From: xgl (
Date: Wed Jan 31 2001 - 08:27:27 MST

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 15:20:11 PST
From: AFP <>
Subject: Origins of life could be found in space

   WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (AFP) - The chemical elements required to
develop life on Earth could have originated in space with the
formation of the solar system, US scientists said Tuesday.
   In their research, published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings
of the National Academy of Scientists, scientists created an
environment similar to "empty space," freezing a mixture of ice,
carbonated gas, carbon monoxide, ammonia and methanol at
temperatures nearing absolute zero.
   They then bombarded the mixture with ultraviolet rays to
reproduce the conditions in the dense insterstellar clouds that
birthed the solar system.
   The complexity and diversity of cells produced in the experiment
astonished researchers, who stated, in effect, that those
newly-formed cell membranes were at the origins of life.
   When the researchers added water to the mixture, some of the
solids spontaneously formed membranous vesicles that converted
energy from ultraviolet light into visible light, necessary to
create life.
   The hypothesis gives renewed credence to the "panspermia"
theory; that the process of creating life on Earth was begun
millions of years ago when chemical compounds were dropped on the
nascent planet by comets, meteorites or space rubble.
   Though the scientists remain cautious about their discovery,
they nonetheless affirm their conclusions support the possibility of
life in other solar systems.
   "Very complex organic molecules that might be important for the
origin of life could well be falling on the surfaces of newly-formed
planets everywhere in the universe," said Louis Allamandola of
NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, who led
the team.
   "This discovery implies that life could be everywhere in the

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