Professor Greg Morfill of the Max Planck Institute says "The question now is to see if it can evolve to become intelligent." These findings have provoked speculation that the helix could be a common structure that underpins all life, organic and non-organic.
Friday, September 7, 2007
From the dust storm pictures above, to the microscopic study of a bit of dust NASA kindly provides below, and in our homes whether we like it or not, we are surrounded by dust. (Perhaps me more than most, after I discovered that my short-sightedness would allow me the simple pleasure of removing my glasses and being unable to see it! Tip, for those of you out there with myopia!)
Anyone addicted to Kim and Aggie, BBC America's "How Clean Is Your House" stars, and their exploration of households heaped with dirt will know, there's a lot of living stuff in there among the dust.
Insects, germs, mites, all collected on Aggie's little Q-tips and sent off to the lab, only for the agar plates and computer files to return with the horrifying truths. "A normal household kitchen counter will have 500 to 1,000 of Bacteria X, yours has 2 billion!" (A true quote, even if I did forget the name of the bacteria!)
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" doesn't sound so good, does it.
But, hold on, once again science comes to the rescue. For they have now discovered that non-organic dust, when held in the form of plasma in zero gravity, can take on the characteristics of living organisms in space.
Huh? Yep. An international panel including the Max Planck Institute in Germany (to whom I have sold books, yay!), the University of Sydney, Australia, and the Russian Academy of Sciences have found that galactic dust can form spontaneously into helixes, and, wait for it, double helixes (the famous pattern of DNA) in space, held together by electromagnetic forces, and that these inorganic creations have memory (contain a code comparable to the genetic information held in organic matter) and the power to reproduce themselves (this code can be transferred to the next generation).
I promise, I am not making this up. And I am grateful to the London Sunday Times and reporter Robert Booth for bringing it to my attention.
Indeed, here in the U.S. the National Research Council, an advisory body to the US government, is recommending NASA begin searching for what it describes as "wierd organisms". (Have they tried their local UU society? Whoops, sorry.) Actually, they are to look for organisms that lack DNA or other molecules found in life on earth.
Wow! "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" may be a whole lot more exciting than I thought!