Life beyond Earth

Published: Sunday 31 July 1994

Are we alone in this vast universe? Perhaps. Perhaps not. However, those who believe in the plurality of life have so far had little luck in their search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

But recently, astronomers at the University of Illinois in Urbana, USA, detected one of life's building materials, the amino acid glycine, in the womb of a galaxy 23,000 light years (a light year is the distance travelled by light in one year, which is about 9,460,800 million km) away. This, say scientists, supports the contention that life could occur elsewhere in the universe. More than 100 complex molecules such as ethyl alcohol and quinine have been detected in space.

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