Did April’s west coast meteor contradict the theory of meteorite evolution of life on Earth?

were scientists wrong about the origins of life on earth meteorFor years, scientists have wondered what role meteorites may have played in the beginnings of life as we know it, thanks in part to a 2008 study that suggested that chemical building blocks in genetic material found on Earth were discovered on a meteorite that hit our planet in the late 1960s. However, another meteorite that flew over the planet earlier this year and trailed fragments across parts of the Western United States, offers a potentially upsetting contradiction to the idea that meteorites seeded Earth with ingredients necessarily to create life.

In April, a meteor explosion scattered space rock across parts of Nevada and northern California. It was tracked at speeds approaching 64,000 mph before it exploded with a force roughly equivalent to a 4-kiloton bomb, reaching temperatures of around 1,3000 degrees Fahrenheit and dumping residue across the area. Thanks to a number of videos, photographs and other sources recording the event — including weather radar data — scientists have managed to gather more than 70 fragments left from the explosion from various locations across the two western states. As expected, scientists have studied the fragments they’ve managed to find from areas including Sutter’s Mill, known as the heart of the California Gold Rush, and even a Mountain View, Calif. parking lot.

According to a report in New Scientist, investigations into the fragments have revealed that theories regarding the amount of organic material that could have been carried to Earth via meteorites in the past may have been flawed — assuming this particular event isn’t a fluke. Researchers investigating fragments collected before a heavy rainstorm have discovered that organics are “less abundant by a factor of 1,000 than in previously studied [similar meteorites].” The team, led by Peter Jenniskens of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in Mountain View, found that the rocks do contain amino acids, including some not found naturally on Earth. Nevertheless, the three rocks found prior to the rainstorm — an event that essentially bathed the other rocks with contaminated material — showed substantially lower levels of amino acids.

To account for the difference, Jenniskens’ team believes that the organic material may have been destroyed in space as other debris impacted the asteroid, heating it to the point where the material simply ceased to be.

According to Bill Bottke, a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., the discovery has implications beyond the three rocks. “It shows that not all asteroids can deliver sufficient qualities [of organic materials],” he said in an interview with New Scientist. “One of the disappointments is that, from a prebiotic organic chemistry perspective, it was very limited.”

However, Bottke said the discovery doesn’t necessarily disprove the earlier theories.

“This is an unusual case,” he said. “Most [similar meteorites] are loaded with organic compounds.”

Emerging Tech

New ‘parkour’ video shows Boston Dynamics robot training to overthrow humanity

Robots doing backflips? That's so 2017! In its latest jaw-dropping YouTube video, Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot pulls off some frankly astonishing parkour stunts for our viewing pleasure.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this summer with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in October, from 'Mindhunter’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in October, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Black Panther’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

15 epic sci-fi novels you should read before they become blockbuster films

You can get ahead of the next crop of science-fiction movies coming out of Hollywood by picking up the books that inspired them. We compiled a list of books you can add to your reading list now to get a glimpse of the future.
Emerging Tech

With VR dinosaurs and ‘Minecraft,’ one hospital is making medicine less scary

From augmented reality rabbits on the wards to a Minecraft recreation of the hospital for kids to explore, one of the world's most renowned children's hospitals just got a major tech overhaul.
Emerging Tech

Will we ever fly supersonic again? Unraveling the concorde’s complex legacy

In a new book, Last Days of the Concorde, journalist and author Samme Chittum delves into the mindset that inspired engineers to design this marvel, the series of events that led to its fatal crash, and the possibility that commercial SSTs…
Emerging Tech

Check out the British Army’s beefy new bomb-disposal robot

The British Army is about to get an impressive new explosive ordnance disposal robot that is able to climb stairs, negotiate slopes, cut wires, and … oh, yes, dispose of bombs, too.
Emerging Tech

Kill it before it lays eggs! Crazy 32-leg robot moves like a cyborg sea urchin

We’ve seen one-legged, two-legged, four-legged and even six-legged robots, but researchers from Japan have gone way, way further with their latest project: A 32-legged robot. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

Leafy greens are grown by machines at new, automated Silicon Valley farm

Farming hasn't changed too much for hundreds of years. Now a new startup called Iron Ox has opened its first automated hydroponics farm, producing a variety of leafy greens tended by machines.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

As deaf gamers speak up, game studios are finally listening to those who can’t

Using social media, personal blogs and Twitch, a small group of deaf and hard-of-hearing players have been working to make their voices heard and improve accessibility in the gaming industry.
Emerging Tech

From flying for fun to pro filmmaking, these are the best drones you can buy

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Get your head in the clouds with the best vaporizers for flower and concentrates

Why combust dead plant matter when you could vaporize the good stuff and leave the leaves behind? Here's a rundown of the best vaporizers money can buy, no matter what your style is.