What it did do by having this moment was saying to scientists that they really need to be more careful and more creative, I think, in their approach to understanding what potential life could be out there on other worlds. How do we find this stuff in the first place? What kinds of environments can it live in? Big red flashing neon sign, "life here.
I like to point to Europa, Enceladus, and Titan as the most tantalizing in our search for life that could be alive today. He works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. HAND: Ah.
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What does Europa look like? It's sort of an icy white that is a mixture of water ice and then some salts that have kind of been concentrated out of the, the ice. And then, there are regions that are kind of a, kind of like an egg yolk yellow and that I think is irradiated salt. And then there are regions that are a bit more reddish and that's sulfur compounds. And then I hope that there's also some brownish goo that might be organic material that could be indicative of life within the ocean. HAND: If we've learned anything about life on Earth, it's that where you find liquid water, you generally find life.
And Europa has got two to three times the total of, total volume of all the liquid water found in Earth's ocean. GWIN: So another huge liquid water ocean in our solar system. So if there's so much water out there, then maybe there's life out there too. HAND: We just don't know but I definitely side more towards: if the conditions are right and if they are similar to what we think happened on Earth, then I think the origin of life is probably pretty easy.
GWIN: Okay, hold on a second. So what did happen on Earth?
Okay, evolution. I understand: organisms compete with each other. Over time they change, they get more complex, branch off into different species. You eventually get nematodes, dinosaurs, platypuses, and modern humans.
The so-called tree of life. But how did the whole thing get started in the first place? I mean, to have evolution you need to start with a living thing. So how did that first thing get started? BOSTON: My mental picture of early Earth is a gigantic laboratory the size of a planet with zillions and quajillions and other -illions of little tiny experiments going on all the time in many, many different environments.
That there was no single "a ha, a cell appears! GWIN: Both Boston and Hand think that if you get all of the basic ingredients for life together, with enough time and energy those basic ingredients could start to mix. BOSTON: This interacting system of chemistry got more and more complicated over time, got more and more life, lifelike. Um, pre-biotic, um, life-y, life-y-ness index went up.
GWIN: Life-y-ness. You got tubas, violas, percussion, a random clarinet. It sounds chaotic. But then over time they start playing together and it becomes music. BOSTON: And that, gradually out of that beautiful symphony, that soup of life — maybe not only soup but crunchy bits — um, that proto organisms arose from that and that many different flavors of proto organisms probably existed. GWIN: Proto organisms: the things that come before organisms, all mixing in a primordial soup. BOSTON: The minute you get different things in an environment that are competing for something like nutrients or space or water or I don't know what.
Uh, sunlight. You get selection. This is the beauty of selection. And so the minute you have that, there are going to be some proto-organismic-like things that are going to do better than others and they're going to gradually, uh, you know, winnow out who's the most successful. GWIN: And so maybe, in an environment like Europa with just the right combination of energy, nutrients, and time, Kevin Hand says, life could emerge.
HAND: And even though that's not as exciting as a giant Europan squid, it's still profound from the standpoint of changing the way we think about life and biology. For all of the diversity of life on Earth from a giant squid to Mick Jagger to extremophile microbes, we're all connected by the same tree of life.
And if we were to find even a simple microbe on Europa, I would be curious, what makes it tick? Does it have DNA or does it run on some other genetic compound? Is it connected to some other tree of life that's completely independent from life on Earth? GWIN: And the only way to find that out is to go there. Hand says plans for a mission are underway.
HAND: That mission will hopefully get to the launchpad in ish and then out to Jupiter and Europa in the mid to late s. And it'll fly by Europa some 45 times and send back all sorts of stunning images and spectra and ice-penetrating radar and lots of great stuff. Just by a curious serendipitous quirk of our solar system, the pressure at the deepest regions of our ocean.
And so I think these environments on Earth can be extremely informative in serving as a guide for how we assess whether or not the deep ocean of Europa could be habitable or possibly even inhabited. But later on as an adult, she found her first cave microbe. It said that the cave had only recently been dug into.
That it was massive and huge and unexplored and pristine; and that there were a great richness of sulphur minerals. And the last thing that really caught our attention was the fact that one of the U. Geological Survey scientists had seen what he thought were microorganisms present in some of these spectacular mineral formations there. BOSTON: I happened to be looking up and a blob of this brown and orange stuff fell into my eye and it completely made my eye swell up within a matter of minutes. And I had to then back out of the cave with my eyes swelled shut. So then I didn't even have my three-dimensional vision.
I think that that seems like a biological signal. GWIN: A biological signal, as in the blob might be alive. And once they got out of their dark cavernous world, the microbes that had gotten into her eye died. BOSTON: The material that had fortuitously flopped into my eye actually was a very exotic and very amazing microbial mineral community. Where did we come from? Are we alone? And how are we going to thrive in our future? And it, it would be a really profound moment when I think we are able to say it's possible for life to exist somewhere that is not here.
Why is that? Oxygen seems to be the key to complex life on Earth and some of the calculations that we've done indicate that Europa's ocean could potentially have enough oxygen to support some of the smaller organisms that we see in our ocean like polychaete worms and jellyfish, et cetera. So I would be happy with the tiniest of microbe but, um, I hold out a bit of hope that maybe evolution has clicked even further along within Europa's ocean. You can find a report from Kevin Hand about all of the fascinating science behind the potential for life on Europa. And of course, there are plenty of incredible pictures.
Drake Baer , Tech Insider. We were greeted at the door by Lowline cofounder Dan Barasch, who's been trying to get the park off the ground — or underground — since Before Lowline, he ran strategy at the super-cool PopTech conference and held several jobs at Google. Shade-loving plants get lower light, sun-seekers get more.
We came in on an overcast day, so there wasn't a ton of light being piped through. Basically, the light delivery system is like a reverse periscope. Using some very fancy mirrors, light is reflected from the roof above down into the Lab. Dan took us up on the roof to see for ourselves. The sun, he explains