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Science Buzz Cafe # 470 Richard Boyd, PhD – The Origins of Life
Aliens are not only among us; they are within us. There is reason to believe the molecules that created our amino acids and DNA were created in outer space, and then processed in a fiery cosmic event. They arrived on Earth, contained in meteorites, after which they catalyzed more molecules like themselves, eventually creating cells and the plethora of life forms that have existed during the time Earth has existed.
Why do we think the alien molecules must have initiated life on Earth? They have two properties that would be difficult to explain if their creation was Earthly: a preference for molecular “left-handedness” and a weird distribution of isotopes in the hydrogen and nitrogen atoms that comprise the amino acids. It is generally believed that left-handedness is required for life to form.
There are cosmic phenomena that could have produced both these properties:
- Surging Neutron Stars
Richard will provide some thoughtful explanations!
Richard Boyd is a Professor Emeritus from Ohio State University, having served in the Physics and Astronomy Departments. He is an author or coauthor of more than 250 research papers on nuclear physics, astrophysics, and astrobiology, as well as three books on scientific subjects. He has also written four fictional novels on topics such as artificial intelligence and political issues. He was also the Science Director for the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.