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Fraser
2005-Jul-29, 03:32 PM
SUMMARY: Using the Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered organic molecules in galaxies more than 10 billion years light-years away. This means these organic molecules - considered the building blocks of life - were present when the Universe was only a few billion years old. Spitzer found the molecules in starburst galaxies which are going through intense star formation. This means that life has had a long opportunity to gain a foothold in the Universe.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/spitzer_finds_polycyclic_aromatic_hydrocarbons.htm l)

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

cran
2005-Aug-01, 12:24 AM
Be gentle with me; it's my first time...

I must admit to wearing the same, slightly smug, grin when I first read about organics 10 billion light years away, as I wore when old, evolved galaxies were found much further away than previously thought possible.

The finding must surely add weight to the argument that life is probably more widespread and common than our local knowledge suggests.

This, in turn, impacts upon my own study and research into planetary evolution.

I will be following future developments with interest.

I'm sure the implications will be debated for some time to come, but it does appear that :
a) the universe is older than other evidence and theory indicates;
B) the universe evolved much faster than other evidence and theory indicates; or
c) the theory, or some of its founding assumptions, are wrong.

However, rather than pushing this thread immediately into controversial (read "alternative") realms, let me just congratulate the discoverers, and be reminded that we really do live in interesting times!

Laintje
2005-Aug-01, 12:10 PM
Indeed this is a very interesting finding.
It still surprises me that it is possible to trigger these organic molecules so far, far away from us, even on distances it is difficult to find stars ... (am I right?) But wat the hec, they are the scientists, I suppose they know damn good wat they are doing.

In either case it confirms my feelings about life in the universe :
1) Life is everywhere
2) Life is already very old
3) We (incl all eartlings : animals, prants, microbes,...) are not alone, and certainly not the first life form in the universe and we will not be the last too.

g-bomb
2005-Aug-01, 04:30 PM
think about the fact that carbon is found everywhere you look in the universe, and that it so easily joins up into organic compounds and is the basis for the structure of life as we know it.. life is a sytem and a phenomenon (sp?) just as black holes, quasars, stars, planets, gasses etc...... its a fact that life exists.. its also very robust hee on earth and in the past few thousand years alone we have evolved in our knowledge and technology in ways that seem just out of control.. in the past 100 things have gone so fast its hard to keep up with all the developments..

to me its obvious that life is prevanant throughout all the univerese and has been for billions of years.. in just the same way as different ideas and inventions arise on this planet at the same time in seperate locations without knowledge or interaction between them, in just the same kind of notion i believe life has began on countless worlds in and around the same time completely seperately of each instance... you know what i mean?
this would tend to point to the probablility that life is vastly dfferent on some worlds, possibly not so different on some.. but its there.. its the one thing in science, astronomy and philosophical theory that i will go long with completely and utterly without definitive scientific proof.. just wait 10 years

mystic
2005-Aug-02, 06:12 AM
the problem is everyone will allways argue about and question things that are unknown and are not supported by definitive proof.. the good thing is that evidence is mounting at an alarming rate in favor of life elsewhere in the univerese.. organic molecules in gas clouds billions of miles away.. asteroids with H2O and organic compounds.. new planets discoverd each month.. new intruments and telescopes and space missions .. within 10 years, yes, we will have the technology to find out a whole crap load of amazing and important stuff about things you have never dreamed of.. best time to be alive on planet earth thus far i must say..

Nereid
2005-Aug-05, 11:04 PM
Not to be too much of a party pooper, ...

'organic molecules' can very easily be made by totally 'non-organic' processes!

The term dates back over a hundred (200?) years, when chemists of the day thought the only way (certain) carbon compounds could be made was by living organisms.

It took only a few decades for that notion to be thoroughly discredited by good observations, but the name has been with us ever since.

Most interestingly, as our technology gets better, we find ever more complex carbon-based compounds .... floating around in deep space! Does this mean there is some kind of carbon-based life, flourishing in the giant molecular clouds? NO.

What does it mean? That there are perfectly 'inorganic' processes which can create such huge quantities of 'organics' as to outweigh the whole Earth (which is, as you remember, mostly Fe, O, and Si) billions of times over ('weak vodka' is how I recall one article describing the 'organic' component of but one cloud in our galaxy, with enough formaldehyde to pickle all complex life on Earth - very smelly vodka).

How often do 'lots of complex carbon compounds' on a planet's surface (or beneath it) lead to (simple) life? Ah, that's the question, is it not?

g-rizzle
2005-Aug-06, 04:57 AM
so complex carbon compunds are all ovvvvver the place right? on panets. titan,, what.. if theconditions are right do they create life? umm. yes at least a percent of the time be it larege or not whocares. it means proof of life.. its obvvious life is a fact of nature..

id say 20-30 percent of planets in the galaxy harbor life

Nereid
2005-Aug-06, 07:58 AM
id say 20-30 percent of planets in the galaxy harbor life
Sticking with a definition of 'planet' that gives our solar system a mere 10 (OOM), then there'd be 2 or 3; current thinking is Mars may have had life (and may still have it), but no other, so [√].

If we broaden the definition, so (say) all objects with sufficient mass to render their shape roughly spherical (certainly a diameter of 1000 km, and possibly as small as 200 km?), that gives our solar system at least 100 and possibly 1,000 (OOM). That would raise the number 'harbouring life' to somewhere between 20 and 300 :o

cran
2005-Aug-06, 02:41 PM
Originally posted by Nereid@Aug 6 2005, 07:04 AM
Not to be too much of a party pooper, ...

'organic molecules' can very easily be made by totally 'non-organic' processes!

The term dates back over a hundred (200?) years, when chemists of the day thought the only way (certain) carbon compounds could be made was by living organisms.

It took only a few decades for that notion to be thoroughly discredited by good observations, but the name has been with us ever since.

Nereid, I think the date you were looking for - 1828; the person, Frederich Wohler who (depending upon the source...) amazed the scientific community (and/or himself) when he synthesised urea, an organic isomer of ammonium cyanate...


Most interestingly, as our technology gets better, we find ever more complex carbon-based compounds .... floating around in deep space! Does this mean there is some kind of carbon-based life, flourishing in the giant molecular clouds? NO.
:huh: Surely, you meant, 'not necessarily'? :) History abounds with highly respected experts saying 'X is impossible', only to be proved wrong...:(


What does it mean? That there are perfectly 'inorganic' processes which can create such huge quantities of 'organics' as to outweigh the whole Earth (which is, as you remember, mostly Fe, O, and Si) billions of times over ('weak vodka' is how I recall one article describing the 'organic' component of but one cloud in our galaxy, with enough formaldehyde to pickle all complex life on Earth - very smelly vodka). I'll drink to that! :D

How often do 'lots of complex carbon compounds' on a planet's surface (or beneath it) lead to (simple) life? Ah, that's the question, is it not? It is indeed! Big gold star to you! :D
A quick search turned up this link, which has Frederich deliberately synthesising urea from ammonium cyanate - and killing the concept of 'vitalism'...

The History of Organic Chemistry (http://www.angelfire.com/bc2/OrgChem/intro.html)

This one indicates it was a chance discovery; he got urea by trying to synthesise ammonium cyanate...
Eric Weisstein’s world of biography (http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Woehler.html)
:blink: I don't know why the second one didn't come up as a link (unless it's because I didn't transfer it from an online source - it came from one of my papers)
[Edited by Nereid: fixed bad link (you need to make it 'oe', not 'ö' cran).]