Field of Science

NASA applies evolutionary theory

Evolutionary theory is not the easiest of scientific theories to apply to "daily" phenomena, just because it (usually) takes place over long periods of time (but not always: lizards, viruses, bacteria). It is therefore always exciting when a new area of application is proposed.

A NASA scientist suggests that evolutionary theory will help find alien life.
Dr John Baross, a researcher at the Nasa Astrobiology Institute, said: "I really feel that Darwinian evolution is a defining feature of all life.

"And so the limits of Darwinian evolution will define the range of planets that can support life – at least Earth-like life."
While I don't think evolution need be a defining trait of life, I do agree that it makes sense to expect it to happen to all life - at least it's a fair way to go about looking for it.

However, in what seems to be an attempt to rub shoulders with Ray Kurzweil, he goes not just too far in his predictions, but lightyears past what seems reasonable:
He said: "I predict in the next five to ten years, we will make discoveries that will lead to theories and ideas at least as profound as Darwin's."
Within ten years we will have new theories that match common descent and natural selection in scientific importance?!!1! I can understand when people are very, very, excited about their research, but this is waaaay over the top.

But I wish NASA good luck with their endeavors, and hope to see extra-terrestrial life discovered any time now...


  1. If you work for NASA for an extended period of time, you begin to believe the sort of things you write in your proposals for funding. I know, I was there, and got out after four years :-)

  2. I wonder if this is special to people in NASA, or if the difference (if there is one) is due to the field, i.e. astrobiology? Are the rest of us just as impressionable, but less prone to crazy hypothesizing?


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