Life’s ingredients may have ‘s prinkled’ on Earth
- URL to an article in MSNBC
This is not a new idea. Fred Hoyle and Chandr Wickramsinghe proposed it in
their 1978 Lifecloud, and I recall that Gregory Benford used it in his
Galactic Center series
First few paragraphs
By Dave Mosher
Updated: 10:52 a.m. CT Sept 11, 2007
Some crucial ingredients for life on Earth may have formed in interstellar
space, rather than on the planet's surface.
A new computer model indicates clouds of adenine molecules, a basic
component of _DNA_ (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20724322/from/RS.3/#) , can form and
survive the harsh conditions of space, and possibly sprinkle _onto planets_
(http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/extrasolar_planets.html) as the stars
they orbit travel through a _galaxy_
"There may be only a few molecules of adenine per square foot of space, but
over millions of years, enough could have accumulated to help _make way for
life_ (http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/070822_gm_life_origins.html) ,"
said study co-author Rainer Glaser, a molecular _chemist_
(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20724322/from/RS.3/#) at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
_Story continues below ↓_
Glaser and his team's findings are detailed in a recent issue of the journal
Adenine is one of four "letters" of DNA's alphabet used to store an
organism's genetic code. Glaser said the idea that large, two-ringed organic
molecules like adenine formed in space may seem outrageous, but current evidence
leaves the possibility wide open.
"You can find large molecules _in meteorites_
(http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/070816_life_comets.html) , including adenine," Glaser said. "We know
that adenine can be made elsewhere in the solar system, so why should one
consider it impossible to make the building blocks somewhere in interstellar
Using computer simulations of the cold vacuum of space, Glaser and his
colleagues found that hydrogen cyanide gas can build adenine. Like pieces in a set
of tinker toys, hydrogen cyanide serves as adenine's building blocks; the
small molecules bond together into chains and, with a little wiggling,
eventually assemble into rings.
Although adenine's first ring needs a tiny energy boost from starlight to
form, Glaser said the second ring of the molecule self-assembles without any
("The Dude Abides")
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