10 April 2009

The Thermodynamics of Life

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Markus Hammonds over at Supernova Condensate has a really interesting post about a recent paper showing that 10 of the 20 amino acids used by life are thermodynamically favored to form in all sorts of environments. That means that it’s very likely that life elsewhere in the universe would have the same most fundamental building blocks! Here’s a quote from the paper:

Our results also indicate that a certain degree of universality would be expected in the types of organic molecules seen on other earth-like planets. Should life exist elsewhere, it would not be surprising if it used at least some of the same amino acids we do. Simple sugars, lipids and nucleobases might also be shared.

…the combined actions of thermodynamics and subsequent natural selection suggest that the genetic code we observe on the Earth today may have significant features in common with life throughout the cosmos.

I’ll let you read more over at the actual post, because I’m not an actual chemist and Markus is.