Introduction.- In the beginning.- What is Life .- The Miller Urey Experiment.- General background and definitions.- What is the origin of the elements?.- The big bang.- Big bang nucleosynthesis.- Stellar nucleosynthesis.- Creation of molecules in the interstellar medium.- The electromagnetic spectrum.- Detecting photons of different energies.- Secrets from meteorites.- Mining the comets.- Amino acids and Chirality.- A Primer on Amino Acids.- Chirality and Polarization.- Relating Optical and Molecular chirality.- The other molecules of life.- How have scientists explained the amino acid chirality?.- Models that produce chirality.- Amplification via chemical catalysis.- Laboratory experiments.-Terrestrial amplification.- Concluding remarks.- What happens to the amino acids when the supernova explodes?.- The supernova.- The neutrino story.- Interactions of neutrinos with 14N.- Relating the 14N spin to the molecular chirality.- The supernova progenitor star.- Spreading chirality throughout the galaxy and throughout the Earth.- Might supernovae process all the amino acids in the galaxy?.- Spreading molecules and enantiomerism throughout the galaxy.- Testing the models of amino acid chirality.- The impact of amino acid chirality on questions of the origin of life in the universe.- Are we alone?.- Glossary.- Index.- References.
Über den Autor
Dr. Richard Boyd was the Science Director of the National Ignition Facility, Lawrence Livermore National Lab from 2007-2010 and now serves as a staff physicist at LLNL. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Minnesota in 1967, and has been a physics professor at the University of Rochester from 1972 to 1978 and a professor of physics and astronomy at Ohio State University from 1984 to 2002. Dr. Boyd also served as a program officer at the National Science Foundation from 2002 to 2006, managing the NSF portfolios in nuclear and particle astrophysics as well as nuclear physics. Following that, he was a visiting professor at the National Astronomical Observatory in Japan. Dr. Boyd has enjoyed a research career that resulted in more than 200 publications, both experimental and theoretical, and one graduate-level textbook on nuclear astrophysics. He was awarded an Outstanding Scholar award from Ohio State University in 1982, and was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was named an honorary Native American of the Santa Clara Pueblo in 1997, and an Eminent Scientist of the Institute for Physical and Chemical Research in Japan in 1998-1999.
Where were the amino acids, the molecules of life, created: perhaps in a lightning storm in the early Earth, or perhaps elsewhere in the cosmos? This book argues that at least some of them must have been produced in the cosmos, and that the fact that the Earthly amino acids have a specific handedness provides an important clue for that explanation. The book discusses several models that purport to explain the handedness, ultimately proposing a new explanation that involves cosmic processing of the amino acids produced in space. The book provides a tour for laypersons that includes a definition of life, the Big Bang, stellar nucleosynthesis, the electromagnetic spectrum, molecules, and supernovae and the particles they produce.
Gives a detailed description of handedness of the amino acids, a critical element in understanding their origin, as well as a plausible model by which their handedness could have been produced
Relates everything to basic physical properties and forces of nature, written in lay person language, which no other book on the molecules of life does
Offers discussions of some fascinating aspects of modern physics that impinge on the question of amino acid origin, e.g., the big bang, neutrino physics, and supernovae