Traces of Life

In current researches, a few new discoveries have made it more possible for life to exist somewhere else in the universe. One of the discoveries is that a group of scientists have discovered that there are three times more stars than they thought. Another group discovers that a microbe can live on arsenic, expanding our understanding of how life can thrive in even the most extreme of conditions. What's, more, astronomers, for the first time, have discovered a new potentially habitable planet.

These pieces of evidence have pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle, making it more possible that life exists somewhere else. However, these life forms are microscopic, and are not green, slimy slugs that you may be thinking of. They will only have a chance of growing bigger when they evolve in the future. Scientists have devised simple equation to calculate the odds of life forms on other planets. The calculation depends on two basic factors: How many places are able to support life? And how hard is it for life to form?

Other studies also have new findings. For example, one study found a scorching hot planet much bigger than the biggest planet in our solar system, Jupiter. It seems to be full of carbon in its atmosphere. In another study, astronomers found a star with at least four large young planets, challenging past assumptions on the fact that there is a limit on the number of large planets a star could have. In the past, scientists were dismissed as working on the fringes of science, if they researched on the existence of life elsewhere. Now, it is the other way round. Believing that there is only life on earth is like believing in miracles. In the past, astronomers thought that life could only exist on or around planets circling a star, like our solar system. However, a recent meeting of the world' top astronomers broke new ground. They crunched some numbers and discovered that life could also exist on planets circling the universe's most common stars- the red dwarfs, which are smaller and dimmer than our Sun. They found that the conditions there would not be similar to Earth's but there would still be life there.

Just last week, an astronomer in Yale University said that he estimated that there are 300 sextillion (which is 3 with 23 zeroes behind!)stars in the universe, three times the previous number. Scientists now believe that at least half the stars have planets two to ten times the size of our Earth- super Earths. Out of these, Goldilocks zones- planets which are not too hot and not too cold have to be sifted out. One had been reportedly found in April, but some are still challenging that. The other part of the equation remains- how likely is life? Over the past 15 years, Earth life has been found growing in acids, in Antarctica, and in other extreme environments.

This is nothing compared to the discovery that a bacterium found in Mono Lake in California that scientists could train to thrive ion arsenic instead of phosphorus. Six major elements have been long considered essential for life- carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulphur. News of this bacterium living on arsenic changed that definition of life.

BY making life more likely in such extreme conditions, it increases the number of planets that are potential homes for life. Mr Donald Brownlee, an astronomer at the university of Washington, is less optimistic that the others because of his belief that what is likely to be on other planets is not going to be that easy to find, -or that meaningful. IF life is going to be found, Mars, the red planet, is the most likely candidate. Any life forms there will probably be on underground, where there is water.


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Hi guys, I'm a student in Singapore, and this are some thoughts and essays I have written over the years.