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Giant Cloud of Methanol Found in Space

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the space-drinks dept.

104

kakos writes "Astronomers have recently discovered a giant cloud of methanol in our region of the Milky Way Galaxy. The cloud measures 463 billion kilometres across. Study of this cloud could lead scientists to a greater understanding of how star formation occurs. Furthermore, the abundance of organic molecules in interstellar space could also shed light on the chemical origins of life."

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Post Petroleum economy solved! (5, Funny)

jvalenzu (96614) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064258)

Finally, a solution for our post-peak oil problems! Now, all we need to do is make a solar powered spaceship and pack a really long siphoning hose...

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (3, Funny)

Edward Teach (11577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064266)

Back in Texas, we called that an Oklahoma Credit Card...

Peak oil shmeak oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15064347)

Of course, Americans don't have a peak oil problem anyway: in their world,
oil is either limitless or it actually grows from the Earth's mantle.

*THIS IS WHAT AMERICANS ACTUALLY BELIEVE*

Re:Peak oil shmeak oil (0, Offtopic)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064394)

It's true.

-:sigma.SB

Re:Peak oil shmeak oil (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064473)

By "it" I meant that Americans really think that...

-:sigma.SB

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (-1, Offtopic)

Kethinov (636034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064493)

Or we could just grow lots of hemp [hemp4fuel.com] so that we can make as much methanol as we want for infinite renewable fuel. Gee, do you think marijuana's banning in the US in 1939 had anything at all to do with this 1938 Popular Mechanics article [jackherer.com] ? Methinks corporations with large timber holdings, oil holdings, and tobacco holdings had a vested interest in lobbying marijuana out of existence in the guise of public safety despite the fact that legal drugs were less dangerous.

But hey, what do I know. It's not as if America and those who emulate us have been blindly and needlessly wasting oil for the last near seven decades or anything thanks to organized corporate greed, right? I mean, that would just be a silly thing that the people wouldn't stand for, right? Think about it.

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (1, Flamebait)

Kethinov (636034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064507)

Slashdot needs an ability to edit posts, I say.

"Despite the fact that legal drugs were less dangerous" should read "despite the fact that legal drugs are arguably more dangerous."

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (2, Informative)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064588)

Despite the fact that legal drugs were less dangerous" should read "despite the fact that legal drugs are arguably more dangerous.

There's no "arguably" about it. Both alcohol and tobacco are demonstrably more dangerous than marijuana.

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065109)

It's always "arguable" when comparing the dangers of different drugs.

I presume you are referring to the damage to personal health, and in that respect, marijuana doesn't do well either.

Coming to the conclusion that one is better than the other is just wrong.

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (1)

ktulu1115 (567549) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065901)

...marijuana doesn't do well either
I would say that depends how you consume it.

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (1)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066201)

Actually, pure clean heroin, when used with clean needles and equipment is perfectly safe and a habbit can be maintained indefinetly with absolutely no medical problems.

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15068338)

Except the the "habbit" can't be stopped. And has a profound detrimental effect on a person's life, if not their health.

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (1)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15069891)

The habit can't be stopped, easily, but has no detrimental effect on a person's health.

As far as effect on life, well, that depends. If one is able to receive a clean free supply of heroin, it probably has no effect on their life either.

MODS: The TRUTH is not a troll... (1, Offtopic)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15067077)

... whether you like it or not! He's right; marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco in the sense that alcohol and tobacco contain substances that lead to serious diseases, and marijuana doesn't. Moreover, marijuana is also no more dangerous than alcohol in terms of impairment during use. The only reason marijuana is illegal is historical: because it was frequently used by Mexican and African Americans in the early part of the 20th century, racists used it as a scapegoat to hurt those groups. Newspapers printed hysterical crap like "OMG! Doped-up niggers are gonna rape your white wife!!!one! Ban marijuana now!!!" and people were stupid enough to belive them (or were racist themselves, and agreed anyway).

Re:MODS: The TRUTH is not a troll... (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15068216)

Marijuana is especially less dangerous than methanol, which is more likely to cause blindness than drunkenness. That said, inhaling partially burnt hydrocarbons from any plant is bad for you.

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (1)

Scott Swezey (678347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064695)

A few quotes come to mind "Use the Preview Button! Check those URLs!" Then there is the one after posting that says something like "than you should have used the preview button."

All joking asside though, we know now why Bush is in such a hurry to get to Mars, and further, I guess.

