Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shadow Life

A great deal of effort is spent detecting signs of Earth-like life on other planets so that we’ll know who to pillage and plunder when we finally achieve faster than light speeds. But what about life on non-Earth-like planets? Arizona State University astrobiologist Paul Davies suggests that not all lifeforms necessarily breathe oxygen and drink water. And he suggests that we may be able to find such freakish critters right here on our home planet. He calls these kinds of organisms “shadow life”, and he believes that discovering them here would give us even more reason to believe that all kinds of life are common in the universe. He suggests looking first in Earth’s least hospitable environments, namely the upper atmosphere and deep inside volcanic vents. We may find microbes that have a completely different chemical basis than our own. And they may be so exotic and alluring that we can’t help but have sex with them. (I’m hoping.) More details here. And I apologize to anyone who read the headline for this post and thought it would be about flesh-eating aliens on a planet that’s one giant library. If you are such a person, you are a beautiful nerd. And I love you.

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