Chemistry of Life » Introduction

Life began long before the planets were formed. In the vast conflagration of the BIG BANG the Laws of Physics were formulated and in the battle between matter and antimatter, matter just and only just won. The quarks held by the gluons formed protons and neutrons and were still too hot to form atoms with the sea of electrons. The dark ages followed the creation of matter for hundreds of thousands of years. A time came when the rapidly expanding universe cooled to a point when chemistry became possible but it was a very simple chemistry. The hydrogen atoms could combine to form molecules with each other or with their isotope deuterium and perhaps very occasionally form chemical bonds with lithium. Helium atoms ever solitary combined chemically with no other atoms not even with each other. This was hardly an interesting beginning to the fantastic story of chemistry with its billions of possible combinations. The basic bricks that would one day give rise to a wonderful and varied chemistry had yet to made in the stupendous stars that began to form in the early Universe. In the hearts of very massive stars protons and neutrons were melded together to form the various isotopes of all the atomic nucleii up to iron. In the huge hot cloud that was ejected into interstellar space when the stars exploded in unbelievably violent supernovae the remaining elements of the periodic table were formed. In the population of new stars and the planets that formed around them the seeds of life were already present in the new atoms that had been fabricated in the heart of the massive early stars that seeded interstellar space with the building bricks of life. Generally the new stars were of much lower masses than the early stars which contained only hydrogen and helium when normal hydrogen burning commenced. The presence of other elements seems to inhibit the formation of extremely massive stars.

Ray Goodwin

Somewhere there are mountains
Glistening in the snow
Somewhere there are mountains
That we shall never know

Somewhere there are rivers
Flowing fast and free
Somewhere there are rivers
That we can never see

Somewhere there are oceans
And sun drenched island sands
Forests full of creatures
In vastly distant lands

Somewhere there’s a planet
Beneath an alien star
The people watch our tiny sun
And wonder where we are

One day perhaps we’ll find them
Across the void of space
Perhaps through ways as yet unknown
We’ll meet them face to face

The author of this web site Ray Goodwin holds B.Sc. Degrees from London University in Chemistry, Geology and Physiology and an M.Sc. in Biochemistry. He has spent most of his professional life teaching in Colleges of Technology. On his retirement he has entered the fields of astronomy, astrochemistry, astrobiology and space sciences. He has spent a great deal of his retirement in visiting amateur astronomy societies and in attending European Space Agency Symposia in ESTEC in the Netherlands and other scientific conferences in England and Sweden. He regularly attends the yearly European Astrofest in South Kensington London and other meetings in the UK. He has written scientific articles and given a number of lectures on diverse scientific subjects.

Readers of this web site are invited to e-mail the author ( and discuss their opinions of the topics dealt with and suggest any changes which they think may be helpful.

Life in the Cosmos Website
Version 01.00 - April 20, 2015.