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Genetic code on the Earth shares significant features with life in the cosmos?

Friul

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A friend of mine in Computational Biology forwarded this to me as an interesting read.  The lead author is a member of McMaster University's Origins Institute which focuses on astrobiology and nuclear astrophysics.

Enjoy!

Abstract
Of the twenty amino acids used in proteins, ten were formed in Miller’s atmospheric discharge
experiments. The two other major proposed sources of prebiotic amino acid synthesis include
formation in hydrothermal vents and delivery to Earth via meteorites. We combine
observational and experimental data of amino acid frequencies formed by these diverse
mechanisms and show that, regardless of the source, these ten early amino acids can be ranked
in order of decreasing abundance in prebiotic contexts. This order can be predicted by
thermodynamics. The relative abundances of the early amino acids were most likely reflected in
the composition of the first proteins at the time the genetic code originated. The remaining
amino acids were incorporated into proteins after pathways for their biochemical synthesis
evolved. This is consistent with theories of the evolution of the genetic code by stepwise
addition of new amino acids. These are hints that key aspects of early biochemistry may be
universal.
Article (PDF)
 

ialmisry

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I was just talking to my sons yesterday about extraterristial life (in the context of Van Daniken): it is, at least at present, a belief, not a fact.
 

xariskai

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Amino acids do not constitute code.
C.f. Hubert Yockey, Information Theory and Molecular Biology (Cambridge University Press, 1992) and  Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life (Cambridge University Press, 2005); some gist here: http://home.planet.nl/~gkorthof/kortho33.htm

As far as "astrobiology," anyone here familiar with Panspermia? http://www.panspermia.org/

 

Jetavan

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Interview with Chandra Wickramasinghe:

Is panspermia a scientifically falsifiable idea?

Yes. We predict that if you find life on another planet or comet and it's identical in genetic make-up and biochemistry to that on Earth, it has a common origin. If it's not the same, panspermia is proved wrong, because the finding shows that life can develop independently. If experiments on Earth show that life can be generated relatively easily in the laboratory from organic molecules, then panspermia becomes unnecessary.

You have suggested that flu epidemics have an extra-terrestrial origin and that the SARS virus is an extra-terrestrial virus. How seriously did you mean it?

Well, once you say that life started from outside and is continually being brought in, then the whole evolution of life on Earth is against this background of incoming genetic material. Some of the material would be pathogenic to plants and animals, so yes epidemics from space must remain at least an academic possibility.

This month, Richard Hoover, an astrobiologist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, published a paper in the Journal of Cosmology claiming to have found biological structures in a meteorite. You wrote a supportive commentary on the claim, but it hasn't gained widespread acceptance. Why do you think that is?

If it immediately gains widespread acceptance, the whole idea of Earth-centred life collapses in an instant. People are clinging tenaciously to the idea that life is centred on Earth. They will continue to do so until they are absolutely forced to abandon their position.
 
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