It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

"The Anthropic Principle" is life in the universe rare?

page: 1
0

log in

join
share:

posted on May, 10 2005 @ 02:19 PM
link   
Many people seem to be sure that life is abundant in the universe, and in fact suppose intelligent life is also abundant. Most are probably unaware of something known as "The Anthropic Principle" which simply stated points to the concept that the development of the universe seems to be aimed at providing an environment suitable for human life. Now I know right 'off the bat' many may say 'here we go again, more religious pseudo-science rubbish', but bear with me. If you need to remove GOD from the equation you can simply rely on chance to accomplish these things, as is done with the creation of life(naturally occuring) itself.

I would like to list some of the characteristics that are necessary for life to exist here on Earth:

First off we'll start at the beginning the rate of expantion in the universe is critical to star(& planet) formtion:

If the rate had been greater, matter would have dispersed too efficiently to form galaxies. No galaxies—then no stars, no sun, and no earth. On the other hand, had the rate been slower, matter would have clumped together so efficiently that it would have collapsed into a high-density "lump" before any stars could form. Again, no stars and no sun-no earth.



• The cosmic mass density. Physicists have calculated that for physical life to ever be possible at any time in the universe, the overall cosmic mass density must be fine-tuned to a mere 1 part in 1060.
• The cosmic space energy density. Likewise, physicists have calculated that the value of the cosmological constant (see page 201) must be exact to 1 part in 10120. Shortly before the cosmological constant was discovered, astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss noted that its addition to the big-bang model "would involve the most extreme fine-tuning problem known in physics." The odds that just these two aspects of the big bang randomly happened are 1 in 10180—about the same as winning 23 lotteries in a row with a single ticket for each!


Now I know the naturallistic answer to long odds not meaning you need a designer, but at least we can all agree that we got pretty lucky here.

Also the speed of light is more or less exactly what it needs to be for life to exist:

• The speed of light. The constant of the speed of light—299,792,458 kilometers per second—is critical to the existence of life. A faster speed of light would cause energy ("E" in "E=mc2") to increase dramatically, burning up life on planet earth. A lower "E" would cause things to freeze.


Time and place of the Earth's formation is also critical to existence of life.

• The age of the universe when the earth appeared. The earth had to appear at a certain stage—several generations of giant stars had to have fused enough heavy elements to allow for the proper earth chemistry. Also, the earth had to be located in the right part of the galaxy for life to appear


Ok now i've skipped over alot of things here in the interest of readability, but now we have Earth when and where it needs to be, so let's move on to "Earthly" characteristics needed for existence of life:

• Earth's distance from sun: Too close, too hot for life. Too far, too cold.



• Sun's location relative to center of galaxy: Too close to center, too close to meteor storms. Too far away, too unstable.



• Sun's mass: Key to energy distribution to earth.



• Sun's short-term and long-term luminosity variability:



• Must be in proper ranges for photosynthesis.



• Tilt of planetary axis: Necessary for seasons. All three forms of water (liquid, ice, and gas) are necessary to maximize life variables.



• Number of moons: Must have one moon for tidal forces, but more than one would create unbearable tidal instability.



• Ratio of oceans to continents: Must be correct to keep global temperature stable (land and water absorb heat at different rates).



• Position and mass of Jupiter relative to Earth: Jupiter's gravity is critical to life on earth.



• Atmospheric transparency: Important both for rate of photosynthesis and degree of energy transfer (heat) to earth.



• Carbon dioxide level: Important for rate of vegetation stabilization.



• Oxygen level: Important for ozone protection and amount of breathable air for animals.



• Amount of phosphorus in crust: A critical element for health of bone and muscles.



• Chlorine quantity in atmosphere: Critical for developing electrolyte balance.



• Selenium quantity in crust: A critical mineral as an anti-oxidant.



• Fluorine quantity in crust: A critical mineral for the body.



• Quantity of forest and grass fires: Necessary for revitalization of earth nutrients. However, too many would destroy plant-animal balance.



• Volcanic activity: Necessary for spreading of soil nutrients. However, too much could block out critical sun energy


From just this partial listing(so far 128 examples), we can start to see that the conditions on this planet are far from random. A variation in one of them of 10 percent—in some cases as little as one-thousandth of a percent—would make life impossible.