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (2, Interesting)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064577)

Also note that you could smoke a bushel of industrial hemp and not get high. You don't need BC superweed to make methonol or use the fiber in other products. The US and other countries could just allow certain seed stock that has a very low THC content to be grown. May even be able to be genetically engineered out.

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15067135)

The issue is not whether the hemp that people want to grow legally has a lot of THC or not; the issue is the fact that people can hide drug-grade marijuana among the industrial hemp, and it would be extremely hard for the DEA to tell the difference.

In my opinion, the easiest solution is just to legalize and regulate marijuana (in the same way as alcohol), and stop caring what variety of hemp the farmers are growing.

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (2, Interesting)

foandd (629361) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064630)

Yeah, that's a cool conspiracy theory and all...

Of course, those who are paying attention will know that there was a big push in the early 20th century to outlaw many drugs which were legal but which were causing major social problems (complicated by the fact that technically speaking, Congress doesn't have the authority to regulate such things. Which is why Timothy Leary actually succeeded in making marijuana legal in the late 60s; but I digress).

The guy who was in charge of such things, the nation's first drug czar, didn't want to bother with marijuana because he was after drugs which actually caused serious problems, and the ganja just didn't happen to be one of them. However, we were in a depression, and California and Arizona (Texas and New Mexico also threw in) were looking for a way to get rid of their plentiful and cheap Mexican labor. It turns out that marijuana was heavily used in the Mexican laborer population, and the only other identifiable group which used it was black musicians in New Orleans, and really, who the hell cared what they thought? So marijuana became a regulated substance basically in order to get rid of cheap foreign labor so unemployed Americans could be exploited within an inch of their lives instead.

Which really seems to me to be at least as good as your conspiracy theory, with the added benefit of actually being true.

Mod parent up (1)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066127)

That aint no troll!

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (1)

crotherm (160925) | more than 8 years ago | (#15068205)


Parent is not a troll. It is documented history. /. has been infiltrated by corporate shills and DEA narks...

Re:Post Petroleum economy solved! (1)

chrisatoremus (956200) | more than 8 years ago | (#15072413)

don't light a match!

Scientists described the cloud (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15064259)

as "great tasting", with "less tar".

Re:Scientists described the cloud (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15064287)

Hmm... close, but no cigar.

Re:Scientists described the cloud (1, Informative)

mattjb0010 (724744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064514)

You've obviously been smoking something else if you don't know there's a difference between methanol and menthol.

Re:Scientists described the cloud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15066270)

Flamebait? I thought it was pretty funny myself. Let me guess: some pothead has mod points to waste today?

Mayor McDaniels: All right, people, we can move onto issue number 14B.
Chef: [Secretary of Public Safety] Mayor, we have got to do somethin' about all these potholes on our roads!
Linda Stotch: [City Clerk and Treasurer] We don't have it in the budget to fix them right now.
Gerald: [City Attorney] We'll wish we spent the money when we have a lawsuit on our hands.
Chef: We- [a struggle is heard in the hall and the council members turn to see what it is. The door opens and Cartman rushes in, roughed up]
Guard: You can't go in there!
Cartman: Please, I have to talk to you all right now!
Mayor McDaniels: Kid, we're have a city council meeting.
Cartman: Mayor, something very big is happening, and if you all don't give me a moment of your time, there may be no more South Park to council over!
Randy: [Secretary of Parks and Public Grounds] What are you talking about?
Cartman: I'm talking about the end of all life as we know it. [some surprise is seen among the council members] For the past several days I've been... noticing a steep rise in the number of hippies coming to town. [puts a laptop on the table and turns it on] At first I thought maybe it was just a coincidence. [pulls a projector towards the laptop] Then I saw this... [connects the projector to the laptop, and the projector turns on. Everyone then looks at the screen. Cartman goes to it and points a few things out] Three new drum circles have sprouted up here, here, and here. They're all growing in diameter, at a rate of two hippies per hour. What this means... is that the hippies are conglomerating. They'er thriving, if you will. I think that they're setting up for a... [close-up]. hippie music festival.
Linda: A what?
Cartman: Ti's, it's simple science. Look: When hippies start to nest in a new area, it draws other hippies in. With the right weather conditions and topography, it can lead to a music festival. One that last for days, even weeks. Reggae on the River, Woodstock, Burning Man, they will all pale in comparison to what we're looking at now. In my professional opinion... I think we're looking at a full-blown hippie jam festival the size of which we've never seen. [the adults don't get it, Cartman sighs heavily]
Mayor McDaniels: Kid, what the hell are you talking about?
Cartman: I know hippies. I've hated them all my life. I've kept this town free of hippies on my own since I was five and a half. But I can't contain them on my own anymore. We have to do something, fast!
Mr. Mackey: Uh, Eric, we're, we're talkin' about potholes right now, m'kay.
Cartman: It's not potholes you need to worry about. It's potheads. I know what these people are capable of.

