More evidence for extraterrestrial life

Recently astronomers found one of the most important building blocks of life around a young star like our own. The news was reported in ScienceDaily. The molecules of glycolaldehyde, a simple form of sugar (the common name for a range of small carbohydrate molecules containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen), were found in the gas surrounding a young binary star with similar mass to our sun. Glycolaldehyde has been seen in interstellar space before, but this is the first time it has been found so near to a sun-like star, at distances comparable to the distance of Uranus from the sun in our solar system.

This discovery shows that some of the chemical compounds needed for life existed in this system at the time of planet formation. “This molecule is one of the ingredients in the formation of RNA, which — like DNA, to which it is related — is one of the building blocks of life,” said Jes Jørgensen of the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, the lead author of the paper.

Since we have already learned that most stars in our galaxy have one or more planets, and evidence is starting to accumulate that some of these planets will have liquid water, we probably will in the next decade or two find evidence for extrasolar life on them. When I wrote my book about Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) in 1983, there was no evidence at all that any other stars even 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. If making organic ingredients happens as readily as more and more studies indicate, 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.

This supports my 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 exception being on planet Earth. Earth-size planets at the right distance to support carbon-based life will be discovered in the next decade, and some of them will show signs of life. Of course, life on earth took over 4 billion years to evolve into intelligent life, and we do not know how long a technologically advanced civilization lasts. It is possible that thousands of scientifically advanced societies have long since died out.

In my introduction to modern Kabbalah, “God, Sex and Kabbalah,” I devoted an entire chapter to extra-terrestrial intelligent life as evidence of God’s universal creation. In that chapter I point out that the key ingredient that is essential for two advanced civilizations to meet is the half-life of advanced civilizations. This is a religious and not a scientific issue.

About the Author
Rabbi Allen S. Maller has published over 250 articles on Jewish values in over a dozen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. Rabbi Maller is the author of "Tikunay Nefashot," a spiritually meaningful High Holy Day Machzor, two books of children's short stories, and a popular account of Jewish Mysticism entitled, "God, Sex and Kabbalah." His most recent books are "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You?: A 21st Century Kuzari" both available on Amazon.