Archive for December, 2010

Is there life besides Carbon Based lifeforms?

Just because we are carbon based we tend to believe that all lifeforms would be the same. It is not just ignorance which makes us assume this, it is also fear of the unknown. After all this is the model of life we know and so this is the one that we search for in the entire universe.

But what if it was not the only model of life? What if there was other life which was not based on evolution coming from water? What if it was based on silicon or some other element? Most scientists who debate the question feel that there is a possible secondary evolution based on ammonia which is not only possible but also probable.

So what would be different in life forms that evolved from ammonia? Well for starters the biochemistry would be different. As would be the chemical building blocks of life. The DNA strand would not be a double helix as the high pH content would split the two strands. So how would they store genetic data? Maybe they would evolve their own systems.

It is all speculative at this stage as far as we are concerned but it is also quite possible that some other form of life exists in the universe and we have passed them by just because we did not recognize them. Here is an interesting science project for you to try out.

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Why can’t we live on any of the other planets in the solar system?

In the not so distant future there may come a time when it is not possible for all human beings to live on Earth. The reasons for limiting the population such as plagues and diseases have been all but eliminated. So naturally the human population is growing faster than it has ever done in the history of the planet. So will we have to go hunt for another planet to live on?

The closest planet to the sun in the solar system is Mercury. It is so close to the sun that the heat has not allowed the planet to settle down into terra firma.  Venus is the second planet from the sun. It is hot and volatile. There is no possibility of landing on Venus within the limitations of our current technology.

Mars is kind of inhospitable to human beings right now but yes with a hundred thousand years at our disposal we may be able to shift to the planet. The remaining planets of the solar system aka Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and the dwarf planets in the ends are just too cold to sustain human life.

All in all we can not live on any of the other planets in our solar system. Plus we are yet to find a hospitable planet in any other solar system as well. So it would be prudent to get the human population under control and soon. Here’s a science project you can try out to hunt for a suitable planet.

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Can Mars be a second home to us?

The angry red planet in the telescope may not seem very hospitable right now. However it is the only other planet in the solar system which human beings may be able to relocate to. In fact here’s what the science project to make Mars a habitable planet would entail. Believe me it will take some doing.

First the atmosphere in Mars would have to be heated. This would be done by injecting carbon dioxide and initiating the greenhouse effect. Yes it would be a good thing on Mars. Next as pressure increased some self supporting life forms would have to be introduced on to the planet.

In about a 100 years the lichen and bacteria would have produced photosynthesis. In 200 years there would be moss and in 300 years you may even see a coniferous forest on Mars. Plant life would perk up the oxygen in the atmosphere but the levels would be low. It would take another hundred thousand years before there would be enough oxygen to support human life on the planet.

Of course due to the lack of water  in adequate amount on Mars most of the planet would still look like a desert somewhat akin to Siberia or the Australian Outback. Still you can always harvest water from the rings of Saturn. Of Course that would be yet another science project of some magnitude.

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If you find an alien how will you communicate?

Want to talk about a difficult science project? I’ve got one for you – a universal language translator. One of the most complex parts of our existence is language.From the time you are a baby your parents try and teach you how to speak, what to say and the correct way to say it. By the time you are an adult you are fairly proficient in your own mother tongue.

Now what happens if you meet someone from another country who does not speak the language you do? Naturally there will be some common signs that you can use to communicate with another human being. For instance you will open you mouth and point inside if you are hungry. Or you will smile and nod to agree with something they try to tell you. It may be difficult but you will get by.

Now imagine if you have to communicate with an alien life form what will you do? For the signs to work you need to have a fairly similar anatomy. Not going to happen with a little green man who has three legs and one large eye is it? So how would you make a universal translator to help you understand what your alien visitor is saying?

To translate a language you need to be aware of words in both languages that are being used. Its highly unlikely that you would know alien speak and so how do you translate words that hold no meaning for you? And that is where lies the challenge in building a universal language translator. Here is a not so challenging science project.

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Are we really alone in the Universe?

This is the question which man has sought to answer ever since he grew aware that he was on one of a great number of planets. All kinds of science projects and experiments have been carried out over the years to see if it was possible to contact some one else in the universe.

People have transmitted radio waves out into space in the hope of getting some response. There have been others who have spent lifetimes analyzing the noises that they can gather from the outer space hoping to see some pattern which would prove there was intelligent life making the sounds.

The most effective way seems to be to actually reach the other planets and see for ourselves if something intelligent lives there. This is why we have so much interest in space programs. The spirit of the explorer rings true in most human beings as their curiosity is as boundless as ever.

Maybe you will be the person to answer this question. You may be the person who finds intelligent lifeforms on another planet. Of course all it takes is persistence in the right direction. Space travel may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it does still have an important role in our collective future. Find ways to beat gravity here.

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