One issue that fascinates me is the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Is there life out there? And if so, what does it look like? Is there another intelligent species somewhere? Moreover, what would be the implications of finding life elsewhere for the view we have of ourselves and our place in the universe? What consequences would finding life elsewhere have for philosophical anthropology and theology? Questions that at some point in time seemed pure speculation, but with the recent findings of (many) exoplanets, are again on the table.
Today I read about a British team of astrobiologists from Cardiff University who claim to have found fossilized remains of bacterial life-forms in a meteorite that was found last year in Sri Lanka. This proves, in their view, that extraterrestrial life exists, or in the researcher’s own words: “The presence of fossilized biological structures provides compelling evidence in support of the theory of cometary panspermia first proposed over thirty years ago.”
The news report can be found here: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/150417-astrobiologists-discover-fossils-in-meteorite-fragments-confirming-extraterrestrial-life.
And the entire paper of the research team can be found here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1303.1845.
Scientists will probably fight over these findings – admittedly, the Journal of Cosmology that published these findings is quite controversial, as is Richard Hoover, one of the authors (see here for some potentially devastating comments about the findings) – and what the eventual consensus will be is as yet unknown. But this is interesting stuff!
Afterword: Other sources seem to confirm suspicion as to the the probable contamination of the samples by more earthly means: http://physicsbuzz.physicscentral.com/2013/03/algae-from-outer-space-not-so-fast.html.