Sweet stars hint at building blocks of life
September 5th, 2012
04:38 PM ET

Sweet stars hint at building blocks of life

It's not exactly the kind of sugar you'd want to put in your coffee, but astronomers have found simple sugar molecules called glycolaldehyde around a star similar to our own Sun.

Here's the sweet part: Glycolaldehyde is used in the formation of RNA (a genetic material related to DNA). That makes it a building block of life.

Astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to study the binary star IRAS 16293-2422, similar in mass to the Sun. They found glycolaldehyde around the star. The molecules were found at a distance from it comparable to the distance between Uranus and the Sun.

This is the first time that these building-block sugar molecules have been found around such a star.

"If we can show that the same molecules exist around additional Sun-like stars, that would be an indication that they also have been present around the Sun 4.5 billion years ago," lead study author Jes Jørgensen, of the Neils Bohr Institude in Denmark, said in an e-mail. "This is the first evidence that these simple pre-biotic molecules are present around Sun-like stars on scales where planets and comets may be forming."

The glycolaldehyde molecules, aside from being present around a Sun-like star, are also moving towards one of the stars in the binary system. In a release, Cecile Favre of Aarhus University in Denmark and one of the members of the research team, said, "The sugar molecules are not only in the right place to find their way onto a planet, but they are also going in the right direction."

So why is this important? Further research could show how life might arise on another planet. Jørgensen is careful to point out, however, that the discovery of glycolaldehyde is a very, very preliminary step in figuring out how organic life as we know it might have begun.

"For us, the main question now is whether we can show through similar kinds of observations that the chemical complexity can be taken even further," he said.

Glycolaldehyde molecules could make their way into proto-planetary discs around young stars, leading to the formation of planets or becoming a part of the material comets are made of, Jørgensen said. Either way, they could become part of young planets.

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Filed under: Discoveries • In Space
soundoff (305 Responses)
  1. click here

    Excellent post. I was checking constantly this weblog and I am inspired! Very useful information specifically the last part 🙂 I take care of such info much. I was looking for this certain info for a very lengthy time. Thank you and best of luck.

    September 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  2. NicC

    @HunterSproul – You sure it's not a sugar?

    "Glycolaldehyde (HCOCH2OH) is the simplest sugar and an important intermediate in the
    path toward forming more complex biologically relevant molecules."

    That's from the paper you linked us to. Clearly, it is a sugar.

    September 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Medicine Man

      Wikipedia entry: "While not a true sugar, it is the simplest sugar-related molecule."

      September 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  3. bam

    North Carolina just passed a law to outlaw telescopes with lenses bigger than 1 inch.

    September 7, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  4. WhatIf

    So this settles it then Chicken came first before the egg....or maybe not 😀

    September 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  5. Burbank

    Watch out! Space Ants might go for it!

    September 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  6. queenbee10

    ..oh... wait..somebody spilt sweet tea on the Hubble lens...Darn those janitors!!!

    September 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  7. radgast

    "cane" and able come to mind

    September 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  8. SEH

    Uh – I'm going to have to consult my lord and savior Jesus Christ about this. The Bible says nothing about stars and stuff.

    September 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  9. WIlly


    September 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  10. cpc65

    That star has type II diabetes.

    September 6, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  11. cpc65

    It's floating in space inside bright pink packets.

    September 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  12. geckopelli

    And the proof continues to mount that the Universe is just one big life making machine properly named "Evolution".

    September 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • soclose

      I forget the conversion - is it 2 or 3 retards to make one gekopelli?

      September 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
      • Derp

        A simply brilliant insult you've laid out. Let's take a closer look.

        The average "retard" has an IQ of around 50. So, two retards combine to make an IQ of 100, normal human intelligence. Three retards combine to make an IQ of 150, approaching genius level.

        So yes, you correctly acknowledge that the original poster has an IQ of at least that of a normal human being, seeing as how he's accepted scientific evidence over biblical nonsense.

        Now, perhaps you need to take an IQ test?

        September 6, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
      • nope

        maybe just one.. to spell it correctly

        September 6, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  13. HunterSproul

    Glycolaldehyde is not a sugar, it is a presugar, but definitely not a sugar. Also for those that are curious here is a link to the paper:


    It is a pretty clear detection here and in previous papers (read the cited papers).

    September 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  14. Peace

    Scientists, Can you pls turn that machine around and look at earth to see why humans fight with each other for things a. they cannot see/feel/touch b. that humans created with fake values attached to it. Determining the causes of these issues and fixing them would do greater good than looking a planet that cannot be reached even in dreams..

    September 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Lagos

      Because clearly if religion never existed, nations wouldn't fight over resources, land, women, non-religious ideology, racism, or any other factor that's been a significant factor in pretty much every war in human history

      September 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
      • Farscape

        @ Lagos
        Religion is the leading cause of war throughout history. Removing religion would REDUCE violence, not eliminate it.

        September 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • bam

      cuz clearly religion flourished as a means to get the masses to do as told. control the masses and u control resources.
      time to get off oil and fairy tails

      September 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  15. SixDegrees

    Michael Bloomberg will be moving to ban this solar system shortly.

    September 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  16. columbus

    I have often had debates with naysayers about, if there is intelligent life out there why haven't they contacted us. If you look at the vastness of the universe, and some of the amazing new discoveries, like this one, what makes our tiny solar system special enough to think it merits a visit. We are just beginning to see some of the reasons why, if you were an explorer wouldn't you go to an area of space with star clusters and a high likelihood of multiple civilizations in closer (by galactic standards) proximity?

    September 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  17. chemmajor

    This will not go well in Kentucky.

    September 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • vivalalibertad

      Hohoho, I laughed at your comment for a long time

      September 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • David

      Nothing goes over well in Kentucky except that Deliverance banjo music, and squealing like a pig.

      September 6, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  18. Whaaa

    the distance from myanus to the sun is MY business.

    September 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • tnhereiam

      And that is exactly your business

      September 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  19. dentont

    This story reminds of the scene in Animal House where the prof and the kids are sitting in the bathtub discussing the universe. So it begs the question, what were these guys smoking that night at the observatory

    September 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  20. Alex

    This is hardly a big deal. Jan Hollis, my neighbor, discovered glycolaldehyde near the center of our galaxy 12 years ago!!

    September 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Paul

      Nobody is going to believe I'm talking to the neighbor of someone who did something.

      September 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
      • Medicine Man

        http://www.nrao.edu/pr/2000/sugar – provides corroboration. Likewise check http://www.nrao.edu/pr/2004/coldsugar (which links to the first article)

        September 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  21. j0eschm0e

    it is impossible to see molecules light years away of any kind. if that was the case, they would be able to map each planet in high resolution detail in our solar system

    September 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Robert

      No, they can't "see" the molecules. The molecules are determined through spectroscopy / spectral analysis.

      September 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
      • TheDukeOfHighwayJ

        You obviously didnt look at the picture accompanying the story.

        September 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
      • Medicine Man

        That's an illustration.

        September 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • David

      Are you completely idiotic?

