Re:After further consideration... (2, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327035)

I think that's why they say that the discovery supports the theory instead of saying that the discovery proves the theory.

Why mention something weakly supported? (1, Insightful)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327060)

Right, but the support is so incredibly weak, why even mention it?

That's like saying that because some unknown substance glows, it supports that it is radioactive, because other radioactive things glow.

It also supports that it is a lightbulb.

And also that it is hot... ... and many other things.

*taps the subject*

Re:Why mention something weakly supported? (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327082)

I think what they are claiming support for is the the theory that organic molocules form before planets. Since this is an example of a solar system with organic molocules and no planets...

Guess I'm just I'm too skeptical... (1)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327113)

I guess when your theories aren't even remotely provable (since we can't exactly fly around the universe and run tests on the present, much less on the past)... you take what you can get, but it just seems to be rather ridiculous to me.

Practical space technology and findings interest me, but stuff like this... not so much. We'll get there, sure, we'll figure it out... and this kind of almost wild speculation, as it seems to me, might make good science fiction, but I'll stick to what we can test and prove.

Don't get me wrong, I dream as much as the next guy, but there is a clear dividing line that should be erected between hard science and speculation (even educated speculation)...

Re:Guess I'm just I'm too skeptical... (2, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327162)

I would say dfficult to prove, not aren't even remotely provable. Labratory experiments can be and have been performed to demonstrate the possibility of certain organic molocules in the conditions believed to exist early in the life of the planet.

As far as observing this process in actions, it is only a matter of finding planets at the various stages of the process and observing the expected chemical reactions. This will be easier as our ability to make the observations improves.

In fact we are performing these observations on the past, due to the speed of light. However many light-years away the observed solar system is, that is how long ago the events we see now happened.

The universe is too big, old bean! (1)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327202)

Difficult to prove? If it can't be physically manipulated and observed and tested... it can't be proven. Given the scope of the universe... I'd say you can't prove it.

One (or even ten) cases will still lend only weak support, given this aforementioned 'scope of the universe'...

Do you see what I am saying?

Re:The universe is too big, old bean! (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327220)

If it can't be physically manipulated and observed and tested... it can't be proven.

If you observe the process occuring it is a way of proving it. Just like we can prove that supernovas happen by observing one happen even if we can't induce a supernova in a labratory.

Scope! Ze scope! (1)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327268)

Regardless of that, if we can't observe more than a few, the support a find gives to the theory is so miniscule that it seems ridiculous to mention it.

Anyway, that's all I have to say on the thread (barring any drastically new developments) ... cheers :)

Re:Scope! Ze scope! (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327289)

If the theory is correct we will expect to find more examples of solar systems and planets that show the characteristics predicted by the theory as our ability to make these observations improves.

In any case, it is only a matter of waiting for the results.

Re:Why mention something weakly supported? (1)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327129)

That's like saying that because some unknown substance glows, it supports that it is radioactive, because other radioactive things glow.

Actually, this situation is more like saying we have a theory that radioactive substances glow, and we find a glowing radioactive substance.

Re:Why mention something weakly supported? (1)

MrP-(at work) (839979) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327323)

Your posts on slashdot support the theory that you actually exist, but it cant be proven. And since a supported theory is weak to you, I must assume you dont exist and therefore your comments aren't real and I'm not replying to anyone.

Re:After further consideration... (1)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327108)

Actually, it's a pretty undeiable fact that these chemicals ARE present in that solar system BEFORE the planets have formed (because the chemicals are there and the planets are not).

Just because it's possible that the theory is not true in all cases, this certainly supports that the theory is true in at least some cases.

Re:After further consideration... (2, Informative)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327050)

These chemicals were found in a dust cloud orbiting a young star. No planets have yet condensed out of the cloud. As such, the chemicals are there before the planets, like the theory says.

At least... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14327043)

They don't have Seinfeld.

