Two new molecules found in interstellar space.

| 29 Comments

Scientists Discover Two New Interstellar Molecules: Point to Probable Pathways for Chemical Evolution in Space.

A team of scientists using the National Science Foundation’s Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) has discovered two new molecules in an interstellar cloud near the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. This discovery is the GBT’s first detection of new molecules, and is already helping astronomers better understand the complex processes by which large molecules form in space.

The 8-atom molecule propenal and the 10-atom molecule propanal were detected in a large cloud of gas and dust some 26,000 light-years away in an area known as Sagittarius B2. Such clouds, often many light-years across, are the raw material from which new stars are formed.

“Though very rarefied by Earth standards, these interstellar clouds are the sites of complex chemical reactions that occur over hundreds-of-thousands or millions of years,” said Jan M. Hollis of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “Over time, more and more complex molecules can be formed in these clouds. At present, however, there is no accepted theory addressing how interstellar molecules containing more than 5 atoms are formed.” […]

Complex molecules in space are of interest for many reasons, including their possible connection to the formation of biologically significant molecules on the early Earth. Complex molecules might have formed on the early Earth, or they might have first formed in interstellar clouds and been transported to the surface of the Earth.

Molecules with the aldehyde group are particularly interesting since several biologically significant molecules, including a family of sugar molecules, are aldehydes.

“The GBT can be used to fully explore the possibility that a significant amount of prebiotic chemistry may occur in space long before it occurs on a newly formed planet,” said Remijan. “Comets form from interstellar clouds and incessantly bombard a newly formed planet early in its history. Craters on our Moon attest to this. Thus, comets may be the delivery vehicles for organic molecules necessary for life to begin on a new planet.”

I find this pretty interesting, because the enzyme I work with catalyzes an aldehyde dehydrogenase reaction that uses propanal (aka propanaldehyde, aka proprionaldehyde). We use propanal to assay the enzyme’s activity, so I’ve got a big bottle of propanal sitting in the fridge. I kind of like the way it smells.

If you’re wondering what propanal is, think of its little brother, acetaldehyde, which contains two carbon atoms instead of three. Acetaldehyde is something that most of us have had the joy of communing with, given that it’s the main product of ethanol metabolism. When you drink, it’s actually the acetaldehyde, and not the alcohol itself, that gets you intoxicated. A second dehydrogenation turns acetaldehyde into acetic acid, aka vinegar, which gets digested as usual.

29 Comments

It is impossible by every known law of physics that tons of complex molecules like “proprionaldehyde” could just assemble themselves randomly. Clearly Jesus went out there and assembled them by hand, or possibly did it using telekinses.

And you scientists are too arrogant to admit it, because it would contradict your Darwinism religion, which has been disproven.

What a fine message from Creationist Timmy! We need more of it - such messages serve as the best arguments in favor of our position by illustrating who we sometimes have to deal with (unless he is joking for our entertainment). Cheers!

Okay, c’mon - this is a parody/satire riff, right? I love it. Jesus does a spacewalk and throws in some telekinesis for an encore. Brilliant!

Perhaps it is a joke - but who knows? I have heard such assertions before, made in all seriousness. Like the guy who tried to convince me that a bulb lights up when a plus and a minus meet each other.

Guys, of course it’s a joke. Lighten up!

I knew it, Steve. It wasn’t subtle enough, and “Creationist Timmy” was a definite give-away. It WAS fun though. Feel free.

nobody noticed Creationist Timmy’s email address?

;-)

Yeah, I couldn’t let the other fake creationists have all the fun. And I’d guess there’s some faking going on. That whole ‘this is radically revises our understanding’ confusion? That lunatic painting with a guy with a bible and an oxford shirt, with pterodactyls in the sky? I’m not the only one having fun.

Jesus does a spacewalk and throws in some telekinesis for an encore.

Bob, Jesus did a spacewalk OR telekinesis, not both. Duh. you should study science more.

