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Space

In the Search for Alien Life, 'Everyone Is an Astrobiologist' (scientificamerican.com) 41

Mary Voytek, NASA's senior scientist for astrobiology, likes to tell other researchers that "everyone is an astrobiologist; they just don't know it yet." From a report: What she means is that answering the question currently at the heart of astrobiology -- Does life exist beyond Earth? -- requires input from an incredibly wide range of disciplines, including astrophysics, geology, exoplanet science, planetary science, chemistry and various subfields of biology.

On the plus side, that means astrobiologists have a lot of resources to draw on. But it also means that people like Voytek have to deal with a flood of relevant information coming in from all of those scientific fields and figure out how to get scientists from those disciplines to work together. Voytek and other NASA representatives discussed how they are dealing with that information influx, and the interdisciplinary nature of the field, at the Astrobiology Science Strategy for the Search for Life in the Universe meeting, hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, here at the University of California, Irvine this week.

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In the Search for Alien Life, 'Everyone Is an Astrobiologist'

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  • by XXongo ( 3986865 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @04:48PM (#55988583) Homepage
    Or, alternatively, nobody is an astrobiologist.

    It is a science without an identifiable subject. Since there is, so far, nothing to study, it would be fair to say that nobody can be studying it.

    • by gnick ( 1211984 )

      ...it would be fair to say that nobody can be studying it.

      Speculation can be funded just as well as study if you phrase it just right. Happens all the time.

  • That is a perfect field because you can apply for grants in many different fields. Plus they have to deal with a flood of information (buy computers) and figure out how to get scientists to work together (attend a lot of conferences and meetings). Sure beats working.
    • That is a perfect field because you can apply for grants in many different fields.

      I dunno. The field name contains two words that CDC doctors says causes Heebie-Jeebies in Congress Critters. Astro: Wasting good money on worthless space exploration. Biologist: Abortionist.

      So funding for a Space Abortionist . . . I think not!

  • >>>> ...requires input from an incredibly wide range of disciplines, including astrophysics, geology, exoplanet science, planetary science, chemistry and various subfields of biology...(actual astrobiologist) likes to tell other researchers that "everyone is an astrobiologist..."
    >> 'Everyone Is an Astrobiologist'

    As usual, a shit headline for a SlashDot article. It's remarkable the editors figure out how to turn their computers on each morn^b^b^b^bafternoon.
  • "astrophysics, geology, exoplanet science, planetary science, chemistry and various subfields of biology" This much is true as, to get to anything like something we might actually have a shot at communicating with, there are a great many requirements in each of these categories, and several more as well (cosmology , anthropology, and statistics amongst them). Indeed, when one multiplies the likelihood of just the requirements we currently know about by each other, one might come to the conclusion that,
  • We constantly look at this subject as if it has not already been proven that life can survive in space. Water bears have been PROVEN to be able to survive the Vacuum and temperatures of space. So, there is that first off. Then lets look at the properties of Self Organization and Entropy as they interact with something like "Gravity", combined with the properties of the KNOWN universe. Including the FACT, that it is SO BIG, we are TOTALLY INCAPABLE of even seeing the edge. A rough outline that we "can" gener
    • Excellent points. And people say Space Nutters can't be coherent!
    • by XXongo ( 3986865 )
      Except that the actual answer is this: we don't know.

      We don't know how life started. Not knowing how life started, we don't know how likely life is to have started elsewhere, or how similar it would be to us.

      Without data, it's not science, it's speculation. It's a lot of fun to speculate, granted. But it's still speculation.

      • You are right. The only problem with his post was that part. Good analysis.
      • That Life can survive in space is NOT speculation. Its a scientifically proven Fact. Meaning that the odds just went from probable, to an almost guarantee. With all that chance, entropy, and the factoring in of self organization... Calculating otherwise and having the equation work out correct, would be basically impossible. So, there is that. :-D
        • Exactly. If life didn't exist in space, then explain the space station? And some of the people there are actually scientists, so it is scientifically proven because they can self-verify their existence.
          • Rock hits earth... ONE microbe gets successfully cast to space... Cryogenically entrapped in the vacuum and absolute zero. Then deposited into the primordial ocean of one of the potential 40 "Billion" Habitable planets Kepler has been able to help us see that are likely out there. How much Chance do you REALLY think must exist in the endless void? how much chance do you REALLY believe NEEDS to exist for the above scenario to play out? Cmon people. The science points STRONGLY to other life existing. But its
            • Definitely. Microbes from Earth regularly travel across space to other planets. And when they get there it triggers life (when they go in the ocean). Scientists have proven that already!
    • "As the ancients saw the Sun, so should we. As it IS god."

      Yea verily! Hail Sol Invictus!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Since we're on the Internet, let's not forget armchair astrophysics, armchair geology, armchair exoplanet science, armchair planetary science, armchair chemistry and various subfields of armchair biology. These people's gut feelings will be big contributors to a progressive, low signal to noise ratio in the search for extra terrestrial life and discussion of government coverups.

  • ...Is there intelligent life in the \. Editorial Office? Magic Eight Ball Says...No.
  • by eddeye ( 85134 )

    Time to update my resume.

    2006: Time Magazine's Person of the Year [wikipedia.org]
    2017: NASA-designated Astrobiologist

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Never A Straight Answer

  • Does life exist beyond Earth? of course it does. after the deep field by hubble there is 0 chance that it doesnt exist outside our SS. Its crazy even discussing it... should be discussing How we find them.
  • That will be answered only by finding life beyond Earth. All the expert input in the world as to what might or might not exist won't help. All that does is make guesses sound more sensible.

At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.

Working...