New study dramatically narrows the search for advanced life in the universe

Oct 2010
67,750
27,635
Colorado
#1
The Earth may be sorta special after all.

New study dramatically narrows the search for advanced life in the universe
Scientists may need to rethink their estimates for how many planets outside our solar system could host a rich diversity of life.​
In a new study, a UC Riverside–led team discovered that a buildup of toxic gases in the atmospheres of most planets makes them unfit for complex life as we know it.​
Traditionally, much of the search for extraterrestrial life has focused on what scientists call the "habitable zone," defined as the range of distances from a star warm enough that liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. That description works for basic, single-celled microbes—but not for complex creatures like animals, which include everything from simple sponges to humans.​
The team's work, published today in The Astrophysical Journal, shows that accounting for predicted levels of certain toxic gases narrows the safe zone for complex life by at least half—and in some instances eliminates it altogether.​
..."I think showing how rare and special our planet is only enhances the case for protecting it," Schwieterman said. "As far as we know, Earth is the only planet in the universe that can sustain human life."....​

More stuff: New study dramatically narrows the search for advanced life in the universe
 
Oct 2010
67,750
27,635
Colorado
#7
The universe is huge. If the odds of finding earth-like planets just got a million times more unlikely, trillions of earth's likely still await discovery.

The takeaway here is: The conditions that came together to assemble this blue planet are evidently not that common .... and homo sapiens treats this planet like a two-bit bordello and open pit garbage dump, as we pass along an ever shittier planet to our posterity.
 
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Apr 2013
38,103
26,109
La La Land North
#8
A physics prof of mine said something that always struck me as being very logical on this. Basically he said words to the effect that the earth is `4.5 billion years old. In all that time, there has been a sentient biped for what, ~5000 years or so. But we have only been creating electromagnetic radiation that could be detected "out there" for under 200 years. And we have only been going into near earth space since 1957, so that's only 62 years ago. So the window is small.

Add to this the fact that between wars and pollution and lack of water and now climate change, what are the odds of us killing ourselves off within the next 1000 years. I'd say pretty high.

So we have been here ~6000 years, but call it 10 or even 15 if you want. The thing is, although there are these millions or billions of stars like our sun, and there must be a planet or two or a couple of million that hit the sweet spot for life as we know it.

BUT what are the odds of their developing on a time scale the same as ours so that their ~6000 years overlap with ours? Zilch or close to it.
 
Oct 2010
67,750
27,635
Colorado
#9
A physics prof of mine said something that always struck me as being very logical on this. Basically he said words to the effect that the earth is `4.5 billion years old. In all that time, there has been a sentient biped for what, ~5000 years or so. But we have only been creating electromagnetic radiation that could be detected "out there" for under 200 years. And we have only been going into near earth space since 1957, so that's only 62 years ago. So the window is small.

Add to this the fact that between wars and pollution and lack of water and now climate change, what are the odds of us killing ourselves off within the next 1000 years. I'd say pretty high.

So we have been here ~6000 years, but call it 10 or even 15 if you want. The thing is, although there are these millions or billions of stars like our sun, and there must be a planet or two or a couple of million that hit the sweet spot for life as we know it.

BUT what are the odds of their developing on a time scale the same as ours so that their ~6000 years overlap with ours? Zilch or close to it.
That's a good point.

It seems to me that every "intelligent" species will, at some point, face a science-conscience crossroads. I simply lack the energy to "debate" the effects humans have on the climate, the air, the water, the ground, on other species. We're a real shit-show, and I haven't mentioned warfare yet.

Clearly, a species technologies at some point will be capable of dramatically altering their planet's ecosystem, with unpredictable outcomes some of which will not be too good.

So, that's another factor affecting the possibility of overlap. Some "intelligent" species may go down the path of self-extinction.
 
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