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Scientists have discovered a 'cosmic factory' for producing the building blocks of life, amino acids, in research published today in the journal Nature Geoscience. The team from Imperial College London, the University of Kent and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have discovered that when icy comets collide into a planet, amino acids can be produced. These essential building blocks are also produced if a rocky meteorite crashes into a planet with an icy surface.

The researchers suggest that this process provides another piece to the puzzle of how life was kick-started on Earth, after a period of time between 4.5 and 3.8 billion years ago when the planet had been bombarded by comets and meteorites.

Dr Zita Martins, co-author of the paper from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, says: "Our work shows that the basic building blocks of life can be assembled anywhere in the Solar System and perhaps beyond. However, the catch is that these building blocks need the right conditions in order for life to flourish. Excitingly, our study widens the scope for where these important ingredients may be formed in the Solar System and adds another piece to the puzzle of how life on our planet took root."

Dr Mark Price, co-author from the University of Kent, adds: "This process demonstrates a very simple mechanism whereby we can go from a mix of simple molecules, such as water and carbon-dioxide ice, to a more complicated molecule, such as an amino acid. This is the first step towards life. The next step is to work out how to go from an amino acid to even more complex molecules such as proteins."

The abundance of ice on the surfaces of Enceladus and Europa, which are moons orbiting Saturn and Jupiter respectively, could provide a perfect environment for the production of amino acids, when meteorites crash into their surface, say the researchers. Their work further underlines the importance of future space missions to these moons to search for signs of life.

The researchers discovered that when a comet impacts on a world it creates a shock wave that generates molecules that make up amino acids. The impact of the shock wave also generates heat, which then transforms these molecules into amino acids.

The team made their discovery by recreating the impact of a comet by firing projectiles through a large high speed gun. This gun, located at the University of Kent, uses compressed gas to propel projectiles at speeds of 7.15 kilometres per second into targets of ice mixtures, which have a similar composition to comets. The resulting impact created amino acids such as glycine and D-and L-alanine.

 

 

 

  1. Who is responsible for funding science?

  1. Do you trust the findings made in the article?

  1. Do you trust the findings of scientists generally?

  1. Do the benefits from science outweigh the potential harm?

  1. Do you think scientists have a positive effect on the world we live in?

  1. Do you think that the media are always accurate and fair in their reporting of scientific matters?

 

  1. What regulation exists for scientific research and application?

 

  1. Do you think they should launch comets to other planets therefore creating life on other planets?

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Who is responsible for funding science?

Funding comes from many sources, including: individuals, religious organizations, foundations, corporations, and governments.

 

Do you trust the findings made in the article?

In its current form the question is unanswerable, IMO. There are several findings, each one should be considered individually. Some are about chemistry and from my understanding of chemistry (I'm not an expert) the idea the precursors of amino acids and amino acids can be produced when the right elements come together with enough energy is reasonable, and I accept it can sometimes happen as described (i.e., I have a high degree of trust in this case). I accept that amino acids are components of proteins; one only needs to look at the formula for amino acids and proteins to know it. I accept that proteins are necessary for life. Beyond that, the findings are speculative. It is obvious that somehow these chemicals combined to make life; otherwise, we would not be communicating on this forum.

 

Do you trust the findings of scientists generally?

Again, I think this question is couched incorrectly. I generally do not trust anyone, except my wife. When I read about science I always think about whether the science being described makes sense to me or not. For example, a scientist says a satellite orbiting the earth must be traveling at about 17,000 mph. I think, "That sounds reasonable." However, if I were to tell someone else "A satellite must orbit the earth at about 17,000 mph," I would want to mathematically verify that speed before making the claim myself. Fortunately, Wikipedia has already done the calculations. Thus, I quote Wikipedia after examining the page, and remembering work from my university physics class. It would take me a few hours to do the math to be sure Wikipedia hasn't made a mistake, but I have a high degree of confidence their calculations are correct.

 

Do the benefits from science outweigh the potential harm?