;-)

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Thinking about origin-of-life issues is complicated. This article expands the known interstellar chemical inventory. We already knew that amino acids exist in space and on asteroids. It’s easy to think that self-replicating proteins would follow naturally. Self-replicating RNA, though, seems to be a good contender for OOL. And anyone who’s done the tiny bit of bio I have can tell you that it’s fairly easy to see how RNA can get into spontaneously-formed lipid bilayers in an aqueous environmnent, forming a few rudiments of a cell. So I wonder, did spontaneously-formed RNA strands begin interacting with spontaneously-formed proteins to get the whole thing started? Or did primitive spontaneously-formed proteins happen to start interacting with, and eventually being ordered around by, the RNA? Anyone have any good info on how the interstellar inventory suggests either of these scenarios over the other?

Ian Menzies Wrote:

gluons have never been seen thus it is the power of Christ that holds atoms together.

Great. Now I’m imagining a physicist creationist sitting there, staring down a microscope, yelling:

The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you!

But Steve,

We know, because the Bible tells us so, that Jesus walked around performing all sorts of miracles. I read it to say that 1) clearly Jesus went out there (spacewalk and/or telekinesis) and assembled them by hand, or 2) clearly Jesus went out there (spacewalked) and assembled them using telekinesis. And besides, Creationist Timmy suggested he might have used “telekinses,” which adds another level of mystery that might require some serious praying over for guidance into what exactly telekinses might be. Perhaps someone could run a Bible Code search on the subject?

Why bring up Jesus?

You know, I here these claims from anti-evolutionists all the time that one of the main background reasons for such a staunch defense of evolutionary theory comes from the evolutionist proponents anti-religious zeal. At times I think that this must be an exageration, however at other times (like when visiting the pandasthumb) it looks to be almost true. I mean no offense and could be maing to much out of a simple joke, but this is not the first time that i’ve seen a defense of evolutionary naturalism coupled with stabs at religion.

Ian: I think your pretty much dead on.

Come on Russ, there are plenty of religious people who contribute both here and on Talk Origins. They just happen to be honest, well informed, and rational; unlike their creationist counterparts (in pretty much all three of those qualities). The line is not between the religious and irreligious, it is between the rational and irrational.

Thanks, T. Russ. You’re not the only one who’s noticed that phenomenon. Indeed, it is not the first time.

It is true that there are evolutionists here who profess to be Christians as well; but they often seem to tacitly approve of the anti-religious (specifically anti-Christian and non-scientific) barbs of their more secular brethren.

I don’t consider stabs at creationism to be stabs at my Christian faith. Please don’t confuse the two.

“Thanks, T. Russ. You’re not the only one who’s noticed that phenomenon. Indeed, it is not the first time.”

Of course, FL, if creationist don’t like being made fun of, they should probably just bow out of the discussion. It’s not like it’s a great deal of fun trying to explain scientific fact and theory with the willfully ignorant.

Most rational people would quite content to just go about doing their thing without having to be bothered trying to educate the Peter Pans of this world.

“It is true that there are evolutionists here who profess to be Christians as well; but they often seem to tacitly approve of the anti-religious (specifically anti-Christian and non-scientific) barbs of their more secular brethren.”

As a person of faith I don’t tacitly approve of barbs of my secular bretheren; but, at the same time, Christian creationists seem to bring it upon themselves. If you don’t want to be treated like a fool, don’t act like one.

Come on Ed, invoking Jesus and the Bible in the way that they are invoked above aren’t merely stabs at creationism alone.

Your christian faith might not take any offense at little jokes about Jesus, (whom, I am supposing, you follow being that your a christian) but to others, creationist or not, these statements could be easily interpreted as exposing anti-religious sentiment.

And Eddie Rios when you say “person of faith” what does that mean?

I imagine that we’re running a bit off topic with all of this but hey I didn’t start it.

T. Russ,

I am a Nichiren Buddhist and been one for about 30 years.

Also, I don’t think anyone is attacking your religion. They are attacking(and rightely so)creationism. That it might be part of one’s religious belief is irrelevant.

T. Russ,

I seem to have offended you. My apologies.

Looking at the tactics and attitudes that many Creation/ID supporters use, I think that the biggest attack on my Christianity comes from them, and not from Evolutionary Biology/Biologists. People like Hovind, and Johnson portray Christians as bigoted, intellectual ignoramuses who would wish to subject all people to their form of intellectual slavery – ironic, since to me, Christianity has always been a religion of freedom and liberation.

