The life beyond the Earth, popularly named aliens life is a highly controversial issue among researchers. However, based on the available evidence, it appears that those arguing that aliens exist or existed are winning the debate.
Since the mid 20th century, there has been a significant surge in the search for signs of alien intelligence by researchers. Radios have been deployed to search possible extraterrestrial signals, telescopes have also been mounted to search for potentially habitable extrasolar planets.
Professor Stephen Hawking explained some time ago that aliens life existed. According to Stephen, in a universe with 100 billion galaxies, with each containing hundreds of millions of stars, it is unlikely that the Earth is the only place where life has evolved. He said his brain has rationalised that there is life somewhere apart from what exists on Earth.
The Sunday Times quoted Hawking as saying: “To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is working out what aliens might actually be like.”
A new study published in the journal Nature has shed dome light on the topic. Although the objective of the study was not to look for the alien life, the study chanced upon the possible life somewhere apart from Earth.
Researchers from University College London discovered ancient fossils in Canada’s Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt, which hosts some of the oldest sedimentary rocks known to Earth. The tiny microfossils were found to be half the width of a human hair and up to half a millimetre in length. Their appearance is of blood-red tubes and filaments, formed by ocean-dwelling bacteria that fed on iron.
After studying the fossils, researchers found that they were between 3.77 billion and 4.29 billion years old. This makes these fossils oldest ever to be discovered. The oldest microfossils previously reported were found in Western Australia and dated to 3.46 billion years old.
Mathew Dodd, lead author of the study was quoted by Reuters as saying that if dating is accurate, it would represent an almost instantaneous formation of life after ocean formation. He said the discovery represents a significant milestone, demonstrating life existed on Earth at its infancy.
The researchers said their discovery shows direct evidence that life existed on Earth 4 billion years ago. They also stated that emergence of life could be simple enough to begin on other planets.
“One of the big questions when it comes to early life studies is whether or not the organic carbon we find in these rocks is actually biological in origin,” Dodd said.
To answer the big question, Dodd and his colleagues used several methods including laser-imaging to analyse the materials associated with the organic material. They concluded that the presence of two minerals in particular – apatite and carbonite – provide strong evidence for life.
“We could expect to find evidence for past life on Mars 4 billion years ago. If life happened so quickly on Earth, then could we expect it to be a simple process that could start on other planets?” Dodd asked, stating that Earth and Mars had liquid on their surfaces at the same time.