There are various methods for detecting extraterrestrial life. But almost all of them come up against a fundamental question. What we call life: is it similar elsewhere in space to what we know here? The answer is simple: we don’t know.
Small-scale vibrations seem to be a universal signature of life. Every living cell, whether a yeast cell or a bacterium, the cell of a tree or a human body cell, vibrates throughout its life at a frequency somewhere between 5 and 10 hertz.
Since January, Vjera Radonicic, a VUB researcher, has been working on this fact with an FWO Frank De Winne Ph.D. grant. However, she wants to detect the vibrations more simply. For this purpose, she is working on developing an optical microscope, with which the oscillations can be filmed.