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View Full Version : Zapping Titan-Like Atmosphere with UV Creates Life Precursors



Fraser
2010-Jun-30, 02:40 AM
From the University of Arizona The first experimental evidence showing how atmospheric nitrogen can be incorporated into organic macromolecules is being reported by a University of Arizona team. The finding indicates what organic molecules might be found on Titan, the moon of Saturn that scientists think is a model for the chemistry of pre-life Earth. [...]

More... (http://www.universetoday.com/2010/06/29/zapping-titan-like-atmosphere-with-uv-creates-life-precursors/)

Jerry
2010-Jul-04, 02:53 AM
I'm anxious to see this reproduced - if they were not looking for scale in the first place - are we certain the walls were clean to start?

There is still the problem of intermediates: One would not expect solids from low pressure gases without any active intermediates - like ammonia, phosgene, CN, N2Hx...

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jul-04, 11:48 AM
From what I remember about that type of experiment, it's been well known for decades that if you add energy of some sort (whether lightning, UV or otherwise) to almost any mixture of nitrogen, methane and stuff, you'll end up with organic gunk which is describable as life precursors.

That bit isn't really anything new or revolutionary, the only bit that's new is that at the composition and pressure of Titan's atmosphere it apparently happened without intermediate liquid steps that models had predicted.

whimsyfree
2010-Jul-05, 04:07 AM
From what I remember about that type of experiment, it's been well known for decades that if you add energy of some sort (whether lightning, UV or otherwise) to almost any mixture of nitrogen, methane and stuff, you'll end up with organic gunk which is describable as life precursors.

That bit isn't really anything new or revolutionary, the only bit that's new is that at the composition and pressure of Titan's atmosphere it apparently happened without intermediate liquid steps that models had predicted.

Indeed the surfaces of Titan and Triton are thought to be thick with tholin, a dark organic goo. The blurb claims that incorporation of atmospheric nitrogen into organic molecules hasn't been seen before, but I don't believe that. And later they merely say they converted a nitrogen-methane gas mixture similar to Titan's atmosphere into a collection of nitrogen-containing organic molecules by irradiating the gas with high-energy UV rays. Yeah wack N2+CH4 hard enough with UV and I'm sure some reactions will take place.