|GARDENS OF EDEN
Exploring the deep sea -- on Earth and on Europa -- with William Broad
June 16, 1997
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Questions answered in this forum: Could extraterrestrial life be formed from material other than carbon? Could probes contaminate extraterrestrial ecosystems? How can deep-sea creatures survive the high pressures? Where else could extraterrestrial life exist in the solar system. Is the jury still out on life on Mars? Are there plans to find life on Europa? Did life on Earth begin on the bottom of the sea?
June 10, 1997:
A Gergen dialogue with William Broad about his book "The Universe Below."
April 10, 1997:
NASA scientists explain the findings from Europa.
Browse the NewsHour's science coverage.
Browse stories from the New York Times by William J. Broad and others on Europa. (note: free, but registration is required.)
Browse Simon & Schusters' page on "The Universe Below: Discovering the Secrets of the Deep Sea."
John Blackmore of Ottawa, Ontario, asks:
This Europa discovery and tie-on with the recent studies deep in our oceans is exciting. It points to a paradigm shift from our idea that life needs to have the "Garden of Eden" of storybooks--sunlight, water and earth--to happen. Still, I find that we are taking earth-based systems and trying to find them elsewhere. Isn't it possible that life could develop in another fashion, based on something else than the organic molecules that we are familiar with? Can there be some other "clay" of life other than hydrogen, oxygen and carbon?
William Broad responds:
Absolutely. Scientists have tended to be very chauvinistic in speculating about alien life forms. A few mavericks have pushed the boundaries over the
years, talking about crystalline life that would require no water or living systems based on silicon, an atom just below carbon on the periodic table that bonds very nicely with other elements, as carbon does so beautifully. Still, in a universe of endless theoretic possibilities, it makes sense to pay close attention to what we know for sure about differing types of possible life.
My new book, "The Universe Below", shows how the deep sea is in fact becoming a map to understanding where to look for extraterrestrial life. Chapter Three, "Garden of Eden," tells of the discovery of the sea's dark ecosystems, explores one of these jungles a mile-and-a-half down, and describes their emerging role as models for extraterrestrial ecosystems, not only in the cosmos at large but throughout the rocky moons and planets of our own solar system.
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