Scientists Reproduce Building Block of RNA in Space Like Laboratory Conditions!

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posted on Nov, 6 2009 @ 04:53 PM
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Hey ATS!

I find this quite a cool discovery! Try to forget religion/creation/evolution for a second, who knows, maybe this is the process God used to build life!?

First some background!

RNA Ribonucleic acid


is a biologically important type of molecule that consists of a long chain of nucleotide units. Each nucleotide consists of a nitrogenous base, a ribose sugar, and a phosphate. RNA is very similar to DNA, but differs in a few important structural details: in the cell, RNA is usually single-stranded, while DNA is usually double-stranded; RNA nucleotides contain ribose while DNA contains deoxyribose (a type of ribose that lacks one oxygen atom); and RNA has the base uracil rather than thymine that is present in DNA.

RNA is transcribed from DNA by enzymes called RNA polymerases and is generally further processed by other enzymes. RNA is central to protein synthesis. Here, a type of RNA called messenger RNA carries information from DNA to structures called ribosomes. These ribosomes are made from proteins and ribosomal RNAs, which come together to form a molecular machine that can read messenger RNAs and translate the information they carry into proteins. There are many RNAs with other roles – in particular regulating which genes are expressed, but also as the genomes of most viruses.


Now to the story!

Scientists Reproduce a Building Block of Life in Laboratory


NASA scientists studying the origin of life have reproduced uracil, a key component of our hereditary material, in the laboratory. They discovered that an ice sample containing pyrimidine exposed to ultraviolet radiation under space-like conditions produces this essential ingredient of life.

Pyrimidine is a ring-shaped molecule made up of carbon and nitrogen and is the basic structure for uracil, part of a genetic code found in ribonucleic acid (RNA). RNA is central to protein synthesis, but has many other roles.


"We have demonstrated for the first time that we can make uracil, a component of RNA, non-biologically in a laboratory under conditions found in space," said Michel Nuevo, research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "We are showing that these laboratory processes, which simulate occurrences in outer space, can make a fundamental building block used by living organisms on Earth."


In a nutshell, they discovered that when the Pyrimidine was in ice form (as in a meteor), and subjected to space like conditions (High vacuum, harsh radiation, cold temperature) the Pyrimidine was able to withstand the conditions and instead of destroying it, the radiation transformed it into uracil, a component of RNA, found in the genetic make-up of al living organisms on our planet!

Quite a find! Not exactly the answer to how life began, but maybe a piece of the puzzle! It deserves a mention on ATS I think!

All the best, Kiwifoot!




posted on Nov, 7 2009 @ 06:11 PM
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I found this pretty cool, so I'll give it a 'BUMP' so that it gets more airtime!

Feel free NOT to flag n star it, I truly just want you guys to read the article, unless it isn't interesting and I'm a nerd!



posted on Nov, 7 2009 @ 06:17 PM
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I think that was a very interesting article, and it certainly deserves some more attention. If a meteor flying through space can produce an ingredient for dna, then meteors are almost like "life-starter kits" for planets.

Maybe life is pretty common in the universe?

I don't know, maybe noone else is posting cuz they cant find an argument or a way to complain or contradict you lol

[edit on 7-11-2009 by mostlyspoons]



posted on Nov, 7 2009 @ 06:20 PM
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Originally posted by mostlyspoons
I think that was a very interesting article, and it certainly deserves some more attention. If a meteor flying through space can produce an ingredient for dna, then meteors are almost like "life-starter kits" for planets.

Maybe life is pretty common in the universe?


Yes I thought so too. I agree with you, it goes a way to explaining how meteors brought life to earth, or at least some of the building blocks required.

I was beginning to wonder if I was even too boring for ATS! Thankyou!




posted on Nov, 7 2009 @ 06:42 PM
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Great find...s&f for you.

The reason it hasn't been commented on by the religious wing is that it is too hard to debunk. It is, after all, very basic and fundamental science of the either/or variety, and acknowledging it weakens the "God did it" for most religionists. Don't worry, though, they'll show up soon remarking about how wonderfully subtle god is (whichever god they adhere to).



posted on Nov, 7 2009 @ 06:50 PM
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Originally posted by apacheman
Great find...s&f for you.

The reason it hasn't been commented on by the religious wing is that it is too hard to debunk. It is, after all, very basic and fundamental science of the either/or variety, and acknowledging it weakens the "God did it" for most religionists. Don't worry, though, they'll show up soon remarking about how wonderfully subtle god is (whichever god they adhere to).