With the exception of people making severe blanket statements regarding Creationism and Christianity, I’ve never equated an attack on Creationism to an attack on my faith as a Christian. But every attack on science and Evolutionary Biology that the Creationists have waged is to me an attack on what I see on the virtues of tolerance, humility, and honesty – virtues which Christianity has taught me to cherish.

Bob: Oh no, I wasn’t offended at all. I personally have never been offended by anything here on pandasthumb, I was just noting that talk about Jesus zapping things into existence and using telepathy is not anti-creationistic alone, but also anti-christian in a way.

T. Russ,

We’re cool then - my problem is not with Christianity or religion per se, but with the perversions and ignorance displayed by a pestiforous, frequently fringe segment who seem to delight and glory in that ignorance. \ I thought Creationist Timmy was a pretty dead on parody of that segment, and responded in kind.

Bob

I was just noting that talk about Jesus zapping things into existence and using telepathy is not anti-creationistic alone, but also anti-christian in a way.

Again, I agree. This statement cuts directly through the “we’re just attacking creationism” line that some people chose to offer. Nice and concise.

But that’s all I want to say about that stuff. Reuland’s article is interesting in and of itself, particularly for folks who be looking to panspermia as a way to someday get past the current problematic situations relating to the origin of life on earth.

FL

T. Russ Wrote:

Why bring up Jesus?

Because the creationists brought him up first. I’m not saying this necessarily makes it right or okay, I’m just saying that’s why.

You know, I hear these claims from anti-evolutionists all the time that one of the main background reasons for such a staunch defense of evolutionary theory comes from the evolutionist proponents anti-religious zeal. At times I think that this must be an exageration, however at other times (like when visiting the pandasthumb) it looks to be almost true.

It’s pretty clear that there do exist those who defend evolution because they dislike religion, but I don’t think they are the majority. Then there are those who attack creationism not necessarily because they hate religion in general, but they don’t want it forced upon them. Then there are those who defend evolution because it is the best scientific explanation we have for all of the various (and incredibly numerous) pieces of evidence. These three categories are not mutually exclusive. I think most evolution supporters fall into the third category, with a good deal also being in the second category, though that might just be because I would put myself in those two categories.

I mean no offense and could be maing to much out of a simple joke, but this is not the first time that i’ve seen a defense of evolutionary naturalism coupled with stabs at religion.

Well, I think you are reading too much into it, but I also can’t blame you for thinking so. But ultimately the stab is not at religion in general, but at a specific brand of religious thought: the notion that providing a naturalistic explanation for certain phenomena is a rejection of the idea that God is the author of said phenomena.

I don’t believe that there is a God who is the creator of all things, but if I happen to be wrong about His existence I am quite sure that the Big Bang Theory describes how He went about creating the universe, Abiogenesis (not yet a theory) describes how He created life here on earth, and the Theory of Evolution describes how He went about creating the great variety of life, including humans.

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Dead on, Ian.

I’d like to add, if you have a religion called Lightism, and it believes that light comes from invisible demons saying “Lo, there shall be light about these here parts”, members of that religion are going to think that physic and optics and Maxwell’s Equation are demonic theory being taught as fact. They’ll complain that scientists are anti-Lightist. They’ll do all the things creationists do, and they’ll maintain the problem is hostility on the other side.

Since several posters here have mentioned and mocked Jack Chick’s “Big Daddy,” I was wondering if perchance anyone here would either happen to posess a copy of the brilliant parody, “Who’s Your Daddy?” or if anyone might have any ideas about where I might find it? Though a couple of pieces can still be found (for instance, here: http://pharyngula.org/index/whos_your_daddy/ ) the vast majority of copies seem to have been lawyered clean off the internet.

I’m hoping to resurrect this piece of work by getting an artist to redraw all the pannels him or herself. (If you click the above link you’ll see “Who’s Your Daddy” uses Jack’s artwork; and thus wasn’t available for protection under “fair use” laws.)

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve Reuland published on June 23, 2004 6:35 PM.

The Bathroom Wall was the previous entry in this blog.

Better Living Through Evolution, pt. 1: Cleaning up a mess/upending the “scientific key” of ID. is the next entry in this blog.

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