News

06/15/2016: Twisty molecules with ‘handedness’ that are essential to life found in deep space

It might be weird to think about molecules as expressing “handedness.” After all, molecules don’t have hands. But there is a class of organic molecules known as chiral molecules that can be thought of as being either left-handed or right-handed, similar to the way we favor one appendage over the other. Basically, chiral molecules with…

06/14/2016: A Molecule In Space Could Help Us Understand The Origin Of Life On Earth

Are your molecules lefties or righties? There are a lot of concepts that help life exist here on Earth. One is as simple as whether a molecule is right handed or left handed. As straightforward as it is, we still don’t know how the molecules got that way. But a recent discovery of a molecule…

06/14/2016: Astronomers find first evidence of chiral chemistry in distant cosmic cloud

An organic (if toxic) alcohol could point the way toward finding more “handed” molecules — the kind that make up RNA, DNA, and other building blocks to life.  To make life, our bodies require many chemicals to have a certain “handedness,” a left or right orientation called chirality that determines the behavior of those substances…

5/26/2016: SETI Gets an Upgrade

Dan Werthimer doesn’t mean to be rude, but he’s getting ready to eavesdrop on the neighbors. For decades, astronomers have been listening for messages sent to us—a “Hello, is anyone out there?” signal from intelligent aliens. But now Werthimer is about to get nosier; his team at the University of California at Berkeley is conducting…

6/1/2016: The Galaxy Is Under Pressure To Make Stars

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A new study led by Canadian astronomers provides unprecedented insights into the birth of stars. Using observations from the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Hawaii-based James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in the United States, astronomers from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) have discovered that star formation is more regulated by pressure…