Friday, November 28, 2008

The Universe Recognized Its Emptiness, And Created Somethingness And From That, Life


Astronomers have detected a building block of RNA floating within the hot, compact core of a massive star-forming region in the Milky Way. The molecule appears to have formed with all of the other stuff that makes up planets, suggesting that many other worlds are seeded with some of life's ingredients right from birth.

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Using the IRAM radio dish array in France, a team of European astronomers has detected glycolaldehyde--a simple sugar that makes up ribose, one of the constituents of RNA--within the core of what appears to be a coalescing disk of dust and gas in a star-forming region called G31.41+0.31, about 26,000 light-years away. The sugar molecule can apparently form in a simple reaction between carbon monoxide molecules and dust grains.

The discovery is significant for two reasons. First, G31.41+0.31 lies far away from the radiation-filled center of the Milky Way, so if any biological processes start up there, they will have a chance to establish themselves. Second, the abundance of glycolaldehyde in the G31.41+0.31 cloud suggests that the molecule is "common throughout star-forming regions," says astrophysicist and co-author Serena Viti of University College London. The implication is that wherever there is starmaking and planet formation going on, organic building blocks could be assembling as well.

Science Now


What an interesting living cosmos. First we find out that rocks evolve, and next, that the cosmos creates its biological foundation and spreads it far and wide.

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