What is the meaning of life? WIRED (tries to) explain

Whether you are on your way to work on a rainy morning, lying awake at night unable to sleep, or just gazing up at the stars, you might sometimes find yourself contemplating the meaning of life. It is one of humanity’s biggest questions, and there is no simple answer, but WIRED has spoken to a philosopher and a physicist to try and get closer to one…

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Tides on exoplanets could drive alien biological clocks

Worlds with a permanent day and night side aren’t obvious places to look in the search for extraterrestrial life. Apart from having extremes of temperature, such planets would make it hard for a biological clock to get going.

But now it seems that if these worlds also have oceans, then tides could drive a biological clock just like a rising and setting sun would, according to a simulation by Avi Loeb and Manasvi Lingam at Harvard University.

We used to think that not having a day-night cycle would make it harder for life to emerge, because of the lack of a circadian clock. On Earth, these built-in timekeepers play an important role in several biological contexts, including reproduction.

Read more on New Scientist

This is the one! Super-Earth 40 light years away is our ‘best chance of finding alien life yet’

A newly discovered exoplanet is causing excitement among astronomers as it has the potential to give us the best opportunity ever to find alien life.

The ‘super-Earth’, which is around 1.4 times the size of Earth but seven times its mass, is rocky, temperate and orbits a quiet star in our galactic neighbourhood.

“I am really, really excited about this discovery,” David Charbonneau, study author and professor of astronomy at Harvard University told WIRED. “This is the one we’ve been hunting for all these years!”

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Atmosphere found on nearby Earth-like planet hints it could be a ‘water world’

For the first time, astronomers have detected an atmosphere around an Earth-like planet beyond our world.

The Venus-like planet, known as Gliese 1132b or GJ 1132b, lies 39 light years away, which is close in astronomical terms.

When it was first discovered in 2015 Drake Deming, an astronomer at the University of Maryland, said it was “arguably the most important planet ever found outside the solar system”.

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