Nasa’s Kepler telescope scans the skies for ‘habitable worlds’ – but an American chemist has suggested the whole project might be a terrible idea
Ronald Breslow suggests that life-forms based on slightly different amino acids and sugars could take the form of huge, ferocious dinosaurs that have evolved to have human-like intelligence and technologies.
‘We would be better off not meeting them,’ says Breslow, who claims that it was a stroke of luck that an asteroid wiped out dinosaurs on earth, leaving the field clear for mammals such as humans.
On other worlds, dinosaurs could have evolved into huge, intelligent warriors armed with hi-tech weaponry – but without losing their hunger for fresh meat.
‘Of course,’ Breslow says, ‘Showing that it could have happened this way is not the same as showing that it did. An implication from this work is that elsewhere in the universe there could be life forms based on D-amino acids and L-sugars.
‘Such life forms could well be advanced versions of dinosaurs, if mammals did not have the good fortune to have the dinosaurs wiped out by an asteroidal collision, as on Earth.
‘We would be better off not meeting them.’
In the report, noted scientist Ronald Breslow, Ph.D., discusses the century-old mystery of why the building blocks of terrestrial amino acids (which make up proteins), sugars, and the genetic materials DNA and RNA exist mainly in one orientation or shape.
There are two possible orientations, left and right, which mirror each other in the same way as hands.
In order for life to arise, proteins, for instance, must contain only one chiral form of amino acids, left or right.
With the exception of a few bacteria, amino acids in all life on Earth have the left-handed orientation.
Most sugars have a right-handed orientation. How did that so-called homochirality, the predominance of one chiral form, happen?
Breslow describes evidence supporting the idea that the unusual amino acids carried to a lifeless Earth by meteorites about 4 billion years ago set the pattern for normal amino acids with the L-geometry, the kind in terrestial proteins, and how those could lead to D-sugars of the kind in DNA.
A likely possible origin of homochirality in amino acids and sugars on prebiotic earth” – Original paper (?)
I did not manage to find original one dated from 2012 only this one from 2010 please if someone could send me a link with a download from the original text from 2012 you would be helpful.
27/4/2011 – Tetrahedron Lett. – “Erratum to “The origin of homochirality in amino acids and sugars on prebiotic Earth” – Erratum notice
27/4/2011 – Tetrahedron Lett. – “The origin of homochirality in amino acids and sugars on prebiotic earth” – Corrected paper, republished
18/5/2011 – Isr. J. Chem. – “Formation of L Amino Acids and D Sugars, and Amplification of their Enantioexcesses in Aqueous Solutions, Under Simulated Prebiotic Conditions” –A review published by Breslow in the Israel Journal of Chemistry
25/3/2012 – J. Am. Chem. Soc. – “Evidence for the Likely Origin of Homochirality in Amino Acids, Sugars, and Nucleosides on Prebiotic Earth” – Breslow’s perspective paper in JACS
11/4/2012 – ACS Press Room – “Could ‘advanced’ dinosaurs rule other planets?” – Sensationalist press release from ACS referring to the above paper in JACS
11/4/2012 – Just Like Cooking – “Space Dinos! Prebiotic Chemistry Meets Paleozoic Commentary” – Coverage of paper vis-a-vis the bungled press release by See Arr Oh. Possible self-plagiarism is mentioned in the comments thread
11/4/2012 – Chemistry-Blog – “Taking a dinosaur’s name in vain” – Initial analysis of the paper vis-a-vis the bungled press release by Mark
11/4/2012 – Smithsonian Magazine – “Dinosaurs From Space!” – Analysis of the dinosaur idea with respect to evolution
11/4/2012 – Pharyngula – “Adding dinosaurs always makes research sexier” – Analysis of the evolution idea and the press release
12/4/2012 – Boing Boing – “The threat of intelligent space dinosaurs”
12/4/2012 – ChemBark – “Breslow and Dinosaurs in JACS, Oh My” – Analysis of the science in the paper and the bungled press release
12/4/2012 – Sciencebase –”Alien Dinosaur Chemists” – Analysis of the press release vis-a-vis the paper
14/4/2012 – ChemBark – “A Terrible Week for Chemistry” – An attempt at humor
24/4/2012 – Chemistry-Blog – “Space dinosaurs, the saga continues” – Mark posts about the self-plagiarism in JACS, includes Stu’s famous highlighter work. Note that Mark has alerted JACS about possible misconduct by e-mail.