I do not have an answer for this question, only questions and statements to expound on this question. First, science is merely a body of knowledge, and knowledge does not harm or help anyone until it is used by someone. The quest for knowledge is inherent in humanity, we all seek to know things in order to minimize our risks and maximize our successes. For example, we want to know how to grow wheat better to avoid insects from eating it before we can, and to grow strong healthy fields to maximize harvests with minimal work. In the process of learning to live more successfully, we learned to make bread and beer. We can eat too much bread, become obese, and die of a heart attack. We can kill microbes in water with beer to make water safer to drink, but we can drink so much beer that we die of alcohol poisoning. Would it be better to not know the science of growing healthy strong wheat, making bead and making beer? Is it better to be ignorant or educated? I prefer to be educated, but we have the knowledge to destroy ourselves. I can only hope we do not.

 

Do you think scientists have a positive effect on the world we live in?

I think scientists have discovered things that can be used for both good and bad, and scientists like other people do their share of both good and bad. Most people, including scientists, on the average try to do good, but sometimes fail.

 

Do you think that the media are always accurate and fair in their reporting of scientific matters?

The media are not always accurate and fair with any reporting. They sometimes distort stories to make them more interesting.

 

What regulation exists for scientific research and application?

IDK, pass.

 

Do you think they should launch comets to other planets therefore creating life on other planets?

I think we do not have the capability to do such a thing at this time. I think the results from such an endeavor are unpredictable, at least at this time. Unless the cost of such launches were very small or the probability of success very high, it would be a waste of time and resources.

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My opinions of your survey:

 

Who is responsible for funding science?

 

Science is funded primary by mainstream organizations, institutions, and often with some public funds. Funded technology searches, personal funds, non-mainstream grants, and non-mainsteam organizations might fund alternative science -- which consists of probably less than 1% of the total science. Most researches cannot keep their job, funding, or line of research if such research is not in line with mainstream theory.

 

Do you trust the findings made in the article?

 

I think it is an interesting hypothesis and trust is not the right word when hypothesis are involved. In my opinion most so-called theories might be better described as hypothesis. Natural Selection and Plate techtonics in general are my ideas of good present-day theories.

 

Do you trust the findings of scientists generally?

 

I think it must be realized that most all findings of study are interpreted by theory. I think very few in science purposely fudge the results to match thoery however.

 

Do the benefits from science outweigh the potential harm?

 

Yes, in almost every case.

Do you think scientists have a positive effect on the world we live in?

 

Many or most advances in technology and new inventions in the civilized world started as pure research in science. The entire modern world was built using scientific inventions and research.

Do you think that the media are always accurate and fair in their reporting of scientific matters?

 

The medias reporting of science relates to press releases which themselves are often based upon what science believes to by valid through interpretation rather than having true validity. I think a skeptical approach can sometimes help to read between the lines :)

 

What regulation exists for scientific research and application?

 

Each field of science adapts its own standards for research and applications. Some research and application have legal limitations or well delineated methods for testing and application.

 

Do you think they should launch comets to other planets therefore creating life on other planets?

 

If public funds were used, a great debate would be involved with any proposals involving panspermia.

 

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<quote> Do the benefits from science outweigh the potential harm? Do you think scientists have a positive effect on the world we live in? </quote>

In the area of health care, certainly. I'm now at the age (65 years) where I can compare my general health to that of my parents when they were that age, and I am benefiting from advances in medicine to treat high blood pressure and arthritis that were not available for them, because the medicines I take to treat these conditions did not then exist.

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Do the benefits from science outweigh the potential harm? Do you think scientists have a positive effect on the world we live in?

In the area of health care, certainly. I'm now at the age (65 years) where I can compare my general health to that of my parents when they were that age, and I am benefiting from advances in medicine to treat high blood pressure and arthritis that were not available for them, because the medicines I take to treat these conditions did not then exist.

Edited by Bill Angel
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  • 3 months later...

Who is responsible for funding science?

the government

Do you trust the findings made in the article?

 

no

Do you trust the findings of scientists generally?

no

 

Do the benefits from science outweigh the potential harm?

that's for those using it. science is inanimate.

 

Do you think scientists have a positive effect on the world we live in?

same question, same answer.

Do you think that the media are always accurate and fair in their reporting of scientific matters?

 

media doesn't care.

 

What regulation exists for scientific research and application?

 

all regulation.

 

Do you think they should launch comets to other planets therefore creating life on other planets?

if you can.

Edited by ASG
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