Alien Life May Not Be So Alien – If It Exists At All

Our galaxy has exoplanets, natural compounds, liquid water — even a nebula shaped like DNA – but is there life?

Are we too hopeful in our hunt for extraterrestrial life? Regardless of exoplanet counts, super-Earths and Goldilocks zones, the probability of life elsewhere in the Universe is still a moot point — to date, we still only know of one instance of it. But even if life does exist by some means, somewhere besides Earth, would it truly be all that alien?

In a current paper titled “Bit by Bit: the Darwinian Basis for Life” Gerald Joyce, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA discusses the nature of life as we know it in regards to its fundamental chemical building blocks — DNA, RNA — and how its ability to pass on the memory of its building separates true biology from mere chemistry.

“Evolution is nothing far more than chemistry plus history,” Joyce mentioned in the course of a Public Library of Science podcast.

The DNA structures that evolved here on Earth — the only location in the Universe we know for specific that life can thrive — have confirmed to be really effective (naturally). So what’s to say that life elsewhere wouldn’t be based mostly on the exact same basic building blocks? And if it is, is it genuinely a “new” life form?

“Truly new ‘alternative life’ would be life of a different biology,” Joyce said. “It would not have the details in it that is element of the very same heritage of our life kind.”

To arise in the first spot, according to Joyce, new life can take two attainable routes. Either it starts as chemical connections that grow more and more a lot more complex right up until they commence to hold on to the memory of their specific “bit” construction, finally “bit-flipping” — aka, mutating — into new structures that are either effective or unsuccessful, or it starts from a far more “privileged” beginning as an offshoot of preceding life, bringing bits into a totally new, right away profitable orientation.

With these two scenarios, anyplace in addition to Earth “there are no instance of either of people ailments so far.”

That is not saying that there is no life elsewhere in the Universe… just that we have yet to determine any evidence of it. And with no evidence, any discussion of its probability is still pure conjecture.

“In order to estimate probabilities, we want facts,” said Joyce. “The difficulty is, there is only one life form. And so it is not feasible to estimate probability of life elsewhere when you have only one instance.”

Voyager incorporated a golden record with images and sounds of Earthly life recorded on it… just in scenario. (NASA)

Even even though exoplanets are currently being identified on a practically day-to-day basis, and it’s only a matter of time prior to a rocky, Earthlike planet with liquid water on its surface is confirmed orbiting another star, that’s no assure of the presence of alien life — despite what conclusions the headlines will definitely jump to.

There could be a billion habitable planets in our galaxy. But what’s the relationship between habitable and inhabited?” Joyce asks. “We don’t know.”

Still, we will keep on to search for life beyond our planet, be it actually alien in nature… or something somewhat a lot more acquainted. Why?

“I feel humans are lonely,” Joyce said. “I think humans are like Geppetto — we want to have a ‘real boy’ out there that we can point to, we want to find a Pinocchio living on some extrasolar planet… and then somehow we won’t be such a lonely life kind.”

And who knows… if any aliens out there truly are a lot like us, they might naturally be seeking for evidence of our existence as well. If only to not be so lonely.

Listen to the total PLoS podcast here.

Jason is a graphic designer living in Dallas, Texas. He writes about astronomy and space exploration right here on Universe Today and also on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News and National Geographic News.

No, Z, due to the fact if we find there WAS life on Mars then we’re still alone and if we find there IS life on Mars, then it’s a straightforward bacteria or some such that leaves us still feeling rather significantly alone as the only multicellular lifeforms. Apart from, unless of course it is some extraordinary cellular construction, then I would conjecture that it had every proper to come from here anyway. Afterall, the moon really perhaps came from here and that’s a lot of earth rock in space.

That could make YOU still feel alone if a decrease life-type was located on Mars, but not me! I guess what degree of life would get you fired up is subjective.

(If located, two out of eight planets, and numerous likely moons ain’t bad odds for the rest of the galaxy.)

Peristroika wrote: “unless it’s some extraordinary cellular structure, then I would conjecture that it had each appropriate to come from here anyway.

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