Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


Somewhere in extreme deep space far galaxies and habitable exoplanets with rings. 3D rendered background. Elements of this image were furnished by NASA.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life 14

According to a new study from the University of Copenhagen, 4.5 billion years ago, there was enough water on Mars to cover the planet in an ocean 300 metres deep

Our universe: A recent buzz is the magnificent new map of the universe from Johns Hopkins University, giving some sense of our universe’s nearly unfathomable size. Astronomer Hugh Ross points out at Reasons to Believe that the universe also seems to be designed for observability: Sound implausible? Well, here’s what he says: “ … there’s a relatively narrow time window in the history of the universe during which astronomers can observe 100% of the universe’s past history. Humans are inside that time window now. I also demonstrated that we are living in the one location within this vast universe where intelligent physical life is possible, and where that intelligent life can observe 100% of the past history of the universe. Read More ›

super-earth planet, realistic exoplanet, planet suitable for colonization, earth-like planet in far space, planets background 3d render

News From the Search for Extraterrestrial Life I

Super-Earths that might have life, choosing life forms to take to Mars, and self-replicating robots…

A roundup from popular science news sources: ★ Are any super-Earths habitable? The largest single class of exoplanets discovered are super-Earths — bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune, of which there are 1,577 confirmed discoveries. Some lie within the habitable zones — at least in principle — of their stars. Stony Brook astrophysicist Paul Sutter ponders the factors that go into determining how many of them are actually habitable, concluding, Perhaps the best candidate for a habitable super-Earth is LHS 1140b, which orbits a red dwarf star about 49 light-years from Earth. It’s about 60% wider than our planet but 6.48 times as massive. It orbits extremely close to its parent star — its orbital period is just 25 Read More ›

Crab close up, Cuba

If We Find Life on Exoplanets, Some of It Might Be “Crabs”

Over millions of years, many crustaceans gradually grew to look more and more like crabs, a process called convergent evolution

The earliest crablike creatures are thought to date from about 365 million years ago (the Late Devonian period). But the odd thing is that many creatures that did not start out looking like crabs have, over tens of millions of years, grown to look like them. A good many lobster-like decapods (= they have ten feet) began to look like crabs (carcinization). Possible causes include greater mobility (some crabs can climb trees), easier hiding in narrow spaces, and less temptation for predators (no juicy tail). Biologists call this process convergent evolution — life forms converge on the same solutions to their problems even if they are not closely related. So we might ask, if we find life on other planets, Read More ›