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What are the basic necessities of life (methyl isocyanate)

  1. Jun 12, 2017 #1


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    What is the importance of methyl isocyanate to life and if this paper is correct how bigger discovery is it?

    < Mentor Note -- link to text added >


    Niels Ligterink is delighted with the supporting laboratory results: "Besides detecting molecules we also want to understand how they are formed. Our laboratory experiments show that methyl isocyanate can indeed be produced on icy particles under very cold conditions that are similar to those in interstellar space This implies that this molecule -- and thus the basis for peptide bonds -- is indeed likely to be present near most new young solar-type stars."
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2017 #2
    If RNA preceded poly-peptides, as I believe is currently the most popular scenario about the origin of earth life, then it seems unlikely that a spacially created precursor for poly-peptides would be relevant.
  4. Jun 13, 2017 #3


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    Here is a Science news article on this discovery.
    It has some background on why they were interested in that molecule.
  5. Jun 14, 2017 #4


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    Thanks BillTire, So there is nothing out there that is (life like) they have just found an unlikely string of molecules.
  6. Jun 14, 2017 #5


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    I think that it indicates that:
    1) a level of chemical complexity is doable prebiotically and out amongst the stars before planets, and
    2) this chemical might be able to react with itself or other molecules to generate even more complex chemistry.
  7. Jun 14, 2017 #6

    jim mcnamara

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    Let's try another tack, as sailors used to say.

    The term we use for what we are talking about is: abiogenesis. Definition: original evolution of life or living organisms from inorganic or inanimate substances.
    The key to this is that abiogenesis was/is an emergent process. Emergent in the case of abiogenesis means:
    1. take a simple, permanent set of rules (Chemistry)
    2. add a few different carbon compounds that will react with themselves or water, or other molecules easily
    3. add warm liquid water
    4. with no intervention and long periods of time those rules can and will create very complex compounds from simple ones.

    You can see what emergent means using a computer program aptly named 'life' - the program has 4 really "dumb" rules (actually a quite brilliant man, John Conway, figured this out.) Once the game starts it inevitably gives the same result - what dictates different end results is the setup of the living vs non-living cells (squares on a large checkerboard)

    Please look at the animations, then read what the program does. This game exhibits a kind of emergent behavior, one that is not based on chemical rules but rather on very simple logic rules.
    Emergent means applying simple rules over and over and over again. Ad nauseum. Then getting a very complex result. One you might never anticipate, a priori.


    This is what @BillTre is talking about - emergent behavior of simple systems.
  8. Jun 15, 2017 #7


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    Thank you jim, I understand a little more now.
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