Saffron's Space

This week in When Science Fiction Becomes Reality. I want to introduce you all to some bacteria.

According to scientists these bacteria have been around for thousands, even millions of years. They live deep down in the ocean in rocks that are millions of years old. The incredible thing is that these bacteria only divide about once every thousand years.

With such slow replication the scientists raise the question; are they really alive?

This is a question which has stumped many. I challenge you to come up with a definition of life which clearly separates what we know to be ‘living’ from that which isn’t.

Star TrekFor more information on these bacteria please read the BBC article. As always I want to focus on future implications of these creatures.

1. The scientists already raise the point that these bacteria could be influencing the Earth’s environment. e.g. through altering the carbon cycle.

2. These bacteria go against everything we thought we knew about life. From their environment, to their slow reproduction, to their sparse distribution. If we can find such incredible and surprising species right here on Earth, imagine what we could find on other planets?

So, your homework this week is to design an alien species. And I don’t mean a green human- that’s not good enough. Almost all aliens in science fiction, from Dr. Who to Babylon 5, are humanoid. I want to challenge you to do better. A real alien, evolved on a planet separate to our own, has no reason to have eyes (at least not as we know them), or legs, or hair. It doesn’t even have to breath! These are all Earth concepts of life.

So let your imagination go and tell me about your alien life in the comments section below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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