April 11, 2018 | David F. Coppedge

Astrobiology Still Has No Biology

Number of worlds beyond Earth where life has been discovered: zero. Number of optimistic articles about life in outer space: hundreds per year.

What happens when you take “bio” out of the fake science called Astrobiology? It becomes a pseudoscience. Since there is no “bio” yet found beyond earth, except in the imaginations of storytellers who believe in evolution, maybe that is a more accurate label. Here are some samples of fact-free, evidence-free stories circulating on science news sites.

New AI Program Classifies Planets and Predicts Probability of Life (Space.com). Samantha Mathewson writes, “Researchers have developed a new technique that uses artificial intelligence to classify planets and, in turn, determine whether life may exist on other worlds.” Should anyone remind readers that AI is a form of intelligent design? NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine reprinted this fact-free article. Did they use taxpayer dollars?

Global radar map of Venus (JPL)

Could Life Exist in the Clouds of Venus? (Space.com). The short answer is, No. The headline employs the power of suggestion. Readers are tempted to open their imaginations up to Leonard David’s suggestive hints: ‘The clouds of Venus could have environmental conditions conducive to microbial life, some researchers say.” Well, those researchers are wrong, because the burden of proof in science is evidence. If our take on Science Daily‘s coverage is spot on, NASA is looking to justify funding for a sample return mission so that they can find nothing.

Drake Equation: Estimating the Odds of Finding E.T. (Space.com). Elizabeth Howell dredges up the old equation that Frank Drake concocted to estimate how many space aliens exist. She oogles all the exoplanets out there and imagines them teeming with life. Did anyone tell her that the late famous origin-of-life researcher Leslie Orgel said that you could plug in any values you want into the equation, and it would be just as valid as anyone else’s guess? See also the article on Evolution News by Cornelius Hunter, “Updating the Drake Equation.”

Paucity of phosphorus hints at precarious path for extraterrestrial life (Phys.org). Here’s one article that tries to tone down the optimism a little, noting that unless an exoplanet has abundant phosphorus, it’s not likely to be habitable. “Work by Cardiff University astronomers suggests there may be a cosmic lack of a chemical element essential to life.” Phosphorus is essential in nucleic acids, the informational molecules, and ATP, the energy molecule used by life as we know it. It doesn’t appear that the Crab Nebula supernova produced much of it. This led Live Science to title its coverage, “Why Extraterrestrial Life May Be More Unlikely Than Scientists Thought.

Life on nearest exoplanet may have been wiped out by superflare (New Scientist). Here’s a reality check for optimists. Any planet orbiting our nearest neighboring star, Proxima Centauri, lost its habitability, illustrating that many stars are not as nice as our sun. “Astronomers have seen the star emit a superflare that briefly made it 68 times brighter than usual, and could expose any life on the surface of its orbiting Earth-sized planet to fatal levels of UV radiation.”

Life beyond Earth—no plate tectonics, no problem (Phys.org). This speculative article coming from Rice University imagineers tries to argue that life can exist on a planet that doesn’t have plate tectonics, which some astrobiologists, including ID proponent Guillermo Gonzalez (The Privileged Planet), have deemed essential to nutrient cycling. But again, how many exoplanets without plate tectonics have been discovered with life? Zero.

It’s not just molecules, it’s organization and information.

Studying supernovae, finding the origins of life (Phys.org). A photo that looks like a silhouette of a Druid holding his arms outstretched to the cosmos begins this article. The smart guys at Weizmann Institute in Israel should know better than to think that supernova explosions lead to life naturally. “You could even say that supernovae are responsible for life on Earth, since the explosions are the source of most of the elements found on our planet and in our bodies.” You could say that, but it wouldn’t be right. Hear O Israel!

Asteroids and comets shower Mars with organics (Astrobiology Institute). First question: So what? Organic molecules are as common as methane. It’s not carbon alone that makes life, but the information content that organizes materials into complex, specific structures. Even then, nobody knows what animates the molecules to become alive. Truckloads of organics dumped on Mars will only give the planet a lifeless surface of dead dust. Aren’t the climate zealots trying to get people to destroy excess carbon? Maybe they’ll let industry trade carbon credits on Mars now.

Newly discovered salty subglacial lakes could help search for life in solar system (Phys.org). To understand this article, one needs to realize that no life has been found at Europa, or on any other solar system body with a proposed ocean under its icy crust. Astrobiologists merely believe that life could exist on such worlds, merely because of the presence of water (nobody has actually observed the water, by the way). That optimism should be subdued by the high salty conditions that must exist in Europa’s ocean, since salt hinders membrane formation. This article reports that a hypersaline subglacial lake has been found in the Canadian Arctic, four to five times saltier than seawater. Now we can put the astrobiological logic together (if one pardons the oxymoron):

These newly discovered lakes are a potential habitat for microbial life and may assist scientists in the search for life beyond earth. Though all subglacial lakes are good analogues for life beyond Earth, the hypersaline nature of the Devon lakes makes them particularly tantalizing analogues for ice-covered moons in our solar system.

Weird crystals could grow on Titan and help alien life thrive (New Scientist). This headline sounds absolutely goofy. “Peculiar crystals could be abundant on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, potentially creating environments where microbes could live,” writes John Wenz. It’s all downhill from there into New Age sewage.

Critics of our website try to portray us as anti-science. Actually, we love good science, and wish to turn it back to its evidence-based roots. Will our critics acknowledge that the fact-free articles listed above are just plain nutty? Let’s have a good laugh together, then we can reason.

 

 

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