Monday, June 16, 2008

Genetic Material Found in Meteorite

Researchers studying a meteorite that crashed in Australia forty years ago have identified "an important component of early genetic material," according to an Imperial College, London press release (via Slashdot). Specifically, the scientists found uracil and xanthine molecules, "precursors to the molecules that make up DNA and RNA." In case you forgot your high school biology (everyone at Pound360 has… thank you very much Nintendo), these molecules are two of the half-dozen-or-so "nucleobases" that make up your DNA, RNA.

Could the material have ended up on the meteorite after it hit the ground? Sure. But according to the press release, "the nucleobases contain a heavy form of carbon which could only have been formed in space."

If nucleobase molecules are common on meteors, Earth's early oceans may have been seeded with the building blocks of life from deep space.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.