Is there life on Venus?

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lpm
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Is there life on Venus?

Post by lpm » Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:32 pm

Spoiler:
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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by lpm » Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:32 pm

basementer wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:26 am
I remember when there was discussion of what might have been microbial remnants on a bit of Mars rock, mid to late 1990s, Terry Pratchett said something close to "I want so much for this to be true that I hope the scientists are trying their hardest to prove that it isn't". I couldn't have phrased it better.
I'll miss him after he's died in the pandemic

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by lpm » Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:32 pm

shpalman wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:56 am
Well I did find Phosphine Detected In The Atmosphere of Venus

It wouldn't be such a good sign if phosphine were detected in the atmosphere of my lab.
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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by FlammableFlower » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:12 pm

lpm wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:32 pm
shpalman wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:56 am
Well I did find Phosphine Detected In The Atmosphere of Venus

It wouldn't be such a good sign if phosphine were detected in the atmosphere of my lab.
From that link:
Unlikely you'll hear anyone claim at @RoyalAstroSoc that they've discovered life on #Venus. Rather, they've found chemistry that current thinking would most likely suggest a biotic source. Just watch as organic chemists pop up with many feasible abiotic explanations
He's bl..dy psychic, he is. Made me chuckle anyway.

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by jimbob » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:34 pm

FlammableFlower wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:12 pm
lpm wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:32 pm
shpalman wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:56 am
Well I did find Phosphine Detected In The Atmosphere of Venus

It wouldn't be such a good sign if phosphine were detected in the atmosphere of my lab.
From that link:
Unlikely you'll hear anyone claim at @RoyalAstroSoc that they've discovered life on #Venus. Rather, they've found chemistry that current thinking would most likely suggest a biotic source. Just watch as organic chemists pop up with many feasible abiotic explanations
He's bl..dy psychic, he is. Made me chuckle anyway.
What sort of biological processes might produce phosphine?
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by Grumble » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:44 pm

The Sky At Night is currently running a special, it’s great.
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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by Gfamily » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:45 pm

Always quick off the mark

https://m.xkcd.com/2359/
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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by FlammableFlower » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:52 pm

jimbob wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:34 pm
FlammableFlower wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:12 pm
lpm wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:32 pm
From that link:
Unlikely you'll hear anyone claim at @RoyalAstroSoc that they've discovered life on #Venus. Rather, they've found chemistry that current thinking would most likely suggest a biotic source. Just watch as organic chemists pop up with many feasible abiotic explanations
He's bl..dy psychic, he is. Made me chuckle anyway.
What sort of biological processes might produce phosphine?
There are some microbes that produce it.
K.R.M. Mackey, A. Paytan, Encyclopedia of Microbiology (Third Edition), 2009 wrote:The phosphorus cycle differs from the cycles of other biologically important elements, such as carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur, in that it lacks a significant gaseous component; nearly all phosphorus in the environment resides either in solid or in aqueous forms. The one exception to this rule is the volatile compound phosphine (PH3, also called phosphane), a colorless, poisonous gas formed in the environment from the breakdown of alkali metal or alkali earth metal phosphides with water. This process is poorly characterized and likely comprises various multistage chemical reactions. Microbially mediated phosphine production can be a major source of the gas in engineered systems (e.g., sewage treatment facilities and constructed wastewater treatment wetlands) where organic phosphorus is abundant and reducing conditions are common, suggesting that microbes could also play a role in phosphine formation in natural systems (although the direct enzymatic production of phosphine has not yet been identified). Although phosphorus can exist as phosphine, the gas does not persist in the environment owing to rapid autoxidation, precluding significant accumulation of phosphine in the atmosphere. Phosphine is therefore a minor component of the environmental phosphorus pool.

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by Grumble » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:01 pm

Carl Sagan suggested looking for phosphine as a bio-signature years ago, but no one has really done it before
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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by shpalman » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:06 pm

I just keep thinking "Rimmer aliens used our bogroll?"
molto tricky

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by Gfamily » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:06 pm

Tonight's Sky at Night
https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m ... e-on-venus

The first general hint of this news (for me) was that this month's S@N would be on a Monday evening rather than the usual Sunday night, as"an announcement is being made on Monday 14th".
My avatar was a scientific result that was later found to be 'mistaken' - I rarely claim to be 100% correct
ETA 5/8/20: I've been advised that the result was correct, it was the initial interpretation that needed to be withdrawn
Meta? I'd say so!

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by bob sterman » Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:32 am

jimbob wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:34 pm
What sort of biological processes might produce phosphine?
BBC specifically says "microbes living in the guts of animals like penguins"...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54133538

Think we have the answer...

Image

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by jimbob » Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:43 am

bob sterman wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:32 am
jimbob wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:34 pm
What sort of biological processes might produce phosphine?
BBC specifically says "microbes living in the guts of animals like penguins"...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54133538

Think we have the answer...

