Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hee hee

Why Is Life Left-Handed? The Answer Is In The Stars
While most humans are right-handed, our proteins are made up of lefty molecules. In the same way your left and right hands mirror one another, molecules can assemble in two reflected structures. Life prefers the left-handed version, which is puzzling since both mirrored types form equally in the laboratory. But a new study suggests that this may be because the star-forming cloud that created the first-ever biological molecule, before our sun was even born, made it left-handed.
I once took a class that blended astronomy and biology into the interesting topic of extraterrestrial life. When we got to the point of left-handed vs. right-handed amino acids, someone asked what would happen if we met people from another planet with right-handed ones. The teacher's answer? 'Then we would not be able to eat them.' Imagine that in a thick Israeli accent. I loved Dr Elitzur's sense of humour. You've got to love those theoretical astrophysicists.

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