Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It Came From SPAAAACE... A Building block of life recreated with UV light

So I saw this article on slashdot.org discussing how scientists have been able to convert material found on asteroids into a component that is fundamental to our RNA.  Check the article out here.
Basically the scientists theorized that it would be possible that a lot of the material for life could have come from outer space (from dying stars perhaps, who knows) and that if the material could make its way here, exposure to Ultraviolet Radiation could cause it to morph into a more organic form. They successfully did this in a lab.

Excerpts from the article:



Origin & Evolution of Life
Posted:   11/08/09

Summary: NASA scientists have reproduced uracil, a key component of the hereditary material, RNA. The uracil was created by exposing an ice sample containing the molecule pyrimidine to ultraviolet radiation under space-like conditions. The research may help astrobiologists understand how molecules for the origin of life were first made.

NASA scientists studying the origin of life have reproduced uracil, a key component of our hereditary material, in the laboratory. They discovered that an ice sample containing pyrimidine exposed to ultraviolet radiation under space-like conditions produces this essential ingredient of life.
Here is another article discussing the concept that there are a lot of molecules floating around in space all over the universe, and that some of the in particular could be important in life as we know it.

Excerpt from the article:

Pascale Ehrenfreund, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, investigates the night skies for signs of life. Rather than a SETI-like search for radio signals, however, the signs she looks for are chemical. There are 143 kinds of molecules in the interstellar medium, and some of them may be important for life’s origin –- not just in our own solar system but also for the entire universe.
In a paper soon to be published in the journal Astrobiology, Ehrenfreund and her colleagues suggest that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), organic molecules found throughout space, may have played a fundamental role in the origin of life.



 

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