One theory that is becoming popular in astronomy is called It is called “assembly theory”, stating that highly complex molecules, such as many acids, can only come from living organisms. Molecules are part of living things. Or is it something that intelligent beings produce?
If assembly theory persists We can use it to find aliens—by scanning distant planets and moons for complex molecules that should as proof of living things That’s the latest idea from Assembly Theory creator Leroy Cronin, a chemist at the University of Glasgow. “This is a completely new approach,” Cronin told The Daily Beast.
But not all experts agree that it will work. At least very soon, to read the chemistry of distant planets. Scientists rely on spectroscopy. This is the process of interpreting planetary color schemes to estimate possible combinations of molecules in the atmosphere, land and oceans.
Spectroscopy is not an exact science. That might make alien hunting astronomers and astrologers guess at this point. “There is a lot of uncertainty,” says Dirk Schulze-Makuch. An astronomer at the Technical University of Berlin told The Daily Beast.
Scientists have been actively searching for signs of extraterrestrial life for at least a century. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) accelerated in the 1950s and ’60s with the advent of radio SETIs. In SETI radios, scientists point sensitive radio receivers into the sky and listen for faint signals. that may have originated from an alien civilization
In the decades following the broadcast of SETI radio, astronomers expanded their search. More powerful telescopes have made it possible to capture planets and moons in colorful spectroscopy. Then interpret those colors to make a knowledgeable guess about the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Some elements may be necessary for life. Many astrologers agree that planets should have carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur and phosphorus just to have them. chance in support of biological evolution
When life evolves on some distant exoplanets It may paint planets with complex molecules that mix these and other elements. It may contain chlorophyll, a substance that helps plants absorb energy from light. It is composed of a group of molecules that include carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and magnesium. which together make up a molecular mass of nearly 900.
“This is a radical new approach.”
— Leroy Cronin University of Glasgow
But chlorophyll isn’t the only complex molecule that can be a marker of life. According to a new study by Cronin and his British and Spanish colleagues, the most Molecules with a molecular mass of at least 300 could be evidence of extraterrestrial microbes or even intelligent aliens.
Cronin and his team came to this conclusion after analyzing 10,000 chemicals that exist on the planet. “Most molecules greater than (a) a molecular weight (or mass) 300 (are) are associated with the existence of life on Earth,” they write.
These complex molecules make up our bodies. waste from our body and even the chemicals we produce, such as pharmaceuticals. “This is because complex molecules … are too complex to form accidentally in detectable numbers. Therefore, they can be generated from complex biochemical pathways found only in biological cells,” Cronin and his co-authors write.
in other words If you encounter complex molecules on a distant planet or moon You may have already found life. Cronin and company confirm
“If you find complex molecules on distant planets or moons. You may have already found life.”
That’s an exciting prospect for scientists. But there’s a hitch: Not everyone agrees on what “complex” means. Yes, the molecular mass is about 300 at least. relate With Cronin’s idea of complexity But there are many possible exceptions. including the form of chlorophyll for mass only to be the standard “There are many competing concepts of chemical complexity,” Cronin and his team admit.
Cronin’s Assembly Theory solves this problem, the theory “evaluating the complexity of molecules by quantifying the minimum constraints necessary to construct an object from its building blocks” in plain English. At least how many times will the theory be asked? simple A molecule must either add an element or copy part of itself to obtain a given structure.
Any molecule requiring 15 steps should have a molecular mass of 300 or more and be “complex,” according to Cronin. And if chemistry on Earth is any guide, the widespread presence of such complex molecules on exoplanets or moons is a clear sign of life nearby.
Niels Ligterink, a physicist at the University of Bern in Switzerland, told The Daily Beast he agreed with Cronin’s ideas. I would say that the chemical complexity in this case is determined by assembly theory. It is a good addition to the search for life.”
Assembly theory helps avoid big questions in astrology, Ligterink added. Life on Earth has either DNA or RNA, the nucleic acids that carry genes, Ligterink said, assuming that life is alien. will share this infrastructure. “But we can be pretty sure that extraterrestrial life is also chemically complex.”
But applying Cronin’s theory to day-to-day search for extraterrestrial life is easier said than done. Scientists will sample molecules on How can an “exoplanet” be light years away? They can’t—not with today’s technology. The best they can do is to explore exoplanets with powerful telescopes. That’s the James Space Telescope. Webb or the Vera Rubin Telescope in Chile and analyzed the palette through spectroscopy.
Look, every element absorbs light of certain wavelengths and reflects others. Carbon absorbs a bit of purple and blue and a lot of orange, leaving all the greens, reds and yellows behind. Nitrogen is real opposite light absorption pattern Spectroscopy observes those wavelengths and helps identify the type of chemical match. Some color combinations may point to complex molecules that combine elements. together in a complex way
The challenge with spectroscopy is accuracy. Imagine the light pattern of each element as a fingerprint. Now imagine millions of fingerprints smeared on one another. Schulze-Makuch said, “spectral signatures … can rarely be attributed to specific molecules.
We may need much better telescopes or probes to make Cronin’s Assembly Theory work as an alien hunting strategy among distant exoplanets and their moons. This may take a while.
But it’s possible that the same theory could help scientists find evidence of extraterrestrial life in the available data from closer planets and moons. It contains data from missions to Mars since NASA’s Viking spacecraft first landed on the Red Planet in 1976.
Two Viking probes took soil samples, boiled them and analyzed the ejected gases. The probe sends data back to NASA. Agency scientist Gil Levin concludes that The probe finds the first chemical evidence of extraterrestrial microbes.
Levin was ready to announce to the whole world that we would be in contact with ET microbes for the first time, but NASA colleagues insisted that he misread the information. a position the space agency maintained for 47 years. Levin did not respond to a request for comment.
Cronin said It’s worth considering the Viking data as well as data from other space missions. in the past again If there is evidence of complex molecules There could be signs of life that scientists have overlooked. “It’s possible,” Cronin said.
In this way, Assembly Theory may help us understand. past Search for alien creatures long before they help. future search