POSSIBLE SIGNS OF LIFE ON VENUS


POSSIBLE SIGNS OF LIFE ON VENUS

Sign of life on Venus stirs up heated debate
But some experts are raising doubts about the quality of the data.

Something deadly might be wafting through the clouds shrouding Venus,

A smelly, flammable gas called phosphine that annihilates life-forms reliant on oxygen for survival.

Ironically, though, the scientists who today announced sightings of this noxious gas in the Venusian atmosphere,

Say it could be tantalizing—if controversial—evidence of life on the planet next door.

As far as we know, on rocky planets such as Venus and Earth, phosphine can only be made by life,

Whether human or microbe. Used as a chemical weapon during World War I,

Phosphine is still manufactured as an agricultural fumigant, is used in the semiconductor industry, and is a nasty byproduct of meth labs.

But phosphine is also made naturally by some species of anaerobic bacteria—organisms that live in the oxygen-starved environments of landfills, marshlands, and even animal guts.

Earlier this year, researchers surmised that finding the chemical on other terrestrial planets could indicate the presence of alien metabolisms,

And they suggested aiming the sharpest telescopes of the future at faraway exoplanets to probe their atmospheres for signs of the gas.

POSSIBLE SIGNS OF LIFE ON VENUS

Now, we may have found signs of phosphine on the planet next door, astronomers report in the journal Nature Astronomy.

“I immediately freaked out, of course. I presumed it was a mistake, but I very much wanted it to not be a mistake,” says study co-author Clara Sousa-Silva,

A postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who initially identified phosphine as a potential biosignature.

POSSIBLE SIGNS OF LIFE ON VENUS

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Put simply, phosphine shouldn’t be in the Venusian atmosphere.

It’s extremely hard to make, and the chemistry in the clouds should destroy the molecule before it can accumulate to the observed amounts.

But it’s too early to conclude that life exists beyond Earth’s shores.

Scientists caution that the detection itself needs to be verified,

As the phosphine fingerprint described in the study could be a false signal introduced by the telescopes or by data processing.

“It’s tremendously exciting, and we……


SAN FRANCISCO TO DECIDE 16-YEAR-OLD VOTERS

SAN FRANCISCO TO DECIDE 16-YEAR-OLD VOTERS

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SAN FRANCISCO VOTERS TO DECIDE IF 16 YEAR OLDS CAN VOTE

San Franciscans will cast their ballots in November to decide whether 16-year-olds can vote in local elections.

The proposition, if passed, would make San Francisco the first major U.S. city to give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in municipal elections.

Advocates of the measure say lowering the voting age would instill a lifelong habit of voting.

SAN FRANCISCO TO DECIDE 16-YEAR-OLD VOTERS

People wear masks while walking past the skyline at Dolores Park during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. (AP)

On its website, Vote16SF says “lowering the voting age can lead to a long-term increase in voter turnout,

Bringing more citizens in touch with their government and pushing the government to better serve its people.”

Crystal Chan, an 18-year-old organizer for Vote 16 SF, told NBC News the measure,

“will help youth of color in San Francisco establish the habit of voting at an earlier age,

And really provide them with the support and the resources that they need to continue building on that habit as they grow older.”

Yet, skeptics of lowering the voting age say 16 and 17-year-olds are not mature enough to make rational decisions at the voting booth.

Nate Hochman, a Republican activist and senior at Colorado College,

Said he does not support the proposal because young people lack the experience to know “what good governance looks like” in their communities.

“Sixteen-year-olds — they’re sophomores, juniors in high school like they’re deeply impressionable.

They’re largely interested in learning what, you know, their friends are doing and appearing to be cool.

And they’re not capable of making completely rational decisions about voting,” Hochman said.

“When are you an adult? When do we trust you to make your own decisions about who you are in the world and making your own way?”

The city introduced a similar proposal in 2016 but it narrowly failed to gain enough votes to pass.

Activists say they are confident the new measure will pass in November.