Friday, October 7, 2022

Would We Recognize Alien Life? Scientists Try To Predict Life As We Don’t Know It

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Could We Recognize Alien Life? Scientists are trying to predict life in the way we do not know it currently .The only source that we have to understand existence is the forms of life that are found on Earth. In Science Fiction, aliens we imagine are often very similar to our own. If we did discover life on another world, could it be like the life that we are?

In the research study that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers of Arizona State University try to anticipate how life will develop on other planets , by moving their attention away towards the molecules which determine life on Earth. They wanted to uncover an universal pattern in life’s chemistry without regard to specific molecules.

“I think we’re fortunate to have evident examples of living systems living on Earth,” said Hyunju Kim who is an Assistant Professor at ASU and co-author of the study. “But when we try to find alien life in other locations within the universe, those kinds of evidence may not be readily apparent for us to see.”

Researchers used a genome database to examine the enzymes in various microbes. They believe that enzymes that speed up chemical reactions that occur in our bodies, can reveal how living systems utilize chemicals, instead of only studying the chemical itself.

Alien DNA

The results revealed a variety of patterns that are common across the reactions carried out by enzymes.

“Physicists are of the opinion that there are universality classes that are actually about a pattern that is consistent across different systems, even though the details may be different,” said Sara Walker who is an associate professor at ASU and co-author of the study. “That notion isn’t something biochemists thought of when they were thinking regarding the nature of life.”

Space missions that search for life beyond our planet are usually constructed around the atoms that make up life on Earth. “What I’m hoping for with this type of work is to demonstrate how to escape from the thinking box and think different about the issue,” said Walker.

The team looked for the existence of scaling relationships that affect enzymes. To better understand the law of scaling consider a start-up business. As the company grows, more workers are hired for each job.

Comparing results between archaea, bacteria, and eukaryotes, they discovered that as the genome of the organism expands as does the amount of enzymes within the classes. The researchers may even be able to utilize the scaling process to predict the traits of the last universal common ancestor microbe, which is the one from which the entire lifeform on Earth is derived.

David Krakauer, the president of the Santa Fe Institute who’s research investigates the evolution of human intelligence Earth There are two theories to explain the reasons why every living thing on Earth has the same fundamental biochemical molecular characteristics. One approach is to claim that we all have evolved from the same common ancestor, and therefore it’s likely that we inherited those traits. The paper adopts the other approach that is to claim universalities can’t be explained by ancestry alone.


“It’s suggesting in an cosmic astrobiological context, something that is beyond the evolution that life has that exists on Earth,” said Krakauer who was not part of the study. “That these universalities are possible in any environment with a functioning biochemistry.”

If so then the findings from the study could be used to provide researchers with an entirely new set of guidelines to use when searching at life elsewhere on the planet.

“I have this idea of the day when I can use this kind of scaling behavior, paired with some theories and machine learning, to look at the chemistry of the planet and develop the type of biochemistry you could be expecting from the planet,” said Walker. The vision she has is a long-term objective and that’s the direction the research is going.

“I believe that the behavior of scaling that we observed in this study is universal to any unknown living species,” said Kim.




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