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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
Vol. 343 ,
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
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ScienceShot: Building Blocks of Life in Titan's Atmosphere?
7 October 2010 4:26 pm
It's unlikely that the process produced Titanians, but experiments simulating the chemistry of the dense air on Saturn's biggest moon have yielded some of the basic buildings blocks of life. Today at the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Pasadena, California, researchers described how they used radio-frequency radiation—a more convenient substitute for ultraviolet sunlight—to turn methane, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide (the main constituents of Titan's atmosphere) into glycine and alanine, the two smallest amino acids. The experiments also produced cytosine, adenine, thymine, and guanine, the four most basic components of DNA. And they created uracil, a precursor of RNA. The researchers said that because they achieved the reactions without the presence of liquid water, it's possible life could have sprung forth on Earth not in the seas, as commonly assumed, but perhaps in the planet's early atmosphere—a considerably thinner version of the fog enveloping Titan today.
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