Nasa’s Kepler telescope scans the skies for ‘habitable worlds’ – but an American chemist has suggested the whole project might be a terrible idea
Ronald Breslow suggests that life-forms based on slightly different amino acids and sugars could take the form of huge, ferocious dinosaurs that have evolved to have human-like intelligence and technologies.
‘We would be better off not meeting them,’ says Breslow, who claims that it was a stroke of luck that an asteroid wiped out dinosaurs on earth, leaving the field clear for mammals such as humans.
On other worlds, dinosaurs could have evolved into huge, intelligent warriors armed with hi-tech weaponry – but without losing their hunger for fresh meat.
‘Of course,’ Breslow says, ‘Showing that it could have happened this way is not the same as showing that it did. An implication from this work is that elsewhere in the universe there could be life forms based on D-amino acids and L-sugars.
‘Such life forms could well be advanced versions of dinosaurs, if mammals did not have the good fortune to have the dinosaurs wiped out by an asteroidal collision, as on Earth.
‘We would be better off not meeting them.’
In the report, noted scientist Ronald Breslow, Ph.D., discusses the century-old mystery of why the building blocks of terrestrial amino acids (which make up proteins), sugars, and the genetic materials DNA and RNA exist mainly in one orientation or shape.
There are two possible orientations, left and right, which mirror each other in the same way as hands.
In order for life to arise, proteins, for instance, must contain only one chiral form of amino acids, left or right.
With the exception of a few bacteria, amino acids in all life on Earth have the left-handed orientation.
Most sugars have a right-handed orientation. How did that so-called homochirality, the predominance of one chiral form, happen?
Breslow describes evidence supporting the idea that the unusual amino acids carried to a lifeless Earth by meteorites about 4 billion years ago set the pattern for normal amino acids with the L-geometry, the kind in terrestial proteins, and how those could lead to D-sugars of the kind in DNA.
Paper: A likely possible origin of homochirality in amino acids and sugars on prebiotic earth” – Original paper (?)
I did not manage to find original one dated from 2012 only this one from 2010 please if someone could send me a link with a download from the original text from 2012 you would be helpful.
27/4/2011 – Tetrahedron Lett. – “Erratum to “The origin of homochirality in amino acids and sugars on prebiotic Earth” – Erratum notice
27/4/2011 – Tetrahedron Lett. – “The origin of homochirality in amino acids and sugars on prebiotic earth” – Corrected paper, republished
18/5/2011 – Isr. J. Chem. – “Formation of L Amino Acids and D Sugars, and Amplification of their Enantioexcesses in Aqueous Solutions, Under Simulated Prebiotic Conditions” –A review published by Breslow in the Israel Journal of Chemistry
25/3/2012 – J. Am. Chem. Soc. – “Evidence for the Likely Origin of Homochirality in Amino Acids, Sugars, and Nucleosides on Prebiotic Earth” – Breslow’s perspective paper in JACS
11/4/2012 – Just Like Cooking – “Space Dinos! Prebiotic Chemistry Meets Paleozoic Commentary” – Coverage of paper vis-a-vis the bungled press release by See Arr Oh. Possible self-plagiarism is mentioned in the comments thread
24/4/2012 – Chemistry-Blog – “Space dinosaurs, the saga continues” – Mark posts about the self-plagiarism in JACS, includes Stu’s famous highlighter work. Note that Mark has alerted JACS about possible misconduct by e-mail.