DNA sugar made in ‘fake’ space, claim NASA scientists in NASA News 19 December 2018 and Nature Communications, published online 18 December 2018, doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07693-x.

DNA is a large complex molecule consisting of a long chain of smaller components named nucleotides. Each nucleotide is three-part molecule that includes a sugar named deoxyribose (the D in DNA).  Scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Centre claim to have found “the first solid evidence of the formation of DNA’s sugar in an astrophysical setting” with an experiment that simulates the conditions of deep space.  The space between stars is not completely empty – it is filled with gases and dust, which are bombarded by radiation and subatomic particles from stars.  Therefore, even at the extremely low temperatures of interstellar space chemical reactions can occur, with the possibility of small simple molecules reacting with each other to make larger more complex ones.

The research team simulated the conditions of interstellar space using a vacuum chamber containing water vapour and methanol (a simple carbon compound). They cooled it to almost absolute zero and irradiated it with ultra-violet light.  A frozen layer formed in the inside of the chamber and scientists found it contained a number of sugar molecules, including deoxyribose.  This experiment is one of many studies aimed at finding organic molecules in space or in simulated conditions of space.

According to one of the research team, Scott Sandford, a senior scientist in the Ames astrochemistry lab, “For more than two decades we’ve asked ourselves if the chemistry we find in space can make the kinds of compounds essential to life. So far, we haven’t picked a single broad set of molecules that can’t be produced.” He went on to say: “The universe is an organic chemist. It has big beakers and lots of time — and the result is a lot of organic material, some of which is useful to life.”

The researchers suggest that organic molecules made in space could have been delivered to earth by showers of meteorites and comets bombarding the earth. Michel Nuevo, another of the researchers commented “We don’t yet know whether life is common in the universe, but we’re pretty sure the presence of life’s building blocks is not a limiting factor.”


Editorial Comment:  The experiment carried out the by the NASA scientists is one more in a long series of experiments designed to  make organic molecules such as sugars, amino acids and other components of living cells from simple molecules which can react with one another by being irradiated or subjected to simulated lightning bolts.  Note that this experiment was not done by an Organic Chemist called the Universe, but by intelligent human organic chemists on planet earth. And again it is important to note that it was not done in real interstellar space, and neither have we seen it happen in real space, nor have we used a time travel module to go back to some “primitive earth”. Instead, like all chemical evolution experiments, it was designed to work in what scientists assume were real conditions.

However, as Michel Nuevo correctly states, the availability of life’s building blocks is not the real limiting factor for making life. There are two overwhelming limitations to life evolving by simple chemical reactions.

The first is the very important fact that sugars come in two forms, usually called right and left handed. The sugars in living cells are all right handed, but when you try to make sugars by simply providing energy to a mix of small organic molecules and water vapour, you always get a roughly 50:50 mix of left and right-handed forms.  The only way to separate them after that is by deliberate intelligent intervention by chemists who can tell left from right.  Louis Pasteur was the first to demonstrate this when he painstakingly separated crystals of right and left-handed tartrates (a type of grape sugar).  These days it is done by more sophisticated methods, but it only happens when intelligent scientists manipulate the system.

Secondly, some organic molecules suitable for building ‘life molecules’ have been found on meteorites, and studies of space dust and gas show that simple organic molecules such as methanol do exist in outer space. But merely having the substance something is made of is not enough to actually make it.  For example, the presence of lots of sandstone in a place will not mean that sandstone buildings will exist there.  Sandstone buildings exist because architects designed them and craftsman cut, dressed and assembled the sandstone blocks, combining them with all the other components of a building, which also needed architects, engineers and craftsmen to design, construct and put in place.  Unless information in the form of architects’ and engineers’ plans is applied to matter by intelligent builders and craftsmen, you will never get a building.

In the same way living cells and living organisms only exist because the Creator made the complex organic molecules and assembled them in a super-intelligent way, and also incorporated the information needed to make more living things into genetic code, so that they can continue living and reproduce. DNA carries the genetic code, but it did not write it.  Finding molecules that make DNA does not explain the origin of life any more than finding printer ink explains the origin of information in architects’ plans or engineers’ specifications.

These clever scientists who carried out a highly technical experiment are really fools if they really believe the universe is “an organic chemist” that made life. This is worshipping the creation, rather than the Creator, who will hold them accountable for denying the obvious design in living things.

Evidence News vol. 19, No.1
30 January 2019
Creation Research Australia

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