Some of the new biological findings on Earth can inform our search for life elsewhere. Stem cells are a case in point. Even fat may contain stem cells that can be injected into the bloodstream—i.e. set loose to find and repair inflammation in the human body. Knee repair is now done with one’s own stem cells, harvested from healthy bone.
Other advances have been made in the realm of mini-RNA, gene regulation, and the voltage in cell membranes that can determine how large frog brains will grow.
Organisms have been found that tap into the chemical environments of water-rock boundaries as a source of energy. (sciencenews.org April 18, 2015) Add that to the sun, methane and hydrogen sulfide for other sources of energy, and it’s a wonder that life isn’t budding out all over the cosmos.
But that’s old news. You might want to keep a watch on news coming from studies of mole rats. They live to be thirty years old, which is ancient for small rodents, but they remain able to produce offspring. They get along on low levels of oxygen and water (only from tubers and roots they eat) and don’t get cancer. Though they show brain plaques like Alzheimer patients, they don’t suffer cognitive defects and don’t have cardiovascular diseases. Lots to be learned here, perhaps.
New findings also keep coming out of dinosaur finds. Lately, paleontologists found huge then huger sauropods and alligators that walked on two feet. Feathers have verified the dinosaur ancestry of birds, and now Yo Qi has been found—a dinosaur with wings made of skin, like bats.
The point? Life on Earth has been extremely creative, devising ways to survive that are beyond our imagination. Add to our down home observations, the most recent pictures from the ESA comet landing and the Pluto flyby, and we have even more possibilities—remarkably varied environments for life to hunker in and survive.
There’s also more heat out there than we might expect. The Cassini spacecraft has found silicon dioxide grains that had been heated to 90 degree Celsius in the Enceladus subice sea before being sprayed into space through southern cracks in the ice. Time and timing apparently did the trick. But, as these examples make clear, we still have a lot to learn about life here on Earth and potential environments for life on planets and moons elsewhere.
Author of The Archives of Varok
The View Beyond Earth (Book 1. Rewrite of A Place Beyond Man 1975)
The Webs of Varok (Book 2.)
Nautilus silver award 2013 YA
ForeWord finalist 2012 adult SF
The Alien Effect (Book 3.)
An Alien’s Quest–Reconciliation and Hope (Book 4. coming in 2015)
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