Fire Up the Engines! (4, Funny)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064262)

Oh wait, you said Methanol...well, we can still get totally wasted off of that, broseph!

/Frat Aliens

Re:Fire Up the Engines! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064905)

Well, you'd prolly go blind... but what can it hurt, let's risk an eye.

Re:Fire Up the Engines! (1)

fsckr (965056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065003)

What can it hurt?? A friend of mine was trekking in Kenya a few months ago, chillin with the natives. He told me that they make a killer alcoholic drink that tastes pretty good. Little did I know what he meant by killer until I saw this: http://news.inq7.net/world/index.php?index=1&story _id=41596 [inq7.net] Either way, no methanol moonshine for me thnx fsckr

The state of general knowledge. (5, Funny)

Yeshua (93307) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064272)

You know things are starting to slip when it has to be explicitly pointed out in an article about an astronomic discovery that you can't drink the thing.

Other than jokingly, I wonder how many people thought "Cool, space booze!"?

Re:The state of general knowledge. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15064288)

Well personally I thought "what the hell are our new alien overlords eating to make them fart that much", but then I got too drunk to care :)

Re:The state of general knowledge. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15064523)

What do you eat that makes you fart methanOL?

  H
HCOH - methanol
  H

  H
HCH - methane
  H

Re:The state of general knowledge. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15066934)

Well, according to your diagram, all you have to do is BREATHE.

Re:The state of general knowledge. (1)

Yeshua (93307) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064305)

In an addendum to my dismay, a good chunk of the early posters don't seem to know the difference between methanol, methane and (worse) menthol.

Re:The state of general knowledge. (1)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064342)

I guess that blows away (no pun) the "Are those gasious clouds circling..." comment I was about to use.

Take heart... no one (at least at the time of this post) has confused methanol/methane/menthol with Mentos.

 

Re:The state of general knowledge. (0, Offtopic)

MarkChovain (952233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064348)

Mmmmm... Mentos...

Re:The state of general knowledge. (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066556)

What do you mean I can't drink it ?!!! *** Me takes giant sip and swallows cubic lightsecond of space booze *** Aaarghh!!! I'm BLIND !!!

Re:The state of general knowledge. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15066948)

I was thinking, "When did all the space aliens stop smoking regulars?"

Methanol, eh? (4, Funny)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064276)

Remember kids, looking at it in a telescope is fine, but drink it and you'll go blind. Instead of imbibing galactic moonshine, buy your alcohol only from a legitimate manufacturer.

Read parent before posting drinking jokes, please (1)

The Wooden Badger (540258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064312)

Really, nerds not knowing that methanol causes blindness is the bigger joke.

Old news... (4, Funny)

deadgoon42 (309575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064279)

This is old news [weeklyworldnews.com] .

Re:Old news... (1)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065080)

You mean people actually believe this stuff?!?!

No mystery here... (-1, Redundant)

slughead (592713) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064292)

My skinny friend's rather portly ex just let out a few billion cubic meters of flatulance.

Re:No mystery here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15064852)

Farting methanol? I get the image of someone ass-huffing a girl.

Dreams (3, Funny)

mqduck (232646) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064294)

This reminds me of the pool of ethanol I swim in in my dreams.

sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15070324)

that isn't ethanol

What are those scientists doing under my sheets? (0, Offtopic)

ccmay (116316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064298)

This discovery will come as no surprise to my long-suffering wife.

-ccm

Oh. Methanol, not methane. (2, Interesting)

ccmay (116316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064311)

Interesting. Methanol is a precursor for some amino acid syntheses.

-ccm

Re:Oh. Methanol, not methane. (4, Interesting)

AWeishaupt (917501) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064352)

This is definately the most interesting part of this discovery. We know that simple organic molecules like MeOH were most likely critical steps in the biochemical origins of life on Earth, and it has been generally accepted in the past that these kinds of molecules couldn't remain stable in space, primarily due to radiolysis, whilst now it seems they can.

