PoS - Proceedings of Science
Volume 395 - 37th International Cosmic Ray Conference (ICRC2021) - Highlight Talks
Polarized muons and the origin of biological homochirality
N. Globus*, R. Blandford and A. Fedynitch
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Pre-published on: September 16, 2021
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Abstract
While biologists have not yet reached a consensus on the definition of life, homochirality - the specific molecular handedness of biomolecules - is a phenomenon only produced by life. The unraveling of its origin requires interdisciplinary research, by exploring fundamental physics, chemistry, astrophysics and biology. Here, we consider the origin of biological homochirality in the context of astrophysics and particle physics. The weak force, one of the fundamental forces operating in nature, is parity-violating. On Earth, at ground level, most of our cosmic radiation dose comes from polarized muons formed in a decay involving the weak force. We discuss how the magnetic polarization is transmitted in cosmic showers within several different environments which are prime targets in the search for the origin of life. We consider how this polarization could have induced a biological preference for one type of chirality over the other, and discuss the implications for the search of life in other worlds.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.22323/1.395.0031
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