Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:43 and 3:43 a.m.

Life in Space





Listen to story

01:30
Download this story 1MB

Men are from Mars.  Women, from Venus.  Really?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying not exactly.

But check out this intriguing new cosmic discovery from the University of Nice.

Researchers there were simulating conditions commonly found in comets.  Why?  To see if life might have started far away from Earth.

Compounds like amino acids have actually been detected in comets already.  What others might there be?

To find out, the group mixed a cocktail of ice, ammonia, and methanol – all found incomets – and then blasted it with UV light, which our sun emits.

The reaction made a slurry of organic molecules, among them a sugar called ribose.  This is exciting because ribose makes up the backbone of the genetic molecule RNA!

And a molecule very similar to ribose is found in DNA, the blueprint of life!

So here's their new idea about how life began:

The sun’s UV rays spark simple reactions on comets.  These comets crash into Earth, delivering their precious cargo.  Wait a few billion years and voila!  Life.

 

As for men and women, we may still need another billion years to understand why our partner can’t fold a map.  Problem for another day!