Cosmic Rays and Genetic Code

Some key steps in the development of our genetic code, or the Cambrian explosion, or bipedal stature among our ancestors were initiated by cosmic rays.

Indeed, Cosmic rays, mainly electrons and protons, have bombarded the Earth for the entire history of life on the planet, and we are listening to cosmic rays today, produced in another age in the depths of space.

Every star destroys itself gradually and produces cosmic rays that spiral through the Milky Way Galaxy for thousands or millions of years until, quite by accident, some of them strike the Earth, and our hereditary material. Can we see or sense these rays? The answer is “yes”.

On July 4, in the year 1054, Chinese astronomers recorded what they called a “guest star” in the constellation of Taurus (the Bull). A star never before seen became brighter than any star in the sky. Halfway around the world, in the American Southwest, there was then a high culture, rich in astronomical tradition, that also witnessed this brilliant new star (Moslem astronomers noted it as well. But there is not a word about it in all the chronicles of Europe).

The explosion was seen on China with the naked eye for three months. Easily visibly in broad daylight, the Chinese could read by it at night. The remarkable star, 5,000 light-years distant, is now called the Crab Supernova and the Crab Nebula is the remains of a massive star that blew itself upon the Milky Way, after the event of 1054.

There also was a supernova observed in 1572, and described by Tycho Brahe, and another, just after, in 1604, described by Johannes Kepler.

On the average, a supernova occurs in a typical galaxy about once every century. During the lifetime of a given galaxy, about ten billion years, a hundred million stars will have exploded – a great many, but still only about one star in a thousand.


Supernovae are routinely observed in other galaxies. Image: © Megan Jorgensen

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