There was a fascinating article in the Times yesterday (19th of August edition - page 4) entitled: Heavens sent- comet probe reveals how the raw materials of life landed on Earth.
A fundamental building block of biology has been discovered in wisps of stardust from the tail of a comet, offering fresh evidence that life on Earth could have begun from matter that arrived on our planet from space.
New analysis of tiny particles captured by the Stardust comet-chasing probe has revealed for the first time the presence of traces of an amino acide called glycine, a basic componenet of proteins without which life as we know it could not exist.
The discovery, by Nasa scientists, supports a theory that the raw material from which life began first formed in space, and was carried to Earth by comets that crashed into the planet.
Okay - talk about RANDOM! This comet with this material just happened to randomly crash into the earth- a planet with an environment just waiting to accept this material and encourage its growth and evolution.
It also means that other planets are likely to have been seeded with amino acids from comets in a similar fashion, suggesting that extraterrestrial life may well have evolved elsewhere in the Universe and could even be common.
But do any other planets in our solar system have environments similar to Earth's that could support life (as we know it- as it has evolved from these amino acids)?
Anyway - I was discussing this with a friend last night and it was so interesting how we digested this information. To me - the very randomness of this beginning and the intricacy of what we eventually have arrived at pointed in one direction - and for him it pointed in exactly the other,
He's more likely to believe in the fact that there is life on other planets and I'm less likely to believe that and believe that this randomness is a 'miracle' of creation....(and I'm NOT a creationist) but I do call what we started out with and what we ended up with (so far) a miracle - he emphatically will not call it that- but he WILL believe in extraterrestrial life. It just makes me laugh - not at him, or people who believe what he believes- but at the differences in mindset- amusing.
Interestingly enough, on the sidebar of the same page there was a little blurb about disappearing a-levels which stated that:
Traditional a-level subjects such as maths, the sciences, history and geography are disappearing from many secondary schools, official statistics show.
264 schools did not enter any pupils for a-level geography in 2007 and a similar number did not enter any pupils for A-level physics.
I wonder why? Several interesting connections I can come up with.