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Comet Roundup

May 15, 2009

Comets may have provided the young Earth the molecules necessary for the formation of life.

Transcript

Good PR for comets. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Comets and asteroids don’t have the best reputation. People blame them for killing off all the dinosaurs and worry that future impacts could wipe us out. But new research presents a more positive image for the celestial bodies. In the Journal of Geological Society, scientists report evidence that the asteroid suspected of killing the dinosaurs actually occurred 300,000 years before they went extinct. They claim that climate change caused by volcanoes was the real culprit.

And scientists at Tel Aviv University have simulated icy comets like those that rained down on earth four billion years ago. They report that the comets contained molecules that were essential to the formation of life. So while we fear the effects of a large comet hitting earth, we may owe our lives to such strikes way back in earth’s past. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.