25/4/2012 – ChemBark – “What the ACS Must Do Regarding the Dinosaur Paper” – An editorial calling for correction of the press release and retraction of the paper in JACS
25/4/2012 – In the Pipeline – “Breslow’s Chirality Paper: More Than Just Alien Dinosaurs” – Derek covers the story
25/4/2012 – Nature News Blog – “Eminent chemist denies self-plagiarism in ‘space dinosaurs’ paper” – Daniel Cressey, a reporter at Nature, begins to probe deeper. Breslow is interviewed and defends his paper.
25/4/2012 – Everyday Scientist – “self-plagiarism and JACS” – Sam returns to post thoughts on self-plagiarism
25/4/2012 – Chemical Connections – “I’m still here” – Stu checks in regarding recent and future personal events
25/4/2012 – Curious Wavefunction – “Would Ron Breslow’s dinosaurs be typing this post?” – Discussion of humor in papers, self-plagiarism, and evolution
25/4/2012 – Science 2.0 – “Former ACS President Denies Charges He Plagiarized Himself” – A general piece/note/report
26/4/2012 – ChemBark – “Breslow Dinosaur Paper Pulled by JACS” – First report that JACS has pulled the PDF of the “space dinosaur” paper and launched an investigation
27/4/2012 – Chemistry-Blog – “The case of the disappearing (space) dinos” – Mark comments on the pulled paper
27/4/2012 – Retraction Watch – “JACS temporarily pulls ‘space dinosaurs’ paper for alleged duplication” – Ivan O. reports on the pulled paper and previous retractions involving JACS
27/4/2012 – Nature News Blog – “‘Space dinosaurs’ paper withdrawn amid self-plagiarism allegations” – Daniel Cressey follows up on his earlier piece
27/4/2012 – Chemjobber – “Pentagon, defense industry, legislators respond to professor’s warnings” – Humor from CJ: fake press release regarding possible attack of Earth by alien dinosaurs
27/4/2012 – C&EN – “Breslow Paper in JACS Questioned” – Editor-in-chief of C&E News reports on the pulled paper in the official newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society. The article was updated on 30/4/2012 with a comment from Breslow.
27/4/2012 – Skepchick – “Is it still plagiarism if you copy yourself?“ – A good discussion of self-plagiarism
29/4/2012 – ChemBark – “My Advice to Breslow“ – Advice on damage control regarding chemistry papers
30/4/2012 – Curious Wavefunction – “The anatomy of peer review: Why airing dirty laundry in public is important” – A fantastic post on two scientists’ quest to correct the scientific record in the wake of another infamous paper by Breslow
1/5/2012 – Just Like Cooking – “Same (Space) Science, Different (Dino) Day” – See Arr Oh points out other similarities among many of the recent origin-of-life papers written by Breslow
3/5/2012 – ChemBark – “How C&EN and JACS Have Changed Since Sames-Sezen” –A look at how ACS Publications handled the Sames-Sezen retractions in 2006 vs. the Breslow “space-dinosaur” retraction in 2012
17/5/2012 – In the Pipeline – “The Breslow Chirality Paper Mess, Resolved” – Derek follows up to note the withdrawal of Breslow’s paper
20/5/2012 – Retraction Watch – “JACS makes it official, retracting Breslow ‘space dinosaurs’ paper for ‘similarity to his previously published reviews’” – Ivan follows up now that the JACSpaper has been withdrawn
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