Organic Molecules found in interstellar space !

Since historic times, we have wondered where we came from and where life originated. As it became apparent that the Earth was just one planet orbiting the Sun, that the Sun was just one star among ∼1011 in our galaxy, and that the Galaxy itself was only one such object among ∼1011 similar systems populating the Universe out to a cosmic horizon, with perhaps countless more lying beyond, it became clear that life on other planets, near some other star, in some other galaxy was possible. The cosmological principle also makes this idea philosophically attractive. It would suggest that life is some general state of matter that prevails throughout the Universe. The probability of finding some form of life, however primitive, on other planets either within the Solar System or around nearby stars seems very high from this point of view. Nevertheless, we are unable to predict where life should exist, mainly because we do not yet understand the thermodynamics of living organisms and what different forms life may take.

As we know, things to be in equilibrium they should follow some permitted rules. Likewise, thermodynamics distinguishes between three types of systems. Isolated systems exchange neither energy nor matter with their surroundings. Closed systems exchange energy but not matter, and open systems exchange both matter and energy with the surroundings. Biological systems are always open, but in carrying out some of their functions, they may act as closed systems. Biological processes also exhibit a well-defined time dependence. Some physical processes could take place equally well whether time runs forward or backward. If we viewed a film of a clock’s pendulum, we would not be sure whether the film was running forward or back. Only if the film also showed the ratchet mechanism that advances the hands of the clock, would we be able to tell whether it was running in the right direction. The pendulum motion is reversible but the action of a ratchet is an irreversible process. Biological processes are invariably irreversible. In an irreversible process, entropy, a measure of disorder, always increases. If a cool interstellar grain absorbs visible starlight and re-emits the radiation thermally it does so by giving off a large number of low-energy photons.

The Universe is fundamentally biological. Even the Urey-Miller experiment that simulated the theorized early pre-life conditions on Earth, and produced amino acids, suggests this. The ammonia used was obtained by a process involving hydrogen of bio-origin, and the methane was also biological in origin. Non-biological catalysts would be poisoned almost instantaneously by sulfur gases under pre-life conditions. What this means is that most of the material in interstellar grains must be organic or life itself would have been impossible. The spectrum for all grains along the line of sight from the galactic center to the Earth is very much like that of dry bacteria. Either the grains are bacteria or are organic grains in proportions like bacteria (amino acids, nucleic acids, lipids and polysaccharides). Therefore, both theoretically and observationally, organic constituents fit the observations. Organic materials or bacteria would easily align in magnetic fields, and could produce superconducting surfaces that would generate filaments. Organic materials or bacteria could more easily produce the variety of objects in the Universe than inorganic or non-biological materials. As with so much of its constituents, the Universe itself is fundamentally biological. In fact, so much is this the case that life constitutes a physical law; it had to arise, it was an inevitable complexity of the real world is even more extraordinary with a hierarchy of living things.

 

Life result of the laws of physics as they exist. Moreover, the evidence indicates that the variety and permeates all of space, it is built into the very substance of the Universe, and has even brought about its own self-consciousness we humans. Yet, we have done little, in the scientific realm, to ask one ‘open’ question: Why? And the reason is that most scientists are afraid to admit that the Universe is purposeful and fundamentally biological. If electromagnetism did not exist then there would be no atoms, no chemistry, no life, and no heat and light from the Sun. If there were no strong force then nuclei would not have formed, and therefore, nothing would be. Likewise, if the weak force and gravity did not exist, then you would not be reading this, nor would any form of life be here

Yet, these four very different forces (and no others), each vital to all of the complex structures that make up the Universe, are so fine-tuned that they all combine to make a single super-force. Granted that we do not specifically know how to search for exotic forms of life, could we not find indications of extraterrestrial life in a form familiar on Earth? All terrestrial living matter contains organic molecules of some complexity proteins and nucleic acids, for example and we might expect to find either traces of such molecules or at least of their decay products. We know of two quite distinct locations in which complex molecules are found. There may be many more. First, observations of interstellar molecules by means of their microwave spectra have revealed the existence of such organic molecules as hydrogen cyanide, methyl alcohol, formaldehyde, and formic acid. Larger molecules, such as the sugar glycol-  aldehyde, CH2OHCHO, have also been found to be quite prevalent in interstellar space. Infrared observations similarly have shown the existence of the even larger, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules.

 

References:

[1] Choudhuri A. R, Astrophysics for Physicists, Cambridge University Press (2010)

[2] Gagnon, E. et al. Soft X-ray-driven femto-second molecular Dynamic.

 

Exclusive interview with Prof. Lawerence M. Krauss, Arizona State University | Chetanath Blog

This is Chetanath Neupane,

Editor, New Dimension Magazine

Department of Physics, St. Xavier’s College, Kathmandu, Nepal.

 

Professor Lawrence M. Krauss, thank you very much for providing your precious time for our magazine. Personally I am very happy and much eager to talk to the best-selling author of several books and more than 300 research publications & Director, The Origins Project at ASU and Foundation Professor, School of Earth & Space Exploration and Physics Department Arizona State University. I would like to welcome you to this session On New Dimension Magazine.

 

  • Professor Krauss, you are very busy person. How do you manage your time?

