Meteorites may have delivered first ammonia for life on earth: new study

Feb 28, 2011 By Anne Minard, Universe Today
A Renazzo stony meteorite. Credit: NASA

Researchers have teased ammonia of a carbon-containing meteorite from Antarctica, and propose that meteorites may have delivered that essential ingredient for life to an early Earth.

The results appear today in the , and add to a growing body of evidence that meteorites may have played a key role in the development of life here. The NASA graphic at left was released just last month, when researchers reported that meteorites may have also delivered Earth’s first left-hand amino acids.

Lead author Sandra Pizzarello, of Arizona State University, and her colleagues note in the new paper that carbonaceous chondrites are asteroidal meteorites known to contain abundant organic materials.

“Given that meteorites and comets have reached the Earth since it formed, it has been proposed that the exogenous influx from these bodies provided the organic inventories necessary for the emergence of life,” they write.

The carbonaceous meteorites of the Renazzo-type family (CR) are known to be especially rich in small soluble organic molecules, such as the amino acids glycine and alanine. To test for the presence of ammonia, the researchers collected powder from the much-studied CR2 Grave Nunataks (GRA) 95229 and treated it with water at high temperature and pressure. They found that the treated powders emitted ammonia, NH4, an important precursor to complex biological molecules such as amino acids and DNA, into the surrounding water.

Next, the researchers analyzed the nitrogen atoms within the ammonia and determined that the atomic isotope did not match those currently found on Earth, eliminating the possibility that the ammonia resulted from contamination during the experiment. Researchers have struggled to pinpoint the origin of the ammonia responsible for triggering the formation of the first biomolecules on . The authors suggest that now, they may have found it.

“The findings appear to trace CR2 meteorites’ origin to cosmochemical regimes where was pervasive, and we speculate that their delivery to the early Earth could have fostered prebiotic molecular evolution,” they write.

Explore further: The latest observations of interstellar particles

More information: Pizzarello et al., Abundant ammonia in primitive asteroids and the case for a possible exobiology. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1014961108

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rynox
2.5 / 5 (2) Feb 28, 2011
True story and slightly off-topic: I had a college professor who honestly believed the earth and humans were engineered by aliens (he called them the 'greys'). He was completely serious about it. Fortunately, he wasn't a science teacher.
gvgoebel
not rated yet Feb 28, 2011
Fortunately, he wasn't a science teacher.


OK, curiosity has got me ... what department was he in?
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (17) Mar 01, 2011
You can have all the building blocks for life together in one place and you still won't get LIFE. It's should be commonsense: when someone dies, all the blocks are there, yet life is absent.
If there were some documented and eyewitnessed case where someone who was once dead had come back alive, one might have begun to believe that life can arise spontaneously from dead material.
Except for the bible, such documentation does not exist. So if you dismiss the bible there's absolutely zero evidence or support for any dream that life can arise from non-life.

The evolutionist's wishful dream of abiogenesis must therefore continue. It's just unfortunate that in the meantime BILLIONS of public taxpayers dollars are spent chasing that pie in the sky - when the evidence is quite clear - only life begets life.

Please contradict me on that last statement.

soulman
4.8 / 5 (17) Mar 01, 2011
If there were some documented and eyewitnessed case where someone who was once dead had come back alive, one might have begun to believe that life can arise spontaneously from dead material.
Except for the bible, such documentation does not exist.

How about another fictional medium - zombie movies?
Eoprime
5 / 5 (7) Mar 01, 2011

... - when the evidence is quite clear - only life begets life.

Please contradict me on that last statement.


The evidence is nothing near "clear".

Please contradict me on that this statement. :)
Skeptic_Heretic
4.8 / 5 (9) Mar 01, 2011
You can have all the building blocks for life together in one place and you still won't get LIFE. It's should be commonsense: when someone dies, all the blocks are there, yet life is absent.
You can have all the building blocks for a yummy cake in one place, yet cakes don't just magically arise from flour and water!!! The existence of cakes must be a lie!!!
If there were some documented and eyewitnessed case where someone who was once dead had come back alive, one might have begun to believe that life can arise spontaneously from dead material.
You mean like the central tenets of your religion........

Kev, grow up.
jmcanoy1860
5 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2011
Which of course brings to mind the fact that we actually have "created" life via the synthesis of a synthetic genome which was then implanted into a cell with no DNA of it's own. From another species even.
bugmenot23
4 / 5 (1) Mar 01, 2011
cant believe nobody noticed;
"To test for the presence of ammonia, the researchers collected powder from the much-studied CR2 Grave Nunataks (GRA) 95229 meteorite and treated it with water at high temperature and pressure. They found that the treated powders emitted ammonia"...

but, hydrogen and nitrogen even at stp slowly turn into ammonia. if change the conditions to "high temperature and pressure" this reaction speeds up significantly, as is done industrially through the haber process. so at best they've shown that the isotopically unusual nitrogen came from space. they couldnt even say the same for the hydrogen which may have been introduced through the water added. seriously these guys must be having a giggle, at their own research institution for funding this, and at everyone else who has read their "results" uncritically.
Birger
5 / 5 (7) Mar 01, 2011
You can have a chemical "evolution" increasing the complexity of the chemistry, setting the stage for the earliest, most primitive life forms (presumably using chiral molecules simpler than DNA or even RNA to store information). You will never see such simple organisms today since they would be out-competed by the more advanced (and in this context, bacteria are advanced) life forms.
"ID" is stupid because the messy, often sub-optimal adaptations of living organisms are far less elegant than those you would expect from an intelligent designer. In other words, if God did it, he is a hack. References: The Panda's Thumb (and the "inverted" placement of vertebrte retinas).
gvgoebel
5 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2011
How about another fictional medium - zombie movies?


