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Thread: What kind of celestial body would be best for forming life and/or complex molecules?

  1. #1 What kind of celestial body would be best for forming life and/or complex molecules? 
    Time Lord
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    In some other threads, like this one:

    Why has water stayed liquid on Earth?


    The question has come up as to where life started, with different posters offering different possibilities. But supposing that it happened in space, where is the best place for it to happen? Too far from a star and there's not enough heat. Too close and there's too much radiation.

    But another concern is finding an environment where chemicals are pushed to form larger and larger molecules. Gravity naturally draws heavier molecules toward the center of a massive body, but if those molecules are a solid at the celestial body's temperature then they won't continue growing in complexity.

    So I'm thinking a spherical glob of liquid would be best, with no solid core.


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  3. #2  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    The most plausible hypothesis I have read rely on the presence of minerals which can act as catalysts and also provide some initial structure before self-supporting cells form; clays are good for this. Also a source of easily available energy. So hydrothermal vents have been proposed, with early life exploiting the free protons available to power their biochemistry - there is, apparently, some biochemcial support for this.

    Makes Earth sound like quite a good candidate ...

    I have only skimmed this, but it looks like quite a good overview: The Origin of Life

    More here: http://www.nature.com/scitable/topic...ients-14373960


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    I am interested in knowing more about this clay. Perhaps it changes things as far as determining the likelihood of different chemicals finding one another?

    For the glob possibility, one thing I must add is to note that Carbon, Nitrogen, and Oxygen are three big constituents for life. They also have very similar atomic masses of 12, 14, and 16, respectively. If those elements were the heaviest elements on a glob of liquid, and migrated to the center, then we have met the condition where they're being driven to form heavier and heavier molecules, which then migrate even further in closer to the dead center and interact with each other.

    On the other hand, the Earth's atmosphere is like that somewhat as well (Since all three ingredients are part of the atmosphere and they float freely in it). However, the problem I see with Earth is that the solid core creates a surface the ingredients have to drift across in order to find one another.
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  5. #4  
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    Maybe they could form in a crack? Like a straight "V" shaped crack? It's filled with water, and so whenever heavier chemicals form on the surface of the water they drift to the bottom of the crack?

    I'm just trying to come up with a setup that selects for that criteria. Bigger molecules.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Bachelors Degree dmwyant's Avatar
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    I was watching Cosmos last night ( I miss Carl Sagan) and he mentioned that there are clouds of material drifting between the stars that are made up of the components of organic life. If such a cloud drifted into a system and became caught in a gravity field of a little blue and white ball, then perhaps there is where life would start. Perhaps it is possible that life starts in the cloud itself. There is no way of saying with certainty that life can not exist in forms other than what we currently understand and recognize. For a long time we did not recognize many of the forms of life that exist right alongside us. As we make advances in science and expand our knowledge then perhaps we will find new forms of life unimagined. As the Sage said "There are Billions and Billions of stars out there". If just ten percent of those stars have planets and just one percent of those planets are capable of supporting life then there exists the potential for MILLIONS of other forms of life. I think that those who believe we are alone in the galaxy, let alone the universe, are completely egotistical.
    Not all who wander are lost... Some of us just misplaced our destination.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    In some other threads, like this one:

    Why has water stayed liquid on Earth?


    The question has come up as to where life started, with different posters offering different possibilities. But supposing that it happened in space, where is the best place for it to happen? Too far from a star and there's not enough heat. Too close and there's too much radiation.

    But another concern is finding an environment where chemicals are pushed to form larger and larger molecules. Gravity naturally draws heavier molecules toward the center of a massive body, but if those molecules are a solid at the celestial body's temperature then they won't continue growing in complexity.

    So I'm thinking a spherical glob of liquid would be best, with no solid core.
    I don't think there is a total answer to that unless we could beging to define life and life forms. Molecular bonds are embeded in cosmic dust and so any combination of atomic structures can be formed to generate life. Energy itself is life, a see of radio active substances can create life. I know there are life forms on all the planets because we are out here in space and we are one of the planets.

    To the question of where life started my answer would be, every where.
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    But supposing that it happened in space, where is the best place for it to happen? Too far from a star and there's not enough heat. Too close and there's too much radiation.
    Radiation from star nurseries, coupled with collapsing clouds, may be sufficient to raise the temperature of a large volume of a GMC that would otherwise be only a few degrees above absolute zero. Close in to a star small aggregates of particles could provide sufficient protection.

    But another concern is finding an environment where chemicals are pushed to form larger and larger molecules. Gravity naturally draws heavier molecules toward the center of a massive body, but if those molecules are a solid at the celestial body's temperature then they won't continue growing in complexity.

    So I'm thinking a spherical glob of liquid would be best, with no solid core.
    You are consistently ignoring the fact that any molecules will tend to dissipate throughout the liquid, irrispective of gravity.

    I am interested in knowing more about this clay.
    I'm not sure which clay you are referring to, but Cairns Smith has promoted an attractive, but evidence free idea that life originated as ineritable clay templates and later transitioned to a carbon base. See the wikipedia article.

