- Jack McDevitt
Astronomy Magazine has a cover story: life on other worlds could be more diverse than on Earth. I haven’t gotten my copy yet so I’m not sure what they mean by ‘diverse.’ It’s hard to imagine a world with more life forms and more variations than we have. But it might just be that my imagination is also getting old.
I was able to track down a brief description of the article. A denser atmosphere could apparently have a major impact. As could longer days, caused of course by slower rotation. The result would be that more nutrients would be collected from ocean bottoms, brought to the surface, and drawn into the atmosphere and made available to whatever life forms are in the neighborhood.
It’s an area of research that has been neglected, apparently, until recently. It became the hot topic last week at the Goldschmidt Conference in Barcelona. I’m not sure whether we’re merely talking about a wider variety of species, or creatures entirely different in some basic way. An example of the latter that comes immediately to mind would be sensient vegetation that could communicate somehow. (Don’t ask me how.) I never understood why vegetables were alive. I can recall sitting in my sophomore year high school biology class wondering what was the point of being an oak tree?
But the Astronomy writers are no doubt thinking more along the lines of life based on something other than carbon. Silicon, for example. Or germanium. Or metal-oxide. Or boron. Or whatever other possibilities there might be.
Might it be possible to have animals that don’t eat? That acquire all their energy through breathing? Or mobile plants, that is, plants not rooted anywhere?
We know two types of life on this world –and I hope I have that right--. Might there be others?
Maybe I should close this down and head over to Books-a-Million to pick up my copy of Astronomy.