Is Life on Earth a Subset of Lyfe? We won’t know unless we expand our horizons #Mars #biology #space

As we explore the solar system, one of the things we’d most like to find is alien life. But with life on Earth as our only an example, what will we miss?

Curiosity rover on Mars - artist's image
Searching on Mars – but, for what, exactly?

That’s why new research supported by Nasa’s astrobiology programme has developed a novel and broader definition of life – a definition that encapsulates life on Earth but also the possibility of “life not as we know it” elsewhere on the board. They call it lyfe. The Guardian

We’re hoping to find lyfe – current or fossilized – on Mars, and also suspect the cold ice-crowned oceans of the outer solar system moons could contain their own denizens. But if we don’t free our imagination, we could step right over a lyving being without seeing it, and the line between alyve and not could be hazy. So what is lyfe?

A “lyving” organism will satisfy four criteria: dissipation (the ability to harness and convert free energy sources); autocatalysis (the ability to grow or expand exponentially); homeostasis (the ability to limit change internally when things change externally); and learning (the ability to record, process and carry out actions based on information). With this definition, life is just one specific instance of lyfe. The Guardian

The words we use restrict our thoughts, so I like this new sciency word. For more sciency words, including this week’s post on life (or lyfe) visit one of my favorite sites: Click here for Planet Pailly’s Sciency Words: Flora and Fauna.

Thanks to NASA for their open access article, Defining Lyfe in the Universe.

2 thoughts on “Is Life on Earth a Subset of Lyfe? We won’t know unless we expand our horizons #Mars #biology #space

  1. That’s a new one for me: lyfe. I’m excited to read more about this. The original paper proposing that term has been cited at least 30 times, according to Google Scholar, which seems like a pretty good number of citations to me. It’ll be interesting to see if the life vs. lyfe distinction sticks, long term.

    P.S.: Thanks for the shout out!

    Liked by 1 person

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