]> Supporting Evidence 2

Supporting Evidence 2

Do the elements and molecules needed for creating life exist in the universe?

Do we have the raw materials to build amino acids and a DNA-like molecule throughout the universe?

Ever since the mid-20th century, astronomers have observed through radio and optical telescopes a great variety of the essential raw chemical elements needed to build amino acids and a DNA-like molecule. The way these raw elements in space are revealed to us is through a special technique known as spectroscopy.

Spectroscopy is defined as the analysis of electromagnetic radiation emitted, absorbed or reflected by atoms and molecules (as revealed by dark or brightly-colored lines at specific frequencies) using a tool to help see into the radiation at different frequencies. Every atom of a particular element and every molecule of the same compound emits, absorbs and reflects radiation in its own set of unique frequencies. The way scientists determine what these unique frequencies are to help identify the atoms and molecules is by passing the radiation through a glass prism, which does the job of separating the radiation into its individual frequencies.

Once the unique frequencies has been spread out onto a screen to form an absorption or emission spectrum (we call this the electromagnetic fingerprint), it can help scientists to determine not only the chemical composition of distant clouds of gas and dust, and of galactic, stellar, planetary or cometary objects at their very surfaces, but also to help reveal more subtle details such as the temperature, pressure and rate of rotation of these objects, and whether or not they have a magnetic field.

Today, the emission and absorption spectrums from nebulae, comets, stars and meteorites, scientists have found a chemical cocktail composition of mostly hydrogen, with smaller amounts of the remaining chemical elements. If we look at a typical nebula, we find that for every million hydrogen atoms in these clouds, there are about 120,000 helium atoms, a few hundred each of nitrogen, carbon and oxygen, about 100 each of neon and sulphur, and several atoms each of iron, calcium, sodium and potassium.

The existence of these elements tells us we have the abundance of raw materials for creating a DNA-like molecule and any amino acid we care to forge anywhere in the universe and not just here on Earth.

Creating molecules

Do these elements come together to form molecules? Yes indeed. Scientists have uncovered out of the universal "woodwork" no less than seventy-five different molecules. Some of the molecules identified include water, methane, ammonia and the not so life-giving properties known as hydrogen cyanide. More complex molecules such as formaldehyde, ethanol, formic acid and cyanoacetylene have also been found; and there is certainly no shortage of organic molecules as well. Glycine, the simplest amino acid, is one such example of an organic molecule found in space.

COMPOUNDS IN A TYPICAL COMET

Chemical Name

% by weight

Water

57.50

Carbon dioxide

14.00

Carbon monoxide

6.00

Formaldehyde

5.75

Hydrogen cyanide

5.75

Carbon disulfide

4.60

Acetylene

4.00

Remaining 2.4% in elemental metals and other materials

CHEMICALS FOUND IN SPACE

Year

Chemical Name

Formula

1970

Hydrogen

H2

1963

Hydroxyl

OH-

1970

Carbon monoxide

CO

1940

Cyanogen

CN

1971

Carbon monosulfide

CS

1978

Nitric oxide

NO

1973

Sulfur monoxide

SO

1975

Sulfur nitride

SN

1937

Methylidyne ion

CH+

1968

Water

H2O

1968

Ammonia

NH3

1971

Silicon monoxide

SiO

1975

Silicon sulfide

SiS

1975

Sulfur dioxide

SO2

1972

Hydrogen sulfide

H2S

1974

Hydroinitrogenyl ion

N2H+

1976

Formyl

HCO

1970

Hydrogen cyanide

HCN

1978

Methane

CH4

1969

Formaldehyde

H2CO

1975

Cyanamide

NH2CN

1970

Methanol

CH3OH

1976

Cyanodiacetylene

HC4CN

1977

Ketene

CH2CO

1970

Formic acid

HCOOH

1971

Acetylaldehyde

CH3CHO

1975

Ethanol

CH3CH2OH

-

Ethyl Cyanide

CH3CH2CN

-

Glycine

C2H5O2N

If that is not enough, in the 26 September 2014 research journal Science, astronomers at the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) noticed within the star-forming gases known as Sagittarius B2 evidence of unusual carbon-based molecules. One new molecule identified is called isopropyl cyanide. The complexity of this molecule suggests relatively complex amino acids and other important biological chemicals probably started during star f