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The Book of Exogenesis

29 Aug 2011, 03:30 UTC
The Book of Exogenesis
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The Book of Exogenesis: In the beginning was the word, and the word was a meteorite...

Earlier this month, a report, based on NASA studies of meteorites found on Earth, suggested that some building blocks of DNA may have been formed in space.

As it turns out, DNA components have been found on meteorites before, but it's never been entirely clear if the space rocks came to Earth bearing these molecules, or if they were contaminated upon arrival. Furthermore, this recent study of meteorites was the first to discover trace amounts of three molecules -- purine, 2,6-diaminopurine, and 6,8-diaminopurine -- which, as nucleobase analogues, provide us with the first piece of solid evidence that the compounds in the meteorites came from space and not terrestrial contamination.

This news, which propagated wildly through the blogosphere in its own form of directed panspermia, led me to bone up on its potential ramifications: what do DNA-saturated space rocks imply about the inherent properties of life? Do they support the theory of panspermia, or exogenesis?

The idea of panspermia has been around since the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras posited that the universe is made of an infinite number of spermata (seeds), coining the ...

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