Life Out There

 

Exoplanet with dim star
This public domain artist’s impression shows an imagined view from close to one of the three planets orbiting a dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth that were discovered using the TRAPPIST telescope at the European Southern Observatory’s facility at La Silla, Chile. These worlds have sizes and temperatures similar to those of Venus and Earth and may be the best candidates found thus in the search for life outside our solar system. They are the first planets ever discovered around such a tiny and dim star. In this view one of the inner planets is seen in transit across the disc of its tiny and dim parent star.

 

This article is interesting not only for its main assertion, expressed in its title, but for its illustration of the drawbacks of scientific “compartmentalization” and of the benefits that can accrue when scientists from divergent fields talk seriously to one another:

 

“Ocean-covered planets may not be the places to search for life”

 

Here’s an additional related and partially overlapping article:

 

“Exoplanet hunters rethink search for alien life: Astronomers expand ideas of how chemistry and geology could affect chances for life on other worlds.”

 

Such research also suggests that certain forms or types of exoplanetary life might be more difficult to detect than many had previously assumed.

 

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Which brings me to this intriguing item, written (incidentally) by an author with a wonderful last name and featuring the Anglo-American astrophysicist Paul Davies, whose books I’ve enjoyed for years:

 

“Searching for extraterrestrial life: Finding the right communication technology”

 

How would we distinguish a society far advanced beyond ours from a society of gods?  Should we even insist on such a distinction?

 

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Dang:

 

“Previous Evidence of Water on Mars Now Identified as Grainflows”

 

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Moving on to a rather different topic, which involves gazing into the “Zone of Avoidance” (which sounds like something out of Star Trek):

 

“Hidden Supercluster Could Solve Milky Way Mystery”

 

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It comes from beyond our Solar System!

 

“ESO Observations Show First Interstellar Asteroid is Like Nothing Seen Before: VLT reveals dark, reddish and highly-elongated object”

 

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And maybe life itself did, as well:

 

“Space dust may transport life between worlds:  Life on our planet might have originated from biological particles brought to Earth in streams of space dust, a study suggests.”

 

Which, of course, if true, would simply kick the can of the mysterious origins of life down the road a bit.

 

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But what about “terraforming”? The concept has long intrigued me.  (Is it what God or the Gods did with Earth?)  Could we ourselves someday do something like it with regard to Mars?  Some scientists are thinking seriously about such things:

 

“How to Give Mars an Atmosphere, Maybe”

 

 

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