Cosmic Chemistry Gets Creative

Big guns, bench work: How life could've come from above

By Jessica Gorman, 15:48 PM April 15, 2008

In a laboratory at the University of Chicago, Jennifer Blank places a steel capsule in the firing path of a 15-meter-long gun that shoots soda-can-size bullets. Sensibly, she then leaves the room. From next door, she and her colleagues trigger the gun to fire. They hear only a muffled pop, but they know they've just caused violence of almost unworldly proportions.

This oversize gun play is how a cadre of researchers including Blank, a geochemist from the University of California, Berkeley, si...

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