Left-handed molecules [was Re: SOC: The Monkey God]

From: Amara Graps (amara@amara.com)
Date: Sun Jan 23 2000 - 08:25:58 MST

From: Robert Bradbury <bradbury@genebee.msu.su>,
asking about the chirality theories

(my filing system works!... from my "Chirality" folder ...)

It's (a little bit of) two aspects of the same theory, although I
don't know about the kaons, pions references. And I have not heard of
Cygnus X-1 being identified as the culprit. Maybe I'm behind in my news.

The theory is that ultraviolet light, generated by a neutron star
and polarized (i.e. synchrotron radiation) so that its electric
field rotates in a particular direction, can have different effects
on the synthesis or degradation of the two distinct forms of an
amino acid in an interstellar cloud. Such interactions could favor
the left-handed form, the researchers: Cronin and Pizzarello of
Arizona State University in Tempe say.

Jeffrey Bada of the Scripps says: "I find such mechanisms exotic
and not very compelling."

[I agree]

You can find a press-version of the idea written in Feb 22, 1997
Science News, and the full article in 18 Sept 1997 Nature vol 389.

In the Nature issue, Chris Chyba rights a nice introductory article
called: "A left-handed Solar System?", page 234, about the whole
chirality/left-handedness topic.


>> You may be on target. I like a counter viewpoint which holds that the
>> lefthanded chirality observed in nature by biologists and chemists, is
>>due to
>> earth being smacked, repeatedly, by transient paticles such as kaons or
>> traveling at relativistic speeds. The particles have jiggled the molecular
>> structure over the last 3.75 billion years so that lefthanded chirality is
>> now a permanent feature. Astronomers have identified the primary
>>culperit as
>> Cygnus X , a neuton star. Thats why people believe in supernatural things
>> because, Hey! if tiny, invisible, things were constanly slamming into your
>> brain -wouldn't you?
>My impression was that the favored reason for left-handed molecules
>being dominant is the effects of polarized light in gas clouds.
>What is described above sounds much different.
>Does anyone know whether these theories are equivalent, different,
>opposed or both occuring in different circumstances?
>Some hard data pointers would be nice. I think the polarization
>theory was in Scientific American or one of the Astronomy magazines
>sometime in '99.


Amara Graps | Max-Planck-Institut fuer Kernphysik
Interplanetary Dust Group | Saupfercheckweg 1
+49-6221-516-543 | 69117 Heidelberg, GERMANY
Amara.Graps@mpi-hd.mpg.de * http://galileo.mpi-hd.mpg.de/~graps
        "Never fight an inanimate object." - P. J. O'Rourke

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