      They didn't "look" at the molecules; they analyzed the light originating from that area that reached the telescopes and found that glycolaldehyde was the only compound that is capable of producing that specific wavelength. Spectroscopy is not a new science and it is extremely reliable.

      September 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Medicine Man

      These are not one or two molecules – they are extremely thin clouds of "stuff" containing huge numbers of molecules spread out over a large volume in space.

      One way to "see" such clouds is to examine the spectrum of light that comes from stars shining through the clouds (think of prisms). The individual molecules each absorb a small amount of light, which means that when you look at the spectrum of the light coming from that region, you see a reduction (sometimes referred to as a dip) in the peak or peaks that is characteristic for each element and each molecule. Combinations of molecules (and "dirt" is a set of molecules) produce a complex spectrum but it is still possible to isolate patterns of peaks that allow you to identify not individual molecules but large groups of them (such as you'd find in a cloud).

      You may have done experiments in school where you burned small amounts of different chemicals in a non-yellow Bunsen flame and recorded the color – noting that it's different for different elements. Spectral analysis is related to that.

      September 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
      • Paul

        Is there "volume" in space?

        September 6, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      They can detect them, not image them. It's called "spectroscopy".

      September 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • fosterspirit

      It is this level of scientific ignorance demonstrated here is shameful for any adult. We have made pitiful little progress since the dark ages.

      September 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  22. dowhatsright

    interesting but most of this is just a guess.....I am pretty sure there is no life out there...sorry.

    September 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Fisixs

      And what scientific knowledge do you base this on?

      September 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • mylife55

      Oh! Well I guess that settles it!

      September 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Paul

      With the universe as large as it is, even the most remote possibility is an absolute certainty. Life is out there, that's a fact.

      September 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
      • tnhereiam

        I highly doubt there's life out in the galaxy other than us

        September 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
      • Mike

        this is like having a conversation with people who can't either build or solve complex equiations. They will never comprehend because they can't do the math themselves. 😉 Don't force all the rest of us to live in your ignorant world of your fact-less statements ment to mislead people just because you can't fathom the possibilities.

        September 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
      • SixDegrees

        Well, no; such reasoning is inherently faulty. There is likewise no reason that life cannot be unique to Earth that we know of; at this point, we simply don't have enough knowledge to make any such estimate at all. And with a sample of size exactly one, there's no meaningful extrapolation that can be made, either.

        September 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • dorothy

      So with 20 billion solar systems in our galaxy and even a larger number of galaxies, you really believe that our planet is the only one that was capable of generating life? Oh well.....I guess people once believed the world was flat too.

      September 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
      • columbus

        And, there were only two people here living on apples and talking to snakes.

        September 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Medicine Man

      There's life here – in abundance. Every living thing on this planet is based on the same "stuff" (either RNA and/or DNA along with all the more recent discoveries) – plants, animals (which includes us), microbes, everything. We all share some of that DNA/RNA to varying degrees – with primates, a great deal; with plants, not so much.

      Take a handful of soil from virtually anywhere on the Earth's surface and analyse it, and you'll find DNA from anything up to 100 to 150 species, a good two thirds of which will be from extinct and as yet unknown creatures. It's a literal sea of life.

      The elements from which the molecules of life are made started out in stars – every single cell in your body is made up of stuff that was created by stars – so the idea that somehow we're the only place in the entire universe in which life has a toe-hold is incredibly naive.

      September 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • matt

      I would honestly be shocked if there is no life out there, intelligent or otherwise. It's possible sure, but with whats out there it seems almost impossible for there not to be IMHO.

      September 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  23. cheyenne

    so maybe i can hatch my snickers bar and raise a frickin chicken?

    September 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Einstein

      Absolutely! Keeping sitting on it...we'll let you know when to get off...

      September 6, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • J Smith

      You need a Milky Way bar to do that.

      September 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
      • dee

        Oh I'm sure he has a milky way bar stuffed somewhere.......

        September 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  24. John Blackadder

    Damn! Starbucks has gone interstellar!

    So much for the dopes who think that we are the only life in trillions of planets!

    September 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • tnhereiam

      Apparently your the dope for believing this hype ..

      September 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
      • WorkingInVA

        Nope. You're the dope.

        September 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  25. buckshot

    Damm, don't tell the FDA or USD this, they will try their best to ban it.

    September 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Paul


      September 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  26. JL

    Just curious as to how you can detect a sugar molecule around a distant start. I'm not saying they can't, I just don't know how. The article did not state, as usual, and instead provided a graphic that implies we have telescopes that can see a single molecule from light years away.

    September 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Doc Watson

      Generally it is by looking at the light spectrum. Various chemicals bend the light in specific ways that are distinct enough that one wouldn't confuse two chemicals.

      September 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
      • Butchie67

        Hey Doc, that doesn't answer the question. No matter what the device, gimmick or technology that is used; how is “that” light filtered to take out all the other spectrum light sources? Not counting all the light emitting stuff around the “sugar” think about all the stuff that must be between it (the multiplied millions of miles) and earth.

        September 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
      • Aaron

        Pretty awesome huh Butchie? The term you want to Google is "Spectroscopy".

        September 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Medicine Man

      Look up "spectroscopy" in Wikipedia and follow links from within that article – that should give you a good start. Understanding it all will take a lot of effort on your part – but please persist (it always pays off).

      September 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
      • lookbothweis

        Well that was a pointlessly aggressive and insulting reply to an honest question. Way to make science look positive.

        September 6, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • dee

      me Mog me undurstand seemple pikchurz me no lyke scyenze cuz Mog no want read book wiff squiggly lynes U call wurdz cuz wurdz hurt Mogz small almond brain despie Mog have thick bone plate round it.

      September 6, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  27. JL

    well done.

    September 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  28. hecep

    Building blocks of life around a star? I'm thinking Solaris.

    September 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  29. wurdulak34

    Just call it the "System of a Down Star".

    September 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  30. jaimie


    September 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  31. Cybercyr

    I see the problem here. This science article has been hijacked by the argument of religion. Those who believe in a "god" should set computer settings to automatically replace the word "science" in anything read online with the word "god". The opposite should be done with those whom do not believe in a "god". That said, good job on this discovery! How we get three Shawns in here and not one is Shawn of the Dead? =(

    September 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • bobonmycob

      Another post about religion vs. science. People live your life and get over it okay? Opinions are like a brain, we all have one. So why argue? Nobody can prove the other wrong so stop being a shmuck. Nerdy science geeks will say NO to god and the rich smart business folks say yes.... Tough one huh? I think people get hung up on science and religion too much and try to think too in depth about it. But if you are biased (and everyone is one way or the other) your not going to listen to somebody elses opinion anyway right? Thanks

      September 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
      • jhutch42

        you did it too bob lol

        September 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  32. RoMoney&Ryan

    Please tell me, How can we take manopoly of this Sugar-planet so that we can sell the sugar and make MONEY.

    All I care for is MONEY and NOTHING but MONEY!!!

    September 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  33. BKT1969

    What's all this talk about sugar around Uranus?

    September 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  34. Mike

    I am curious to know, how does this technology "see" specific molecules at such a distance as other stars?

    September 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • SixDegrees


      September 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Howie

      Spectrographic analysis. Different molecules reflect/refract different wavelengths of light and other radiation. through the analysis of the light, scientists can determine the composition.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
      • wolfpackbob

        Must be a lot of sugar.

        September 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
      • Mike

        Cool – thank you.

        September 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • fosterspirit

      Have you not read any of the other comments/replies that have answered this over and over?

      September 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  35. Cuervo Jones

    OK now which star has the snakes and snails and puppy dog tails?

    September 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  36. Sugarpants

    My God, it's full of candy

    September 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Uncle Stumpy

      Okay, you win the Internet today.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • David Bowman

      That is the best thing Ive ever read

      September 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Tomahawk

      I am waiting for the chocolate star, and, since it is in light-years, I am hoping less than 100 calories per bite!

      September 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • JeffinIL

      I weep at the beauty of your words.
      Well, maybe it's the laughter.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • SP

      I see what you did there. 🙂

      September 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • mizh

      Good one. 🙂

      September 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  37. Sugar

    Is this what they use to sweeten astronaut ice cream?

    September 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  38. Chicken Paradox

    Great! Willy Wonka successfully made it to that star. FANTASTIC!

    September 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  39. Zeb

    Jesus (of the Bible, not the Hispanic!) was the ultimate Socialist wasn't he?

    September 6, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Larry

      Jesus the Hispanic, however, is a downright Commie!!!!

      September 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  40. GatorDude

    Uh-oh, I bet that Glycolaldehyde is in everything in the universe and makes us fat.

    September 6, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      im not fat, im just full of dark matter.

      September 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  41. Badly-Bent

    Candy Land really does exist?

    September 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • FraidyCat


      September 6, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Jason

      Yeah its actually called Earth since you can find sugar every living being.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  42. FHTEX

    Methane is also a prebiotic substance and is actually closer in some ways to certain transmitters in our brain. It's long been know that methane is found on a number of planet's atmospheres, so what's the big deal here? Because methane turns people off to exploring outer space because if smells foul and is poisonous, NASA tries to "sugar-coat" its findings so we will spend more money on their budget. That's the "big deal"!

    September 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • amphiox

      Methane is odourless.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
      • waitwhat?

        methane is not "odorless". Are you thinking of carbon monoxide?

        September 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
      • amphiox

        No. Methane is odourless. The "odour" that is commonly thought of as methane is actually from contaminants in the gas like hydrogen sulfide. Pure methane has no odour. In fact, it is necessary to ADD hydrogen sulfide artificially to natural gas just so that it WILL have an odour that people can detect, in case of leakage. (This is a government mandated safety regulation for sale of natural gas for consumer use).

        September 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
      • Thanks

        Jesus some of you are stupid. Thank you amphiox, your comment was the only sensible one I've seen so far. I'm too scared to scroll down any farther and read more stupidity.

        September 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
      • David Bowman

        American education at its finest

        September 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Nope

      At room temperature and standard pressure, methane is a colorless, odorless gas.[4] The familiar smell of natural gas as used in homes is a safety measure achieved by the addition of an odorant, usually blends containing tert-butylthiol.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Lawless4U

      I just farted.........can you smell it?

      September 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
      • Retired Army

        That's because your fart carries with it, molecules of the fecal matter in your colon.

        Amazing, ain't it.....the things we inhale......

        September 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
      • SP

        "molecules of fecal matter".....now THAT gave me a laugh!

        September 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
      • Al

        @Retired Army, I hate to burst your bubble, but your fart smells don't smell because of little poop molecules in the air. They smell because of gasses given off by the things that are eating your poop molecules. It's bacteria farts you're detecting, not poop molecules. LOL.

        September 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Retired Army

      I don't see where it says that NASA had anything to do with this 'discovery'........

      September 6, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
      • okiejoe

        That's because it didn't have anything to do with it.

        September 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • eric

      You must be taking an awful risk typing away your "thoughts" on your devil machine computer (developed in large part thanks to the space program). . . will your people take you back after such a sin?

      September 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
      • littlejohnny

        My people kicked me to the curb a long time ago, The nuns told me science would get me no where.

        September 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Fisixs

      NASA is never mentioned in this article.

      September 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  43. jim

    Blumberg has already banned new yorkers from looking at it

    September 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • jhutch42

      nah, you can look at it, but you just have to look at it with one eye at a time.

      September 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  44. ha ha

    Since this star is light years away. The sugar molecules were already harvested by Aliens few millions ago, so don't get your hopes up folks! What we see now is not even there.
    Part of making money in research and make claims that are hard to disprove...just like the Big Bang theory.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Limper

      Yeah, because researchers are all in it for the fat science money.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Lawless4U

      The Big bang Theory is a funny show.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Poul

      Yes there is so much money to be made of this in a small country like Denmark with a population of 5 million.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Zebula

      Dued your first sentence, isn't.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
      • Zorac SCIEF

        Dudette...your first word isn't.

        September 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • bignevermo

      yeah and evolution is JUST A THEORY RIGHT?? OY VAY!!

      September 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  45. angryersmell

    Curiosity could send back video of a 700 foot long Martian millipede that can tap dance and sing show tunes, and the majority of humans on this planet would discount it as a hoax, or just outright deny it, choosing instead to accept the 1700 year old heavily edited ramblings of mid-eastern zealots as proven fact. This is why humanity is doomed.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Willers

      Never us the phrase "show tunes" around a creationist like "Ha Ha." They get so angry they lose track of which science they have been denying.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  46. Wayne

    How do I feel? What do I say? In the end it all goes away.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Kombucha Mushroom People

      I play russian roulette everyday, a man's sport, with a bullet called life...yeah mama called life...

      September 6, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  47. bigbendjc

    Now look for a large cup of coffee on a saucer!

    September 6, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • indianriver

      Big dipper?

      September 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • David Bowman

      Flying saucer?

      September 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  48. lunchbreaker

    Logic check: the existence or non-existance of sugar molecules in space neither disproves nor proves the existance of God.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • indianriver

      True, but the existence of a multi-layered, multi-dimensional universe without a creation point (since there is no such thing as measurable time) does prove there was no creator. If there was, that creator must have been extremely bored spending an eternity with NOTHING prior to deciding to create something so complex just for his amusement. If there is some "deity", then it is simply a hyper-evolved sentient alien energy-being that evolved to become that way because of limitless time to do so, and is still bound by conventional physics.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
      • boblizter

        the very things i have pondered over the years.. very well said geronimo

        September 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
      • james kimble

        He is not bound by conventional physics. Any laws which pertain to physics were of His creation.

        September 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
      • religion; a way to control the weak minded

        "He is not bound by conventional physics. Any laws which pertain to physics were of His creation."

        Prove this statement...in fact prove your god is a "he"

        September 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
      • Jim McTeigue

        1. You assume that human concepts like "boredom", "amusement", and sense of time passing would apply to a deity.

        2. You assume that either there is nothing outside of our universe and that our Universe is the only one created by this hypothetical deity. If the deity exists outside our Universe, then concepts of time, like "eternity," would not apply. What would seem to be eternity from our perspective inside this Universe would have no relation to whatever existed outside. Perhaps the entirety of the existence of our Universe has taken place within a single "day" in whatever our Universe is embedded in.

        3. If there is no such thing as measurable time, then:
        A. Why do you use the term eternity? Eternity implies the passage of time.
        B. How the heck do you function in society? Without the concept of measurable time, you would have no way of knowing when to be at work, when to meet your friends, etc.
        C. How do you explain the fact that most scientists seem pretty convinced that they can trace the path of our Universe backwards through time to it's origin point?
        D. Unless you are arguing the belief that our universe is on an eternal loop in which everything repeats itself over and over and over, how do you explain the fact that our universe isn't at a uniform absolute zero temperature? If the Universe has been in existence forever, and it is expanding and cooling, then shouldn't it have reached maximum cooling an eternity ago? Wouldn't our night sky be devoid of stars, as the distances between anything in a universe that has been expanding for an eternity would be infinite?

        September 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
      • ViperGuy

        Prove DNA evolved from nothing. Prove the lack of a designer involved in creating the genetic code. The proof of God is found in the DNA factory itself.

        September 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
      • flak

        you dont "spend" anything in eternity. theres no time. how can one be bored? and yu say time cant be measured? i think i read you wrong there.. your post is really discombobulated And pretty much wrong all over the place..

        September 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      It just gets me that theists will spend any time or energy argueing about something so trivial. Atleast the Big Bang or evolution impacts thier fundemental worldview, but sugar in space? Really?

      September 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
      • Cheese Wonton

        You missed the whole point. These sugars are basic components of genetic material, RNA, necessary to form DNA. It is very exciting to find them in space near a star where conceivably they could seed a planet. Without such knowledge we would not be able to guess where these chemicals originated. Now we know that they can exist without there being a planet. This is news, even if you don't see it.

        September 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • MashaSobaka

      I like kittens.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  49. weezer

    OK - love science articles - but they again had to mention Uranus. Why Uranus? I'm thinking the distance relationship was probably closer to Neptune or Saturn, but it was funnier to say "Uranus".

    OK, here we go - the distance between the Sun and uranus should always be great. Your turn.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  50. Dave

    that would be an indication that they also have been present around the Sun 4.5 billion years ago," lead study author Jes Jørgensen,
    This is what is known as a "leap of faith". Without any evidence or proof regarding this star if Jes finds a couple of other stars with sugar then he feels free to assert this sugar must have been around our own star. This is the Death of Science. Thanks Jes.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • angryersmell

      A bigger leap of faith would be for those reading this article to believe that you know more about this subject than he does.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Old Sailor

      Try looking up the definition of hypothesis. He does not assert anything, he presents a hypothesis so interested scientists can develop experiments to develop evidence for or against. This is part of the "scientific method".

      September 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • indianriver

      Science is a method, not a belief system. WE, human beings, create belief systems based on the results of a large number of methods.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
      • eric

        Belief systems ARE simply unproven hypotheses. . .

        September 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
      • Thomas Jefferson

        Proper hypotheses should be testable. Many things people believe in are not testable.

        September 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • amphiox

      "indication" does not equal "must"

      September 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • amphiox

      But this is a star very similar to the sun in many respects, and the sugar in question is a very basic, simple sugar, that would be expected to be able to form relatively easily. The component elements that make it up are hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, three of the most common elements in the universe. So the question that arises is, why WOULDN'T this sugar have also formed around our sun in its infancy?

      September 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  51. Kenny of Salt

    Obviously the sugars around this start came from an advanced life form that simultaneously invented Twinkies and the atomic bomb, with predictable catastrophic results. Heed the warning, Earthlings!

    September 6, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Pliny

      I, for one, welcome our new sugar-based overlords.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
      • Snowbo Cop

        Ha!! I get references.

        September 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
      • Sugar Daddy

        They will divide and multiply to create...sugar babies...

        September 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • bignevermo

      And the Twinkies will prolly survive a Nuclear bomb too! !

      September 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  52. soulcatcher

    Oh damn I drooled my glazed donut on my spectrascope when I read this. That could be the explanation.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  53. Steve

    i notice these science articles attract religious people. I guess they find these very concerning to their world view.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Valerie

      Actually, what is REALLY amusing is the fact that in 100 years, most everything we "know" will be proved to be not at all what "scientist's thought"...........hahaha! I am not knocking science, I am just making a point that MAN does NOT know everything, nor can prove it....it usually gets dis-proven somewhere down the line.........except the fact that the earth is round of course............ : ))

      September 6, 2012 at 11:34 am |
      • ColoradoDad

        Research the meaning of theories as opposed to scientific facts. Play close attention to the meaning of a theory, how a theory is formulated and also to the scientific method. Your statement sounds childish at best to keep it polite.

        September 6, 2012 at 11:51 am |
      • Steve

        Valerie, what you take as a weakness of science is in fact its strength in that it is a self correcting mechanism (something religious dogma isn't for the most part). What do you do if the evidence changes? Hold on to previous beliefs irrespectively? Now I know some people use the very fact that opinions change as evidence of relativism and to discredit science, as if if something is written in stone it has more credibility (funny since some science critics accuse scientists of being dogmatic which, based on criticism such as yours, should mean it is ironically more credible then..lol. Well which is it?). We must also keep in mind that some of the public criticism is unfounded. For instance one study says coffee is good for you, another says it is bad hence science is ridiculous then right? As it contradicts. But can coffee not have both good elements to it and bad elements, can it not be both? I mean, fire is both good and bad isn't it? Also, scientific change is more "building upon" previous things rather than a full elimination of it. Hence Einstein superceded Newton and yet Newton's theories still have relevance. Also keep in mind modern science is relatively new, for instance roughly 170 years ago the default was that Noah's ark story was true. Geological observations have disgarded that theory.

        September 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
      • indianriver

        You're forgetting the other things that scientific method proved: Electricity (movement of electrons across a conductor), splitting the atom, fusion, fission, climate/weather, the position of our galaxy in the milky way, particle physics, light-speed measurement, there is more empty space between atoms than actual matter, anti-matter (black matter) exists, the solar system is roughly 5 billion years old, and how to brew good beer. These are all things that cannot be dis-proven.

        September 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
      • amphiox

        Valerie, things that we believe are "true" are often refined (but rarely completely overturned). Things we know that are false, though, almost never are.

        "The earth is flat" and "The earth is a sphere" are both statements that are wrong, but one is more wrong than the other. And the current "correct" belief, "the earth is an oblate spheroid", might get altered in the future, but it will NOT, ever be changed back to "the earth is flat".

        September 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
      • littlejohnny

        So what your saying is God made beer? Hmm I'll have to drink on it. Hey I have some methane from Uranus if anyone wants some.

