SUMMARY: This study beamed naphthalene in a mixture of water and ammonia ice with different energy levels of UV light. Results showed that naphthalene breaks down and the pieces react into various small carbon-based compounds. Since conditions of this experiment try to replicate those found in space, the results should be explored further to see how larger organic molecules (focus on amino acids) can be formed from these small carbon-based fragments.
LESSON COMMENTS: This is a good paper to help students make the connection between macromolecules, organic molecules, and small inorganic molecules that contain carbon. A difficult concept for students to understand is the bridge between chemistry and biology. This task is much less daunting when students can see that the atoms on the periodic table (specifically C, H, O, and N) can be combined in various ways and amounts to make macromolecules (that then go on to make up cell organelles cells).
Chen, Y., Nuevo, M., Yeh, F., Yih, T., Sun, W., Ip, W., Fung, H., Lee, Y., Wu, C. R. (2007). Infrared Study Of Uv/euv Irradiation Of Naphthalene In H2O NH3 Ice. Advances in Geosciences – A 4-Volume Set Volume 7: Planetary Science (PS),79-91. doi:10.1142/9789812708922_0008