Saturday, August 13, 2011

DNA on Meteorites

NASA image of meteor in the atmosphere.
     Hello interweb. For the past several decades, there has been an increasing body of scientific evidence edging towards the idea that we could not possibly be alone in the universe. I'm not talking about the townies who claim abduction or visitation, but the real stuff. We discovered that there are hundreds of billions of stars in each of hundreds of billions of galaxies. We have searched for and discovered other planets. We have discovered life on Earth living in conditions thought unlivable just a decade ago. The Catholic Church randomly announced that extra terrestrial life would not conflict with belief in God. Now NASA has announced that the building blocks of DNA and other similar chemical compounds were present on 11 of 12 meteorites studied.

     NASA believes that there is almost 0% chance that the samples were contaminated here on Earth. This is further evidence that basic biologic chemical compounds are readily created in space, and with all that space how is it possible that life only happened here? To me, whether life is a unique event or the universe is a petri dish of life, it is equally saddening and amazing at the same time.  On the one hand if we are unique, we are truly alone and there is nothing else out there in the vast expanses of space, no one looking for us, no hot space babes, and no Star Wars. But we would truly be a unique, rare, and special occurrence.  But if life is common in the universe, how humbling and slightly depressing is it that we are not unique? Humans have spent all of history believing that we are special, that the Earth and its problems are the center of the universe. But throughout history we have been continually humbled to our knees. We learned that we are not the center of the solar system, that we are not the center of the galaxy, and that we are not the center of the universe.

     We are the 3rd planet from a star that is 3/4 of the way out on a spiral arm of a galaxy full of stars and a galaxy that is one of many in an ever expanding universe. Only the moon revolves around our little blue planet. If life is common in the universe, it would be the final proof that we just aren't that special or probably even that intelligent. But to me, the universe would be a much more special place as a whole if it is teaming with life that explores, learns, and discovers. Leave a comment below saying how life's uniqueness or commonplace would affect you. Would it disappoint you? Comfort you? Encourage you? Break your faith or belief in a higher power? Prove your faith?  

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