        September 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • John

      Interesting reading, indeed. And, still, the religulous cannot fathom that some matter and basic building blocks came together under primitive physical forces to spawn life. To them, it's always some super-fantastic, unimaginably complex, supreme being that clapped his hands and created all this.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Dalcassian

      Not at all. I, as a Christian find these scientific articles fascinating and they are a testament to God's awesome power of creation. God is the ultimate scientist. Why does everyone thing that science negates the possibility of a Divine Creator. He created science too.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:59 am |
      • Dalcassian

        Oh oh. Now I've done it. I've taken something that is so near and dear to Atheists (Science) and credited it back to God. I'm in trouble now.

        September 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
      • indianriver

        Your creator also created math...which is important piece to the scientific method, and that also proves that deities don't exist. Doh!!

        September 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
      • Rich

        I wonder if sarcasm existed during the time of Jesus. None of his quotes were sarcastic.

        September 6, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
      • amphiox

        Science simply states that there is as yet no positive evidence FOR a creator deity, and that all positive claims require positive evidence in their support before they can be taken seriously.

        September 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
      • Thomas Jefferson

        YAWN...your fairy tales grow tiresome.

        September 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  54. Realityblowz


    September 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  55. randu

    So life comes from molecules, so where do the molecules come from? So much for scienctific exlplanation when even the basic questions cannot be answered.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • butch

      Molecules come from atoms. They teach that in middle school science. I'm guessing you weren't there.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      Are you talking about these molocules or molecules in general?

      September 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • rjaddow

      Uh, they came from God? Is that what you are wanting to hear?

      September 6, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • ColoradoDad

      REALLY!? matter = molecules = atoms = protons, electrons, neutrons = quarks, gluons.
      What a sad state our education system is in. 🙁

      September 6, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • angryersmell

      From the perspective of those who don't know much about anything, I'm sure that makes perfect sense.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • indianriver

      There is a belief that everything was "created" or "comes from somewhere". This is a fallacy. Matter does not have to be created...it has always existed in either the form of energy or matter with measurable mass, it only changes form depending on interactions from external catalysts. In a multi-dimensional, infinite multi-layered universal existence, there is no creation point (there is no "time"). If there is no creation point, then there is no creator. It's a very simple equation.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:50 am |
      • Dad375

        Indianriver; Thank you! That was well put, and I completely agree.

        September 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
      • Jeff

        To really simplify this we have two camps, the science camp and the creation camp. So the science camp is saying that matter has always existed in one form or another with no creation point. From there it formed and built into everything we see. The creation camp is simply saying that matter was created, then formed into everything. The bible says that GOD created everything in 6 days. But what does the word "day" reference? We define a day as the time it takes for the earth to make one rotation on its axis. Other planets rotate at different speeds. If we go way back to creation, there was no earth or any other planet to rotate and define a "day" so the reference to a day as a finite amount of time is irrelavent. So I don't see these two schools of thought as being incompatible.

        September 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
      • religion; a way to control the weak minded

        " The bible says that GOD created everything in 6 days. But what does the word "day" reference?"

        Sorry john, but when you reference the bible as a credible source for what god said and did, that is where we all should stop reading and start thinking critically about your statement. Just to teach you a short history lesson, the book you site in nothing but the words of mere mortals written over a very long time. Those humans were not inspired by god to write the book, only said they were to make themselves seem credible. They did not know jesus and only wrote about him 40-100 years after his supposed death. They wrote that book to control populations. Later on, more humans edited that book to fit their agenda of money, power and to convert pagans.

        So in short, anything the bible says needs to be taken with multiple grains of salt.

        September 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
      • religion; a way to control the weak minded

        Jeff* not john...apologies

        September 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Thomas

      If life came from god where does god come from? So much for religion being able to explain even the basic questions.

      Seriously if you can believe that an all knowing, all seeing, all powerful super man can have existed forever why cant you believe that the basic building blocks of life, even the smallest pieces of particles can have existed forever.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:53 am |
      • indianriver

        The big elephant in the room that NO-ONE of faith can answer is this:

        What did these deities do for the eternity, before creating everything, when there was nothing but a big infinite void? Did deities just become board one day of there being nothing and created everything?

        According to math, which one cannot disprove, there is no creation point to existence (in reference to a multi-dimensional universe or M-theory). If there is no creation point...then it is simple, there is no creator. THIS universe may have a start-point, but it is only due to a mass spillover when two universes collide inter-dimensionally. Nothing was "created".

        September 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
      • David Bowman

        "god" comes from delusional brains – probably after a night having too much jack d

        September 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
      • Jim McTeigue

        So why couldn't a deity intentionally directed this "mass spillover" you speak of? You can wave all the mathematics around that you want, at the end of the day, not a single thing that you claim happened without a God cannot also have happened with the intent of a God. Every scientific principle you put forth may exist because it is the way a creator wanted our Universe, Mulltiverse, etc. to function. That's the nature of the beast when talking about an all-powerful (from our perspective inside this Universe) being. Also, using mass spillover to explain the existence of our universe is begging the question in exactly the same way as appealing to a creator. Where did this mass originally come from? Other universes that collided? Where did they come from? A never ending series of colliding universes within colliding universes is no different than a never ending series of creators creating creators. If you have 100% proven math that can explain how everything could have existed forever without ever having been created, I'd love to see it. But, so far as I know, nobody has yet been able to prove the eternal and non-creative existence of anything; God, Universes, etc.

        Oh, BTW, math absolutely can and is proven wrong, all the time. Math is simply a language we use to describe the world around us. It is only valid within the confines of the paradigm that exists during it's creation. For example, take the mathematics that was used to describe the retrograde motion of planets when the dominant paradigm was that of a geocentric solar system. Some of it was, for a time absolutely flawless. Mathematically speaking, it could not then be proven wrong. From the paradigm we operate under now, that of a heliocentric solar system, it is laughably incorrect. Did the math change? No, not at all. What changed is our understanding of the universe. We learned new information that did not fit into the old way of looking at things. The same principle is just as true with regards to your M-theory mathematics. The fact that nobody, today, can show where it is wrong does NOT mean it is 100% true. It most likely means that it is among the best mathematical descriptions of our universe that we can generate from today's understanding, or paradigm, but also that it's shortcomings will be as readily obvious to the people living under tomorrow's paradigm as the shortcomings of the formerly bulletproof mathematical descriptions of a geocentric universe appear to us today.

        September 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • amphiox

      So, life was created by god? Where did god come from?

      September 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
      • Jeff

        The same place the matter did that we are supposed to believe has always existed.

        September 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • SinnFeinFunn

      Please go away, you're not remotely intelligent.

      September 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  56. David in Houston

    @2tricky2 who asks "how do you see these molecules from that far away?"

    They analyze the light spectrum to determine the chemical makeup of what the light is passing through. The spectrum accurately reveals the molecular matter in the way.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • indianriver

      They actually use several spectrum filters, and then cross-reference them. I used to volunteer at the UCF observatory, the one that recently found a new planet.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  57. 2tricky2

    How do you see molecules from that far away?