Ooooh! I wanted to leave religion out of it, but you are right I guess, it's inevitable!

Like I said, maybe that's how 'God' did it!?

Thanks, Kiwifoot!



posted on Nov, 8 2009 @ 01:59 AM
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reply to post by kiwifoot
 

Actually I think this is fascinating. I'm doubtful that we will solve the mystery of what started life or as you put it, "how God did it" in our lifetimes, but it's still interesting to get little clues like this.

Glad you bumped it because I didn't see it when you first posted it and I do find it interesting, gave it a star and flag.

But was nervous about doing so because I'd just as soon the folks who think the ice particles filmed outside the space shuttle are living creatures, don't find out about this, and it might be nerdy enough that they won't. They have active enough imaginations as it is and don't need any encouragement from this story
just kidding

Good find.



posted on Nov, 8 2009 @ 01:29 PM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


oh man, you can't bring that into it can you?



posted on Nov, 8 2009 @ 08:40 PM
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reply to post by kiwifoot
 


Interesting. This basically goes to the idea of abiogenesis. Space like environment?

Hmm, some of the other amino acids and basic building blocks for RNA and DNA need an oxygen rich environment to form. Some others need a hydrogen rich environment. Others have been found to form in conditions like that of a volcano. Other basic building blocks have been found to form naturally at the bottom of the sea near thermal vents. Some need electrical sparks such as lighting to form which you don't have in space. So far, self replicating RNA with the ability to mutate has only been shown to be formed in a lab in unnatural environments unlike this experiment and others that try to simulate a more natural environment such as space with this one.

Unfortunately you can't have life without all the basic building blocks of life present or they wouldn't be basic building blocks. Then again I wonder how many basic building blocks one really needs?

So far, all they've found is that they can all be formed in different types of environments. That won't work for the abiogenesis theory cause by the time that RNA reached a non-space environment to combine with other basic building blocks that have to form in a non-space environment it would have been destroyed. Even if it managed to crash land on an oxygen rich environment the basic building blocks that only form outside o an oxygen rich environment would already been long gone by that point.

For abiogensis to be true all the basic building blocks to produce the first life form would have to exist at the same place at the same time. You can't have some of them forming in a volcano, others forming in space, others forming at the bottom of the ocean, and others forming millions of years apart from each other in an oxygen and non-oxygen rich environment and some forming where lighting exists and some forming where lighting can't exist and expect they all just got put together in one big soup by chance.

It would be like making an omelet without the chef. You need someone to get the ingredients from where they are formed like a chicken farm and the beef farm and the garden and the store and the bakery and put the ingredients together at just the right time and in the right place before they expire and go bad.

If there's no chef then how did all the ingredients that formed at different places millions of years apart get put together to form the first life before the ingredients went bad? It's impossible.

So the only way the primordial soup can be true is if scientists find an environment where all the ingredients can be formed at the same time under the same conditions. You can't keep changing the environment artificially in a lab for each basic building block to make your experiment work because in the real wold, environments sometimes don't change for millions of years. By that time any chemicals that make up the basic building blocks of life may very well have been destroyed so the environment can change again to produce the new building blocks.

Unless of course a volcano emptied into a thermal vent while an ice block from space hit it the same time lighting struck the bottom of the ocean. I guess, but that's still missing lots of things in my opinion.


[edit on 8-11-2009 by tinfoilman]



posted on Nov, 8 2009 @ 09:25 PM
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Thats a facinating story kiwifoot, thank you for sharing!

Wish my memory was better and I could return the favor in depth, but instead all you will get is a vauge recollection drawn from my feeble mind.


The concept of key chemestry forming in the depths of space isn't new, obviously. Most main stream theorys though, state the fundamental building blocks of life formed on earth after earth cooled and by natural chemical reactions and processes.

So a few years ago there was a discovery channel documentary about a professor that tested the differences between these theories by performing experiments in the Arctic circle. He spent his entire life simulating conditions in space and found most fundamental building blocks of life probably formed in space as opposed to the hot earth theory.

Naturally after he died, his work was neglected and dismissed as quackery as that was an easier conclusion than any paradigm shift if his research was replicated. The fact his experiments took upwards of 40 years (well it was a continuous experiment, and the longer it ran the better the results) didn't help.

Anyways, if my memory serves, while the chill of space slows down chemical reactions, the density of chemical constituants in ice, already present, and the vast age of the universe, nearly all compounds needed for life did in fact originate, or could have originated in space.

