Searching The Origin of Life: Meteorite Reveals Building Block of Organic Molecule

Searching The Origin of Life: Meteorite Reveals Building Block of Organic Molecule

Scientists continue to hope that they’ll be able to uncover all the secrets of life one day, at least biologically speaking. The fact that there are conscious beings in our Universe wondering what life is and where it came from is perhaps the most incredible thing in the whole existence.

What’s for sure is that science is making serious progress into understanding how life works, and new research made by scientists from Hokkaido University and led by Yasuhiro Oba is providing a lot of hope. 

The prebiotic molecule hexamethylenetetramine (HMT) enters the spotlight 

The scientists were amazed to find the HMT molecule in three different meteorites. The microscopic structure is a key organic molecule that could be used to build other organic molecules and even those that are used to form life.

The researchers involved suspect that HMT is even an important molecule for the formation of organic compounds in outer space. The newly discovered molecule could have arrived at Earth on asteroids that are the parent bodies of many meteorites.

Hexamethylenetetramine or methenamine, which is also known as urotropin or hexamine, is a heterocyclic organic compound that has the formula (CH2)6N4. This white crystalline compound is also highly soluble in polar organic solvents and water. It also features a cage-like structure similar to adamantane. Hexamethylenetetramine is useful in the synthesis of other organic compounds like pharmaceuticals, plastics, and rubber additives.

The idea of space rocks bringing organic compounds on Earth is not new at all. Panspermia, which is one of the best scientific theories humanity has for the emergence of life on our planet, states that the first amino-acids were brought to Earth by asteroids and comets. Amino-acids are considered the building blocks of life, as they can combine to form proteins.

The new research was published in Nature Communications.


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