Countering extra-terrestrial delivery theories of life on Earth.
Paper: Formation of Amino Acids and Carboxylic Acids in Weakly Reducing Planetary Atmospheres by Solar Energetic Particles from the Young Sun (April 2023)
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In 1952 the famous Miller-Urey experiment proved that lightning in the atmosphere of early Earth could produce the chemical building blocks of life. New research reveals that solar flares might do an even better job.
“The production rate of amino acids by lightning is a million times less than by solar protons,” says Vladimir Airapetian of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, a coauthor of the new paper.
Above: An artist’s concept of the early Earth
Early research on the origins of life mostly ignored the sun, focusing instead on lightning as an energy source. In the 1950s Stanley Miller of the University of Chicago filled a closed chamber with methane, ammonia, water, and molecular hydrogen – gases thought to be prevalent in Earth’s early atmosphere – and repeatedly ignited an electrical spark to simulate lightning. A week later, Miller and his graduate advisor Harold Urey analyzed the chamber’s contents and…
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May 14, 2023 at 03:36AM