    September 6, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • juniusgallio

      When light shines through a vapor cloud containing molecules, the molecules absorb certain frequencies but not others. Water absorbs a characteristic set of frequencies, methane an different set, and (in this case) glycolaldehyde has its own set. Scientists look at the light from the star and see what the absorption spectroscopy looks like.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • H Manuel Montes

      With a really big magnifying glass.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • James PDX

      It would have been nice if the author had explained how they were able to determine these were sugar molecules. Even so, this is probably just God's personal candy store they were spying on.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:16 am |
      • indianriver

        For the layman; Molecules and the elements that compose molecules all give off a various spectrum of light when viewed through different filters. These scopes use many various filters including infrared, UV and others. All elements/molecules give off a signature in each filter, when cross referencing the results in each filter, the type of molecules and elements composing them is narrowed down. They use the same technology to determine the physical/gaseous make-up up of distant planets. Oh, and folks...science is not a belief system, it is a method. We create the belief systems based on our own methods, science is just one of many.

        September 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
      • Medicine Man

        If you look up the definition of this molecule in Wikipedia, you find that strictly speaking it isn't a sugar. Not only that, but its discovery occurred in 2000 (http://www.nrao.edu/pr/2004/coldsugar)

        September 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
      • amphiox

        More accurately, molecules absorb specific wavelengths of light, so when we analyze the spectrum of any light that passes through those molecules, we see dark bands in the spectrum where the molecules absorbed some light. The pattern of bands is absolutely unique to every individual molecule in existence, light a fingerprint.

        (Even MORE accurately, molecules can both absorb and emit specific wavelengths, and you can test their spectra either way, or in a combination of both. But typically when you are analyzing starlight you are looking at absorption spectra. To do emission spectra you usually need to have a sample of the substance to burn, and observe the light that it gives off in the flame.)

        September 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
      • Medicine Man

        Excellent reply!

        September 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Jason

      You look at the spectra that certain particles emit when exposed to different light waves.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  58. Harpo J

    Why would you call this "Godless" Where is the conflict between science and God?

    Read God's response to Job and you will see that science is nothing but a reflection of God. Nothing in this article opposes God.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Ian

      Ahh...Job....there was a real Astrophysicist .....

      September 6, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • amphiox

      If you don't actually DEFINE "God", then of course it doesn't oppose it.

      It DOES oppose a whole lot of the definitions for "god" that are out there. Such as the one described in the collection of writings that include the book of Job.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "Read God's response to Job and you will see that science is nothing but a reflection of God. Nothing in this article opposes God."

      anything in that book was written by men, not god..........words of mortals edited to control and convert people.

      September 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Hand Out

      I watched the part about the hand job, does that count?

      September 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  59. Reality Check

    Does anyone really believe that we have instruments that can positively identify a molecule based on light at that distance ? I just hate when theory is published as fact.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      No belief necessary. Just because you don't understand the science behind something does not make it false.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • matt

      Its called spectroscopy. It does exist.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:15 am |
      • Reality Check

        And you are positive that the lights wave legth, intensity or hue has not been affected by dirt or other space particles?
        It is a theory and nothing more.

        September 6, 2012 at 11:18 am |
      • xirume

        @Reality: The worst kind of ignorant is the unteachable ignorant...

        September 6, 2012 at 11:44 am |
      • Theory vs. hypothesis

        Your response shows that you do not understand the difference between a hypothesis and a theory. It's people like you that would try to falsify the theory of evolution by saying, "it's just a theory."

        September 6, 2012 at 11:50 am |
      • amphiox

        The only way that the spectroscopy could be affected by things like dirt and other SPACE particles, and STILL give the same result (ie sugars in space), is if those SPACE particles also had SUGAR in them. ie SUGAR IN SPACE.

        Also, this kind of potential interference is always accounted for and quantified. If you go to the original scientific publications, they will provide degrees of certainty and error-bars that estimate how much they think these and other potential confounding factors affect the certainty of the finding.

        September 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
      • Richard Krupski

        Spectroscopy results from light reflecting off material, dust is between the reflected light and the observer and can only obscure the light which would only cause random noise. You could put a trillion tons of sugar in the way and all it would amount to is less light getting to the receiver's CCD. You would not be able to differentiate between sugar, dust or boogers for that matter as long as it's just blocking the light.

        September 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Dalcassian

      I guess they do because they really believed back in 1969 that we had the technology to beam live film and sound from the surface of the moon to the Earth. Television technology was still in its infancy then but people never questioned it. And even though we still can't transmit live film and sound from one continent to another today without the choppy film and distorted sound, nobody questions it. Don't you need airwaves to transmit ANYTHING. Didn't know they had airwaves on the moon.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:16 am |
      • Dalcassian

        Food for thought....
        If Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, who was holding the camera as he descended the ladder?

        September 6, 2012 at 11:29 am |
      • remybklyn

        The camera recording Armstrong's first steps was mounted to the MESA, a fold-out table mounted to the side of the lunar module.

        September 6, 2012 at 11:53 am |
      • Zeb

        93 million miles from the Sun to the Earth, and yet the radiation/heat from the Sun reaches us.... How is it that you never bothered to question that? After all, there's just empty space between us and the Sun...

        September 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
      • Zeb

        It's funny how people question science and the scientific method, yet fully take advantage of the results of science, like their computer, cell phone, TV....

        September 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
      • eric

        . . . you need a MEDIUM like AIR or WATER to transmit SOUND waves (in space no one can hear you scream;vacuum). . . energy in the electromagnetic spectrum (radio waves, light etc) actually travel more efficiently through vacuum

        September 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
      • Howie

        So apparently Direct TV does not use satellites? Or are they in a REALLY low orbit where there is still air? Also, when millions of people in the US watch world cup soccer in Hi-Def it is actually all staged someplace on this continent? Maybe you should think a little before you type.

        September 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
      • Owl96

        Using your logic, the light from the Sun would never reach Earth. Light, microwaves, and radio waves are all the same substance, just different wave lengths. They travel through space...just like light waves from the Sun.

        September 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
      • fosterspirit

        Just because they are commonly called "airwaves" doesn't mean you need air for them to propagate. Sound: yes,Electromagnetic waves (of which light is a part of the spectrum): no.
        If that were the case, then light could not penetrate the "vacuum" of space either. I surely hope you don't think that is the case.

        September 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • angryersmell

      I don't believe we do; I have faith that we do. That instantly means I'm right and you're wrong according to the precident set by many of your pals who claim as you do that this is all crazy talk. I win; you lose.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Old Sailor

      Yes, we actually believe in that which we have seen with our own eyes.

      But we do understand that "there is none so blind as those who will not see".

      September 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Richard Krupski

      Just because your bible doesn't provide you with a proper education doesn't mean that my science book doesn't. Grow up and get a proper education like the rest of us, you are an embarrassment to our country.

      September 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Medicine Man

      And you are positive that the lights wave legth, intensity or hue has not been affected by dirt or other space particles?
      It is a theory and nothing more.

      It's a spectrum, not single peak. Look it up and learn something new.

      September 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  60. Oscar Pitchfork

    Study the history, folks! They bunged electric arcs thru a bell jar full of methane, ammonia and carbon dioxide in the 60's and created basic amino acids, the "building blocks" of life...

