Plastic is natural, Hurrah!

So, no longer can we have all those puritanical greenies whingeing at us because we use something “unnatural” like plastic.

You would expect to find plastic in your lunchbox, not on Saturn’s distant moon Titan.

But that’s exactly where Nasa has found an ingredient of plastic – the first time the chemical has been detected on another world.

The Cassini spacecraft found small amounts of propylene, a chemical used to make storage containers on Earth, in the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon Titan.

See? It’s as natural as that yurt knitted out of mung beans you’re wearing.

15 comments on “Plastic is natural, Hurrah!

  1. Arts graduates again. For the next article. Ethyl alcohol detected in galactic clouds. Entire universe awash in Remy Martin.

  2. Have fun trying to make a lunch box out of propylene! No wonder journalists wet their knickers every time Greenpeace talks about nasty chemicals, they are both innumerate and completely lacking in any scientific knowledge.

  3. @PaulB ‘ And it occurs naturally on earth too.’

    What did you think they meant by ‘the first time the chemical has been detected on another world’?

  4. “Propene, aka propylene, isn’t a plastic, it’s a gas.”

    Whether it’s a gas depends on the temperature and pressure in question. As is so often the case.

  5. …the just announced Glasgow Space Program

    Are the rockets made from girders?
    Do they run on Buckfast?

    Neds! In! Space-ace-ace-ace!

  6. Thomas Gold may have been wrong about a number of things but he was right about one – when we encounter or observe methane on any other planet or elsewhere in the Universe we say that it’s the outcome of normal inorganic processes. Only on Earth do we encounter it and say that it is purely down to organic life.

  7. The distinction between organic and inorganic is vague in many minds. I was once asked in a chemistry exam to explain how a particular organic compound could be synthesised from inorganic matter. My answer was that, if by organic you mean “containing carbon”, then, short of nuclear reactions, it can’t be done. I wrote the answer with a heavy heart, knowing that I was going to have to bully a couple of none-too-clever tutors afterwards to ensure that I was awarded 100% for my answer. So I did, and so I got. (I refrained from pointing out that everyone else ought logically to be awarded 0%.)

    Academic chemists were often pleasanter people than academic physicists (not a difficult achievement) but on average distinctly dimmer. I mean, what sort of idiot starts lecturing a course on organic chemistry by defining it as the study of compounds containing carbon, and then sets that exam question?

  8. There’s a big difference between propylene which is a natural product and poly propylene which is not. Similarly for Ethylene (more abundant) and poly ethylene. This argument I’m sad to say is completely fallacious.

  9. Oh, and you don’t wear a yurt, no matter how big and middle aged you are. Unless i’m totally out of date and it’s a skirt made of yoghurt and not a mongolian tent made of yak hair felt.

    You don’t get to write that every day.

  10. Philip Scott Thomas – “Neds! In! Space-ace-ace-ace!”

    Anyone else reminded of Marching Morons?

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