Space Rock Acid

on May 30, 2009
Featured in News to Know

BBC News: “Space Rock Yields Carbon Bounty” A meteorite that landed in Canada supposedly holds a clue to the origin of life: record levels of formic acid, a substance rich in carbon.

The meteorite reportedly crashed into Canada’s Tagish Lake in 2000. Researchers believe the lake’s cold temperatures “prevented the volatile chemical from dissipating quickly.” The volatile chemical mentioned is formic acid, a compound rich in carbon that was found on the meteorite and is believed to have extraterrestrial origins. What’s intriguing is that this meteorite had four times more formic acid on it than other previous meteorites have had.

The volatile chemical mentioned is formic acid.

Geochemist Mark Sephton of Imperial College London noted, “The interesting thing is that we do see this variability between meteorites, seeming to have increased enrichments of one particular compound over another.”

Although formic acid is common in nature in insect stings, Sephton believes the compound could have been important to the origin of life on earth. Formic acid can act as a reducing agent, helping convert the conversion of some amino acids into others—or even, allegedly, helping convert RNA into DNA. According to Sephton, formic acid could produce reactions that convert “some simple molecules and increase the chemical diversity of the pool of pre-biotic molecules.”

Once again, though, scientists are constructing hypothetical, “maybe” scenarios based on chemical processes that we don’t observe outside of labs today. This may sustain evolutionists’ faith in abiogenesis, but the accidental origin of simple life billions of years ago is not a testable scientific idea. And even if scientists were able to prove that life could have evolved (under some extremely chancy scenario), would that mean it actually had? Accepting such a scenario would take no less faith than accepting that an omnipotent god created the world, as recorded in Genesis.

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