Hmm, I think of zombie movies with creationists: "BRAAAAAINS .... BRAAAAAAINS ... "
frajo
5 / 5 (8) Mar 01, 2011
only life begets life.

Please contradict me on that last statement.


The statement "only life begets life" is logically equivalent to the statement "no process out of the set of all chemical and physical processes which are possible in the non-living subset of the universe leads to life".
The logical value "true" can be assigned to this statement if and only if the outcomes of all chemical and physical processes are known which are possible in the non-living subset of the universe.

Obviously, nobody on the local planet knows all the outcomes of all those possible processes. Therefore, nobody can logically claim that the statement in question is true.

Moreover, for obvious reasons, it will be either impossible or extremely difficult to obtain sufficient knowledge.
However, it will be considerably easier to find just one process establishing abiogenesis.

The negation of an universal quantifier statement is much easier to prove than the not negated statement.
CSharpner
5 / 5 (6) Mar 01, 2011
If there were some documented and eyewitnessed case where someone who was once dead had come back alive, one might have begun to believe that life can arise spontaneously from dead material.
Two things:

1. Do you seriously think that evolutionary theory states that *highly complex* life forms arise spontaneously? I know you don't, because it doesn't and you've been in these threads long enough to know better, so I disregard your pointless statement as trolling.

2. Perhaps, if "where someone who was once dead had come back alive" were witnessed, someone might misinterpret it as divine intervention and form a false religion around it? ;)
rynox
not rated yet Mar 01, 2011
Fortunately, he wasn't a science teacher.


OK, curiosity has got me ... what department was he in?

Sociology. Edit: Social sciences, I guess.
CSharpner
5 / 5 (7) Mar 01, 2011
You can have all the building blocks for life together in one place and you still won't get LIFE.
You know this HOW?
It's should be commonsense: when someone dies, all the blocks are there, yet life is absent.
Wrong. As everyone knows, microbes consume the "dead" material and bring it back to life (microbial life). In other words, the material is there it then comes into contact other other nano-structure molecules that self-replicate and then that material (that "dead" material) continues to participate in that self-replicating chemical process... otherwise labeled as "life".

So, yes, that "dead" (poorly defined term, BTW) material does come back to "life" (another poorly defined term) in the form of microbes consuming it, converting it to more microbes.

Does the "material" spontaneously start self-replicating? No. I'm of course not claiming that.

Of course, you do realize that (continued...)
CSharpner
5 / 5 (6) Mar 01, 2011
(continued...)

Of course, you do realize that current theories about how the first self-replicating molecules came about required a different environment than what is on Earth today, don't you? That's not a rhetorical question. I'm really asking you that. Another, non-rhetorical question is you do also realize that there probably needs to be LOTS of the right ingredients, interacting with the environment for probably millions of years to allow the odds game to play itself out, so that eventually, the "perfect storm" of atomic arrangement, temperature, etc... occurs, right??

Since you DO realize that, and we all know you do, because it's been presented to you ad-nauseoum on this site, the real question is why do you continuously bring up the pointless example of a dead person coming back to life when you KNOW and WE KNOW YOU KNOW that's not relevant or the way current (or past) theory considers the origins of life.

(continued...)
CSharpner
5 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2011
(continued...)

Please explain yourself Kevin. I'm a rational and patient person... patient beyond belief, really. But, even *I* am losing my patience with your "beginner" type of posts. It's as if every anti-reason post you make is your first one here, as if you've never heard any of the explanations fed to you over the years. It's like watching an Abbot and Costello bit when you participate.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2011
CS, you know Kevin's only answer is *fingers firmly in ears, head firmly up ass* LALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!
soulman
4.3 / 5 (6) Mar 01, 2011
Please explain yourself Kevin. I'm a rational and patient person... patient beyond belief, really. But, even *I* am losing my patience with your "beginner" type of posts. It's as if every anti-reason post you make is your first one here, as if you've never heard any of the explanations fed to you over the years.

Which is why it's pointless trying to engage him. It's best to ridicule him, and a lot more satisfying!
PaulieMac
5 / 5 (3) Mar 02, 2011
It's as if every anti-reason post you make is your first one here, as if you've never heard any of the explanations fed to you over the years


Well, that's because he posts and then never ever sticks around. I doubt he has ever read any of the responses ;-)
CSharpner
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2011
It's as if every anti-reason post you make is your first one here, as if you've never heard any of the explanations fed to you over the years


Well, that's because he posts and then never ever sticks around. I doubt he has ever read any of the responses ;-)


He's hung around and debated in plenty of the threads I've participated in, which is why it's so perplexing. Drive-by posting would be semi-excusable (at least, for not knowing the repeated responses), but he's responded to these multiple times, so I know he's read them. He's just an example of extraordinary closed-mindedness.

Although, you're probably right in this thread. He either did a drive-by post or is too embarrassed to respond now.
Terrible_Bohr
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2011
- only life begets life.

I think you stole this line directly from an infomercial for Jack LaLanne's vegetable juicer. At least it's a step up from quoting religious texts.
omatumr
1 / 5 (4) Mar 02, 2011
Yes, ammonia (NH3) was probably carried here on meteorites or comets or injected later by the solar wind.

There were little or no no light elements - like H, He, C, N, - in the region close to the proto-Sun where Earth and other rocky planets first started to form.

See:
1. Origin of the Solar System video

youtube.com/watch?v=AQZe_Qk-q7M

2. "Origin of Elements in the Solar System"

omatumr.com/abstracts2001/origin_solar_system_book.pdf

Oliver K. Manuel