Throwing a wet blanket on Martian life, still in the dark, reptilian virgin birth, extrasolar planets, and more in this week’s News to Note.
It’s no secret that fossils play a prominent role in the debate over the history of life on Earth. But will we soon be arguing over the meaning of Martian fossils?
Creationists often critique evolutionary theory as lacking a plausible mechanism for increasing organisms’ genetic information. But will University of California–Irvine research “shed light” in the void?
Our “cave-men” kin: just how smart were they?
If virgin birth is possible, does that mean Jesus was no “miracle baby”?
As scientists learn more and more about the planets of our galaxy, they’re learning more and more about whether Earth is unique. So is it?
ScienceNOW reports on work by scientists at the University of California–Santa Cruz to investigate what sort of exoplanets (planets outside our own solar system) we might expect to find. The unsurprising conclusion? Planets like Earth may be common, but most are likely to be extremely inhospitable for life.
Using computer models to simulate planetary formation in a variety of conditions, the team found “super-Earths” were a frequent result. Super-Earths are rocky worlds like ours, but they range up to ten times bigger and orbit far closer to their hypothetical host star—completing a year in the time of an Earth day or less. That means that despite the same fundamental composition as Earth, these planets would be “oceans of lava, possibly in the process of being vaporized by their own stars,” one of the scientists describes.
Although the results are purely theoretical, ScienceNOW quotes another researcher who notes that new telescopic data suggest the model is at least partly on target, with several super-hot Earth-sized planets already discovered. And while the news is another indication of how special our own planet is, with conditions “just right” for life, we should keep in mind that it’s much easier to find exoplanets that are large and orbit close to their host stars (unlike Earth). But even if we do discover, someday, that Earth is not unique and that planets “just right for life” are common, evolutionists will have no explanation for why life hasn’t evolved on them.
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