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   Creationism vs Evolution Debates
     Cometary detection of Glycine
       We are stardust, we are golden

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Apoapsis

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Building block of life found on comet

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The amino acid glycine, a fundamental building block of proteins, has been found in a comet for the first time, bolstering the theory that raw ingredients of life arrived on Earth from outer space, scientists said on Monday.

Microscopic traces of glycine were discovered in a sample of particles retrieved from the tail of comet Wild 2 by the NASA spacecraft Stardust deep in the solar system some 242 million miles (390 million km) from Earth, in January 2004.

Samples of gas and dust collected on a small dish lined with a super-fluffy material called aerogel were returned to Earth two years later in a canister that detached from the spacecraft and landed by parachute in the Utah desert.



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Pogge:” This is the volume of a sphere with a 62 kilometer (about 39 miles) radius, which is considerably smaller than the 2,000 mile radius of the Earth.”
Wikipedia:” For Earth, the mean radius is 6,371.009 km(≈3,958.761 mi; ≈3,440.069 nmi).”
Wisp to Lester (on Pogge): Do you admit he was wrong about the basics?
Lester: No

 


Posts: 1747 | Posted: 08:09 AM on August 18, 2009 | IP
orion

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Any details on the chiralty of the glycine that was found?  

I was never particularly interested in comets before about a year or two ago.  Now I hope we fund more missions to scout them out!
 


Posts: 1460 | Posted: 08:28 AM on August 18, 2009 | IP
orion

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I was wondering how they ruled out contamination.  

Earlier, preliminary analysis in the Goddard labs detected glycine in both the foil and a sample of the aerogel. However, since glycine is used by terrestrial life, at first the team was unable to rule out contamination from sources on Earth. "It was possible that the glycine we found originated from handling or manufacture of the Stardust spacecraft itself," said Elsila. The new research used isotopic analysis of the foil to rule out that possibility.

Isotopes are versions of an element with different weights or masses; for example, the most common carbon atom, Carbon 12, has six protons and six neutrons in its center (nucleus). However, the Carbon 13 isotope is heavier because it has an extra neutron in its nucleus. A glycine molecule from space will tend to have more of the heavier Carbon 13 atoms in it than glycine that's from Earth. That is what the team found. "We discovered that the Stardust-returned glycine has an extraterrestrial carbon isotope signature, indicating that it originated on the comet," said Elsila.


From Here:
From JPL web-site - amino acid found in Comet Wild 2

Nice Work!

And the significance of this discovery?
"The discovery of glycine in a comet supports the idea that the fundamental building blocks of life are prevalent in space, and strengthens the argument that life in the universe may be common rather than rare," said Carl Pilcher, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, which co-funded the research.

 


Posts: 1460 | Posted: 08:48 AM on August 18, 2009 | IP
Apoapsis

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In the Times:

Discovery by Stardust probe in Wild 2 comet suggests life on Earth began in space


A fundamental building block of biology has been discovered in wisps of stardust from the tail of a comet, offering fresh evidence that life on Earth could have begun from matter that arrived on our planet from space.



-------
Pogge:” This is the volume of a sphere with a 62 kilometer (about 39 miles) radius, which is considerably smaller than the 2,000 mile radius of the Earth.”
Wikipedia:” For Earth, the mean radius is 6,371.009 km(≈3,958.761 mi; ≈3,440.069 nmi).”
Wisp to Lester (on Pogge): Do you admit he was wrong about the basics?
Lester: No

 


Posts: 1747 | Posted: 09:59 AM on August 19, 2009 | IP
EntwickelnCollin

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Quote from Apoapsis at 09:59 AM on August 19, 2009 :
In the Times:

Discovery by Stardust probe in Wild 2 comet suggests life on Earth began in space


A fundamental building block of biology has been discovered in wisps of stardust from the tail of a comet, offering fresh evidence that life on Earth could have begun from matter that arrived on our planet from space.




I really hate science sensationalism. Just look at how different the title is from the story's summary:

Title: Life itself started in space.

Summary: Only the building blocks started in space; life itself formed on Earth.


-------
http://ummcash.org/officers.html
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/08/wow_1.php
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/08/a_triumphant_beginning.php
We're official!
 


Posts: 729 | Posted: 12:16 PM on August 19, 2009 | IP
orion

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Quote from EntwickelnCollin at 12:16 PM on August 19, 2009 :
Quote from Apoapsis at 09:59 AM on August 19, 2009 :
In the Times:

Discovery by Stardust probe in Wild 2 comet suggests life on Earth began in space


A fundamental building block of biology has been discovered in wisps of stardust from the tail of a comet, offering fresh evidence that life on Earth could have begun from matter that arrived on our planet from space.




I really hate science sensationalism. Just look at how different the title is from the story's summary:

Title: Life itself started in space.

Summary: Only the building blocks started in space; life itself formed on Earth.



I agree - reporters can really do a sloppy job in what they write, giving the wrong impression to the public.  I always thought a reporter's job was suppse to be to accurately report facts and events to the public.  But that oftentimes isn't the case.  Sensationalism often is thrown in to grab your attention, with confusion and misunderstanding the result.


 


Posts: 1460 | Posted: 1:20 PM on August 19, 2009 | IP
    
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