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Space Science

Stormy Alien Atmospheres May Spark Seeds of Life 44

astroengine writes "In research presented at the Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society in London on Friday, astronomers discussed the dusty, stormy atmospheres of exoplanets and brown dwarfs and how they could be hothouses for the formation of prebiotic molecules. These are organic molecules that are known to form the building blocks for life as we know it. 'The atmospheres around exoplanets and brown dwarfs form exotic clouds that, instead of being composed of water droplets, are made of dust particles made of minerals,' said astronomer Craig Stark, of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. The idea is that lightning storms generate copious amounts of highly charged ions and electrons, which then get stuck to dust particles, using them as miniature prebiotic chemistry factories. Of particular interest is the formation of formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide and the amino acid glycine, all of which underpin Earth's biosphere."
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Stormy Alien Atmospheres May Spark Seeds of Life

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  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Friday January 10, 2014 @03:53PM (#45920719)

    Our planet is a data point of one, from which useful questions can be raised like: Why not elsewhere? The fact that Venus and Mars aren't teeming with life tells us things about where life cannot arise. (Or at least hasn't in the past few billion years)

    They have to keep releasing these type of wildly speculative stories to keep interest up in science and technology. Because children have the right to dream fantastic dreams of the future and giving them meaningful goals and quests to set them upon is a duty of the current generation. Plus it's fantastically more productive than building hype about what the latest pop-star wore and whose baby she's carrying.

    And yeah, reminding people about how cool science is really does help focus them on what's important and keep the research grant taps from shriveling up into nothing.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

"Necessity is the mother of invention" is a silly proverb. "Necessity is the mother of futile dodges" is much nearer the truth. -- Alfred North Whitehead