    I was an undergraduate at Glasgow University, where he was in the Chemistry Department, when he was developing his ideas and I was aware of him. I now curse myself for not taking the opportunity to quiz him directly.

    Quote Originally Posted by dmwyant
    If just ten percent of those stars have planets and just one percent of those planets are capable of supporting life then there exists the potential for MILLIONS of other forms of life. I think that those who believe we are alone in the galaxy, let alone the universe, are completely egotistical.
    I think those who express a view on this matter, based on a sample size of one, are acting from emotion, not science.

    I don't think there is a total answer to that unless we could beging to define life and life forms. Molecular bonds are embeded in cosmic dust and so any combination of atomic structures can be formed to generate life. Energy itself is life, a see of radio active substances can create life. I know there are life forms on all the planets because we are out here in space and we are one of the planets.
    As an opinion it exists. As a statement with scinetific value and justification it is lacking.
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    John, I know you said you have studied in some of the great universities and I congratulate you for that, however I get the feeling you are speaking to your self. I did not major in English or anything like that so I have to give room to myself that you may be saying something way out of my capacity to comprehend.

    Radiation from star nurseries, coupled with collapsing clouds, may be sufficient to raise the temperature of a large volume of a GMC that would otherwise be only a few degrees above absolute zero. Close in to a star small aggregates of particles could provide sufficient protection.

    What do you mean with radiation star nurseries, coupled with collasping clouds? What collapsing clouds? how do I envison collapsing clouds?. I do not think you are talking about rain clouds are you?


    You are consistently ignoring the fact that any molecules will tend to dissipate throughout the liquid, irrispective of gravity

    I am trying to grasp what you mean here but I seem to be biting my tale. This seems so ambiguous to me I really do not know where to start. How can you say irrispective of gravity?

    I'm not sure which clay you are referring to, but Cairns Smith has promoted an attractive, but evidence free idea that life originated as ineritable clay templates and later transitioned to a carbon base. See the wikipedia article.

    I was an undergraduate at Glasgow University, where he was in the Chemistry Department, when he was developing his ideas and I was aware of him. I now curse myself for not taking the opportunity to quiz him directly.

    How do we benifit from all of this since you did not get to quiz him directly for him to tell you?

    I don't think there is a total answer to that unless we could beging to define life and life forms. Molecular bonds are embeded in cosmic dust and so any combination of atomic structures can be formed to generate life. Energy itself is life, a sea of radio active substances can create life. I know there are life forms on all the planets because we are out here in space and we are one of the planets. As an opinion it exists.

    As an opinion it exists. As a statement with scinetific value and justification it is lacking. Your answer.

    John please explain to me that what I have said does not exsist? where do you have the scientific justification that what you have said exsist? Are you not expressing an opinion yourself? I can show you irrefutable proof right here on earth that all my arguments are real.
    What I see you doing is hanging around in space trying to answer all the questions you cannot answer here in your own backyard.

    I am asking you please don't go into the university to answer my questions, I would apreaciate it if you would give it back to me in normal language if you can. Thanks.

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  11. #10  
    Time Lord
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    ]But another concern is finding an environment where chemicals are pushed to form larger and larger molecules. Gravity naturally draws heavier molecules toward the center of a massive body, but if those molecules are a solid at the celestial body's temperature then they won't continue growing in complexity.

    So I'm thinking a spherical glob of liquid would be best, with no solid core.
    You are consistently ignoring the fact that any molecules will tend to dissipate throughout the liquid, irrispective of gravity.
    Clearly that depends on some things. The Earth having a nickel/iron core, with lighter elements in its atmosphere would seem to indicate that gravity does make a difference.

    Also, centrifuges would be pretty much useless in chemistry. (Granted that that is centripetal force or "artificial gravity" at work rather than real gravity.)
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    I'm thinking a spherical glob of liquid would be best, with no solid core.
    I'm thinking this glob is probably spinning. And the smaller globs spin faster. These are centrifuges.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  13. #12  
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    I'm thinking the glob is big enough to have its own gravity, and spinning against gravity just cancels the effect. (Or if you spend fast enough, then the centripetal force would exceed gravity and the outer edge would fly off into space.)

    I'm just trying to point out that gravity and pseudo-gravity are an effective means of separating out the contents of a mixture by density. You can also consider oil refineries as an example of what I mean. They heat up the crude, and then the lighter molecules settle to the top while the heavier molecules settle to the bottom. That's a gravitationally driven separation.

    In the case of life formation, we want heavier molecules to settle in one place, and lighter molecules to settle in another, so the heavier molecules can come together and form even still heavier ones.
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    Most would probably suggest a water planet like the Earth as the best place for forming life and such life producing molecules. Many suggest a beginning chemistry absent of oxigen might be better for forming life. As for known forms of life it needs water, carbon compounds, and a source of energy such as the sun, chemical energy, other types of heat energy, etc. Ice moons that are both large and orbit close to a large planet seem like a good posibility based upon tidal heat forces keeping the internal water liquid as well as at a high enough temperature to supply ample energy. Planets, and moons that continually evolve and change can drive evolution once life has a beginning. Life as we don't know it could have all kinds of different possibilities as explained by Carl Segan in his great book Cosmos.
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