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August 30, 2009

Atoms & Universe

  • On 16th Aug in a meeting of American Chemical Society, researchers formally reported that samples collected by NASA’s Stardust spacecraft when it flew thru the gassy halo of a Comet Wild 2 in 2004 contained Amino acids. Amino acids are considered the building blocks of protein and thus an essential ingredient for creation and sustenance of life. The idea that life was seeded by comets that crashed into earth in its adolescent years has been in circulation for a while, but this was the first time we had concrete evidence to prove it. So in a way all life form on Earth is ET (Extra terrestrial – from outer space). Carl Sagan wrote in his book ‘Cosmos’ “Human beings, born ultimately of the stars and now for a while inhabiting a world called Earth, have begun their long voyage home.”

    (Question still remains how did Amino acid get generated in the comet’s halo in the first place) There is an entire branch of science devoted to study- Abiogenesis – science of how life came into existence from non-living matter.

    Inspite of all the scientific progress three fundamental questions remain largely unresolved. And after years of research we have discovered more questions than answers.

    What is the Universe and how it was created? - Genesis
    How did life originate from non-living matter first in outer space and later on Earth? - Abiogenesis
    And how did it evolve into a complex organism with such intelligence (brain) & conscience (thoughts /feelings) as mankind? – Evolution (probably the best understood of the three because of the ‘adaptation of species’ and ‘survival of the fittest’ theories proposed by Darwin )

    If we are all created by cosmic dust, than in my theory even if our body (hardware) is decomposed our software (DNA / Conscience) is in perpetual circulation and if somehow we can connect to that conscience, we can download all the answers. This idea is religion neutral, agnostic and purely spiritual. I am certain in our life time science behind spirituality would be discovered and its fundamental laws just like the laws of Gravity would be established.

    As we develop evermore powerful instruments to explore the distance Universes and probe into the insides of the atoms we are discovering striking similarities in their structure and the laws that govern them. At the Hadron Collider project two beams of sub atomic particles called ‘hadrons’ would be accelerated and collided, the results of that collision will help us understand the big bang and structure of the Universe. A Hadron which is sub-atomic infinitesimal can help us understand the infinite Universe. Can there be anything more remarkable.

    The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries- Carl Sagan

    And for me star gazing still retains the number one slot for stress busting. So while trying to beat my own stress I ventured out over the weekend with the aid of my Dobsonion 230 mm telescope, but thanks to low pressure conditions the sky was mostly overcast.

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