Carl Sagan said in his famous TV show Cosmos that we are all made of stardust. He was not wrong. However, we now know even more. In fact, the stars themselves are made of the basic elements of the universe. One of these components is ethanolamine. It is an essential molecule for the origin of human life.
The knowledge that the substances that made our existence possible lie in the depths of the deep universe is not new. Indeed, we have known for years that nearly 97 percent of the mass of the human body is made up of matter from outside the confines of our little blue planet.
Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphide…. as the controversial mystic and alchemist Aleister Crowley once noted, there is a star in each of us. In reality, each of us contains the same materials from which the universe is made. Moreover, thanks to a recent discovery, we are now more certain than ever of this fact.
Importance of Ethanolamine
Ethanolamine is an organic chemical compound. It is of extreme importance to life on Earth. In fact, this molecule integrates four of the six chemical elements that are essential to the survival of every living thing.
These are oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. In addition, ethanolamine forms the molecules known as phospholipids. They are an important part of any cell membrane.
This last fact is of utmost importance, as these cell membranes protect all the genetic material and internal machinery of the cell.
Ethanolamine is the prebiotic molecule that scientists believe would have been essential to produce phospholipids. This created the first life forms on our planet.
The theory of panspermia
You may have heard of panspermia. It is a hypothesis that suggests that life existed in space and was transferred to Earth. Therefore, we are all the result of molecules that traveled to Earth on various meteorites.
This idea has been reinforced by a recent discovery. A study published in the journal PNAS reports decisive findings from an international scientific team led by Victor M. Rivilla of the Center for Astrobiology CAB CSIC-INTA (Spain). They found that astronomers have discovered ethanolamine clouds in deep space.
Deep space and molecular clouds
Scientists observed ethanolamine spectra through powerful telescopes. In fact, we are 1,000,000 light-years away from a region of the deep universe. It is inhabited by a cold molecular cloud that astronomers have named G+0.693-0.027. This is where they discovered this crucial and important molecule.
- The slow, but constant collisions of gas and dust masses cause striking chemical reactions.
- They generate ethanolamine through combinations of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon.
The compound, synthesized in this distant icy landscape, ended up on Earth via a meteorite. In addition , according to the authors of this study , nearly one billion liters of ethanolamine have reached the earth. They claim that the amount is comparable to the amount of water in Lake Victoria.
In addition, astronomers have discovered other substances of astrobiological origin. For example, hydroxylamine and theophoric acid.
Does life come on Earth or from far away?
Many scientists choose panspermia as their chosen theory for understanding the origin of the Earth. However, most experts argue that it is due to Earth’s inorganic matter when water vapor started condensing more than 4,500 million years ago.
Still, we should not rule out the theory of panspermia. Furthermore, several meteorites in which different molecules are integrated have been found in Australia and Antarctica.
There are more important things beyond the origin of life. As Stephen Hawking once said, “ We’re just an advanced kind of apes on a small planet of a very average star. However, we have a lot of strength. We also have curious minds who ask questions and seek answers.
For this reason, we should at least make sure that our “intelligent” life form really makes sense. Indeed, we must ensure that our knowledge serves us to become a species that respects both each other and our beautiful planet. After all, we are only temporary tenants.