In a lecture titled “Shadow Life: Life As We Don”t Yet Know It” to be delivered today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Davies is likely to espouse the view that there is alien life on Earth.
His presentation is part of the symposium “Weird Life.”
“Life as we know it appears to have had a single common ancestor, yet, could life on Earth have started many times? Might it exist on Earth today in extreme environments and remain undetected because our techniques are customized to the biochemistry of known life?” asks Davies, who also is the director of the BEYOND Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
In the lecture, Davies will present, challenge and extend some of the conclusions from a July 2007 report by the National Research Council.
That report looked at whether the search for life should include “weird life” – described by the Council as “life with an alternative biochemistry to that of life on Earth.”
“If a bio-chemically weird microorganism should be discovered, its status as evidence for a second genesis, as opposed to a new branch on our own tree of life, will depend on how fundamentally it differs from known life,” wrote Davies in the November 19, 2007, issue of Scientific American.
Davies and other pioneers who speculate that life on Earth may have started many times are wondering “why we have overlooked this idea for so long?”
The concept of a shadow biosphere, according to Davies, “is still just a theory.”
“If someone discovers shadow life or weird life it will be the biggest sensation in biology since Darwin. We are simply saying, ”Why not let”s take a look for it?” It doesn”t cost much (compared to looking for weird life on Mars, say), and, it might be right under our noses,” he said.