Re:Oh. Methanol, not methane. (1)

ShadowXOmega (808299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15067259)

Ummm
if it cant be stable, need something to be constantly producing it:

- a huge cloud of interestellar bacteria
- a huge junkyard for organic waste
- may be is an accident, like the oil in our seas (may be a organic fuel, methanol is a good fuel too)
- or may be a small planet there is pumping all it out (solar system scale contamination)

:)

Alert the neocons ! (4, Funny)

javaDragon (187973) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064300)

Time for a regime change in space, let's liberate aliens and bring them democracy.

Reminds me of Captain Janeway (3, Funny)

saramakos (693903) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064324)

"There's Coffee in that Nebula"

test (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15064338)

for example, take a look at this wikipedia entry about the TPS reports of Office Space fame: http://en.wikipedia.org/TPS_report [goatse] ">http://en.wiki pedia.org/TPS_report. I think you'll find it most amusing.

Re:test (0, Flamebait)

know1 (854868) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064375)

not only are you a tool, but an inefficient one who can't even post a url correctly.
having said that i never use the preview btuton

Re:test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065383)

Theirs a preveiw butotn?/

Origins of life my foot (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064358)

Methanol (sporting a mere 6 atoms) is an "organic" molecule in the sense of being related to the chemistry of life only by courtesy, because it's got a carbon atom. I suggest information about how methanol is distributed between the stars will have as much relevance to the origin of life as knowing how helium or hydroxyl radicals or plain old dust is distributed. Which is to say, not much.

Re:Origins of life my foot (2, Insightful)

AhNewBis (42974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064467)

Considering Helium is the byproduct of a nuclear Hydrogen reaction in stars, I'd say its VERY important regarding possible origins or histories of life long past.

Re:Origins of life my foot (5, Interesting)

FirienFirien (857374) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064782)

Considering how tough it is to find organic molecules at all - whether organic by courtesy or not - finding a vast cloud of methanol is extraordinary. While finding methanol on earth would at best be vaguely interesting, since in the lifetime of the earth we've managed to significantly bypass the stage of small molecules, remember that if you've got 463 billion km of methanol there's a fair chance that something did it. Whether it's vapour trails from a cosmic express or some strange unforeseen product from the explosion of a star with just the right mass balance to get this kind of ratio of atoms to form the products, it's hugely interesting to find it up there.

The chances of two random atoms interacting is middling to fair. Biatoms will readily form molecules, especially since the simplest atom is hydrogen which will happily pair up with another of itself. The chances of two different molecules interacting closely enough to react is very low. On earth we need dense solutions with a heat source to get a reaction to happen. The chances of interaction to produce a cloud of particles is very low, though with the amount of stuff out there you can understand how it happens. The chance of getting reaction of enough molecules in one way to produce enough of one kind of product to show up on a spectrometer is fantastically small. Note that the article doesn't say "methane and methanol", which would be more expected from reaction with carbon in a hydrogen-rich environment; and if you mix oxygen and methane together in an attempt to get methanol, you'll get the lower-energy products of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and water.

Re:Origins of life my foot (2, Interesting)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15068750)

Can't say that I agree. In the first place, about forty [nrao.edu] of the 130 or so known interstellar molecules are as big or bigger than methanol. In the second place, methanol is readily formed in a reducing environment, such as you'd find in hydrogen-rich interstellar space. Third, while it is true that the formation reaction rate would be low, because as you point out the interstellar gas density is low, it is equally true that it's got billions of years to react. Remember how easily Stanley Miller got amino acids to form in a primordial soup with a little electrical discharge? Frankly, I'd be shocked if simple organics didn't form in a reducing, cryogenic environment with plenty of high-energy photons swimming about.

On earth we need dense solutions with a heat source to get a reaction to happen.

Not always, no. Plenty of reactions will go without heat, and in dilute solution.

if you mix oxygen and methane together in an attempt to get methanol, you'll get the lower-energy products of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and water.

To be sure. But that is a highly oxidizing environment, and hydrogen-rich interstellar space is a highly reducing environment. Surely most oxygen in a hydrogen-rich molecular cloud is going to be present as H2O, not O2, and then

CH3 + H2O -> CH3OH + 1/2 H2

would happens readily enough in a highly energetic environment. Interstellar space is an unusual chemical environment from the point of view of Earthlings, used as we are to living at the bottom of a pool of potent oxidizer. It's highly nonthermal and highly reducing. Our Earth-based chemistry instincts may not necessarily be a good guide.

oops, forgot an H (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15068810)

Sorry, that should be:

CH4 + H2O -> CH3OH + H2

I feel like a Yorkshireman, losing H's like this...

Martinis anyone? (5, Funny)

ncrypted (9589) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064373)

you know, If we could muster enough methane, the right catalyst, and a gallon of vermouth we could have a martini almost half a light-year across.......