Life Around Other Stars (2, Informative)

herwin (169154) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327062)

We're several years away from being able to do spectrographic studies of rocky planets orbiting other stars (or rocky moons), but once we reach that point, it will probably be only time until we detect free oxygen and/or other molecules that disappear rapidly in the absence of life.

Food Network... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327065)

I think this article would be more credible if it was posted on the Food Network instead of Slashdot. What nerd/geek/techie would be interested in what's laying around the Intelligent Designer's kitchen?

Re:Food Network... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14327314)

are you crazy? have you seen the flamewars about who's got the best cooking on Food Network around Slashdot? It's chemistry, it's process, it's algorithms with tasty results!

Life is software, not hardware (4, Interesting)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327090)

Life is not the presence of particular molecules. Life is the plan by which the molecules are constructed into a living organism. Molecules without the plan by which they operate are no different than computer hardware without any software installed on it. Finding hydrogen cyanide and acetylene present around another star is more a comment on the improving ability to detect molecules at a distance than it is on the presence of the 'building blocks of life.' It would have been much more remarkable if they had NOT found those substances since they are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen which we would expect to be ubiquitous in the universe, based on our present knowledge. Claiming to have found the 'building blocks of life' around another star is just hype to help pump up the budget for next years work.

Some issues (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327127)

Keep in mind that while this stuff is in the habitable zone right now, that doesn't mean anything will be there in the future. As we've seen from the 100+ planets already found, many systems apparently develop with Jupter-sized and larger planets in either close orbits or wildly eccentric orbits that will result in smaller planets in the habitable zone being either thrown into their host star or, more likely, expelled from their solar system.

Factor into this that single cell "life" began on this planet almost as soon as the conditions were favorable, but it took another 2.5 billion for it to evolve into multi-cell life. That seems to indicate, to me at least, that multi-cell life is difficult and not necessarily a forgone conclusion when you have single-cell life. I suspect the number of planets with "life" as we know it, to be far fewer than a lot of people believe.

ingredients for life (4, Funny)

revery (456516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327214)

To inhabitants of the T'nsha'grlsk galaxy this is hardly surprising. Scattered across their saucier-pan-shaped galaxy are planets containing the ingredients for Fetucinni Alfredo, Pork Tenderloin, Chicken Cacciatore, and in what will most likely result in a lawsuit should humans develop interstellar space travel, the McRib.

When asked about the ingredients for Life, Ss's'krpwjdnq waved his third-dimension-bound tentacles wildly and secreted an information packed protein strand. While there is no English equivalent for his communique, a rough translation would be "Given the chance to eat a human, I would."

Re:ingredients for life...what about the Wine? (1)

xoip (920266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327252)

In vino veritas!

So? Quaker Oats has know for years ... (3, Funny)

joelsanda (619660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327215)

The ingredients of Life [lifecereal.com] .

Sure as hell don't have to go that far out to get it - local supermarket has it!

statistical black hole (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14327236)

The leaded phrase "building blocks of life"
implies some sort of complete set (if there
is such a thing) that are easily snapped together
to create a duck or chicken. To propound such an
implausible violation of entropy is to live in
a statistical wonderland where monkeys regularly
type out Shakespeare and time runs in reverse.
The smallest human chromosome is a chain of
50 million base pairs (over an alphabet of
4: ACGT). 4^1,000,000 is roughly 10^608,000.
The age of the universe in milliseconds is
on the order of 10^20. Random trial and error
seems our of the question. No explanation
has yet been demonstrated of how the initial
chemical constituents formed to produce a
DNA/RNA based life form. Just a lot of hand
waving about "building blocks". If these
"building blocks" spontaneorsly construct
meaningful strands of DNA, ribosomes, and
other required agents, then reproduce it
in the lab. No, a lightning strike/spark on
an early 1950's high scholl science project
that produces some organic slime is not
the same thing.

Basic building blocks (1)

thecpuguru (919288) | more than 8 years ago | (#14327327)

And all this time I thought the basic building blocks of Life were made by Lego....
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