    September 6, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  61. Darwin was right

    Another Godless science fact that we'll have to keep children from learning about in Sunday School, because it might hurt their belief in a magic invisible white guy with a beard who lives in the sky.

    September 6, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Arthurrrr

      interesting how people like you have to keep trying to remind people 'there is no God". but for those of us who KNOW HIM, you might as well tell us there is no ocean.

      September 6, 2012 at 10:47 am |
      • GodisaMYTH

        I know Jesus, he cuts my Grass once a week.

        September 6, 2012 at 10:55 am |
      • bryan

        The thing is, we can prove there's an ocean. There is no proof for a deity.

        September 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
      • Harpo J

        I saw a sign that said,


        so I called the number on the sign and gave them my address................ 45 Mins later there was a mexican with tow truck pulling up in my driveway.

        September 6, 2012 at 11:09 am |
      • butch

        This "God" person that you claim to know... he talks to you?

        September 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
      • angryersmell

        We don't necessarily think there is no God. We do think that those of you "believers" who discount all science in favor of "God did it" are a bunch of dummies. God created the oceans, the molecules they're made up of and the microscopes you can use to look at them...and if God didn't, I'll take the microscopes over the heavily edited ramblings of 1700 year old mid-eastern zealots.

        September 6, 2012 at 11:26 am |
      • Steve

        Gee, just imagine a world without science were whatever people "feel in their heart" is always true. I am gonna shoot that one right back at ya. I feel in my heart that there is no god, that is just as legitimate as your claim hence it must be equally true. That settles it, god both exists and does not exist. Everything is true and nothing is true. Now, any suggestions how we should go forward from here?

        September 6, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Chris


      September 6, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Reality Check

      Darwins theory is not fact.
      This article is also a theory.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:08 am |
      • Joe

        I guessing you have no idea what a theory is

        September 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
      • butch

        Dinosaur bones exist. That's a fact. They are millions of years old. That's a fact.

        We have fossils of every type of humanoid species dating back to almost the very moment they came out of the jungle in Africa 3 million years ago. That's a fact.

        You claim the devil created these fossils to confuse the unfaithful. That's a "theory".

        September 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
      • Joe

        No, that;s a belief! It has no place in science.

        September 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
      • Reality Check

        a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation,

        September 6, 2012 at 11:23 am |
      • Joe

        I see the problem. That's a hyothesis. A theory is a hyothesis that is tested over and over again to see if it's right. Darwin 'theory' has been tested over and over again and found to be correct.

        September 6, 2012 at 11:28 am |
      • angryersmell

        Wrong, you stupid joker. Spectroscopy is 100% proven beyond all reasonable doubt. Anyone with half-a-brain can easily look up the mountains of data that prove it is as real as your ability to mash a keyboard with your knuckles. Ipso facto -> I've just proven you're either joking or stupid. Yay! Science!

        September 6, 2012 at 11:33 am |
      • Jason

        Theories are ideas that have been tested countless times and have been upheld even after all of those tests. Therefore, theories are statements that may be modified whenever new evidences come in but is generally no longer being debated within the scientific community.

        September 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Andi

      Truth exists. It merely "is". No matter how many times you make fun of, deny to, or scream at people, "There is no magic sky wizard!" , it won't change what is. I believe in God. You do not. And that isn't a problem for me. Why is it for you? One of us is wrong, & neither of us will ever convince the other, so why bother wasting the time & energy? It never ceases to amaze me how angry, frustrated, & bitter people who don't believe in God are, & how viciously desperate some are in their endeavor to convince us He doesn't exist. I've never heard anyone go to such lengths trying to convince the world that unicorns don't exist. Incidentally, for me at least, believing in God doesn't mean that Darwin was wrong. God & evolution aren't mutually exclusive in my book. That's my take anyway.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:27 am |
      • xirume

        I guess that's what they call stupidity....

        September 6, 2012 at 11:47 am |
      • Appreciative


        I really appreciate your thought that God and Evolution are not mutually exclusive. That, friend, is truly enlightened thinking. Thanks!

        September 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
      • Logic

        The reason is that no one on this forum is arguing that unicorns do exist. Nor does more the half the U.S. population believe in unicorns, every city and town have dozens of unicorn buildings, make unicorns a part of every political party platform, demand that unicorn history be taught in public schools, kill each other by the millions in the name of different colored unicorns, or in general CONSTANTLY TALK ABOUT UNICORNS!!!!

        September 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  62. Lilith

    A video of people falling on a boat stays on "featured" stories for days while this story of discovery lasts only a couple hours .. typical attention span of the general public.

    September 6, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • suesark

      You are SO right!

      September 6, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • ibanezerscrooge

      Well, yeah... 'cause that sh!t was funny! ;-P

      But I agree this is a very cool story and I wish people would pay more attention to things like this. However, I'm afraid when scientists start talking about origins of life the majority of people, especially in America, have a visceral reaction because it immediately, though indirectly, challenges their worldview.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • folderol

      Hot chick in bikini.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Sbloden

      It's because the people bashing their faces were like the christians trying to deny evolution, it's just comical. I must admit, watching people who refuse to use their brains hitting their head repeatedly, does temporarily bring fulfillment. It's just like religion which might temporarily solve problems but in the end does more harm than smacking your head against the side of a boat. Science, reality and progressive movement of thought all last an eternity.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  63. schnitzelwurst

    They actually created 2 other RNA sugars (U and C i think)in the lab naturally...just sayin

    September 5, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  64. Shawn

    I got 9 posts before someone addresses something religous. LOL Everytime I come to this section to read the latest article I go to comments and count the posts until I see one that is religion motivated. I cant get past 11.

    September 5, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Shawn

      Different shawn than from below. Just thought I would differentiate.

      September 5, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
      • Shawn

        Different Shawn than the Different Shawn than above... Just differentiating...

        September 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  65. pedagoguish

    Is anyone at all surprised that scientists have not yet succeeded in creating artificial life through chemical processes? It is commonplace to believe that life permeates the universe, but I will remain a bit skeptical until scientists actually demonstrate how this can happen.

    September 5, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • JP

      And yet you're NOT skeptical about a deity that no one actually see.

      September 6, 2012 at 11:13 am |
      • pedagoguish


        I stopped believing in God decades ago. Being skeptical about the existence of life beyond our world does not make me a creationist. I just see no objective evidence that life, particularly advanced civilized life, exists anywhere near our home. I like to think that what we have here on earth is unique and precious; we must not foolishly dispense with our own existence because there may be no replacements out there.


        September 7, 2012 at 1:14 am |
      • Medicine Man

        Pedagoguish, I'm curious: when you say "near", how far away do you think other life might be (in light years)?

        September 7, 2012 at 2:14 am |
  66. GodFreeNow

    How can anyone take scientists seriously?! We all know they are part of a grand conspiracy orchestrated by satan to trick people into disbelieving god done it.

    September 5, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Are U 4 Real?


      September 5, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Just preempting the nonsense. It's inevitable.

