I happened to watch Catalyst last night (the program was titled Asteroid Hunters) and was slightly blown away by two things.
- Micrometeorites, as small as the width of a human hair, can be extracted from rocks 2.7 billion years old and tell us about the composition of earth’s atmosphere at that time.
- The meteorite that landed 50 years ago at Murchison, Victoria, contains volatile organic compounds — sugars, amino acids — and they still release odours. Have them land in an environment like Rotarua’s steamy, gaseous horror-scape and they could form membranes, the skin of soapy like bubbles, that were the necessary precondition to forming cells from which life evolved.
Fascinating. Well, I think so, anyway.
But I missed the film’s explanation of what the organic compounds had to do with the asteroids containing elements in their original primordial state while on earth the heavier elements have had time (from when the earth was molten) to sink to the centre and leave the lighter stuff in the crust. Are those organic compounds made from heavier elements? Anyone know?
For the video and transcript: https://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/s21-e04-asteroid-hunters/12198186?jwsource=cl