Image
sounds plausible Bob


Who knew that Squeak was actually an astrobiologist?
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by malbui » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:40 pm

bob sterman wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:32 am
jimbob wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:34 pm
What sort of biological processes might produce phosphine?
BBC specifically says "microbes living in the guts of animals like penguins"...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54133538

Think we have the answer...

Image
You didn't see anything.
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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by nezumi » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:57 pm

I'm really sorry, I'd love to have a thought out opinion on this but everytime I try to think about it my brain plays "Subway to Venus" by RHCP like really, really loud.

So my uninformed and ill-considered position on the OP question is "probably not".

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by dyqik » Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:06 pm

Some of my colleagues are not entirely convinced that the claimed detection in the paper is actually a spectral line. And they are among the world's experts on detecting molecules in planetary atmospheres with the telescopes in question, and one is acknowledged in this paper.

I suggest you look at fig. 3 first, then fig. 1 and fig. 2 in the paper.

Additionally, pulling the line out of the background involves fitting a 12th order polynomial to the spectra, which is a potentially difficult thing to get right and not contaminate the data with.

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by jimbob » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:17 am

dyqik wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:06 pm
Some of my colleagues are not entirely convinced that the claimed detection in the paper is actually a spectral line. And they are among the world's experts on detecting molecules in planetary atmospheres with the telescopes in question, and one is acknowledged in this paper.

I suggest you look at fig. 3 first, then fig. 1 and fig. 2 in the paper.

Additionally, pulling the line out of the background involves fitting a 12th order polynomial to the spectra, which is a potentially difficult thing to get right and not contaminate the data with.
12th order polynomial.

Yikes
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by Grumble » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:58 am

They did say in the Sky at Night that they had to do a lot of data processing.
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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by Sciolus » Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:20 am

jimbob wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:17 am
dyqik wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:06 pm
Some of my colleagues are not entirely convinced that the claimed detection in the paper is actually a spectral line. And they are among the world's experts on detecting molecules in planetary atmospheres with the telescopes in question, and one is acknowledged in this paper.

I suggest you look at fig. 3 first, then fig. 1 and fig. 2 in the paper.

Additionally, pulling the line out of the background involves fitting a 12th order polynomial to the spectra, which is a potentially difficult thing to get right and not contaminate the data with.
12th order polynomial.

Yikes
I'm sure there's a robust theoretical reason why that is a sensible thing to do. But it will be one hell of a theory.

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by basementer » Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:54 pm

dyqik wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:06 pm
Some of my colleagues are not entirely convinced that the claimed detection in the paper is actually a spectral line. And they are among the world's experts on detecting molecules in planetary atmospheres with the telescopes in question, and one is acknowledged in this paper.

I suggest you look at fig. 3 first, then fig. 1 and fig. 2 in the paper.

Additionally, pulling the line out of the background involves fitting a 12th order polynomial to the spectra, which is a potentially difficult thing to get right and not contaminate the data with.
Could you clarify, dyqik, is it that a 12th order polynomial is usually used in this sort of analysis, although it's known to be tricky? Or that this is a novel technique that immediately looks risky?
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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by Grumble » Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:23 pm

It doesn’t look an amazingly secure finding, but it should be one that can be reproduced or disproven with a few more observations.
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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by shpalman » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:03 pm

I know the polynomials form a complete set but I struggle to think of any physical reason for using such a high order one here.
molto tricky

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by monkey » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:22 pm

shpalman wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:03 pm
I know the polynomials form a complete set but I struggle to think of any physical reason for using such a high order one here.
They might not have had a physical model if they were using the 12th order fit just for smoothing or subtracting the background, but they should've tested for overfitting, did they do that?

(I've not looked at the paper)

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by dyqik » Thu Sep 17, 2020 12:54 pm

basementer wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:54 pm
dyqik wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:06 pm
Some of my colleagues are not entirely convinced that the claimed detection in the paper is actually a spectral line. And they are among the world's experts on detecting molecules in planetary atmospheres with the telescopes in question, and one is acknowledged in this paper.

I suggest you look at fig. 3 first, then fig. 1 and fig. 2 in the paper.

Additionally, pulling the line out of the background involves fitting a 12th order polynomial to the spectra, which is a potentially difficult thing to get right and not contaminate the data with.
Could you clarify, dyqik, is it that a 12th order polynomial is usually used in this sort of analysis, although it's known to be tricky? Or that this is a novel technique that immediately looks risky?
No, you don't usually do it like that. I'm on vacation, so haven't spoken to colleagues in detail about this.

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Re: Is there life on Venus?

Post by dyqik » Thu Sep 17, 2020 12:56 pm

monkey wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:22 pm
shpalman wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:03 pm
I know the polynomials form a complete set but I struggle to think of any physical reason for using such a high order one here.
They might not have had a physical model if they were using the 12th order fit just for smoothing or subtracting the background, but they should've tested for overfitting, did they do that?

(I've not looked at the paper)
For terrestrial atmospheric lines seen looking up, we fit a complete radiation transfer model containing all the known species, abundances, temperature and pressure profiles, etc.

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