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.
After years of speculation and wrangling over his remains, Kennewick Man turns out to be closely related to contemporary, local Native Americans after all. Discovered near Kennewick, Wash., in 1996, the skeleton ended up in a tug of war between tribes in the pacific northwest who wanted to bury the remains, and scientists who wanted […]
Our solar system is awesome.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, has been releasing portions of its research to the public for years. This week’s massive 300 terabyte dump of Large Hadron Collider (LHC) data is the biggest yet by a long shot — and it’s all out there, open source, free for the exploration.
Isn’t it about time to stretch what your Mac can do? I mean, you’ve got plenty of great programs now…but don’t you think you could use some new tools to get your creative, analytical and organizational juices really flowing? It’s spring, so we cleaned up a whole bunch of super-cool apps lying around and packaged […]
In the world of app development, there’s no greater arena to find success than with Android users. About 80% of the smartphones in use today worldwide operate on the Android operating system, so if you build a great app that Android users love, you’re an international rock star. You’ll be able to make sure your […]
Unless you’re a programmer or webmaster, the term SQL probably doesn’t mean much to you. But for those looking to understand more about how and why the web works the way that it does, know this – SQL and its process of managing and presenting large data sets is everywhere…and it’s the most in-demand programming […]