How do humans look for signs of life beyond Earth? The consequences may not be pleasant.

According tomedia reports, scientists have put in a long time and enough effort to find evidence of extraterrestrial life, but even if they do exist, they may not be easy to identify. Researchers are increasingly aware that the process of discovering extraterrestrial life may be putting humans in a position of uncertainty and could have less pleasant consequences. The initial data may be eye-opening and spark speculation about the life of the alien star, but it will not be enough to finally solve the problem.

“It could be a slow process, unlike the green robots on Earth that scare everyone,” Said Sarah Seager, an astronomer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington. Sarah Seager, who has been following the exploration of exoplanets, believes that a slow discovery process may help make it easier for people to cope and understand the importance of discovery.

Kathleen Denning, an anthropologist at York University in Canada, says the uncertainty could make it difficult for humans to cope. “As humanbeings, we’re not good at maintaining open spaces, ” Denning said. “We always have to find ways to fill these spaces. “

Kathleen Denning also points out that when exploring possible extraterrestrial life, a wealth of available information can trigger fear and other negative emotions. The idea of contact with extraterrestrial life, even from scientists, is often less pleasant, and modern modes of information flow tend to be negative and inaccurate.

Therefore, if extraterrestrial life is not clear enough, humans may make up for themselves, regardless of the lack of evidence. If some kind of extraterrestrial intelligent life is discovered, it may be more worrying because scientists actually lack a detailed understanding of the capabilities, techniques, or intentions of extraterrestrial life. From a scientific point of view, this will be a very exciting discovery, but for many people, it creates a conceivable space.

In order to prepare for new discoveries, humans should spend some time practicing how to deal with this uncertainty and, through more dialogue, give us more confidence in their ability to harness new discoveries, according to Kathleen Denning.

Sarah Seager also sees this uncertainty as a challenge for scientists, albeit in a very different way. She describes the possibility that, as exoplanet research continues to evolve, there may be differences in the understanding of certainty in extraterrestrial life among different populations. Scientists may still lack enough evidence to truly identify this life. However, if there were enough plausible possibilities (although it has not been proven), the situation would be different.

The future of astrophysics

How do humans look for signs of life beyond Earth? The consequences may not be pleasant.

The artist depicts many Earth-like planets that may exist in the course of the history of the universe.

Decades ago, talking about finding extraterrestrial life beyond Earth was a boring dream, but today, astrobiology is a thriving field, supported by different scientific fields, with some incredible discoveries, and more in the future.

To determine the next direction of astrobiology, in 2018, the National Academy of Sciences (including the Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Engineering, the Medical School, and the Scientific Research Council) convened a panel of professional scientists to review what had happened in the field since 2015 and to agree on the priorities that should be given in the future. The findings, published in a paper published on October 10, 2018, offer a series of recommendations to NASA.

This report summarizes to some extent the technical needs in the field of astrobiology in the coming decades. If they are to make a breakthrough, scientists will need powerful telescopes and instruments that block starlight, which have not yet been manufactured. The report also covers thinking patterns and research practices.

This is the difference between astrobiology and many other areas: the emphasis on interdisciplinary thinking and the pooling of a wide range of scientific expertise. We need to think at the system level, treat planets as a whole, and put livability in a “spectrum” that is not just a question of yes or no.

This change comes in part from our discovery of our own planet, and scientists are increasingly aware of how tenacious life on Earth is. From deep-sea vents where microbes feed on chemicals, to the harsh Atacama Desert, to the depths of Antarctica’s ice, life has been seen in places where environmental conditions were considered too harsh. These findings prove that a place where one life cannot survive may be very comfortable for another.

The authors of all these findings suggest that we need to think more creatively about where we should look for life in the solar system. They also singled out the possibility of underground life. The report also highlights an important challenge in identifying life: the precise identification and interpretation of chemical changes in life characteristics. Astrobiologists understand that this is not as simple as it sounds. Especially in the outer solar system, scientists can hardly even discover potential biological features.

Life doesn’t go beyond chemical processes unless you’re talking about very complex molecules, such as drugs and other things. In the case of oxygen, early single-celled life fed large amounts of oxygen into the Earth’s atmosphere, but oxygen can also be produced through abiotic processes. Life is a systemic ally, so you can’t take the parts apart and say that they represent life, and the report stresses that scientists must figure out how to look at potential biometric features and learn to find misleading signals.

There are also suggestions to focus on life forms similar to humans. In order to find extraterrestrial life, NASA needs to work with private organizations and other countries to integrate astrobiology into all types of missions during the planning phase, the report said.

The report also marks the return of Alien Intelligence Exploration (SETI) to mainstream research. NASA has stopped funding the field since the 1990s. SETI is dedicated to finding technologically advanced signals of civilization, that is, looking for intelligent life like ours, rather than single-celled organisms.

“It’s frustrating to say that certain studies don’t fall within the scope of astrobiology, and it’s scientifically intolerable,” said Jill Tate, an astrobiologist at the SETI Society, an independent nonprofit. “

Most importantly, the report highlights the enticing prospects of astrobiology and the potential impact on our lives and worldview. “If we look at what we’ve found in these other planetary systems, it might give the Earth a new glow,” Sherwood Lorr said. “

Overall, the report reflects how the field of astrobiology is maturing, and “it is actually becoming a real science, not just an idea.” I think this document does reflect that,” said Sarah Walker.

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