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Let’s say the future has come and mankind has managed to populate Mars and get comfortable there. What would a Martian colonist look like after thousands of years? Would his appearance be different from that of an earthling?

Photo: Joseph Ventura / Artist's idea of ​​how people might look after several thousand years of life on Mars
Photo: Joseph Ventura / Artist’s impression of ​​how people might look after several thousand years of life on Mars

Scientists say that prolonged residence on the Red Planet, where gravity and sunlight are weaker than on Earth, and radiation is much stronger, will lead to rapid evolutionary changes. Experts even believe that Martians can turn into a new kind.

“Two populations of the same species, settled in different isolated territories, begin to differ from each other – remember the Galapagos finches studied by Charles Darwin. The finches living on one island are different from the finches on the other island: in different territories they have signs that help to survive in the very environment where they settled, Biologist Scott Solomon writes 

in his book Future Humans: Inside the Science of Our Continuing Evolution. – If speciation on Earth’s islands takes thousands of years, then on Mars this process will go much faster due to the huge difference in conditions. In just 100-200 generations, or 6000 years, a new kind of person may appear on the Red Planet.”

The new kind?

Six thousand years is a short time for a person to change beyond recognition. Modern Homo sapiens exist as a separate species for an estimated 160,000 – 45,000 years. And some scholars doubt the words of Solomon.

Biologists Philip Mitterreker of the University of Vienna in Austria, says :

“Speciation is a lengthy process that usually requires reproductive isolation (the inability of members of one population of a species to interbreed with another – Ed.) for millions of years and a large population. Some human groups have been isolated for thousands of years and are still far from becoming a separate species. Therefore, it is unlikely that the people who colonize Mars will last for 6,000 years. On the other hand, conditions on the Red Planet are suitable for minor physical changes to begin to appear among the colonists after a hundred generations.”

For Mars to undergo any evolutionary changes:

1) natural selection should work;

2) the local habitat must be different from the terrestrial. If you create completely terrestrial conditions on the Red Planet: strengthen gravity, put artificial lighting, produce the same food as on Earth, people will not change;

3) differences in conditions should not be too strong so that the population does not die in the first weeks.

How Martians will differ from earthlings

Bones

When a person settles on the Red Planet, he will no longer need a heavy, well-mineralized skeleton. The attraction on Mars is much weaker than the Earth, the colonist’s weight here will be almost 3 times less, which means that the load on the skeleton is lower. The need for massive bones will disappear, the body will become unprofitable to spend energy on their content.

“People with heavy bones will spend more calories, energy and minerals to build their skeleton, so on Mars they will “lose” evolutionarily to people with thin bones,” Drobyshevsky notes in the lecture.

The same goes for the digestive tract. In conditions of reduced gravity, a person needs less energy for walking and physical labor, so he will not consume as much food as on Earth. The digestive apparatus will contract, the bodies of the colonists will become narrow.

Photo: Ville Ericsson / Colonization of Mars as an artist
Photo: Ville Ericsson / Colonization of Mars

When the Martian arrives on Earth, people will see a thin man with fragile bones. The weight of a Martian will increase almost 3 times: a 38-kilogram individual on our planet will weigh 100 kilograms, this will cause an additional load on his bones. Most likely, he will not be able to move around without help, he will need a cane or a wheelchair. Another “surprise”: a Martian colonist could injure their chest even with a friend’s “pat in the back”.

Heart

A Martian visiting Earth will die after some time from heart failure.

On the Red Planet, in conditions of low gravity, the heart muscle does not need to work so hard and contract quickly to pump blood through the circulatory system, as on Earth. Therefore, the Martian’s heart will become “weaker”, that is, less “trained.” In terrestrial conditions, it simply can not cope with the load.

Eyes

Mars is much farther from the Sun than Earth. The red planet receives 1.5-2 times less light, because of this the eyes of the colonists can change.

“A sunny day on Mars is like a cloudy day on Earth, – explains Natalie Kabrol, a planetologist at SETI. – Our eyes are accustomed to a certain amount of light. Martians will have to adapt to new conditions: either the brain will develop a new method that allows the retina to perceive and process more of the light that is, or over time, the colonists will have more eyes.”

Skin

There is not much sunlight on the Red Planet, but the ultraviolet radiation (UV) subtle Martian atmosphere transmits many times more than the Earth.

On our planet, for UV protection, the skin produces the pigment melanin, or rather, its variety – eumelanin , which acts as a natural sunscreen and gives the skin a brown tint. The more eumelanin in the skin, the better the ultraviolet rays are absorbed, and the darker the skin color becomes.

