Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagVenus (life on Venus)

Amazing Exoplanets

News From the Search for Extraterrestrial Life 7

Venus is back in the news, for what it can teach us about what can go wrong with Earth

The search continues. Last week we learned about an ancient ocean on Mars and also that Saturn’s moon Enceladus may be a better bet than Mars for life (in the oceans beneath its icy surface). Meanwhile, NASA slams the DART into asteroid Dimorphos NASA successfully struck asteroid Dimorphos, and witnessed the dramatic impact in real time from Earth. Engineers from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) in Maryland monitored their DART probe, short for Double Asteroid Rendezvous Test, as it approached the small asteroid on Monday (Sept. 26). This is NASA’s first planetary defense test, which might inform future efforts to change the direction of a dangerous asteroid traveling towards our planet. Doris Elin Urrutia, “The Top Space Stories Read More ›

Celestial digital art, Venus planet and galaxies in outer space

New Analysis Casts Doubt on Claims for Life on Venus

The newer study agrees that the composition of Venus’s atmosphere is unusual but not that it is evidence for life.

A new study throws cold water (vapor?) on an earlier paper that suggested that aerial life forms could exist in Venus’s massive cloud cover: Researchers from the University of Cambridge used a combination of biochemistry and atmospheric chemistry to test the ‘life in the clouds’ hypothesis, which astronomers have speculated about for decades, and found that life cannot explain the composition of the Venusian atmosphere. Any life form in sufficient abundance is expected to leave chemical fingerprints on a planet’s atmosphere as it consumes food and expels waste. However, the Cambridge researchers found no evidence of these fingerprints on Venus. University of Cambridge, “No signs (yet) of life on Venus” at ScienceDaily (June 14, 2022) The paper is open access. Read More ›

Venus. Cinematic and very realistic sunrise seen from space on venus

Why Researchers Focus On Possible Life on Venus

Chemicals that we shouldn’t find unless they are produced by life forms are sparking interest in exploring Venus from both public and private sources

At one time, Venus was considered a likely candidate for hosting life. But its late- discovered carbon dioxide atmosphere turned out to be very discouraging so researchers focused on Mars. However, research into microbes on Earth has now identified many extremophiles that live under daunting conditions so researchers don’t want to run the risk of making “rules” for life forms that sometimes seem as if they were made to be broken. One possibility raised is that, given that life forms transform their environment over time, simple ones might be slowly shaping it over a long period of time: A team of researchers has put forward a new theory suggesting possible life on the planet Venus could be making the environment Read More ›

First cell, origin of life

Will AI Chemistry Robots Finally Discover the Origin of Life?

Chemist Lee Cronin’s hopes for a breakthrough by getting robots to motor through millions of chemical combinations, looking for self-replicating systems

How did molecules form self-replicating systems? This is a harder problem than we sometimes think because it’s not obvious why molecules should seek to develop into complex organisms that can self-replicate. Science journalist Katharine Sanderson notes that University of Glasgow chemist Lee Cronin is using robots to test the “billions of ways” it could have happened: He and his team have set up machines that combine a selection of simple substances – acids, inorganic minerals, carbon-based molecules – to react randomly. The outcome is analysed and then an algorithm helps the robot choose how to proceed. In this way, the robot can hunt through vast swathes of chemical space to see if any self-replicating systems emerge. Cronin thinks this automated Read More ›