"Titan's Atmosphere Points to Building Blocks of Life" "Scientists previously thought that as we got closer to the surface of Titan, the moon's atmospheric chemistry was basically inert and dull," said Murthy Gudipati, the paper's lead author at JPL.
"Our experiment shows that's not true. The same kind of light that drives biological chemistry on Earth's surface could also drive chemistry on Titan, even though Titan receives far less light from the sun and is much colder. Titan is not a sleeping giant in the lower atmosphere, but at least half awake in its chemical activity. " Scientists have known since NASA's Voyager mission flew by the Saturn system in the early 1980s that Titan, Saturn's largest moon, has a thick, hazy atmosphere with hydrocarbons, including methane and ethane. These simple organic molecules can develop into smog-like, airborne molecules with carbon-nitrogen-hydrogen bonds, which astronomer Carl Sagan called "tholins.
" Did Comets Deliver Amino Acids Needed for the Origin of Life on Earth? (Weekend Feature) The team created experiments with powerful laboratory "guns" and computer models that replicated the conditions that existed inside comets that hit Earth's atmosphere at almost 25,000 miles per hour and crashed down upon the surface. The research is part of a broader scientific effort to understand how amino acids and other ingredients for the first living things appeared on a planet that billions of years ago was barren and desolate. Amino acids make up proteins, which are the workhorses of all forms of life, ranging from microbes to people. "Our research shows that the building blocks of life could, indeed, have remained intact despite the tremendous shock wave and other violent conditions in a comet impact," Blank said. "Comets really would have been the ideal packages for delivering ingredients for the chemical evolution thought to have resulted in life.
We like the comet delivery scenario because it includes all of the ingredients for life — amino acids, water and energy. " New Clue to the Chemical Origins of Carbohydrates. Organic chemists at the University of York have made a significant advance towards establishing the origin of the carbohydrates (sugars) that form the building blocks of life.
A team led by Dr Paul Clarke in the Department of Chemistry at York have re-created a process which could have occurred in the prebiotic world. "There are a lot of fundamental questions about the origins of life and many people think they are questions about biology. But for life to have evolved, you have to have a moment when non-living things become living -- everything up to that point is chemistry," Clarke said. "We are trying to understand the chemical origins of life. One of the interesting questions is where carbohydrates come from because they are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. All biological molecules have an ability to exist as left-handed forms or right-handed forms. Messenger RNA Discovery: "Biology's Most Important Molecule" "The fate of the mRNA molecules we studied resembles a Greek tragedy," said Robert Singer, Ph.D., co-director of the Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center and professor and co-chair of anatomy and structural biology at Einstein College of Medicine.
"Their lifespans are determined at the moment of their birth. " Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have discovered the first known mechanism by which cells control the survival of messenger RNA (mRNA) -- arguably biology's most important molecule. The findings pertain to mRNAs that help regulate cell division and could therefore have implications for reversing cancer's out-of-control cell division. The research is described in today's online edition of the journal Cell. The study was carried out in yeast cells using advanced microscope technology developed previously by Dr. Directions for making proteins are encoded in the DNA sequences of genes, which reside on chromosomes in the nucleus of each cell. Did Life on Earth Emerge from Non-organic Matter? How did life on Earth begin?
An giant step toward solving this puzzle was taken in the 1980's with the Nobel Prize–winning discovery by Tom Cech and Sidney Altman that RNA, the sister molecule of DNA, can catalyze certain chemical reactions inside cells, a job previously thought to be the exclusive domain of proteins. Until their discovery, RNA was thought to have just one function: storing the genetic information cells need to build proteins. This new revelation about RNA's dual role suggested to some scientists, including Harvard's Jack Szostak, that RNA likely existed long before DNA or proteins because it might be able to catalyze its own reproduction. Their discovery made it easier to think about how life began, Szostak says. "They inspired me to try to think of ways to make RNAs in the lab that could catalyze their own replication. " Szostak and his team is working to recreate a hypothetical model of this process in the laboratory.
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