back to article NASA: Extraterrestrial sample holds ingredient for alien life

NASA boffins say that they have identified an amino acid, one of the key building blocks of Earth-style life, in material recovered from a comet far out in space. They say this supports the idea that life may be commonly found throughout the universe, and that they have eliminated the chance that the cometary sample has been …


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  1. lorenzo
    Paris Hilton

    it's glycerine captain...

    ...but not as we know it

    Paris- cos she knows what glycerine is for

  2. Anonymous Coward

    This is your last warning!

    Be careful humans. When you know too much, we'll shut you down just like we did to the reptiles.

  3. Anonymous John

    Building block?

    I for one, welcome our new Lego overlord.

  4. Graham Marsden


    "it was possible that the glycine we found originated from handling or manufacture of the Stardust spacecraft itself,"

    But, of course, they had a control sample that went through all the same processes, but wasn't exposed as the Aerogel was, so they'd be able to compare the two and check for contamination...

    ... didn't they?

  5. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    We are not alone!

    Praise the great Flying Spaghetti Monster *

    * Insert your choice of (now) redundant deity here.

  6. Geeks and Lies

    This hardly proves life is common!

    But more that is probable! Still a great find to support the hypothesis that life outside of our solar system is out there. It’s extremely arrogant of us to believe otherwise in my opinion! I won’t be ordering my tinfoil hat just yet though! Well done to the boffins at NASA for the confirmaion :-)

  7. Columbus

    Terrorist act

    Deprtment of Homeland Securty in 'Merica have heard of this and have no issued guidelines in regards to aliens who have the building blocks for nitro based explosives. All astronauts will have to have a visa and a securty check involving rubber gloves and lubricant when they land at Edwards air base.

    no wait...

    Mines the being searched

  8. Paul Smith

    Control...? @ Graham Marsden

    No [speaking slowly in a condecending manner], they measured the carbon 13 content just as they said in the article.

  9. gsl

    Watch out.

    Amanfrommars, they're on to you. Watch out for DNA checks.

  10. Jacqui Smith's DVD Collection!

    of course there is life elsewhere!

    It makes more sense that life exists elsewhere than not, only a god botherer would need this proven to them.

  11. Jaap stoel
    Thumb Up

    Well-done Amazon

    Ia ia Azathoth!

  12. Jaap stoel

    I for one welcome our new alien Overlords

    Ia Ia Azathoth Fhtagn!!

  13. Peter Ford

    As any good chemist will tell you...

    glycine != glycerine

    nitro or otherwise

    There's probably tonnes of glycerine floating around the solar system (it being a failry simple molecule), but glycine is a bit trickier to make and far more useful

  14. Glen 9

    o come on.

    You guys are too quick with the "i for one welcome..." comments.

    Give me a chance for once!

    Mines the one with the lego in the pocket.

  15. The old man from scene 24


    ...the existence or otherwise of extra-terrestrial life has no bearing on the existence of God. Unless we're limiting our considerations to a God who can only create life on Earth.

  16. adnim

    @of course there is life elsewhere!

    It's a con staged by atheists. We all know that god created the Earth in 6 days around 4,500 years ago and that the Earth is the only place in the Universe where life exists. Some say there may even be intelligent life here on Earth, I have not spotted any yet but I have faith.

  17. Blue eyed boy

    @Glen 9 et al

    Glycerine is a more complex molecule than glycine: compare the formulas:

    CH2OH-CHOH-CH2OH glycerine - 14 atoms

    NH2-CH2-COOH glycine - 10 atoms

    and for the record:

    CH2NO3-CHNO3-CH2NO3 nitroglycerine - 20 atoms

    The appearance of glycine in interstellar space is not really surprising because hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen are out there in abundance, and it's such a *simple* molecule.

    For amino acids, the clincher for whether they are of biological or chemical origin is whether or not they are found exclusively in "left-handed" or "right-handed" forms. A chemical origin would give left- and right-handed molecules in equal abundance, whereas a biological origina would give rise to one or the other exclusively, Unfortunately glycine is useless for this purpose. Being the simplest amino acid, it is the exception among them and has a totally symmetrical molecule. It does not come in left-handed or right-handed forms.

