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One wishes ET life were more believable than this

Saturn and largest moon Titan/Cassini, NASA

It would be so much more fun.

From ScienceDaily:

Earth’s extremes point the way to extraterrestrial life: Exploring the limits of life in the universe

NASA’s discovery last month of 500 new planets near the constellations Lyra and Cygnus, in the Milky Way Galaxy, touched off a storm of speculation about alien life. In a recent article in the journal Life, Schulze-Makuch draws upon what is known about Earth’s most extreme lifeforms and the environments of Mars and Titan, Saturn’s moon, to paint a clearer picture of what life on other planets could be like. His work was supported by the European Research Council.

“If you don’t explore the various options of what life may be like in the universe, you won’t know what to look for when you go out to find it,” said Schulze-Makuch, a professor in the WSU School of the Environment.

“We do not propose that these organisms exist but like to point out that their existence would be consistent with physical and chemical laws, as well as biology,” he said.


Not clear what the prof’s statement means. Organisms that are not consistent with the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology cannot exist in this universe, by definition.

Generally, the thought seems to be that organisms could have biology other than what we might predict:

If life does exist on Titan or a Titan-like planet elsewhere in the universe, it uses something other than water as an intracellular liquid. One possibility is a liquid hydrocarbon like methane or ethane. Non-water based lifeforms could feasibly live in the liquid methane and ethane lakes and seas that make up a large portion of Titan’s surface, just as organisms on Earth live in water, Schulze-Makuch said.

Such hypothetical creatures would take in hydrogen in place of oxygen and react it with high energy acetylene in the atmosphere to produce methane instead of carbon dioxide.

Due to their frigid environment, these organisms would have huge (by Earth standards) and very slowly metabolizing cells. The slow rate of metabolism would mean evolution and aging would occur much slower than on Earth, possibly raising the life span of individual organisms significantly.

Possibly, but then the existence of such life forms becomes all the harder to predict, given present knowledge. Hmmm.

See also: Cosmology and the romance of ET


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