And who says there's no God...

Re:Martinis anyone? (1)

MarkChovain (952233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064434)

Did you perhaps mean Martianinis?

Re:Martinis anyone? (3, Funny)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064628)

But where do you find the 2 petatonne olive? And the mega-mini-umbrella ?

Re:Martinis anyone? (1)

Omaze (952134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064702)

For some reason thinking about a 2 petatonne olive just set me off. I'm going to be grinning for the rest of the night.

Re:Martinis anyone? (1)

subtropolis (748348) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065950)

Do you mean ginning?

Re:Martinis anyone? (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065131)

You want Ethanol.Methanol is like wood alcohol,make you blind,son.
jus squeeze that corn through that copper coil there,boy and you will have go juice.
        What we have is a large firework waiting for oxygen and a bic.
Harold!,take this zippo over there and give it a flick.
Like if they gave astronauts digestion unfriendly food,The cabin could backfire on takeoff.Hey that could be what happened to the chimp on the old mercury flight! Bonzo poots and the whole sh*thouse goes up in flames.Course thats methane not methanol.
Just don't drink it.

WMDs! (1)

Pao|o (92817) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064420)

Maybe Bush was wrong all along. Maybe he should've invaded Vulcan for WMDs & terrorists. Nevermind they have the galaxy's largest supply of Methanol reserves. Must liberate the alcohol cause God told me so!

Help me? (2, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064450)

Ummm let's see... let's say that a liter of methonal costs about 30 USD cents, that's $3 * 10^11 a cubic kilometer. Provided that the cloud is about round, it must have a volume of about 4 * 10^35 cubic kilometers. Ummm.. I only need to know the density of this cloud in order to calculate how much it's worth in order to attract investors in order to send a tube there and suck all of it off.

Maybe the desnity is indicated somewhere in the article... should I read the article? This is Slashdot, no way!

Their problem our benefit? (1)

smvp6459 (896580) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064561)

Could this have been the result of a cosmic Exxon Valdez?

I knew it (1)

MoonPost (931388) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064583)

That must be Benders heaven!!!

Anyone ever notice... (4, Insightful)

Fry-kun (619632) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064591)

...that on every article about space exploration, there's always a sentence attached, which reads something like "[this discovery] could lead scientists to a greater understanding of X" (where X is usually Life, Universe, or Everything)
It's kind of starting to get on my nerves.. oh well..

Re:Anyone ever notice... (1)

godless dave (844089) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064633)

I notice that too, and it bugs the shit out of me.

Re:Anyone ever notice... (1)

Zutroi_Zatatakowsky (513851) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064711)

I love you, I thought I was the only one to notice that. I'm sick of seeing this stupid sentence.

Re:Anyone ever notice... (1)

mahmud (254877) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064743)

I guess that's the easiest way to attract public attention and most importantly funding.

Re:Anyone ever notice... (1)

dyslexicbunny (940925) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065323)

Interesting...

Fry-kun's post could lead us to a greater understanding of /. mods.

Re:Anyone ever notice... (2, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15066596)

...that on every article about space exploration, there's always a sentence attached, which reads something like "[this discovery] could lead scientists to a greater understanding of X" (where X is usually Life, Universe, or Everything)
It's kind of starting to get on my nerves.. oh well..

Has it occured to you that Astronomy is trying to answer the Really Big Questions (tm)? These are fundamental questions about the nature of the Universe, not just nose-picking. Also, the discovery of vast amounts of such material can change our assumptions about how prevalant the building blocks of life in the Universe just may be. We've always assumed you'd only get such things in such incredibly rare situations as to be virtually impossible.

If, instead of being astonishingly rare, the basic gooey bits of life are remarkably prevalant in the Universe, the presumptions about life need to change.

If the Universe is absolutely swimming in organic compounds, then the likelihood of life existing/having existed/likely to exist elsewhere goes way up. If you can get a couple of billion kilometres of alcohol just floating around in space, I'm sure you can get all sorts of other wacky stuff happening.

Why the hell has Slashdot gotten so friggin anti-science of late? ... THAT is starting to get on my nerves.

Re:Anyone ever notice... (1)

Fry-kun (619632) | more than 8 years ago | (#15070346)

I agree that astronomy tackles these important issues - but the thing is, they ALWAYS do that. That is, EVERY discovery in astronomy brings us closer to understanding the all-important questions and answers - what I'm annoyed at is that the routine makes the news every friggin' time. Yes, they made a new discovery - that's awesome and should by all means make the news - but the notice that it might give us an insight into X is fallacious since it doesn't really tell us a damn thing (it may give us insight into another interesting area instead, or may not give us any insights at all).

