"Interstellar Gas Clouds Seed New Planets With Building Blocks of DNA"
- Good post from the Daily Galaxy.
This is not really new. More than 30 years ago Hoyle & Wickramsinghe said
much the same in their book Lifecloud
Sent: 6/24/2013 6:22:22 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: The Daily Galaxy: News from Planet Earth & Beyond
_The Daily Galaxy: News from Planet Earth & Beyond_
_"Interstellar Gas Clouds Seed New Planets With Building Blocks of DNA"
(Today's Featured Post)_
Posted: 24 Jun 2013 06:28 AM PDT
During the past decade, astrochemists have found that DNA molecules, the
fundamental building blocks of life, find their origins not on Earth, but in
the Cosmos. They are the languange of the Universe --the information they
inherited comes from the stars and the cosmic ecology that formed them.In
February, 2013, scientists using the _National Science Foundation's_
(http://www.nsf.gov/) _Green Bank Telescope_
(Green%20Bank%20Telescope)&t=h) (GBT) in West Virginia to study a giant cloud of
gas some 25,000 light-years from Earth, near the center of our Milky Way
Galaxy, announced that they had discovered a molecule thought to be a
precursor to a key component of DNA and another that may have a role in the
formation of the amino acid alanine.
"Finding these molecules in an _interstellar gas_
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstellar_medium) cloud means that important building blocks for
DNA and amino acids can 'seed' newly-formed planets with the chemical
precursors for life," said Anthony Remijan, of the _National Radio Astronomy
Observatory (NRAO)_ (http://www.nrao.edu/) .
One of the newly-discovered molecules, called cyanomethanimine, is one
step in the process that chemists believe produces adenine, one of the four
nucleobases that form the "rungs" in the ladder-like _structure of DNA_
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA) . The other molecule, called ethanamine, is
thought to play a role in forming alanine, one of the twenty amino acids in
the genetic code.
In each case, the newly-discovered interstellar molecules are intermediate
stages in multi-step chemical processes leading to the final biological
molecule. Details of the processes remain unclear, but the discoveries give
new insight on where these processes occur. Previously, scientists thought
such processes took place in the very tenuous gas between the stars. The new
discoveries, however, suggest that the chemical formation sequences for
these molecules occurred not in gas, but on the surfaces of ice grains in
"We need to do further experiments to better understand how these
reactions work, but it could be that some of the first key steps toward biological
chemicals occurred on tiny ice grains," Remijan said.
The discoveries were made possible by new technology that speeds the
process of identifying the "fingerprints" of cosmic chemicals. Each molecule has
a specific set of rotational states that it can assume. When it changes
from one state to another, a specific amount of energy is either emitted or
absorbed, often as radio waves at specific frequencies that can be observed
with the GBT.
New laboratory techniques have allowed astrochemists to measure the
characteristic patterns of such radio frequencies for specific molecules. Armed
with that information, they then can match that pattern with the data
received by the telescope. Laboratories at the _University of Virginia_
(University%20of%20Virginia)&t=h) and the _Harvard-Smithsonian Center for
measured radio emission from cyanomethanimine and ethanamine, and the
frequency patterns from those molecules then were matched to publicly-available
data produced by a survey done with the GBT from 2008 to 2011.
The researchers are reported their findings in the _Astrophysical Journal
Letters_ (http://iopscience.org/apj) .
Editors note: DNA is the result of life on Earth, rather than its origin.
Over the past decade, molecular paleontologistsand astrochemists have found
foundational components of DNA in molecular clouds and stony meteorites,
chondrites --agglomorations of cosmic sediments, the original particles
present in the solar nebula and protoplanetary disk.
The Gemini Observatory produced the picture of the Lagoon Nebula shown at
the top of the page, a star-forming region in the constellation of
Sagittarius. The image reveals the composition of the interstellar gas cloud by
assigning colours to emissions from different atoms in the nebula.
The Daily Galaxy via The National Radio Astronomy Observatory Related
(http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/05/the-google-brain-are-humans-entering-a-new-epoch-of-evolution-3.html) _"The Google Brain" --Are Humans
Entering a New Epoch of Evolution?_
(http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/06/comet-impacts-on-early-earth-produced-building-blocks-for-life.html) _Comet Impacts on Early Earth
Catalyst for Building Blocks for Life_
(http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/06/mystery-of-the-missing-oxygen-molecule-in-space.html) _Outer Space Mystery --"The Missing Oxygen
) _Never-Before-Seen Cluster of Hydrogen Clouds Between Andromeda and
Triangulum Galaxies --May Be Result of Dark Matter_
Photosynthesis: DNA Constructs Antenna to Collect Green Solar Energy_
_Orion Molecular Cloud --"A Source of the Complex Building Blocks of Life"_
(http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/05/missing-lithium-in-milky-ways-stars-challenges-big-bang-theory-1.html) _Missing Lithium in Milky Way
Dwarf Galaxy Challenges Big Bang Theory_
_The 'Red Queen' Verified: "Biological Systems Must Continually Evolve to
Posted: 24 Jun 2013 05:53 AM PDT
Biologits at the _University of California, Berkeley_
(University%20of%20California,%20Berkeley)&t=h) have found that a lack of new emerging
species contributes to extinction over a period of millions of years. The
research team studied 19 groups of mammals that either are extinct or in decline
from a past peak in diversity, as in the case of horses, elephants, rhinos
and others.The study was conducted by _Charles Marshall_
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Marshall_(colonel)) , director of the UC Berkeley Museum
of Paleontology and professor of integrative biology, and former UC
Berkeley post-doctoral fellow Tiago Quental. It was designed to test a popular
_evolutionary theory_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution) called the “
_Red Queen hypothesis_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Queen's_Hypothesis) ,”
named after _Lewis Carroll_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Carroll) ’
s character who, in the book _Through the Looking-Glass_
SIN=0583116434) described her country as a place where “it takes all the
running YOU can do, to keep in the same place.”
In biology, this means that animals and plants don’t just disappear
because of bad luck in a static and unchanging environment. Instead, they face
constant change — a deteriorating environment and more successful competitors
and predators — that requires them to continually adapt and evolve new
species just to survive.
“Each group has either lost, or is losing, to an increasingly difficult
environment,” Marshall said. “These groups’ demise was at least in part due
to loss to the Red Queen — that is, a failure to keep pace with a
The animal groups were initially driven to higher diversity until they
reached the carrying capacity of their environment, or the maximum number of
species their environment could hold. After that, their environment
deteriorated to the point where there was too much diversity to be sustained,
leading to their extinction.
“In fact, our data suggest that biological systems may never be in
equilibrium at all, with groups expanding and contracting under persistent and
rather, geologically speaking, rapid change,” he said. “The findings should
help biologists understand the pressures on today’s flora and fauna and what
drove evolution and extinction in the past.”
Reference: Tiago B. Quental, Charles R. Marshall, How the Red Queen Drives
Terrestrial Mammals to Extinction, _Science Express_
(http://www.sciencemag.org/) , 2013, DOI: 10.1126/science.1239431
The Daily Galaxy via University of California, Berkeley and Science Express
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