Panspermia was therefore a likely outcome, or at the least an increased probability, so thats part of why his work is less known.

Hope someone in ATS land knows of the scientist this post refers to as it would be neat to read more about it online.



posted on Nov, 8 2009 @ 09:36 PM
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Originally posted by tinfoilman
So the only way the primordial soup can be true is if scientists find an environment where all the ingredients can be formed at the same time under the same conditions.


Well, yes and no, you partly hit on a possible answer here:


Unless of course a volcano emptied into a thermal vent


The volcano heats up the water carrying the amino acids, then the amino-acid-laden water escapes from the hydrothermal vents where you can find any temperatures you want from hotter closer to the vent, to colder as you move further away from the vent. This seems to be a popular theory for abiogenesis, but of course is still unproven, however it addresses some of the concerns you mentioned:

Hydrothermal origin of life


It has been proposed that amino-acid synthesis could have occurred deep in the Earth's crust and that these amino-acids were subsequently shot up along with hydrothermal fluids into cooler waters, where lower temperatures and the presence of clay minerals would have fostered the formation of peptides and protocells.[16] This is an attractive hypothesis because of the abundance of CH4 and NH3 present in hydrothermal vent regions, a condition that was not provided by the Earth's primitive atmosphere. A major limitation to this hypothesis is the lack of stability of organic molecules at high temperatures, but some have suggested that life would have originated outside of the zones of highest temperature.


So regardless of where the first cell or cells developed, what I find interesting is the way the universe seems to make order out of chaos in a variety of conditions, even if some of them didn't lead to the origin of life. The story in the OP is probably one such example of that, but the hydrothermal vents have a lot more credibility as a possible source of abiogenesis.



posted on Nov, 9 2009 @ 12:16 AM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


Seems that way until you realize you need a space comet to hit the thermal vent to make it work. Then all of a sudden you're just either getting lucky or getting hit by a really big block of ice for the chemical to be found all over nature like it is. Like something the size of a lake.

That's just going to destroy some of the building blocks you already had. And then you're still missing a few other basic building blocks that can't be formed in thermal vents at all. At least that we know of.

Once you add up all the basic building blocks you need and how they form in nature you come to two logical conclusions. Either God took a taxi all over the universe to collect the stuff he needed to bake in the thermal vent, or that while these chemicals may form in space, it's more logical to assume that they can be formed by natural processes right here too.

Maybe not in the state that the earth is in now, but way back when maybe the earth had little more ultra violet radiation hitting it back then? In other words, instead of saying all the things we needed to form life were created in space and then crash landed, it's much more logical to just assume that earth itself was much more space like before it had an atmosphere or who knows what it's magnetosphere was like back then.

Anyway, my point is, I think scientists have been on the wrong track with this lately. Every time they try to find out how the basic building blocks of life were made they change the experiment to a different environment. Once you add up all the different environments you need to make it work it becomes even more complicated and you start to get the idea that something intelligent had to be stirring the soup.

A much more logical conclusion is that while building block A can form in environment A and building block B can form in environment B, well since life needs both, it's more likely that there is an unknown environment C where both A and B can be present at the same time. We just haven't figured out all the conditions yet to simulate it.

EDIT: The thermal vents in my opinion, is one of the better theories so far though. Almost could explain everything, but we'll have to wait and see as they're probably still working on that lol.
[edit on 9-11-2009 by tinfoilman]

[edit on 9-11-2009 by tinfoilman]



posted on Nov, 9 2009 @ 03:03 PM
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Wow, great find! So I pose 2 questions in light of this:

1. Does this mean that life could be more common in the universe than we thought?
2. Could this be why radiation destroys our dna? It's possible that if it gets any more radiation than what it gets in space that it then further decays?

Thanks for the article!



posted on Nov, 9 2009 @ 04:57 PM
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Originally posted by digifanatic
Wow, great find! So I pose 2 questions in light of this:

1. Does this mean that life could be more common in the universe than we thought?
2. Could this be why radiation destroys our dna? It's possible that if it gets any more radiation than what it gets in space that it then further decays?

Thanks for the article!


No worries for the article, and in answer to your questions...I don't know lol!

I suppose that the chances of the right chemicals being in the right meteor with the right trajectory etc are still pretty slim, but who know?!

As for the radiation question, again not sure, but I find it interesting that the same radiation that may have created life, also can destroy it, I like nature's paradoxical quirks!





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