Quote Originally Posted by Shaula View Post
.. Just a cautionary note to Kevin that might help when reading articles saying things like "Organic compounds found on planet X" - they are actually saying nothing about life. We find organic compounds on asteroids, in giant molecular clouds and so on.
Unfortunately many articles typically include dialogue worded as though it is directly from research scientists which make it look like they are saying things about (exo)-life.
For instance, one recent article about molecules measured by Cassini whilst flying through Enceladus' plumes, contains text like:
Quote Originally Posted by Journalist supposedly quoting Khawaja
He says researchers donít have evidence of life there, but they canít rule out a biotic origin for these organic molecules.
.. which then gets even more convoluted:
Quote Originally Posted by same source
Others agree. This is not a sign of life, says Dave Clements of Imperial College London, who has identified organic molecules in Enceladusís jets from Earth-based telescopes. ďBut it is a sign that life, or some biochemical process that could lead to life, might be there,Ē he says.
Which I think is dancing a pretty fine line between talking about (exo)life, whilst not really talking about (exo)life, by talking about what the constraints might look like which could lead to a conclusion of (exo)life, based on an actual in situ measurment of larg(ish) organic molecules (of about 200 amu)!