      September 5, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • oldnevadan

      Oh for Pete's sake. That isn't even worth responding to. Ooops, I just did.

      September 5, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  67. Joe

    Who cares!

    September 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Bobby bobert

      Everyone but trolls apparently

      September 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Marco

      Certainly NOT a fundie like you Joe.
      Go back to reciting goat herder fables and leave the progress to the actual scientists.

      September 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  68. Bobby bobert

    So much for intelligent design

    September 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Joe

      Why is that? You don't think a designer would have designed the building blocks for life? Uh......derp!

      September 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
      • Bobby bobert

        If you knew the main tennants of intelligent design you would understand my comment.

        September 5, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
      • eric

        I have to say then, what a sloppy builder! leaving his building blocks floating randomly in space for someone to trip over! Cosmic lawsuit!

        September 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Old Sailor

      It should be clear to any observer that we are not the product of Intelligent Design. What semi-competent designer would make such a fundamental error?

      You should never put a playground right next to the sewer system!

      September 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
      • Howie

        That's the best argument against ID that I've ever heard. And I laughed so hard soda came out my nose.

        September 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  69. ha ha

    Ha, Ha. So we have the technology to detect molecules light years away. Are they sure some one didn't spill coffee on the detector.

    September 5, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Sanity Check

      ha ha, you are a genius of monumental proportions and I mean that most sincerely. You'll go far at whatever you pursue! This kind of common sense is rare!!!

      September 5, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
      • ha ha

        @ Sanity Check They should hire you to keep the detectors clean.

        September 6, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Len

      That's the beauty of the scientific process. For every person making discoveries, there's hundreds if not thousands who set out to prove them wrong. So eventually we can be certain that it was a spill, or we can be very certain that it really was a discovery.

      September 5, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Jason

      We look at the spectra, not the ball and stick models of sugars besides, we usually consume hexose, not diose.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  70. Shawn

    I hate to play the skeptic. But then again science is built on skepticisim. I don't like how this article doesn't explain whatsoever how it is possible for us to know Glycolaldehyde is actually present around this sun like star. Based on my experience, as brief as that is, I believe there is a 'possibility' and as is done so often they have interpreted that as a certainty in order to make news.

    The truth is they can't verify this discovery in any reputable way and ultimately it is just a glorified educated guess.

    September 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Larry Niven

      Shawn, they do this via different means such as through the Emission spectrum of elements & spectroscopy. These are proven to be effective as they have been used to determine the chemical makeup of our own sun. There isn't enough room here to explain in great detail but you can look them up if interested.

      September 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Charlie

      Shawn: here is the paper describing the process through which they came to their conclusions http://www.eso.org/public/archives/releases/sciencepapers/.../eso1234a.pdf

      It certainly is not guesswork.

      September 5, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Jeremy L.

      Sorry, no. In 10 seconds of googling, I found the research paper this article was based on. Here's a pointer: http://bit.ly/QmJeGL
      The results are based on very well established spectroscopic methods, which have been used by astronomers for decades. Compounds give off light at very characteristic wavelengths, and can therefore be identified, quite reliably, by looking at the spectral components of a star's light.

      Perhaps you should do the aforementioned 10 seconds of research before dismissing credible, sound, peer-reviewed scientific research.

      September 5, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
      • Reality Check

        "spectral components of a star's light"
        You don't suppose that its possible for a lights hue or intensity to be affected by dust and other particles do you ? This is theory that is using a concept proven at several feet away and applying it to billions of miles away. Until someone collects a sample I'll remain skeptical.

        September 6, 2012 at 11:16 am |
      • amphiox

        When the spectra are affected by other particles, we can actually see that it is and account for it. Every single substance in existence produces a unique spectral signature, so contaminants can be easily recognized. Spectroscopy is one of the most absolutely reliable and certain ways of measuring what things are made of that exists.

        In fact, spectroscopy is MORE reliable than getting an actual sample. Indeed, even if we got an actual physical sample, we would analyze that actual physical sample WITH SPECTROSCOPY to figure out what it was made of.

        The only way "particles in SPACE" can mimic the findings here (ie, sugar in space), is if those interfering particles in SPACE had sugars on them. ie SUGARS IN SPACE.

        September 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
      • Medicine Man

        And not just astronomers – in the '70s when I was seconded to a Metabolic Research Unit in a hospital I used to run atomic absorption spectrophotometric analyses of urine and plasma samples to ascertain the concentrations of elements such as Calcium and Magnesium as part of metabolic balance studies.

        Essentially I shone a very stable light through a wall of flame (created by an oxyacetylene burner) towards a detector and then introduced specially processed samples of test material into the flame, which caused it to change color; the color and the intensity indicated the nature of the elements and their concentration. Fun stuff 🙂

        September 7, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • Charlie

      Sorry... here is the complete URL


      September 5, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • mary

      As most of science is.. And yet, it is "gospel" for the Atheists..
      Thats their religion.. Evolution.. They worship the concept of it.. And the scientists that feed it to them.

      September 5, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
      • Primewonk

        Mary, I'm always curious about folks like you. You purposefully choose to be ignorant about science. Yet you feel compelled to go onto science threads and demonstrate that ignorance for all too see.


        September 6, 2012 at 8:15 am |
      • snowboarder

        mary – i'm guessing you don't understand the meaning of either the word "atheist" or "worship".

        September 6, 2012 at 11:23 am |
      • amphiox

        It's called "projection".

        September 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
      • Medicine Man

        Not just atheists. There are believers who are scientists and who even accept Evolution. No "gospel" required. Just logical, uncluttered thinking.

        September 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
      • dee

        It's amazing we have people that question this type of science as to the validity of its data. Often the accuracy and precision of measurements are called into serious question and heavy doubt surrounds these values – think Carbon dating as a 2nd example. People like "Mary" often ignore the fact that science recognizes there are things that throw off the accuracy/precision of a value. We scientists, acknowledge the true value the concentration of these sugars measured in a distant galaxy or if a bones of a Neanderthal are 50,000 or 61,359 years old is something we might not attain.

        "Mary" if you doubt science this much then please do start a "faith based" pharmaceutical company. Make the original Penicillin molecule and try to successfully sell it to treat antibiotic resistant infections that evolved resistance and get back to us on your "faith based" blah blah blah la la la nothing evolves failure.

        September 6, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Lilith

      mary .. even if science is an educated guess, religion doesn't even qualify as a guess .. certainly not an educated one.

      September 5, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  71. Archeopteryx

    Glycolaldehyde .. soon to be know as God sugar.

    September 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • URClueless

      you win.... 🙂

      September 5, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • H Manuel Montes

      Good, very good!

      September 6, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • lyrker

      We are all made of sugar. Explains a whole lot about our eating habits.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Jason

      There's already ribose and deoxyribose which are actually found in RNA and DNA. Glycoaldehyde on the other hand is 3 carbons and oxygens short of the actual backbone of RNA.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  72. Sn0wB0arder

    interesting. ever the quest for knowledge.

    September 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  73. Bill Coxnballs

    Lol d00d

    September 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm |


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