Amino acids have been found in interstellar clouds and in meteorites – but with some enigmatic omissions and tantalizing similarities to life on Earth. Just why some amino acids are present in meteorites and others are absent, and why they seem to prefer the same "left-handed" molecular structure as Earths living amino acids are questions that could unravel one of the most fundamental questions of science: Where and how did life begin?
"The bottom line is that you have these materials that come from space," says Steve Macko, professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Macko refers specifically to eight of the amino acids found in a certain kind of meteorite – a carbonaceous chondrite. All eight amino acids are identical to those used by life on Earth. That could seem to point to a cosmic origin of these basic biological building blocks, says Macko. The case is bolstered by the fact that early Earth was bombarded with meteorites and the amino acid glycine has been detected on interstellar molecular clouds.
The implications and enigmas of extraterrestrial amino acids will be detailed at a special session celebrating the life and work of the late Glenn Goodfriend, on Monday, Nov. 3, 2003, at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Seattle, WA.
Ann Cairns | EurekAlert!
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Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
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In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
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By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
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COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
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'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
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