Chemical Reactions, CR 2: Energy in Reactions (HS), CR 3: Evidence of Reactions (HS), CR 4: Driving Reactions (HS), Non-NGSS Articles, Physical Science, S&P 1: Atoms & Molecules (MS), S&P 4: Molecule Traits (HS), Structure & Properties of Matter

Beaming Pyrimidines Part 3

Irradiation of Pyrimidine in Pure H2O Ice with High-Energy Ultraviolet Photons

SUMMARY: In Part 3 of pyrimidine beaming, researchers looked at different energy levels of photons and their effect on pyrimidines. They beamed a water and pyrimidine ice mixture with photons of three different wavelengths. Uracil and the molecule that is the precursor to uracil (among other things) were found in all the samples.

LESSON COMMENTS: By the time you get to Part 3, I think teachers can start discussions with students about the origins of organic molecules that make up life. It’s also a good way to start a discussions about the difference between scientific discovery versus how modern media chooses to write about these discoveries. Since these experiments are trying to reproduce these molecules in space/asteroid-like conditions, what are some cautious conclusions that one can draw based on these papers alone? What would this series look like if it were published by a news outlet? What would be the difference in the wording of the media article versus the primary source?

The focus on the importance of primary sources is also a good way for science teachers to collaborate with history and english teachers. Students can compare and contrast the differences in the primary sources in all three subjects and should be encouraged to use as many as possible on projects, essays, and research assignments.

Nuevo, M., Chen, Y., Hu, W., Qiu, J., Wu, S., Fung, H., . . . Wu, C. R. (2014). Irradiation of Pyrimidine in Pure H2O Ice with High-Energy Ultraviolet Photons. Astrobiology,14(2), 119-131. doi:10.1089/ast.2013.1093