Is there life as we don't know it?
Whenever we talk about what extraterrestrial locations might support life, we speak of places with conditions that would suit life “as we know it.” Why limit it to that? Hasn’t nature shown us often enough that it’s far more creative than we are. It seems to me that in suggesting that life elsewhere has to fundamentally match life on Earth, we’re stretching the anthropic principle much further than it was ever meant to go. Even here on Earth, there are extremophiles that challenge our common understanding of what life can and can not tolerate. Even here, things live miles under the Antarctic ice cap, 8500 feet down in granite bedrock, and in volcanic hot springs filled with boiling sulfuric acid.
And all these extremophiles evolved from original single-cell organisms that came into being to fit a place exactly like Earth. With sufficient chance arrangements, why couldn’t complex carbon molecules get arranged in different ways to take advantage of conditions prevailing on a gas giant like Jupiter, with its atmosphere rich in ammonia crystals, water vapor, and organic chemicals including methane. The Jovian atmosphere produces lightning 1,000 times as powerful as what we experience on Earth. As it flashes through the dense cloud layers covering Jupiter’s core, might it not drive weird chemistry. How can we be so sure that the conditions on Jupiter, or any other carbon rich planet for that matter, are not exactly right for the formation of life as we DO NOT know it?