Today, the Royal Society in London kicks off a conference
on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. In one session, Arizona State University physicist Paul Davies will explain why he thinks we should be looking in our own backyards to support the possibility that life evolved on other planets. For example, US Geological Survey scientist Felisa Wolfe-Simon
is exploring whether "alien" lifeforms could thrive in aresenic-contaminated environments that would seem to be a bit, er, inhospitable. Davies addresses some of these ideas in his forthcoming book, The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence
. From The Times Online:
Professor Davies will argue that demonstrating that life has appeared more than once on Earth would be the best evidence yet that it must exist elsewhere in the Universe.
"Royal Society meet to discuss if extra-terrestrials are here on Earth"
He told The Times: "We need to give up the notion that ET is sending us some sort of customised message and take a new approach."
According to Professor Davies, "weird" microbes that belong to a completely separate tree of life, dubbed the "shadow biosphere", could be present in isolated ecological niches in which ordinary life struggles to survive. Likely hiding places include deserts, scalding volcanic vents, the dry valleys of Antartica or salt-saturated lakes.
Not all are convinced by the "shadow biosphere" concept. Colin Pillinger, who led the Beagle 2 Mars landing mission, said: "I prefer to deal in scientific fact -- this is wildly science fiction. You'd be off your trolley to go searching for arsenic-based life."
Professor Pillinger, who is due to speak at the Royal Society today, argues that Mars remains the best bet for finding alien organisms.
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As AI improves, the mystery of consciousness interests more programmers and physicists.
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Even the most expensive pair of hi-fi headphones can’t match the feeling of bass rumbling through your body at a live show. That’s why music aficionados designed The Basslet, an accessory that reproduces that sensation from your wrist. Does it make your whole body shake with deep subs? Not really, because that would be terrifying, but […]
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Thinking of a business idea is the easy part. Doesn’t even have to be a “good” idea, you can still get people to throw money at a non-existent venture, but to do that you need to at least have something even resembling a viable business plan. Why doesn’t anyone do it then? Because building that semi-viable […]