Who has ever laid on their back on a warm summer night in Yakima to watch a meteor shower and not been led to wonder “Did a banana self-assemble from star dust? If the answer is yes, the next logical question is: Do bananas grow in outer space?
Some background: Astronomers explain that asteroids, meteors and comets have their genesis in the crucible of the big bang billions of years ago. Once banged big, the masses of hydrogen, helium and the stuff of future bananas began traveling. That’s when, thanks to gravity, time and energy, the basic ingredients of everything began to form, evolve, disintegrate, reintegrate and reform.
That explains the distribution of matter, but not bananas. To understand the banana we need more than gravity and big bangs, we need an Astronomer who also understands biology. Answering questions about bananas self assembling in space is the prime purpose of a new category of scientist: Astrobiologists. Their answer is both tantalizing and confusing.
Writing for the journal Astrobiology, Astrobiologist Clark Chapman explains. “Recent developments reveal that the essentials of life in the form of complex organic chemicals including water may have arrived (on earth) on comets and asteroids.”
The thinking is that these complex organic chemicals formed in space and then hitched a ride on a comet or asteroid. In the presence of sunshine and oxygen the organic chemicals began their quest to banana as well as other living things. So the answer to the fist question is yes according to Chapman.
Mr. Chapman states a reasonable explanation but not a settled scientific conclusion. Astrobiologist Benny Peiser thinks the facts should be interpreted differently. ” I find it very difficult to see any positive traits in comets or asteroids.” That’s one yes and one no.
Scientific attempts to settle the debate are ongoing. The Noveber 21, 2011 edition of Science Daily mentions University of Washington State School of Earth and Environmental Sciences astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch and life modeling expert Abel Mendez for the University of Puerto Rico at Aricebo.
Their collective ideas on the subject of life forming in space is that efforts to identify life forms may have to expand to accept a new definition on what constitutes a life form. That means non carbon, non water based life forms are theoretically possible. They did not however, rule out bananas.
You can read the entire fascinating 5 part debate which involves so much more than bananas and space dust:
About all that can be said with certainty about bananas as a result of studying the issue carefully is that bananas are delicious.
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