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A new tool for discovering life from a distance

A new tool for discovering life from a distance

How do you know that there is life on another planet? We go down and look for him, of course. But everything would be much more convenient if we could determine the traces of life even at a distance – even in A wonderful Distance – without the need to organize space travel. A new tool invented by a group of researchers from the University of Bern allows us to take an important first step forward in this direction.

It is a brightness detector capable of recognizing the light passing through it has been reflected by an organic molecule; It does this by exploiting a unique property of living matter called chialita. The study describing the experiment was published in Astronomy and astrophysics.

The same, but reversed. The general definition Of chirality is “the property of solids that cannot be superimposed on their mirror image”.

Think of your hands as two physical systems: they are symmetrical but opposite images, and one cannot be superimposed on the other. In physics, chirality distinguishes physical systems into right- and left-handed (or right- and left-handed) organic molecules: all organic molecules are chiral—and so is helical DNA—but in general only one of the two possible versions of the molecule is in nature, and it is never reversed. It is homeopathy, Exclusive property of organic molecules. In the presence of light, the exact symmetry of a molecule affects how it is reflected.

to infinity and beyond. When light encounters a living molecule, a small part of its spectrum is reflected in a specific shape, such as a helical wave that travels by rotating clockwise or counterclockwise (depending on the molecule that bounced off it), a phenomenon called circular polarization.

So far, the tools we have for detecting reflected polarized light have required us to be about 20 cm away from the subject – and at that distance there are more efficient ways to determine whether we are in front of a living molecule. Instead, the Swiss team was able to detect circular polarization from about two kilometers away, and not only: the measurement, which takes a few seconds, was made by a helicopter moving at a speed of 70 km/h. The result is a first but huge step forward: the next step is to try to detect optical tracking of particles from the space station. With the possibility of developing this technology to study the light that comes to us from planets outside the solar system, and immediately understand whether it was reflected in its path by organic molecules.

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