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Building Block of Life in Space

An amino acid that is one of the building blocks of life onEarth has been found in deep space. This means that thechemistry needed to create life is not unique to Earth,making it more likely that life exists on other planets. Italso means that molecules from space may have made their wayto Earth and started life here. Amino acids are importantbecause they link up to form proteins, the molecules thatmake up and run our cells.

Lewis Snyder, an astronomer at the University of Illinois,and Yi-Jehng Kuan, of the National Taiwan Normal University,found the amino acid. Kuan says, "We have strong evidencethat [the amino acid] glycine exists in interstellar space."

In order to find it, they monitored radio waves for thespectral lines characteristic of glycine. They studiedemissions from giant molecular clouds, huge blobs of gas anddust grains. They also identified 10 spectral lines at eachlocation that correspond to the lines created by glycine inthe lab.

The discovery of glycine supports recent lab-basedsimulations of deep space, which show that ice containingsimple organic matter can form. When researchers shineultraviolet light on the ice, amino acids are created."Glycine is the holy grail," says Jill Tarter, director ofSETI. "Let's hope they've got it this time."

We may have come from space and set up ancient civilizationslong ago, that have been lost to time. Read Andrew Collins?theories about this in ?From the Ashes of Angels? and ?TheGods ofEden?,click here.

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