Monday, June 05, 2006

aliens among us?

Malcolm Pollack links to this CNN science article about researchers in India who wonder whether the strange, heartily reproducing, cell-like specimens they have in sample jars might be extraterrestrial in origin. The weirdest thing about these critters? They reproduce at a robust rate and can withstand temperatures almost three times hotter than the known tolerance threshold for terrestrial life... but strangest of all, they also appear to have no DNA.

Just let that sink in. I'll check on you later to see whether you're freaked about this.

In the meantime...




Maven said...

Interesting bit:)

Doubt if I'll lose sleep over it... hopefully it'll take several millenia before those micron sized dots evolve into something like a human or animal or creature from the deep.

I'm more concerned with that it can live in super heated water and it reproduces rather fast...not whether it's extraterrestrial or not.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of something I read about while doing a graduate seminar in biochemistry. There is a thing called a coacervate that is a hollow sheroid with a membrane formed from proteins. They can be easily produced from amino acids dried on a hot surface and the resulting scum washed off with water.

They grow by attracting more crude proteins to their surface which expands the membrane. At some point the physical chemistry of the membrane dictates it is too large and one becomes two. If you put crude enzyme machinery into it you could get much of the appearance of life without DNA.

They could have come from a meteorite. The spectra of amino acids have been seen in interstellar dust. The meteor collects them on its surface, heats up on the way in, and creates some crude protein. Put it in water, and Voila! Coacervate soup!

Maven said...
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Maven said...