Now the naturallist will say this is not proof of the need of a "designer", that in a universe so big it could happen by chance alone. But in order for there to be other life in the universe(especially intelligent life) is, IMHO, asking alot. If there is, than its likely very few and very far inbetween. And to those who believe aliens are visiting us today you have to first meet all the conditions for life to exist on the "alien planet", and then we can get into a whole other argument dealing with the physics of interstellar or intergalactic space travel.

So I say we are blessed, you may say we are lucky.......I say design, you may say chance(either is unprovable IMO)......I say GOD you say nature, but the odds of other intelligent life out there may be infintesimaly small, and the odds of two civilizations living at the same time........ and finding one another are even smaller.

Another cool "anomaly" that is NOT essential for life, is the our solar eclipse:

There is an amazing cosmic coincidence that the Moon is about 400 times closer to the Earth than the Sun. At the same time, the Sun is about 400 times larger than the Moon. What this means is that the size of the Sun and Moon as seen from the surface of the Earth is about the same in the sky. When viewed from the surface of Earth, both the moon and sun appear to be about one half degree in size – that is, about the size of your thumbnail when you extend your arm.
In astronomical terms, the Sun and Moon have roughly the same angular size. This makes it possible for a solar eclipse to occur. No other planets in our solar system enjoy the same one-to-one ratio.
eclipse-chasers.com

Just another in the long list of coincidential chances that we see all around us.

Please any thoughts, additions, refutations are appreciated, remember I am not saying "ah ha see prove of GOD right here" its just my opinion and if you want to attribute them to chance thats fine too.

LINKS
Finely-tuned universe
Life's location and the characteristics of stars
Anthropic principle.com




posted on May, 10 2005 @ 02:39 PM
link   
Anthropic Principle is better than no answer yet it is not an answer. Saying that everything exists because we exist still doesn't explain why something exists. It would be much more logical if nothing would exist. Anyhow, I hope there will be a day when physics will be able to get rid of this anthropic principle.

[edit on 10-5-2005 by Agnis]

[edit on 10-5-2005 by Agnis]



posted on May, 10 2005 @ 03:41 PM
link   
Well as the universe is big and there was that special forumula for deteremining if there are intelligent civilizations out there. According to the forumula there are 100 million million civilizations. I cant remember if that means from the start of the universe or now. Even if so then there would be quite a reasonable number now.

Then again they discovered these death stars which might kill of all life in a quite large radius. They might explain for the lack of intelligent civilizations. As these stars werent known when that formula was made.



posted on May, 10 2005 @ 03:50 PM
link   
How the hell can we tell wether Life is Abundant or Rare in the univers when we only have 9 examples of planets that we can study up close so to speak. Astronomers and Planet Hunters alike believe that there are literally Billions of Planets in our Galaxy, if 1 in 9 planets are Earth-like then that's alot of planets capable of supporting life, but then again we cannot make that assumption as we do not know how rare or abundant earth-type planets are. The newer theories on Planet formation state that Gas Giants may be much more difficult to form then small rocky planets, so as our technology develops and we start to detect Earth Sized planets then we'll be able to make some theories as to how abundant or rare life is in our Galaxy.

At this point in our History, making grand statements like "Life is Rare" or "Life is Everywhere" is stupid. We just do not know yet.

[edit on 10-5-2005 by sardion2000]



posted on May, 10 2005 @ 03:53 PM
link   

from ttomcat ha:
here was that special forumula for deteremining if there are intelligent civilizations out there. According to the forumula there are 100 million million civilizations.


Its known as the Drake equation:

The Drake Equation, as far as mathematical equations go, is quite simple. It consists of a string of unknowns multiplied by each other - that's it, no integration, no differentiation, nothing more difficult that multiplication. This means that the equation is accessible to pretty much everyone. Here it is:
N = R* fp ne f l fi fc L
Here

And thats in the Milkyway galaxy alone, but I dont believe they factored in all the possible variables(who could??). Its very speculative.



posted on May, 10 2005 @ 04:44 PM
link   
I find the original argument a kind of upside down.

