The recent discovery of a Jupiter-sized “dark planet” in our Universe–the darkest known to exist to-date–has created something of a buzz among astronomers and cosmologists. Producing only what is described as a “faint red glow,” the curious giant’s orbit is close enough to its nearby sun that it should reflect far more visible light than scientists have been able to measure. In fact, the dark planet’s observable properties appear to indicate that its surface must be really, really dark; darker, in fact, than a huge mound of coal floating in space.
There are a number of reasons for why the planet, dubbed TrES-2b, is suspected of remaining so shadowy. The presence of light-absorbing chemicals on the surface, or even a generally high temperature within its atmosphere, might contribute to its mysterious absence of light. Wilder speculation might involve the presence of antimatter; since we know that on the quantum level, particles can display an apparently “opposite” aspect hinting at a universal symmetry of positives and negatives, extending the same idea to the greater material world presents us with the notion that areas of matter could, in theory, also exist in this negative state. Therefore, is it possible that an entire planet could exist in such an anti-material way?
Whether or not TrES-2b is in any way representative of such a supposed anti-material planet, the idea alone is worth considering. But taking this notion a bit further, could the same anti-material properties also be applied to living beings–or at very least, what we might call life-like beings–that could similarly exist in an anti matter state?
One Princeton University scientist, if only in passing (and slightly tongue-in-cheek), has in fact mentioned this recently. David S. Spiegel with the University’s Department of Astrophysical Sciences, was quoted in the International Business Times as he joked about what a physical exchange between beings from this realm and that of an anti-material existence might be like:
“We are made of matter. Matter and anti-matter annihilates. Therefore, please check your composition first before making contact with us.”
Indeed, the idea that space aliens composed of anti matter might be capable of annihilating us, despite having the best intentions, seems slightly troubling. Also of certain synchronistic interest is the fact that Spiegel, who co-authored a paper on alien life and evolution on other planets called, “Life might be rare despite its early emergence on Earth: a Bayesian analysis of the probability of abiogenesis,” was also involved with the discovery and measurement of the alleged “Dark Planet” TrES-2b. Seems Spiegel is the kind who wants to keep his fingers on the anti-material equation, so to speak.
The notion that life could exist in such strange and seemingly-impossible states seems daunting, if not outright ludicrous to many. But despite the hardships, life in the known material realm often occurs in very extreme and strange circumstances. In fact, there is an entire classification for such organisms known to exist on Earth, comprising what are called extremophiles. While the realm of extremophilia mostly is comprised of microbial critters and more primitive hold-overs from ancient times, their presence in locations where the extreme heat of lava ducts, deep-earth pressure, and other adversities would make things uninhabitable for most living creatures points to the resilient–if sometimes counter-intuitive–propensities for life’s emergence.
So maybe the idea that life could exist in both the material and anti-material sense isn’t all that strange and impossible after all. However, if Dr. Speigel is right in his assumptions that contact with such beings might cause us to collapse into one another and disappear, then perhaps we’d be well advised to leave things at a mere fascination with the subject. 😉