Scientists have noted that our search for life in space could be compromised by the fact that we don’t have a clear definition of what life is.
Astronomers have been scanning the night sky in an attempt to study the universe for thousands of years, but it’s only recently that we’ve developed technology that allows us to “see” the cosmos farther than what our eyes can see.
And yet, with all the telescopes and equipment at our disposal, we still haven’t found any signs of life on any planet other than our own.
But maybe we’re looking for the wrong things in the wrong places. Some scientists claim that we don’t have to look very far to find extraterrestrials, and that they could live among us on Earth, but in another dimension.
According to the theory of ufologists, also supported by Jacques Vallee, who in 1963 created the first computerized map of Mars for NASA, extraterrestrials could exist in other “realities” or “dimensions”.
Without a clear definition of what life is, scientists and astronomers can make the huge mistake of assuming that life outside our planet is exactly the same as on Earth.
Speaking to the Guardian, astrobiologist Helen Sharman said: “There are billions of stars in the universe, on which all kinds of life should exist. Will they be, like you and me, made of carbon and nitrogen? Probably not. Maybe they’re there right now and we just can’t see them. »
Geobiologist Victoria Orfan of the California Institute of Technology has also suggested that some living things may exist in a kind of “shadow biosphere”.
Orfan believes that scientists who search for life based on the prevailing dogma that all living things are based on the same handful of chemical elements can overlook many things without realizing that there are organisms that “do something a little different” from another.
NASA’s informal definition of life is “a self-contained chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution.”
Astrobiologist Lynn Rothschild of NASA’s Ames Research Center said, “You can’t hunt something if you have no idea what it is.”
She continues: “I believe that we have only one definition of life. I wonder if life is exactly how we define it? »
Meanwhile, University of Cambridge zoologist Arik Kershenbaum, author of The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy, explains: “NASA needs a clear definition of life in order to know which life detectors to use in its missions. . It would be wrong to assume that the biochemistry we are familiar with is what we will find on other planets. »