Science Junkie
Quantum Tunneling Allows “Impossible” Chemical Reactions to Occur in Space
New research has revealed that chemical reactions previously thought to be ‘impossible’ in space actually occur ‘with vigor,’ a discovery that could ultimately change our understanding of how alcohols are formed and destroyed in space – and which could also mean that places like Saturn’s moon Titan, once considered too cold for life to form, may have a shortcut for biochemical reactions.
A team at the University of Leeds, UK recreated the cold environment of space in the laboratory and observed a reaction of the alcohol methanol and an oxidizing chemical called the ‘hydroxyl radical’ at minus 210 degrees Celsius. They found that not only do these gases react to create methoxy radicals at such an incredibly cold temperature, but that the rate of reaction is 50 times faster than at room temperature.
They also found that this faster than expected reaction can only occur in the gas phase in space, that a product is formed (CH3O) – and that it can only form via a phenomenon they call ‘quantum tunneling.’…
The tunneling phenomenon is based on the quirky rules of quantum mechanics, which contend that particles do not tend to have defined states, positions and speeds, but instead exist in a haze of probability. This means that although a given particle might have a strong probability of being on one side of a barrier, there is still a very small chance of it actually being found on the other side of it – in effect allowing it to occasionally ‘tunnel’ through a wall that would otherwise be impenetrable…
Put simply, [they say] that the research shows that organic chemistry can occur in space, here converting an alcohol into an alkoxy radical – which can then go on to form a carbonyl group such as formaldehyde. “So we are showing that one functional group can be converted to another despite the cold conditions of space. Reactions that were discounted in space because it was too cold may now occur – owing to the tunneling,”…
 
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Quantum Tunneling Allows “Impossible” Chemical Reactions to Occur in Space
New research has revealed that chemical reactions previously thought to be ‘impossible’ in space actually occur ‘with vigor,’ a discovery that could ultimately change our understanding of how alcohols are formed and destroyed in space – and which could also mean that places like Saturn’s moon Titan, once considered too cold for life to form, may have a shortcut for biochemical reactions.
A team at the University of Leeds, UK recreated the cold environment of space in the laboratory and observed a reaction of the alcohol methanol and an oxidizing chemical called the ‘hydroxyl radical’ at minus 210 degrees Celsius. They found that not only do these gases react to create methoxy radicals at such an incredibly cold temperature, but that the rate of reaction is 50 times faster than at room temperature.
They also found that this faster than expected reaction can only occur in the gas phase in space, that a product is formed (CH3O) – and that it can only form via a phenomenon they call ‘quantum tunneling.’…
The tunneling phenomenon is based on the quirky rules of quantum mechanics, which contend that particles do not tend to have defined states, positions and speeds, but instead exist in a haze of probability. This means that although a given particle might have a strong probability of being on one side of a barrier, there is still a very small chance of it actually being found on the other side of it – in effect allowing it to occasionally ‘tunnel’ through a wall that would otherwise be impenetrable…
Put simply, [they say] that the research shows that organic chemistry can occur in space, here converting an alcohol into an alkoxy radical – which can then go on to form a carbonyl group such as formaldehyde. “So we are showing that one functional group can be converted to another despite the cold conditions of space. Reactions that were discounted in space because it was too cold may now occur – owing to the tunneling,”…
 
Full Article
Zoom Info
Quantum Tunneling Allows “Impossible” Chemical Reactions to Occur in Space
New research has revealed that chemical reactions previously thought to be ‘impossible’ in space actually occur ‘with vigor,’ a discovery that could ultimately change our understanding of how alcohols are formed and destroyed in space – and which could also mean that places like Saturn’s moon Titan, once considered too cold for life to form, may have a shortcut for biochemical reactions.
A team at the University of Leeds, UK recreated the cold environment of space in the laboratory and observed a reaction of the alcohol methanol and an oxidizing chemical called the ‘hydroxyl radical’ at minus 210 degrees Celsius. They found that not only do these gases react to create methoxy radicals at such an incredibly cold temperature, but that the rate of reaction is 50 times faster than at room temperature.
They also found that this faster than expected reaction can only occur in the gas phase in space, that a product is formed (CH3O) – and that it can only form via a phenomenon they call ‘quantum tunneling.’…
The tunneling phenomenon is based on the quirky rules of quantum mechanics, which contend that particles do not tend to have defined states, positions and speeds, but instead exist in a haze of probability. This means that although a given particle might have a strong probability of being on one side of a barrier, there is still a very small chance of it actually being found on the other side of it – in effect allowing it to occasionally ‘tunnel’ through a wall that would otherwise be impenetrable…
Put simply, [they say] that the research shows that organic chemistry can occur in space, here converting an alcohol into an alkoxy radical – which can then go on to form a carbonyl group such as formaldehyde. “So we are showing that one functional group can be converted to another despite the cold conditions of space. Reactions that were discounted in space because it was too cold may now occur – owing to the tunneling,”…
 
Full Article
Zoom Info

Quantum Tunneling Allows “Impossible” Chemical Reactions to Occur in Space

New research has revealed that chemical reactions previously thought to be ‘impossible’ in space actually occur ‘with vigor,’ a discovery that could ultimately change our understanding of how alcohols are formed and destroyed in space – and which could also mean that places like Saturn’s moon Titan, once considered too cold for life to form, may have a shortcut for biochemical reactions.

A team at the University of Leeds, UK recreated the cold environment of space in the laboratory and observed a reaction of the alcohol methanol and an oxidizing chemical called the ‘hydroxyl radical’ at minus 210 degrees Celsius. They found that not only do these gases react to create methoxy radicals at such an incredibly cold temperature, but that the rate of reaction is 50 times faster than at room temperature.

They also found that this faster than expected reaction can only occur in the gas phase in space, that a product is formed (CH3O) – and that it can only form via a phenomenon they call ‘quantum tunneling.’…

The tunneling phenomenon is based on the quirky rules of quantum mechanics, which contend that particles do not tend to have defined states, positions and speeds, but instead exist in a haze of probability. This means that although a given particle might have a strong probability of being on one side of a barrier, there is still a very small chance of it actually being found on the other side of it – in effect allowing it to occasionally ‘tunnel’ through a wall that would otherwise be impenetrable…

Put simply, [they say] that the research shows that organic chemistry can occur in space, here converting an alcohol into an alkoxy radical – which can then go on to form a carbonyl group such as formaldehyde. 

“So we are showing that one functional group can be converted to another despite the cold conditions of space. Reactions that were discounted in space because it was too cold may now occur – owing to the tunneling,”…

 

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