An Exploding Star, A Grain of Sand, and an Origin Story
Humans have created some pretty ingenious myths to explain the world around us: the sun and the moon chase each other across the sky because of an ancient disagreement or lustful encounter; a strangely shaped Hawaiian mountain called Nounou is a sleeping giant; the ostrichâ€™s long neck is the result of straining to keep an eye on a wayward partner in the African night. The implication is always that the clues to our past are everywhere, in the big and the small and ordinary.
This is also pretty much the scientific tale. Keys to our origins are visible on a grand scale, in the heavens, and on much smaller scales, in the elemental bits of our planet and our bodies. And now, in a remarkable piece of serendipitous detective work, a new clue to these beginnings has been discovered in just two grains of alien sand, each no bigger than a virus, plucked from two meteorites found on our planetâ€™s southernmost continent.