Today, NASA scientists possible discovery of a major branch on the “tree of life.” It is near the “bottom” of the tree, and could dramatically alter our understanding of biology. It’s existence suggests that life exists in many more kinds of environments than we previously thought. As a result, there could be much more of it, here and in the rest of the Universe.
Coincidentally, the number of stars in the Universe was recently revised to up to triple what was previously believed, due to evidence that a similar assumption may be wrong: that our galaxy is not necessarily representative of others. Combined with today’s news, this means to me that the odds of life existing on other planets are at least six times greater than the minimum estimates based on our previous experience.
For anyone who cares about how Nature works, and what our place in it is, this is a big deal. It demonstrates that life is far more resilient than we thought, and that our species may be part of a much larger family, all due to the willingness of some of us to ask new questions and accept the answers.