Finding aliens: Is there a ‘theory of everything’ for life?

The search for alien life is far too human-centric. Our flawed understanding of what life really is may be holding us back from important discoveries about the universe and ourselves.

  • What, should it exist, is the universal law that connects all living things? To even dream of answering that question, and to one day find alien life elsewhere in the cosmos, humans must first reconcile the fact that our definition of life is inadequate.
  • For astrobiologist Sara Walker, understanding the universe, its origin, and our place in it starts with a deep investigation into the chemistry of life. She argues that it is time to change our chemical perspective—detecting oxygen in an exoplanet's atmosphere is no longer sufficient enough evidence to suggest the presence of living organisms.
  • "Because we don't know what life is, we don't know where to look for it," Walker says, adding that an unclear or too narrow focus could result in missed discoveries. Gaining new insights into what life on Earth is could shift our quest to find alien life in the universe.
Keep reading Show less

Top 5 theories on the enigmatic monolith found in Utah desert

A strange object found in the desert has prompted worldwide speculation.

Credit: Utah Department of Public Safety
  • A monolithic object found in a remote part of Utah caused worldwide speculation about its origins.
  • The object is very similar to the famous monolith from Stanley Kubrick's "2001: Space Odyssey".
  • The object could be work of an artist or even have extraterrestrial origins.
Keep reading Show less

Zircon in a meteorite opens the door on Mars’ past

Zircons in a Martian meteorite widens the possible timeframe for life on Mars.

Credit: Deng, et al./University of Copenhagen
  • A meteorite from Mars unexpectedly contains zircons that reveal the planets history.
  • The rock likely comes from one of the solar system's tallest volcanoes.
  • Analyzing the zirconium required smashing some very expensive rock.
Keep reading Show less

Water may naturally occur as rocky planets form, new study suggests

An ancient Martian meteorite carries with it some compelling implications.

  • The meteorite behind the new research, Black Beauty, is 4.45 billion years old. This means it is from right around the time when Mars formed.
  • It contained intact, ancient water-bearing minerals.
  • The research indicates later asteroid-impact effects that could only have occurred if water was already present.
Keep reading Show less

Jupiter’s intense radiation makes its moon Europa glow

Using a laboratory model, scientists get a nice Jovian surprise.

  • Europa is continually bombarded by radiation from Jupiter.
  • According to new research, that radiation may make the moon glow.
  • The colors of the glow may help scientist identify Europa's compounds.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast