“Now that we have learned that most stars in our galaxy have one or more planets; evidence is starting to accumulate that some of these planets, with liquid water, probably have life on them, just as we do on planet earth”, says Rabbi Allen S. Maller. When Rabbi Maller wrote his book about Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) in 1983, there was no evidence at all that any other stars had planetary systems. Twenty nine years later, astronomers have already discovered over 1,500 exoplanets.
Now very recent evidence suggests that complex organic molecules — such as amino acids that build proteins and ringed bases that form nucleic acids — grow on icy dust grains in an infant solar system. All it takes are high-energy ultraviolet photons to provoke the rearrangement of chemical elements in the grains’ frozen sheaths, according to a new study, reported online March 29, 2012 in Science. This supports Rabbi Maller’s assertion, based on Kabbalistic teachings, that God didn’t create a universe with millions of billions of stars and leave it devoid of intelligent, spiritually aware lifeforms, with the only one exception being on planet Earth. Earth size planets at the right distance to support carbon based life will be discovered in the next few years according to Rabbi Maller, and many of them will show signs of life.
In his introduction to Modern Kabbalah, “God, Sex and Kabbalah”, Rabbi Maller devoted an entire chapter to Extra Terrestrial Intelligent Life as evidence of God’s universal creation. If making organic ingredients happens as readily as this study indicates, then planetary systems of other stars are probably seeded with the same fertile, organic pastures. “Anywhere you have ice and high-energy, ultraviolet radiation, this process is going to take place. And those are both pretty common in the universe,” says Dante Lauretta, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona where researchers began by simulating the early solar nebula, a swirling disk of gas and dust that surrounded our young sun until planets began forming about 4.5 billion years ago. Over a theoretical one million-year period, the team tracked the movement of 5,000 individual dust grains, tiny organic-toting particles covered in ice made from compounds like water, carbon dioxide, methanol, or ammonia. Most grains survived the million-year period, though some fell inward and were snatched by the sun.
Grains lofted above the disk’s plane met warmer temperatures and high-energy ultraviolet photons — the catalysts needed to convert elements in the simple ices to more complex molecules. In these types of reactions, photons striking chemical bonds create varieties of complex molecules that are highly reactive and ready to recombine. As warming temperatures cause the ices to evaporate, those elements can find partners and form new molecules. With enough photons slamming into enough dust grains in the early solar nebula, it’s hard to avoid making complex molecules this way. Astrobiologists have identified such molecules as being important in the story of life’s origins, and there’s abundant evidence that they can survive in space. Scientists studying meteorites that crashed to Earth have found amino acids and nucleobases in the space rocks.
In the lab, researchers have simulated how such compounds could be made astrochemically. Swirling around the young sun, those organic-laden ice grains eventually clustered and clumped. The clumps grew into comets and asteroids that bore these molecules to Earth, depositing them in fiery collisions or lighting the infant skies with an organic-rich hailstorm. “It’s well established that extraterrestrial compounds were delivered in this way,” Jason Dworkin, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Center says. “It’s not yet clear how much the space travelers contributed to the population of organic compounds on Earth, but it is certainly a convenient mode of delivery.“ And Rabbi Maller adds, “It is more than convenient, it is the logic of a Kabbalistic belief in a creative God who loves life.”
Rabbi Maller’s web site is: rabbimaller.com
- Life’s building blocks grow close to home (sciencenews.org)
- Building blocks for life on Earth may have had dusty start (msnbc.msn.com)
- So where did life on comets come from in the first place? [Life] (io9.com)