Tagish Lake—The Biggest News in the Universe

Well, maybe not the universe, but at least our Solar System. In case you missed it, the December 1 issue of Science has a material analysis of a meteorite that struck Tagish Lake in northern British Columbia in January 2000. What’s cool is that the meteor detonated in the atmosphere over Canada and the fragments hit the lake and immediately froze, keeping them pretty near pristine. When scientists started analyzing them, they found carbonaceous chondrite, or carbon-bearing compounds for us laymen. When the Johnson Space Center installed new electron microscopes in 2005, they found something even cooler—sub-micron bubbles less than 1/10,000th of an inch across. But wait. According to the report, the organic globules in the Tagish Lake meteorites were found to have very unusual hydrogen and nitrogen isotopic compositions. In laymen language again, it proves that the globules did not come from Earth.

“The isotopic ratios in these globules show that they formed at temperatures of about -260° C, near absolute zero,” said Scott Messenger, NASA space scientist and co-author of the paper. “The organic globules most likely originated in the cold molecular cloud that gave birth to our Solar System, or at the outermost reaches of the early Solar System.”

Am I the only one freaking about this? Organic. material. older. than. the. sun. Seeds, essentially, that have been moving through space since before our Sun flared into life. Since before an Earth. The building blocks of life. From somewhere other than Earth.  You heard it here first, folks.

[Ed’s Note: Here’s a link about the Tagish Lake meteorite at Astrobiology Magazine.com.]

56 thoughts on “Tagish Lake—The Biggest News in the Universe

  1. Neither theology or science completely describes the world …

    Argh.

    First off, science as a formal discipline has really only been around for a few hundred years. And yet it’s produced marvels which mystics of past ages barely fantasized about. I can communicate with people on the other side of the world. I can fly. I can enjoy foods on my table that were a half-dozen time zones away mere hours ago.

    Not some royalty, not some merchant prince, not some powerful wizard, ME. King John, Queen Nefertiti and Merlin were pikers compared to commoner me.

    All this in a mere few hundred years. It’s waaaay too soon to be speaking so blithely about the shortcomings of science.

    Theology? Religion describes the world about as well as a Harry Potter novel does. Since there is no “theo,” the field is basically the hopeful, imaginative study of … well, nothing.

    Thinking recently about some differences between science and religion, I had what I thought was an extremely significant realization:

    Say you wind back the clock on both science and religion, and rerun them, what would you end up with?

    I think I know:

    If a culture 10,000 years ago had been the one to invent science, the result would have been the exact same fields of science – biology, geology, physics, chemistry, math, biochemistry, astronomy, etc. Intelligent beings on distant planets would have independently originated those SAME fields of science. They might divide them up differently for reasons of culture or brain-organization or sensory apparatus – the field of geology on distant Planet Z Prime might be a subfield of chemico-physics, for instance (and certainly the local facts of geology and biology would be unique to that planet) with the research conducted mainly by taste – but the theories, the laws, the basic discoveries, would be exactly the same. Z-Primers would know that water was H20. The atomic weight of helium, translated from their own peculiar units, would be exactly the same as ours here and now, and (assuming they had eyes) they would discover the same spectroscopic method of determining the helium content of distant stars. Steel, whatever they called it, would still be made from iron, and any metallurgist from Earth would recognize it.

    Drop a biology researcher from Earth into a university on Z Prime and he’d find a home there, and professional comrades.

    Wind back the clock on science, then run it forward again, anywhere and anywhen there are intelligent people or aliens, and you’d end up with the same science. Because science is based on the physical laws of the real universe, which are the same everywhere, science MUST emerge as science, no matter where or when it originates.

    HOWEVER … wind back the clock on religion and what happens? If you started religion for the first time 10,000 years ago, or on Z Prime, would you have our God, our Jesus?

    Not on your life.

    In fact, the experiment has been tried thousands of times here on earth. And across the planet, religions VARY. Drastically. As to scratch-made religions, just in my lifetime alone there has been at least one “major” religion (Scientology) and probably countless minor ones.

    Scientology’s Lord Xenu is NOT God. Not even close. Neither is Allah the same as the Christian God. The Navajo’s White Shell Woman is not God. These were all independent creations, all made by our same species, and yet they are DIFFERENT. Because religion is fabricated. Fictional. Not based on the study of the real world.

    How different would the god of Z Prime be, considering the natives’ pink-furred crablike bodies and 14 stalk-like limbs? (FYI, I just made that up.) It damned sure wouldn’t look like a blue-eyed Caucasian Jesus cradling a newborn lamb under a glowing halo.

    In counterpoint to the biologist, drop the Pope on Z Prime (please!). He’d have practically zero frame of reference with the natives, and would be virtually useless. He couldn’t find a job flipping zurg-burgers at McZoogle’s. 

    If you rewind science and start over, you get the SAME science. If you rewind religion and start over, you get a DIFFERENT religion.

