The possibility that human visitors could carry Earth-based microbes to the Red Planet has roiled the Mars research community, Lisa Grossman reported in “How to keep humans from ruining the search for life on Mars” (SN: 1/20/18, p. 22).
Reader Bruce Merchant speculated that Mars would need a protective global magnetic field to sustain a life-friendly environment. But the planet’s core cannot generate such a field, he wrote. Merchant suggested that the presence or absence of magnetic fields might be one way to tell whether a planet could support life. “Can we determine that for exoplanets?” he asked.
It’s unclear if a planet needs a core that produces a magnetic field to support any kind of life, Grossman says, “but that question is definitely something astrobiologists fret about.” We don’t have a way to determine from afar if an exoplanet has a core that would generate magnetic fields, she says. “But finding life on a planet with no magnetic field would be one way to test how necessary such fields are.”
If CRISPR and other gene-editing tools are approved for use in human embryos, some parents may feel morally obligated to use such a tool to give their children the best life possible, Tina Hesman Saey reported in “Parents may one day be morally obligated to edit their baby’s genes” (SN: 1/20/18, p. 4).
Several readers weighed in with their views on human gene editing.
Karla Garcia thought that using genetic editing to eliminate disease and improve life…
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