Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Michael Famiano

Second Advisor

Kirk Korista

Third Advisor

John Spitsbergen


The origins of amino acids and their characteristic homochirality, or handedness, have been a source of mystery in the scientific community for decades. Together, the amino acids bind and fold to create our proteins, which carry out numerous functions required for life including gene regulation, movement initiation, cell signaling, and protection from disease, thus motivating our quest to fully understand these molecules. (Brooker et al). The current study reviews both the terrestrial and extraterrestrial theories concerning the origins of amino acids, beginning with an overview of the Big Bang theory followed by a discussion of the life and death of stars. We focus on the extraterrestrial case in which amino acids have been shown to arrive on earth via meteorites. The question of the homochirality of these amino acids is addressed using the Supernova Neutrino Amino Acid Processing model. (Boyd et al 2011). A numerical analysis concerning the parameters of the model concludes this study. It has been found that the bulk polarization of the meteorites, and thus the homochirality of the amino acids, depends heavily on the distance from the neutron star as well as the strength of the magnetic field. (Famiano et al). We also compare flat distributions of the angular velocity vectors to Gaussian distributions. We find that, in general, the distributions behave similarly under various parameter changes.


Powerpoint accompanying.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted