Ray Jayawardhana, professor of physics and astronomy at York University, Toronto, explains in this NYT Op Ed how elements were made in the Big Bang and inside of stars and the building blocks of proteins were made in space. “Amid the material comforts and the relentless distractions of modern life,” he says, “the universe at large may appear remote, intangible and irrelevant, especially to those of us who are city dwellers. But the next time you catch a glimpse of the Milky Way in its true glory, from a dark outpost far from city lights, think of those countless stars as nuclear factories and the starless hazy patches as molecular breweries. It is not much of a stretch to imagine the inchoate seeds of life emerging in the distance.”