Complex molecules hold the secret to finding aliens
In a new paper published in Nature Communications, titled “Identifying molecules as biosignatures with assembly theory and mass spectrometry”, Cronin Group researchers describe Assembly Theory, a new way of quantifying molecular complexity, which can be used to determine if a molecule required a biological system to create it. The complexity of molecules was also measured experimentally through mass spectrometry fragmentation, opening the door for the creation of a life detection machine. Since Assembly Theory relies on molecular complexity alone, the life detection process is agnostic, with no assumptions that alien life will be chemically similar to life on Earth.
The paper is open access, and can be accessed on the Nature Communications website