Photo: mic.com / Colonization of Mars as an artist
Photo: mic.com / Colonization of Mars

In his book, Solomon writes that people who have more eumelanin will be better able to withstand extreme ultraviolet radiation on the Red Planet. Therefore, the skin of the Martians will be much darker than anyone on Earth.

To summarize

In the crowd, an earthman will easily notice a Martian. A guest from another planet will be distinguished by very dark skin, a narrow body, large eyes, and will move on a wheelchair.

Most likely we would see a Martian dressed in a protective suit, since direct contact with the earth’s environment for him could end in disrepair.

So far, scientists believe that there is no microbial life on Mars – pathogenic bacteria and other “creatures harmful to the body.” Therefore, the immune system of the colonists will stop working in the form in which it works for us – it will lose the ability to fight earthly infections. In order not to die, the Martian on Earth will never have to take off his protective suit and eat only sterilized food.

Post scriptum

All the information cited in the article is hypothesis based on the tenets of evolutionary biology. It is impossible to know exactly what adjustments nature will be made in the appearance and organism of Martians.

If the colonists really change a lot and differ from earthlings, what will we consider them? Aliens, or just another species?

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Space

An inconceivably ancient cosmic object was discovered

An international group of astronomers from the United States, Germany, China and Chile reported the discovery of a largest quasar called Poniua’ena, which in Hawaiian means “an invisible rotating source of creation surrounded by radiance.”

The object is located at a distance of about 30 billion light years, which corresponds to the age of the Universe at 710 million years. A preprint of the article, which will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, is available on the arxiv website.

The light from the quasar J1007 + 2115 flew 13 billion years, however, due to the accelerated expansion of the Universe, its redshift is z = 7.515, which corresponds to the actual distance to it, equal to 29.3 billion light years. Astronomers see the object as it was in the era of reionization, when the first stars appeared, ionizing hydrogen atoms with their light.

Poniua’ena contains a supermassive black hole whose mass reaches 1.5 billion solar masses, making the quasar the largest object in the early Universe. According to Jinyi Yang, lead author of the work from the University of Arizona, this is the earliest object of such a monstrous size known to scientists.

Its existence poses a problem for theoretical models of the formation of supermassive black holes, according to which, J1007 + 2115 simply would not have time to grow in 710 million years if it had originally arisen as a result of the collapse of the star.

Instead, astronomers believe, a hundred million years after the Big Bang, there was already a black hole with a mass of 10 thousand Suns, which was formed as a result of direct gravitational collapse of clouds of cold hydrogen gas.

Poniua’ena is currently the second oldest quasar found to date. In 2018, the quasar J1342 + 0928 was discovered, which is two million years older than J1007 + 2115, but at the same time half as massive.

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Space

Wormholes. To anywhere in the universe in a minute

Wormholes or tunnels in the fabric of spacetime are terribly unstable. As soon as at least one photon hits them, the wormhole closes instantly. A new study suggests that the secret to a stable wormhole is in their form.

Wormholes, if they exist, will allow us to travel from point A to some extremely distant point B without worrying about travel time. The transition would be incredibly fast. Real cheat code of the universe. See a star for millions of light years? You could reach it in just a few minutes if you had a wormhole leading to it. No wonder this is a very popular science fiction theme.

But wormholes are not just a figment of our imagination, created to carve out all the boring scenes of interstellar travel (and this is centuries and millennia). We learned about them through Einstein’s general theory of relativity: matter and energy bend and deform the fabric of space-time, the curvature of which tells matter how to move.

Therefore, when it comes to wormholes, you just need to ask yourself: is it possible to deform space-time so that it overlaps itself, forming a tunnel between two distant points? The answer was given in the 1970s – yes.

Wormholes are entirely possible and not forbidden by the general theory of relativity. But the wormholes are very unstable, because, in essence, they consist of two black holes in contact with each other and forming a tunnel. That is, we are talking about points of infinite density, surrounded by areas known as the event horizon – one-sided space barriers. If you cross the event horizon of a black hole, you will never go back.

To solve this problem, the entrance to the wormhole must be outside the event horizon. Thus, you can cross the wormhole without touching the barrier. But as soon as you enter a wormhole located between huge masses, the gravity of your presence will distort the wormhole tunnel, collapsing it. Slammed shut, the tunnel will leave two lonely black holes, separated by a space in which the remains of your body will hang.

