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No. 49: Jan-Feb 1987

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Prebiological chemistry in titan's atmosphere

From the abstract of the referenced paper:

"An organic heteropolymer (Titan tholin) was produced by continuous dc discharge through a 0.9 N2 / 0.1 CH4 gas mixture at 0.2 mbar pressure, roughly simulating the cloudtop atmosphere of Titan [one of Saturn's moons]. Treatment of this tholin with 6N HCl yielded 16 amino acids by gas chromatography after derivatization to N-trifluroacetyl isopropyl esters on two different capillary columns...The presence of 'nonbiological' amino acids, the absence of serine, and the fact that the amino acids are racemic within experimental error together indicate that these molecules are not due to microbiol or other contamination, but are derived from the tholin...These results suggest that episodes of liquid water in the past or future of Titan might lead to major further steps in the probiological organic chemistry on that body."

(Khare, Bishun N., et al; "Amino Acids Derived from Titan Tholins," Icarus, 68:176, 1986.)

From Science Frontiers #49, JAN-FEB 1987. 1987-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

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  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987