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← New Drake Equation To Quantify Habitability?

SteveN's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by SteveN

Comment #418299 by God fearing Atheist

The issue is the energy of a photon at those wavelengths. They have the energy to break even the strongest molecular bonds, and are therefore "dangerous" to any chemical** life.

What you say is undoubtedly true for life as we know it. However, I feel that you may still be falling into the 'provincial' trap. It would, for example, be feasible for life to get started on a planet bathed in gamma radiation in shielded locations, possibly in 'black smokers' at the bottom of their methane oceans. Organisms could then gradually evolve to be resistant to (or to even utilise) the gamma radiation in order to expand into new habitats. I am reminded of the fact that oxygen was initially a deadly poison for most forms of early life on Earth (and still is, for some) and that the early Earth (lacking oxygen) had no ozone layer and was therefore presumably bathed in 'deadly' ultraviolet light.

I also liked your qualifier about chemical life. I suspect that the novel you are referring to is 'Dragon's Egg' by (I think) Robert Forward. It was this book, with its description of life forms formed from degenerate matter living their lives at speeds orders of magnitude greater than our plodding chemical bodies allow, that first opened my eyes (many decades ago) to the possibilities of exotic forms of life elsewhere in the universe. In a similar vein, a story I read more recently (probably by Stephen Baxter, but I'm not sure) described the rise and fall of 'space-faring' civilisations during the initial milliseconds of the Big Bang in a universe that was rapidly expanding and cooling but was no bigger than maybe a basketball. Perhaps such novels should be required reading for all budding exobiologists ;-)



Wed, 23 Sep 2009 13:31:00 UTC | #400171