It's Melllvar!!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15064643)

MELLLVAR
It is I!

[Everyone gasps and looks up. Above them is a hovering, green cloud.]

BENDER
Whoa! What a cheesy effect!

MELLLVAR
I am not an effect! You doubt my power?

BENDER
I do.

[Melllvar zaps Welshy with a bolt of lightning and he falls over.]

WELSHY (shouting)
Aye!

[Fry runs to him and holds him.]

FRY (screaming)
Welshy!

No surprise (1)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064649)

They are just mixing up another batch of Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Methanol in space... (1)

Reemi (142518) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064747)

...is that considered free as in Beer?

Nope, (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15068305)

Just free as in radical.

(CH3+ + OH- => CH3OH)

I'd like to send a rocket (1)

SimianOverlord (727643) | more than 8 years ago | (#15064926)

To blow that shit out of it. Man, that would be good.

What they don't say.... (3, Informative)

phlegmofdiscontent (459470) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065050)

...is that the cloud isn't made of just methanol. It just has enough methanol to be detectable from its radio emissions. Most of this cloud (which has been known for a long time) is made up of hydrogen and helium, just like most of the universe.

Methanol? (2, Funny)

miscz (888242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065159)

Wake me up when they find some ethanol. :\

Re:Methanol? (1)

slughead (592713) | more than 8 years ago | (#15071708)

Wake me up when they find some ethanol. :\

Why? So you can pass out again?

somebody really dropped a big one ... (2, Funny)

SimonInOz (579741) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065187)

Wow, that's the hugest fart in the entire .. sorry, I thought you said methANE.

Sorry. Forget I said that. Sorry

Re:somebody really dropped a big one ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15065428)

That is okay... It was just one of those wet farts.

Anon.

Re:somebody really dropped a big one ... (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15068133)

And did you know that this cloud is on the other side of Uranus?

Where? I can't see it (1)

uniqueUser (879166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065433)

OK, two things about TFA:

1.) Am I the only one who could not see the cloud in the picture?
2.) I like how they added "Methanol is not suitable for human consumption".

News? (1)

floki (48060) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065515)

This should be news? Haven't you heard about Beer in Space [comedycorner.org] ?

Chewin' the cud (1)

ToxikFetus (925966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065748)

Holy crap! There must be a whole bunch of belching cows in interstellar space!

Just imagine... (1)

perrin5 (38802) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065855)

How long you could run your laptop [slashdot.org] over there!!!

Bomb Insurance (0, Flamebait)

PaulMorel (962396) | more than 8 years ago | (#15065866)

I hope the methanol-cloud people have good bomb insurance.

Bush insurance perhaps?

Interesting...And Amusing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15067342)

First off, I find this so very funny. In an article on cosmology, they have to state that methynol is not suitable for human consumption! But then, the headline did make me think, "ROAD TRIP!"

Really, though, this is an important discovery (one of several) that puts another nail in the coffin of the various theories and ~philosophies~ that say life couldn't spring up from space junk. Those scientists, and creationists, need to rethink their ideas a bit. The 'stuff of life' had to come from somewhere and while forming directly here on planet Earth is well within the realm of possibility, so is the idea of life forming here (or anywhere else) from bio-chemicals from space. If you happen to be a hard-core creationist, then you need to consider the idea that God created the 'stuff of life' with the universe and we are but one of many peoples under Him. What ever you believe as a scientist and/or religious individual, you have to see the scientific facts for the truths that they are.

My Bad (1)

Unanimous Cowturd (891079) | more than 8 years ago | (#15067530)

Excuse me.

Oh my god we're all gonna die! (1)

AgentDib (931969) | more than 8 years ago | (#15067679)

Methanol isn't as flammable as Gasoline.. but it's still flammable!!! What's going to happen to us when a passing comet sets off sparks and 460 BILLION KILOMETERS of space explodes? The shock wave will knock earth out of rotation and send us hurtling out of the Solar System! We're all going to freeze to death!

Re:Oh my god we're all gonna die! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15068332)

Except for there being not enough oxygen to ignite.....

Giant methanol cloud... (1)

whyrat (936411) | more than 8 years ago | (#15067695)

I for one welcome our giant methanol overloards.

Okay, (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15071876)

Who farted?

Zqykyqhjjjayzyyxx, I'm looking at you!

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