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The Stuff Of Life
February 15, 2010 1:28 PM   Subscribe

Space rock contains organic molecular feast Scientists believe the Murchison meteorite could have originated before the Sun was formed, 4.65 billion years ago. The researchers say it probably passed through primordial clouds in the early Solar System, picking up organic chemicals.

A study using high resolution analytical tools including spectroscopy allowed the team to identify 14,000 different compounds including 70 amino acids in a sample of the meteorite...
Dr Schmitt-Kopplin hopes the findings might contribute to the debate over how life on Earth originated.
posted by longsleeves (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
The sun's a noob, meteorite?
posted by defenestration at 1:36 PM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


You ain't gonna get in that tub, are you? It's the water that it wants, Jordy. Don't you know that? You get in that water, Jordy, you might as well sign your death warrant.
posted by jquinby at 1:41 PM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


You ain't gonna get in that tub, are you? It's the water that it wants, Jordy. Don't you know that? You get in that water, Jordy, you might as well sign your death warrant.

Just what I was thinking!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:45 PM on February 15, 2010


I came here expecting a post about Hawkwind. Now I'm disappointed.
posted by The Michael The at 1:53 PM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


"There are certain people who do not come to full flower until they are well over fifty five billion. Among these are all males named Murchison..."

-John Collier, "Great Possibilities"
posted by Iridic at 1:58 PM on February 15, 2010


the Murchison meteorite

It's a good name; they can call the resulting ancient space-based plague which destroys all life on earth when they crack this thing open and the black oil spills out and infects everyone, the Murchison Condition.

It has a nice ring to it. It'll look good on the tattered newspapers drifting around lifeless cities. (if post-apocalyptic sci-fi has taught us nothing else, it's that there will always be newspapers scattered around with the final headline for humanity)

Joking aside, vastly old organic chemicals from space are freakin' cool!
posted by quin at 2:09 PM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, you remember that total eclipse of the sun a few weeks ago...
posted by The Whelk at 2:14 PM on February 15, 2010


"The new EP from Brit prog-rock group Hawkwind is track after track of an organic molecular feast, as though it passed through primordial clouds in the early Solar System, and airplay of the first single quickly shot up the college radio charts."

- Chuck Klosterman, Spin Magazine
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:17 PM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


It seems truly amazing that a rock old enough to have passed through the cloud of stuff that would eventually become the solar system would hang around in the same general area - galactically speaking, at least - for so incredibly long until ultimately smacking back into a concentrated lump of that cloud, billions of years later. It's just staggering to think of it looping around - I'm assuming it must have just had a really long orbit period around this cloud, right? - who knows how many times, and then finally, on one pass - whomp! Right into Australia! It just seems so improbable, both that it didn't end up flying off elsewhere in the universe and that it would strike the Earth - and on land, even!

When I come across stuff like this, it makes me wish my grandmother were still alive so I could talk about it with her.
posted by nickmark at 2:21 PM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


It just seems so improbable, both that it didn't end up flying off elsewhere in the universe and that it would strike the Earth - and on land, even!

Maybe it is merely one of many similar objects.
posted by longsleeves at 2:36 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Space rock is also better consumed after an organic molecular feast.
posted by cotterpin at 2:44 PM on February 15, 2010


Burhanistan, I look at that clip now and I have to wonder, "How high was Stephen King when he did that?"
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:46 PM on February 15, 2010


nickmark, your grandmother wrote books about meteor craters? Mine doesn't even knit.
posted by dabitch at 2:49 PM on February 15, 2010


I'm fascinated with the idea of panspermia, that life on Earth actually originated elsewhere, whether accidental or designed. Which made me do a double-take on this quote:

"The researchers say it probably passed through primordial clouds in the early Solar System, picking up organic chemicals."

Organic, you say? Does this mean chemicals usually found in plants or animals? As in, alive? What else could "organic" mean in this sentence? And also, can anyone say how big of a leap is it to paint a panspermia picture with a rock like this as evidence?
posted by zardoz at 3:29 PM on February 15, 2010


What else could "organic" mean in this sentence?

Containing carbon. This allows for the existence of larger and more complicated molecules that make life possible.
posted by peeedro at 3:41 PM on February 15, 2010


Obligatory space rock.
posted by swift at 6:16 PM on February 15, 2010


I am not an organic chemist ... How is it that these amino acids are stable enough to survive 5 billion years of cosmic rays and the friction heating of earth entry?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:20 PM on February 15, 2010


im not an organic chemist either, but the answer is definitely Ghostbusters II
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:18 PM on February 15, 2010


In body text-replace sun with earth. Very nice find too.
posted by uni verse at 11:29 PM on February 15, 2010


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