Life on Venus!

According the New Scientist, here's the argument:

  • Venus was once much cooler, and probably had water oceans, allowing microbes to form in a more hospitable environment than it has now.
  • Higher in the atmosphere of Venus there is water, and the temperature drops to about 70C, certainly a decent temperature for life.
  • Even though solar radiation and lightning should create a lot of carbon monoxide, it's not there. It appears that something is consuming it.
  • Hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide both exist — they should be reacting, and are never found together unless something is producing them.
  • The “unambiguous indicator of biological activity” is plenty of carbonyl sulphide. As far as we know, this gas can only be produced by organic processes (ie. microbes).
  • There are strange dark patches in the atmosphere on UV images, implying UV absorbing microbes.

So let's go to Venus and find out! The European Space Agency is sending a mission in 2005, and the Swedes are planning on actually retrieving atmospheric samples in 2010. Too bad the US is spending all their money on war, it would be nice if NASA got involved.

After all, the oil age is almost over… Either we wreck ourselves, or humanity is about to enter the extraterrestrial age (both in that we humans become extraterrestrials and in that we discover hard proof of at least primitive life on other planets).

I don't know, I flip back and forth — are we better off pursuing an agrarian lifestyle (and being eventually killed off as a race when the asteroid hits — and it will hit), or do we commit ourselves to being children of the universe and focusing on fixing the mistakes we've made on this planet and then spreading our seed throughout the galaxy a la Star Trek?

Over the next few months I have to answer that question, since I'm reaching that point in life where my general living decisions affect me for longer and longer periods!

PS. All that said, New Scientist is not a peer reviewed journal and does from time to time publish speculative articles, so I'll be very interested what the reaction of people far more educated than me on this than me is…

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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