BRUSSELS, 1-10-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — The sky and stars have always fascinated us and life outside our planet remains one of the great mysteries facing mankind. Monday, NASA announced that it has serious evidence of water on the surface of Mars. We asked MEP and astrophysicist Giorgos Grammatikakis (S&D, Greece), to talk to us about Mars and what this discovery means.
What is the significance of this discovery?
You know, back in time we thought of Mars as a dead planet. Today, the picture has changed completely. It is a planet of enormous interest to science and NASA’s discovery is important not only because it is technologically very difficult to detect the water but because it reopens the big question of life in the universe.
What would it mean for humanity to find life elsewhere?
You know, it’s strange. Everyone wants extra-terrestrial life to exist. It is very difficult to say why but it seems to me that we don’t like being lonely, we don’t like thinking of our planet as being isolated. So we are seeking, with our imagination, with our books and in our thoughts green, red or blue little men. Life on Mars may well be discovered, but it will be in microbial form, infinitesimal, the absolute first building blocks of life. And nobody knows if it will be life that evolved sometime in the past or if it is still waiting to evolve.
I am sure that there is life elsewhere in the universe. We already know that, because we have discovered planets similar to Earth. But they are so far away that I regret to say, we will never get there. That’s why it’s maybe better to pay a bit more attention to our very own earth, to the poverty and inequality next to us and that are equally important.”
Does Europe invest enough in research and innovation?
Parliament always asks for more investment, and debates on matters such as these are always useful. Yet I would say that investment in research and innovation is never “enough”.
Research and innovation are not only about the satisfaction of discovering things but also lead to great and useful discoveries, such as lasers in healthcare and industry or the medical scanners that can save lives. Even if we don’t find evidence of life beyond Earth, our research will have refined our materials, improved our methods and eventually we will enjoy its fruit here, in our everyday lives.
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