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article imageOp-Ed: Protein in a meteorite — Dithering about the obvious

By Paul Wallis     Mar 3, 2020 in Science
Cambridge - A protein in a meteorite 4.5 billion years old, you say? Oh, what an opportunity for missing the obvious! Let’s babble for another 30 years, shall we? Fermi couldn’t be that wrong, after all.
Or could he? A rather complex looking protein that just happens to look very much like a pretty straightforward amino acid chain is the cause of the hubbub. The discovery was made by Plex Corporation, Bruker Scientific LLC and Harvard University testing a meteorite found in Algeria in 1990.
Seems they’ve been finding amino acids in ancient meteors and comets for quite a while. The protein in the meteor under discussion contains glycine, and the protein is called hemolithin. The arrangement of molecules includes iron, oxygen, and a type of iron oxide which is capable of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.
The didactic default theory is that this thing must have formed naturally. You know, the way a whole stack of molecules just get together naturally and form a complex structure for no reason. The key to this theory is the glycine, which is an amino acid, which presumably formed out of thin air or space, and decided to hold a molecular party for all its friends.
Couldn’t possibly be evidence of actual alien life, of course. That would require thinking and interpretation of facts. Science has way too much respect for sophistries like the Fermi Paradox, which holds that there are no aliens basically because we don’t see them.
…On that basis, most of the light spectrum doesn’t exist either, but what the hey? Slavish adherence to any damn theory around, however much sophistry is loaded into it, like Schrodinger’s remarkably patronizing cat, etc. is the nature of dithering, disorganized, unsystematic science. These “theories” rattle around for decades or centuries, obstructing thought, rather than helping it.
In this case, the dithering is inexcusable. Amino acids and proteins don’t just happen, even in a soup of gases. Multiple conditions for combination must be met. To form a clearly structured protein, a lot of things must be replicated in an organized way.
The chances of random chemical combinations accidentally forming glycine and somehow on a statistically ludicrous base forming a full-sized protein on a meteor are astronomical, pun intended. Forming an entire recognizable protein by this lottery-winning process is equally unlikely.
The other thing about amino acids, of course, is that they replicate. How much replication are they likely to do in space, do you think? It’s not totally impossible, but certain conditions must be met. Exactly how long is science going to pedantically and wilfully miss the obvious inferences of staring an alien protein in the face?
…Now the interesting bit
Systemic stupidity and blind acceptance of ancient theories aren’t interesting.
This is:
This meteorite is 4.5 billion years old, as old as the Earth.
The meteor was part of the disk that formed the Solar System.
This means organic proteins existed about 4 billion years before life even evolved on Earth.
The universe is about 14 billion years old. This whippersnapper of a protein and attached chemical combinations is much younger.
4 billion years sees quite a turnover of materials in the galaxy, stars coming and going, etc. So where did this protein originate?
This protein (what the hell else would you call it, anyway?) has some interesting characteristics. What use is it for a protein to be able to split water into hydrogen and oxygen? Did something need water’s less friendly relative, hydrogen peroxide, for a metabolism? Not out of the question. Hydrogen peroxide is a nasty thing for terrestrials, but maybe not for extraterrestrials.
Maybe separates the oxygen for metabolism? Who knows? Interesting thought, though.
Just for the record - All amino acids have some capacity to replicate. They really don't "just happen".
This thing looks highly structured. That fact alone drastically reduces the odds of random chemical mixes. It is irresponsible to merely cite Fermi and then go and wallow in the ignorance.
Think about it – A whole complex structure with an obvious function, therefore it can’t possibly happen. Sure…
Post script: Meanwhile, let’s continue to explore the universe with a mentality very similar to an apathetic old shopping trolley. It’s such fun and so productive, and you can be absolutely certain of not discovering anything.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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