We know that there is lots of life on Earth, but is there any lyfe on Mars?

For centuries, there has been speculation about whether there is any life on our nearest planet Mars. After all, there are those ‘canals’ and there is some kind of atmosphere.

Of course, it depends how you define “life” and, believe it or not, there is no absolutely agreed definition, but the American space agency NASA has a good working description: “a self sustaining chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution”.

On this basis, there may be no life on Mars – but maybe we should have a broader definition.

Stuart Bartlett, a complexity scientist at Caltech, and Michael L Wong, an astrobiologist at the University of Washington, have developed a new hypothetical concept: lyfe.

They define a “lyving” organism as satisfying 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 and there could be a higher probability of finding lyfe – rather than life – on Mars.

You can find a fuller exposition of this fascination idea here.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>