Life Was Possible in the Early Universe, Says New Data

The discovery of ancient planets and new data suggesting that carbon may have formed in the early universe has overturned conventional wisdom about the possibility of very early life. 

What's the Latest Development?

Fresh astronomical discoveries suggest that life may have existed during the early stages of the universe, overturning the conventional wisdom that complex elements such as carbon did not form until billions of years later. One discovery was the observation of two planets orbiting a star that formed 12.5 billion years ago. Another was new data suggesting that more complex elements could have formed in globular clusters, much older parts of the universe, so densely populated with stars that scientists speculate it is more difficult for planets to form and survive there. 

What's the Big Idea?

In 2007, the Hubble Telescope found a planet with over twice the mass of Jupiter in the M4 globular cluster. Next, it will look for planets in the 47 Tucanae cluster, though astronomers will likely have to wait until the James Webb Space Telescope is operational to have better data. But if carbon was able to form in the early universe, rocky planets like Earth might have formed, suggesting that life (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away), might have had billions of years to evolve before the first microbial life forms emerged on Earth, perhaps producing a super-intelligent species. 

Photo credit:

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less

Understand your own mind and goals via bullet journaling

Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.

  • Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
  • The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
  • One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
Keep reading Show less