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No. 95: Sep-Oct 1994

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It's according to hoyle and wickramasinghe

The June 17, 1994 issue of Science did not ignore it. In fact, this conservative journal devoted almost an entire page to a paper presented by Yi-Jehng Kuan and Yanti Miao at the recent Minneapolis meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Students of L. Snyder, at the University of Illinois, Kuan and Miao reported that the amino acid glycine had been detected in a molecular cloud named Sagittarius B2. Glycine has only ten atoms and is the smallest of the 20 amino acids vital to life-as-we-know-it. The Science article supposed that this discovery of extraterrestrial glycine might reignite speculation that earth life might not be unique after all.

(Travis, John; "Hints of First Amino Acid outside Solar System," Science, 264:1669, 1994.)

Structure of the amino acid glycine
Structure of the amino acid glycine
What Science did not mention but New Scientist did is that F. Hoyle and C. Wickramasinghe have long predicted that the molecules of life, as well as life itself, would be found in outer space. Now, after much ridicule, they are being vindicated. "It's been a long hard struggle," said Hoyle. Wickramasinghe remarked that the discovery was "no surprise at all."

"He believes it is only a matter of time before other amino acids, together with nucleotide bases, the components of nucleic acids that make up genetic material, are found in space. 'This is just the tip of the iceberg,' he says. 'I would fully expect a vast array of life molecules to be discovered in space, and then there would be no doubt as to where terrestrial life began.'"

(Hecht, Jeff; "'Molecule of Life' Is Found in Space," New Scientist, p. 4, June 11, 1994.)

Comment. Here is a case where a scientific prediction was made, but its author labelled heretical. It is a scientific victory, but we guess that Hoyle and Wickramasinghe are too iconoclastic for Science to give them credit for their prediction.

From Science Frontiers #95, SEP-OCT 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "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