  2. DC: the more lectures you sit through the more you realise nobody knows what’s going on

    Yeah, mate; the older I get the more I realise I don’t know and … nor does anyone else. wink
    I like the way your thoughts process ‘stuff’ – they go in interesting directions and although they don’t manage to pull ‘everything’ together it hardly matters.
    It’s the stuff you’re able to do when you’re young – most people start to lose the ability to tangent-ise in their 30 & 40s (I just made that up wink  ) mainly because they acquire ‘knowledge’ and it often seems to over-ride the postulating and experimentation ability.
    I suppose it’s why ‘creativity’ is more evident in the young – not always of course – Picasso, Beethoven, JS Bach, Michael Jackson … only joking.  wink

    it’s part of the deal, quite tragic though, people like Wallace Carothers and Ludwig Boltzmann made great contributions to my field but were severely depressed,

    I still remember about 44 years ago walking along the beach with a man who explained the basics of trigonometry with a stick on the sand; he was able to teach me more than I ever learnt in the classroom.
    He had two degrees – a doctorate in law and a doctorate in mathematics.
    I only met him the once; he was the brother of a family friend and spent most of his time in a mental asylum … and committed suicide soon after I met him.

    Hank: If you rewind science and start over, you get the SAME science. If you rewind religion and start over, you get a DIFFERENT religion.

    I don’t think you’d get a different religion … I think you’d still get the same essence; they’re all the same in that they tell of powerful invisible beings creating and controlling all of us and we’d better get it right this time or we’re doomed in the after-life.

    Moses: I never quite trust the logic of someone who doesn’t know what puncutation and especially a period, is for.

    I know what you mean – whenever I get bored I start picking holes in anything around me too.  wink

  3. LuckyJohn19: Yeah, mate; the older I get the more I realise I don’t know and … nor does anyone else. 
    I like the way your thoughts process ‘stuff’ – they go in interesting directions and although they don’t manage to pull ‘everything’ together it hardly matters.

    Thankyou, I was reluctant to reveal this because I have met people in the past who don’t accept the validity of my points because of my age, but I am 20, I don’t know whether It’s because of the degree or changes to the way my mind works but I am less able to come up with this stuff than I used to be 2 or so years back despite understanding the subject better, i hope it’ll return with rest and if I don’t let myself forget it. I agree, as long as the concept gets across finer points aren’t necessary, afterall a lot of info the mind takes in from eyes, ears, nerves, etc isn’t exact but it doesn’t matter as long as you can do things

    Sexy Sadie: Why do you say that? Sometimes people who have gone through unusual trials and tribulations go on to become licensed psychologists precisely because they have experienced tremendous pain and suffering for themselves

    True, but it would appear not in the case of the ones I went to about a year ago, they didn’t help much and it was up to me to find solutions. My uni also lectures psychology and there are very large numbers of people coming to and from psychology lectures, many times the size of my department, it’s unlikely that proportion, at the age of signing up have been through such experiences, when I was that age I hadn’t. Their training will put them through tribulations, agreed, but this does more for some people who learn from it than others.

    My reasons for favouring the samaritons more highly:
    1) someone only becomes a samariton with the intention of helping others, it’s unpaid and takes time and creates a commitment to others, with therapist training you will get some who study just to get a professional qualification or often out of curiosity, when they first sign up they may be too young to have the experience necessary to having a helping motive, and if they don’t get that motive when they graduate they may still go on to do further study because they have already made commitments to a field
    2) I have read books on psychology that seem obsessed with saying how computer like the mind could be, from the differences between the two i said earlier clearly psychology is not a fully understood subject or one of partial theories, trying to systematically apply incomplete theories to people outside of the norm won’t always work, but in being people with doctorates they have to make themselves apear to understand

    Basically someone would only become a samariton for the right reason

    For that matter, what even are “the real issues?”

    I meant the route cause, though I accept that this can be a mixture and not always obvious. There may not even be a real cause, there have been times in the past where I experienced very different emotions without any difference in events or circumstance (often in neutral conditions and in the same day).

    DOF: Seriously, how would we know if the laws of physics ultimately have a reason to exist?

    If you think about why something happens and keep tracking back you always reach a point where you have a fundamental law and can’t go back any further, try it to believe it, just keep asking why and never be satisfied with the answer as a termination point. The same problems happen to theology. I have never met a physicist able to say why the most basic rules apply, like the simple rules behind Larington’s Ant, but the complicated mathematics you see in physics are the consequence of these rules

    elwedriddsche: what’s the point in continued existence?

    I couldn’t tell you. Existence (living or otherwise) is another fundamental thing that appers to have no clear reason, but does have consequences

  4. O.K. Puncuation

    Thankyou, I was reluctant to reveal this because I have met people in the past who don’t accept the validity of my points because of my age, but I am 20, I don’t know whether It’s because of the degree or changes to the way my mind works but I am less able to come up with this stuff than I used to be 2 or so years back despite understanding the subject better,

    I like the way your mind works and enjoy reading your stuff, but I hope this mental slide is not progressive otherwise by the time you’re 35 you’ll be an idiot.

    Your 58 year old scribe;
    Allan W Janssen

  5. Elwed said what I was going to say with…

    Scientists describe the world that is to best of their abilities; theologians merely describe the world that they would like to be.

    That makes science infinitely more useful than theology in my book.

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