« And then there is this ... SNL | Main | Open Thread - 14 march 2016 »

14 March 2016

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Dubhaltach

Fyunch (click)!

rjj

It's there, and they SURE AS HELL don't want to bring it back from wherever they find it. Perhaps Old Microbiologist will have something to say about this.

Fred

Hopefully it's not a reverse of the tale of the microbes that killed off the Martian invaders as depicted in the War of Worlds. Just how does one filter out microbes that could be harmful before a return flight to Earth?

cynic

Just imagine the extraterrestrial Star Trekkers visiting Earth and saying the equivalent of,"Beam me up, Scotty. There's no intelligent life down here."

The Twisted Genius

Seems the RC Church would have no problem with such a discovery. The head of the Vatican Observatory has this to say in 2014. Of course he's a Jesuit Brother.

"The new president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation has said that it is only a matter of time before alien life forms are discovered, which will pave the way to questions about God's relationship to intelligent beings outside our planet."

Pope Francis also talked about alien life that year and even said that Martians visiting Earth would be welcomed to receive baptism. He sure likes to stir things up.

And on a lighter note, here's one of the funniest SNL skits I've seen in recent times from Kate McKinnon, the same woman who does Hillary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfPdYYsEfAE

Hood Canal Gardner

It's a reach, but okay. What are the numbers that 'our' MIC-IT/DOD gang will have their fingerprints on the contracts .. and bugs too?

Rocketrepreneur

Pat,

Finding evidence of life either on other planets/moons in the solar system, or via exoplanet astronomy seems pretty likely over the next 50 years. Personally my money is more on finding life via exoplanet astronomy. There are plans being developed for telescopes that are sensitive enough to be able to visually image habitable planets around nearby stars and do spectroscopy on their atmospheres. At least for life similar to what we understand it on earth, finding bio-signatures in exoplanet atmospheres (gas traces that are currently expected to be products of life like say excess oxygen) should be feasible. I know people working on such telescopes.

Finding life inside the solar system is also possible, and it will be interesting to see what happens if we do. I know some have suggested that especially if there is evidence for existing life on Mars, that some would want to preserve the planet from human landings, to avoid contamination. If it's just past life though, they'd have a harder time making that argument. Also, Mars isn't the only place to look for life. There are asteroids like Ceres with tons of water in them (I think more than Earth!), moons like Europa that have subsurface liquid water oceans (heated by tidal forces), etc.

I guess that religious or not, the idea that Earth is the only planet in the universe with life on it seems so ridiculously unlikely. From an irreligious standpoint, the idea that somehow earth is unique among hundreds of billions of planets in our galaxy alone seems crazy. But even from a religious perspective, the idea that God would create a huge universe with trillions of trillions of solar systems and planets, and only put life on one of them also seems silly and wasteful.

Of course, I'm Mormon, and while I roll my eyes at some of the sci-fi mischaracterizations of our beliefs, we do believe that the Earth isn't the only planet with life on it. That said, the interesting question for me is how ubiquitous is life really? How common are other intelligent species out there? Any close enough we could eventually detect and/or communicate with them? If there are, how do you resolve Fermi's Paradox?

Who knows. But it's going to be awesome to start finding out. :-)

~Jon

William Fitzgerald

Pat Lang,

I'm not of the opinion that it would challenge everything we know. For instance, we know that water exists on Mars and that there was previously more of it. I think that we also know that at one time, the atmosphere was thicker. Thus, wouldn't it be logical to deduce that conditions have existed for organisms to have developed. On the other hand, we've never known that no form of life ever existed on Mars. Anyway, I vote yes.

WPFIII

BabelFish

Set the Alderson Drive for the Coalsack Nebula.

BabelFish

Arthur C. Clarke got it right in the beginning of Childhood's End, where all the Cold War passion just dissolves with the arrival of proof of our not so unique status in the universe.

Old Microbiologist

Personally, other than it being of only mild interest, it will neither help nor hinder us. To me, thus is all a fantastic waste of money. We have serious problems right here on Earth. I'll go a bit further. Mans a microbiologist I am particularly aware that we are individuals comprised from billions of individual organism (being multi-cellular). We developed here on our own planet with a very defined set of environmental constraints and IMHO we cannot live anywhere else successfully. To me the entire fantasy of interstellar exploration is just a huge waste of time and money. We might be able to genetically modify our elves to live somewhere else, but the we wouldn't be humans anymore.


The other problem is the Fermi paradox, and I believe we are on the verge of that phenomena and will, like 99.999% of all civilizations may destroy themselves before they leave their own planets. We need to focus on real problems and not ridiculous things like this. But, I know scientists love to feather their own beds and for some dumb reason politicians give into this, probably due to pork funding.

ISL

I have been updating my research on exo-oceans, one of the most exciting discoveries in the last decades, IMO, because they demonstrate that the key ingredient to life as we know it - liquid water - is actually not that uncommon even in our own solar system. Although less immediately accessible than Mars, the ocean on Ganymede with more fresh water than on earth is amazing in the true meaning of the word. And the methane/ethane oceans of Titan, with more hydrocarbons than all the oil and gas reservoirs on earth....

If only the Chinese or Russian's would launch a mission to claim Titan's methane oceans for themselves, the US might look up and out again, rather than focusing on some pop diva's choice of underwear or the national embarrassment that is how this country selects a president.

Laguerre

They've only sent a mission to discover if the methane is of life origin. It's far from certain. If you've read as many science-fiction novels as I have, you'd realise that alien life has to exist somewhere. Statistically it has to. Why not Mars? Though I think that one is unlikely. Still we have to find out. One could ask the question, though, is it the best use of resources? Or would it be better to invest in the exploration of Mars, and discover whether or not there are microbes, as a by-product?

Dubhaltach

In reply to BabelFish 14 March 2016 at 01:51 PM

Just don't bring back any watchmakers or warriors.

Walrus

One thing is certain. If we discover life elsewhere in the solar system or universe, then the mission for the human race for the next Ten thousand years is to colonise outer space.

Laguerre

"To me the entire fantasy of interstellar exploration is just a huge waste of time and money."

Recognising, as I do, your scientific qualifications, I would have thought that finding out what happens elsewhere is an inevitable part of scientific effort. The only question is whether this particular mission is useful. Perhaps better part of a more extensive investigation of the Martian environment?

Dubhaltach

In reply to The Twisted Genius 14 March 2016 at 12:50 PM


Bless me father for I have dwarked Magnessen in a vlendish manner?

sillybill

We're already infested with Crazy Eddie's.

sillybill

I disagree, humans will never stop jousting for power and wealth. The discovery or presence of alien life will just be more things to fight about.

AEL

Note that there is a theoretical possibility that (microbial) life can cross space without human intervention. The inside of meteorites can be very cold, even after descending through the atmosphere in a blaze of heat. Microbes inside could plausibly survive.

Let's say that a rock from space hits a life bearing planet. This will cause a spray of fragments in all directions. Some of these fragments might even achieve escape velocity. After a long while one of those fragments might be intercepted by a different planet. If life was still inside the fragment, it might then be able to leak out and infect the new world.

This is not that far fetched. We already have collected chunks of Mars which landed on Antarctic ice sheets after being blasted off Mars in the ancient past. In fact, it is possible that Mars developed life before Earth. Being smaller it would cool faster, so the opportunity for life would have happened earlier there (before Mars lost its water and atmosphere).

Maybe we are descended from martian immigrants.

The Twisted Genius

Damn, Dubhaltach. That is some obscure stuff.

Babak Makkinejad

The plurality of worlds was a conclusion that logic-choppers of Medieval Europe - West of the Diocletian Line - had arrived at, circa the 14-th century.

It has taken 700 years to empirically verify that conclusion.

sans racines

I have a background in physical sciences - as many here probably realise the Universe is a remarkable place... take relativity, 'spooky' action at a distance quantum phenomena, the recent experimental verification of gravitational waves with all that real effort stemming from a mathematical/physical theory (and what a colossal energy release!) and our other technical feats such as GPS, the Hubble telescope, the latest rover landings on Mars, backing up rockets to land on their tails, the Internet, the first prototype fusion reactor at Cadarache in France, under construction right now - microscopes that can image and manipulate single atoms - we live in highly interesting times... so while it won't be easy who's to say we'll never acheive wormhole spacetime travel? Certainly light-sails will be a good near-term gambiit for getting around the solar system - we should do that... and yeah, it's a very big place, seemingly mostly empty, dark and cold but it's also full of marvels - and really we are as a species full of curiosity - I'd almost say that's our job, our purpose is to take part in this Universe and explore - for what would all of these spectacles and curious phenomena be without witnesses? It would be a shameful waste.

Babak Makkinejad

Using fusion-powered ships one can circumnavigate the known universe within a single human life time but at arrival back on Earth, billions of years would have passed.

There is no technological barrier to a trip to alpha-centuri, for example, utilizing robotic spacecraft that are powered by both nuclear fission and fusion.

What is a fantasy, at the moment, is overcoming the speed of light barrier; it is almost like speed of sound in a liquid.

Babak Makkinejad

Life out there:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panspermia

Please take a look at the references of the works of Hoyle & Wickramasinghe.

Hoyle believed that the Vikings had discovered life on Mars.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Blog powered by Typepad