I try and agree to do many different things, and then juggle them one at a time.  I find that if I don’t have a lot to do, I sometimes do very little.  I tend to focus intensively on one thing at a time, and work through the list.  Sometimes I have to focus on 3 or 4 very different things in a single day, but I actually like the variety as well.

  • Dear Professor, first of all I would like to Congratulate for your recent book publication “The Greatest Story Ever Told…So Far” , how do you introduce this book to laymen what is the greatest story in this book?


“It is the story of the remarkable effort humans have made to understand the fundamental forces that govern nature, and to strip back the illusion of reality that we experience on human scales to understand the underlying structure beneath it.”

  • It is said that life in the Universe can occur only when certain universal dimensionless physical constants lie within a very narrow range. In what sense, if any, is the universe fine-tuned?  What conclusions should we draw from the existence of fine-tuning?


“The Universe isn’t fine tuned for life.  Life is fine-tuned for the universe.  If the parameters of the universe were different perhaps different life forms might be possible.  Moreover, even quantities like the energy of empty space, which seems to be so small compared to the value it might have, and which, if it were any larger, would not allow galaxies to have formed, could nevertheless have been much smaller and the universe would be more conducive to life.  And a value of zero for this quantity would seem very natural indeed.”

 

  • Prof. Krauss, I kindly expect your answer in my personal question arising while going through your another famous book “A Universe from Nothing” which contains an argument, why there is something rather than nothing. How can you explain it to a non-physicist, how the universe can be created out of nothing?

 


“Well, quantum mechanics allows for the spontaneous emission of particles like photons, the particles that make up light, whenever an electron changes its state in an atom.  The photon appears from nothing.  It was not in the atom before it was emitted.  It simply appeared.   Similarly, it turns out that elementary particles can spontaneously appear in empty space, once again due to the properties of quantum mechanics, this time in combination with relativity.  If gravity is a quantum theory, then the variables that gravity describes, space and time, become quantum mechanical in nature, and whole space-times can appear spontaneously.  This means that whole universes can appear that did not exist before.  And it turns out our universe has the properties that one would expect from a universe that spontaneously appeared from nothing in this way.” 

  • Do you agree that “philosophy” is the best way to understand Physics and Nature?


“Natural-Philosophy, what we now call Science is the best, and I believe, the only reliable way to understand how the physical universe operates.”

  • If time (or space) is infinite, everything that can happen has already happened, even down to me typing these words, and there is no change, only cycles of varying lengths. But how could time not be infinite? How can there be no state of being at all?


“Our universe had, as far as we can tell, a beginning, about 13.8 billion years ago.  As far as we can tell, both space and time may have begun then.  Now, as far as we can tell, our universe may expand forever.  So in that sense time could be infinite..(or as we say in physics or mathematics, semi-infinite).  And it is true that if our universe exists into the indefinite future then many strange aspects of infinity, including the possible repetition of everything we experience, an infinite number of times, for separate versions of us, might be possible.  But we certainly don’t know if this is the case, and the conditions of the future universe could change so that life forms like us could not exist in the far future in any case.”

  • Once you have said “String theory doesn’t really make any predictions at this point because it’s still an evolving idea”, is there any significant development in this idea?


“There has been a lot of mathematical development, and interest techniques have been developed that have been useful in other areas of physics. But fundamentally my earlier statement remains the same.”

  • You say that you are an atheist. How do you define atheism? Are you an atheist because of your scientific consciousness?

 


“An atheist is simply someone who finds the argument for God unconvincing.  Everything I have learned as a scientist over the past 35 years makes God not only seems highly unlikely, but largely redundant even if such an entity did exist.  There is no evidence for miracles, and the laws of physics describe the history of the universe back to the earliest moments of the big bang without supernatural shenanigans.”

  • Professor, Is “Dishonest” the only word for someone who believes in god despite being a scientist?


“No, I don’t think so.  A vague ‘deist’ notion.. Assuming some purpose or order in the universe determined by some unknown intelligence, cannot be refuted by science.  It is just unnecessary.  But the Gods of the world’s major religions are all not in accord with our scientific understanding of nature.  I wouldn’t call it dishonesty.  Religion is foisted on young people, and it is hard to overcome.. We all tend to believe in mutually contradictory things at one time or another.”

  • Professor, let we discuss about the global scenario, In January 2017, the Doomsday Clock is set at two and a half minutes to midnight, due to a rise of strident nationalism worldwide, US President Donald Trump’s comments over North Korea, Russia, nuclear weapons, and the disbelief in the scientific consensus over climate change by the Trump Administration.  What is the real picture of our planet at this point? Are we heading towards world war III?

 


“Who knows?  The world is a dangerous place, and we have to wake up to those dangers and begin to think globally.  As Einstein said many years ago after the first nuclear explosion, “Everything has changed, save the way we think”.  Unfortunately our thinking remains the same.” 

  • In the end, I expect some words to your Fans and followers; you are the source of inspiration in the field of physics exploration. What is your message to young researcher in Nepal?

 


“Keep doing what you love.  Don’t get discouraged by others.  Work hard, and enjoy discussing your work with others. .”

 

For more about Prof. Krauss go through the following Links: