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There may be life on the moons of exoplanets

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Says Scientific American. How do we know? We don’t. It just that many known exoplanets are gas giants which may also have large moons, as ours do: “And if they do, moons—not planets—may be the most common home for life in the universe.” (paywall)

There may well be water on the exoplanets, of course. Consider, for example, Jupiter’s Europa:

The ice-world Europa has long been seen as a good potential home for extraterrestrial life. That candidacy just got much stronger: it was reported last month that astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope to keep an eye on Europa have spotted evidence of volcanic activity.

Europa’s ice crust, which is thought to be a few kilometres thick, covers a watery ocean over 100 kilometres deep. Nobody knows whether life exists in that ocean, but if it does it would require a source of energy. As so little sunlight penetrates the ice crust, that would have to come from within. That is why the signs of intermittent plumes of vapour erupting from the ice have so excited hunters of extraterrestrial life: it suggests that some kind of life-giving volcanic energy is at work inside the icy moon.

But here’s the problem: The big recent news has been the discovery of highly complex life forms (comb jellies) from 600 million years ago near the beginning of the life we actually know.

Fire and ice are not the source of this complexity, which was wrongly assumed to have been fuilt up over the intervening period. So what is? If we knew that, we would be further ahead.

See also:

Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!

“Behold, countless Earths sail the galaxies … that is, if you would only believe …

Scientific American is a popular science magazine. As is Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, as was Omni. They make money by selling content to the armchair scientist. Their motivations therefore are purely profit driven. Although, they will likely try to couch their motivations in some other more acceptable language. Such as, "raising scientific awareness among the general public". Apparently it is somehow "evil" to turn a profit, and yet they are as enslaved to the marketplace as is every other business who attempts to separate you from your cash. They should simply be more honest about it. I often wonder if they are telling their general audience what they would "like" to hear (for the sake of keeping paying customers) rather than what they have a legitimate right to tell. In other words, they elevate the opinion (or hypothesis) of the scientist rather than what could be warranted by the facts of the matter. My personal opinion on this is that they (popular science magazines, of which is included Scientific American), see their target demographic as being interested in science fiction. Their target demographic is more interested in reading science fiction, so, they are attempting to replicate the "sensationalism" easily available to fiction authors (you simply craft the situation in fiction!) by focusing not on the warranted results of the science being described; rather they focus on the "opinion" of the scientists. In this respect, Scientific American (and its type) are more closely allied to political analysis than scientific analysis. I don't find fault with wanting to explain the opinion and motivations of the scientists, but you need to make sure that the audience is fully aware that is the focus of the article. It's not a good thing to be "wishy-washy" when you analyze experiments as a means of creating content for a population of readers. Some people are easily fooled by authority, others aren't. ciphertext
Agreed Jorge.
But like those giants of our solar system, distant exoplanets may also have large moons. And if they do, moons—not planets—may be the most common home for life in the universe.
In science, that is called a meaningless statement! First we don't even know if they have large moons, so this makes the statement meaningless. Then, assuming they do, they MAY be the most common home for life in the universe. Sure. And they MAY be the most common home for Purple Spaghetti Flying Monsters too. Who knows what's out there?!! But, since "scientists" make the statements, people think they have some scientific validity. How gullible we are! tjguy
I am so sick and tired of headlines like this. They have but one purpose: to make people believe in unverifiable, unfalsifiable, pseudo-scientific fairy tales that promote the Materialistic worldview. "Scientific" American ... yeah, right. Jorge

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