Science: A Matter of Life

The rock was only lukewarm when it was picked up in a field near the southern Australia town of Murchison last year. By last week, it had become the hottest sensation in the scientific world. After carefully examining a chunk of the meteorite, NASA scientists reported that it contains the strongest evidence ever found that the chemical precursors of life can evolve elsewhere in the universe.

That evidence was in the form of 17 different amino acids found in the meteorite and identified by a team led by Ceylonese-born Cyril Ponnamperuma, 47. Significantly, half a dozen of those amino acids are among...

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