  18. Colin Miller


    "Sometimes I think the surest sign of alien intelligence is that none of it has been discovered" - Hobbes (aka Bill Watson)

  19. adnim

    @Colin Miller

    Yes, if I was an alien life form and aware of humanity through receiving the many and varied EM transmissions that have no doubt propagated through space, I too would keep my head down.

    To be honest I wouldn't be surprised if the inner rim of the Orion arm has been quarantined.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I remember...

    ... reading a book by a prof from Oxford or Cambridge or some such place in which parallels between intercellular activities were compared to interstellar activities.

    The book also tried to define what life is and used commonly perceived definitions of life.

    These were extrapolated to the universe and concluded that the universe is a living thing.

    I don't think these few sentences can convey the spookiness one might feel encountering insight that the universe might be a lifeform of its own.

  21. JC 2

    Maybe, OR...

    Sure, maybe there's life out there. 10 trillion years ago or 10 trillion years in the future. The odds of anyone close enough to make contact within the same evolutionary lifecycle as us (intelligent enough to communicate beyond their own planet but not intelligent enough to survive or leave it yet) are quite low.

    If 200 years from now someone out there hears a transmission from us and replies in kind, what would we do with the info anyway, send another 400 year round-trip message asking them to send us plans for a spaceship or just how the weather is, what do they look like, etc?

    We could never go for such a thing, these days people get antzy if they order something over the 'net and it doesn't arrive in a week, or if they send a text message and don't get a reply by that evening. No way 800 years is going to be useful unless a miracle in lifespan occurs.

  22. Robin Baker

    @colin miller

    The quote I have is 'Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us', but you did give me an answer to a crossword clue in the IHT!

  23. Graham Marsden

    @Paul Smith

    Yes, Paul Smith, I *know* what they said in the article. I'm just pointing out that if there was an *unexposed* sample, that would have provided a *cross-check* for contamination.

  24. Annihilator
    Paris Hilton

    Drake equation

    Any updates to the components of the Drake equation then?

  25. Michael Nielsen

    No one has contacted us != no other life.

    lol, the universe is roughly 16 billion years old as the sciencetists say, the solar system is roughly 5 billion years old, before life appeared, so it is almost certain that there are other places with life in the universe, considering the amount of stars present is a number so large that no one can comprehend it.

    Why has no extraterrestial life has not contacted us, well any ET with sufficent technological knowledge to traverse interstella distances, would consider us like the europeans considered the Aboriginals in Australia, or the Indians in Amerika, simple savages. With our violent natures, and desire to take that which is not ours (wars over territory etc), are we even worth contacting, would we even recognise an attempt to communicate ?

    One can assume that someone who can traverse interstella distances within reasonable time, would also have a communications form that we could not conceive (FTL communications, and FTL travel), since both technologies are unknown on earth, we would not even detect the transmissions even if we were to live in the equivilant of New Your City (in galactial terms)

    Another reason why we have not been contacted, is that earth has shown an average of 65 million years between extinction events, perhaps no civilisation has ever survived long enough to be able to travel between the stars, perhaps it isn't even possible to travel such distances, without using millions of years in transit. Imagine to find a power source necesssary to supply the power for lifesupport, or even the degree of efficiency that recycling systems would have to provide for a trip lasting millions of years.

    Additionally signals transmitted over interstella distances, are likely to be so weak, that they are buried in the background noise, and as we don't even know what happens between the stars, i.e. is even possible for a ordinary radio signal to remain coherent through interstella space ?

    However, I find it interesting that they are finding organic molecules in inhospitable areas like comets, as it does indicate that the building blocks (that we know of) exist in abundance, thus would mean that it is likely that any star with plantes may have some form of carbon based life).

    Does anyone ever stop to consider for a moment that we might not even recognise life if we fell over it, for instance, the electrical activity within even the earth, could actually mean that in some sense the Earth or even stars could be alive, and aware, but has a metabolic and communication rate, of millions of years, thus it seems stationary, and inert to our brief flicker lives ?

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Zorkon Blatt

    Current status: Busted!

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