esocid writes: At the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, scientists presented evidence today that desert heat, a little water, and meteorite impacts may have been enough to cook up one of the first prerequisites for life: The dominance of "left-handed" amino acids, the building blocks of life on this planet. Chains of amino acids make up the protein found in people, plants, and all other forms of life on Earth. There are two orientations of amino acids, left and right, which mirror each other in the same way your hands do. These amino acids "seeds" formed in interstellar space, possibly on asteroids as they careened through space. At the outset, they have equal amounts of left and right-handed amino acids. But as these rocks soar past neutron stars, their light rays trigger the selective destruction of one form of amino acid. The stars emit circularly polarized light — in one direction, its rays are polarized to the right. 180 degrees in the other direction, the star emits left-polarized light. "This work is related to the probability that there is life somewhere else," said Breslow. "Everything that is going on on Earth occurred because the meteorites happened to land here," said Dr. Ronald Breslow of Columbia University.
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