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Biotech Space Science

NASA Reproduces a Building Block of Life In the Lab 264

xp65 writes "NASA scientists studying the origin of life have reproduced uracil, a key component of our hereditary material, in the laboratory. They discovered that an ice sample containing pyrimidine exposed to ultraviolet radiation under space-like conditions produces this essential ingredient of life. 'We have demonstrated for the first time that we can make uracil, a component of RNA, non-biologically in a laboratory under conditions found in space,' said Michel Nuevo, research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. 'We are showing that these laboratory processes, which simulate occurrences in outer space, can make a fundamental building block used by living organisms on Earth.'"
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NASA Reproduces a Building Block of Life In the Lab

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  • Re:An Application? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Knara ( 9377 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @08:13PM (#30040542)
    Basically its showing that the basic parts of RNA can form in conditions that are likely in outer space. If they can be shown to do so, then the theory that "life" (in some sort of manner) either started "out there" (cue Patrick Macnee []), or that it's plausible that the parts came together on Earth in a natural fashion after being transported here by comets, meteorites, etc.
  • Re:Ah, Uracil! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ann O'Nymous-Coward ( 460094 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @08:17PM (#30040584)

    As if. Creationists don't care about facts. If they did, they wouldn't be creationists.

  • Re:An Application? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @08:33PM (#30040736)
    Astrobiology []-- the study of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe-- is part of NASA's mission. []
  • by Paltin ( 983254 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:53PM (#30041746)
    You're making a very common error in understanding about what constitutes a scientific fact.

    Evolution -is- a fact; evolution has been observed and tested and met the criteria of a fact, just as gravity is a fact. The number of scientific papers where evolution as fact has been observed number in the hundred thousand or millions.

    This extraordinary body of evidence consists of numerous tests of evolution, and easily fulfills any common definition of fact. []

    Evolution is also a theory, in the scientific sense-- which means that it is a broadly applicable set of principles that help explain nature.

    Much has been written regarding this; a little use of the 'ol google will provide much more to show you wrong.
  • by interactive_civilian ( 205158 ) <mamoru AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 09, 2009 @11:17PM (#30041882) Homepage Journal

    Scientists have not been able to talk the raw components, which we already have access to, and get them to form a something living, have they?

    Not a full on living system, no. However, the components, such as evolving self-replicators (in the form of RNA) have been made in labs. Pretty amazing stuff. (linky [] linky [])

    This is one of the things that annoys me about those kinds of creationist/ID arguments. It took nature on the order of 400(+/- 100) million years to go from inorganic geochemistry to free living chemoautotrophs, and yet, they somehow expect scientists to be able to replicate that in the lab in the half-century or so that we've been able to study such things, and state that scientists' inability to do it so far means that it was impossible for nature. I mean, jeez, give 'em at least a million years to run some experiments, eh? It's only fair.

    Yes, I realize that if they cared about fairness, then they wouldn't spread deliberate lies about science and specifically about studies of evolution in order to push their agenda.

  • Yes. (Score:4, Informative)

    by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @01:04AM (#30042440) Homepage Journal

    The bible belt is becoming more influential because it has more money. Northern liberals have been foolishly dismissing the bible belt as stupid now for 50 years and really at their own peril, for, while they have done so, the bible belt has utterly stacked the deck of American commercial policy to its advantage. The bible belt needs protectionist food, and free trade goods, so it can import cheap tools and labors to sell crops to a captive market, and lo, what is American trade policy? Gee... we write GM bailout size checks to American farmers every year and no one complains, because the bible belt has us convinced that this glaring exception to the free trade they advocate is not an exception at all.

  • Re:An Application? (Score:2, Informative)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @01:22AM (#30042536) Journal

    I wonder what we will be stirring up in 20-50 years.

    You don't have to wonder. The results are here []. That's just the wikipedia page, but you can follow the links. I hoped they saved a sample so we can check again in 100, 1,000 and 10,000 years.

    They are proving that life as we know it should be common. Life as we don't know it? That's still an open question. It may have been here all along and we didn't see it.

  • Re:Ah, Uracil! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anthony ( 4077 ) * on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @05:12AM (#30043444) Homepage Journal
    In earler Slashdot times, creationsts were rife and the same tired rubbish that had been done to death on was argued vehemently for kilometres of threads. I think they either did get educated or left for forums steeped in ignorance.

In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.