But it turns out there is a way to place the entrance to the wormhole away from the event horizon and make the tunnel stable enough for you to get through it. For this, material with a negative mass is needed. This is an ordinary mass, but with a minus sign. And if you put together enough negative mass in one place, you could use it to keep the wormhole open.

As far as we know, a substance with a negative mass does not exist. In any case, there is no evidence that it exists. Moreover, if it were, it would violate many laws of the Universe, such as inertia and conservation of momentum. For example, if you kicked a ball with a negative mass, it would fly backward. If you place an object with a negative mass next to an object with a positive mass, they will not be attracted. On the contrary, objects will repel each other, instantly accelerating.

Since negative mass seems like a myth, it can be assumed that wormholes are unlikely to exist in the universe. But the idea of ​​wormholes is based on the mathematics of the general theory of relativity – our current understanding of how gravity works. More precisely, our current, incomplete understanding of how gravity works.

We know that the general theory of relativity does not describe all the gravitational interactions in the universe. She gives in to strong gravity with a small body size. For example, before the bowels of black holes. To solve this problem, we need to turn to the quantum theory of gravity, which would combine our understanding of the world of subatomic particles with our broader understanding of gravity. But every time scientists try to put it together, everything just falls apart.

However, we have some clues on how quantum gravity can work, and we can understand wormholes. It is possible that a new and improved understanding of gravity will show that we do not need negative mass matter at all, and that stable, passable wormholes are real. A couple of theoreticians from Tehran University in Iran have published a new study of wormholes.

They applied some methods that allowed them to understand how quantum mechanics can change the standard general picture of relativity. Scientists have found that passable wormholes can exist without a substance with negative mass, but only if the entrance does not represent an ideal sphere, but is slightly elongated.

The results are interesting, but there is one snag. These hypothetical passable wormholes are tiny. Very tiny. Wormholes will be only 30% longer than Planck’s length – 1.6 x 10 ^ 35 meters. The traveler should be the same size. Yes, in addition, this microscopic traveler should fly at almost the speed of light. Despite emerging problems, the study opens a small crack, so to speak, for a look at the existence of wormholes, which can be expanded in the course of further research.

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Space

Scientists believe that Europa’s underground ocean is habitable: The secrets that Jupiter’s satellite hides

K. Retherford/Southwest Research Institute

The dream of Mankind is the existence of celestial bodies that can host life, initially in our own solar system as the Earth is considered that in the near future will not be able to sustain the growing population.

Scientists claim that Europa, the satellite of the planet Jupiter, has the necessary conditions for the development of life and characterize the large ocean’s underground ocean as “potentially habitable”.

When we say life development we mean organisms that are based on the “function” of carbon biochemistry.

This theory has been developed for several years and Europa, along with the planet Mars, is considered to be the two celestial bodies to which humanity could “escape”.

It is worth adding that the delicate atmosphere of Europa consists mainly of … oxygen!

Of course, living conditions will not be the same as on Earth, but they are considered to be “tolerable” for a start.

According to scientific observations, this vast expanse of water may have been able to develop and support the growth of microbes in the past, perhaps even in the present period.

Europa, with an ocean hidden beneath a thick ice shell that surrounds its surface, has long been considered a possible habitat for extraterrestrial life in our solar system, along with other candidates such as Mars and Saturn’s moon, Egelados. A new study presented Wednesday at a geo-scientific conference underscores Europa’s potential to develop life, even at the microbial level.

“We believe that the ocean of Europa may have been habitable early on when it was formed, because our models show that the composition of the ocean may have been only slightly acidic, containing carbon dioxide and some sulfates,” Mohit Melwani Daswani said, the planetary scientist and head of the study of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“The availability of liquid water is the first step towards sustainability. In addition, the exchange of chemicals between the ocean and the rocky interior may have been significant in the past, so the potential life may have been able to use chemical energy to survive, “  he added.

Daswani said the germs resemble some of the Earth’s bacteria that use carbon dioxide for energy and could have survived using ingredients available in Europa’s early oceans.

Europa is slightly smaller than the Earth’s moon. The ocean of Europa, with a possible depth of 65 to 160 km, may contain twice as much water as the Earth’s oceans!

The study assessed whether Europa was previously habitable and did not examine its current inhabitability, a question that researchers are investigating by examining all the data collected from space missions and observations from telescopes.

According to many, in order for Humanity to be able to diffuse into space (the so-called scattering), it needs to create bases in its own solar system.

Most likely, terrafoming (geoengineering) methods will be used to completely change any “compatible” celestial bodies. A process that can take centuries.

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