True, conditions on Earth are quite unique, and that includes the Moon that stabilizes the planet's rotation and all that.

But is is exactly why life appeared here and not on Venus. It's not like Earth had been designed with humans in mind. Lifeforms appeared and progressed because the conditions were favorable.



posted on May, 10 2005 @ 04:50 PM
link   

Originally posted by Aelita
I find the original argument a kind of upside down.

True, conditions on Earth are quite unique, and that includes the Moon that stabilizes the planet's rotation and all that.

But is is exactly why life appeared here and not on Venus. It's not like Earth had been designed with humans in mind. Lifeforms appeared and progressed because the conditions were favorable.


Well like I said you can believe in GOD or chance, you say we are here because we could be, and I say we are here because GOD created us.....yes everything can be explained away by random chance happenings, but can also be explained by design. Neither IMHO is scientifically provable. And if you accept chance, my point is that intelligent life in the universe may be very rare.



posted on May, 10 2005 @ 04:56 PM
link   


but can also be explained by design.


How can it be explained by design when we have no way of quantifying "God" ? That's the problem with "Creation Science", they always rely on a "mystical" variable that is impossible to know of. Science and Faith will never co-exist.



posted on May, 10 2005 @ 05:06 PM
link   

Originally posted by sardion2000
Science and Faith will never co-exist.


I hope you are wrong. What cannot coexist is a totally simplistic look at the Church's doctrine and the Scriptures, and other components of the Fath.

I was thinking lately about the creationism. I kinda tend to think that the six days in which everything was supposedly created are a parable. Who knows what "days" meant at the moment of creation. If we believe physics (and why not), even the number of dimensions of time-space wasn't constant in the first picoseconds of this world. For all I know, days could mean billions of years. Which is about right.

Assuming that religion contains a true message (feel free to disagree), I feel that the message is being interpreted in primitive terms way too often.

I also think that what's happening in nature is so wonderous that one may not need an imposed kind of faith on God. Just look around carefully and don't take the Scriptures literally.



posted on May, 10 2005 @ 05:12 PM
link   
You will realize soon that humans are viruses and fungus from a planet. Consider the planet a human and humanity lepracy, you'll understand that most of humanity is a child in a sandbox, we have not even matured, do we deserve life, no, not really. We never do anything good in real terms, all we do is correct our f up's about .001% of the times, we are the product of conditions that aloud us to think. Think about the most durrable fungus or bacteria on earth. Life is durable, and strong, if we can't find a way, life will.

It is true what they say, light will often breed life.



posted on May, 10 2005 @ 05:13 PM
link   
My problem with "Creation Science" is this in a nutshell. It is missing one huge mathematical variable, and it is the most important one. THat of the Creator. How can we quantify the Creator with a mathematical equasion. That's what I meant when I said they cannot co-exist.

In order for me to accept "Creation Science" as a real Science then they gotta create an Equation that accounts for the "creator" variable. I have not seen that to date, and will probably never will(unless we discover that our "creator" was not a "god" afterall but an advanced alien spieces, that would be radically different then as we could just ask them
)

[edit on 10-5-2005 by sardion2000]



posted on May, 10 2005 @ 05:39 PM
link   
What I'm hearing is that it is an incredible circumstance that Earth has all the conditions necessary for life. While it is true that Earth is ridiculously ideal for Earth life, but there are certainly other types of life.

Now you can argue that the Earth was designed for the life that it currently holds, but can't you also see that this life was designed solely to suite the Earth? It's more that the we are conforming to its needs, not the other way around.

FoxStriker, I have an idea that might mitigate your pessimism. As far as we know, Humans are the first life that has gotten off the Earth. And if we are supported for a few more thousand years, we definitely having a chance of finding other worlds to terraform and colonize. And, because we are dependent on other organisms for survival, we will bring other life with us (The Remorra and the Shark).

Thus, even if we die out, we will have been unwittingly used by Nature as a tool for spreading itself to other planets. I think that's definitely great compensation for a short period of molestation on our part.

[edit on 10-5-2005 by Zaknafein]



posted on May, 10 2005 @ 10:12 PM
link   
Thanks for all the comments guys, I wasn't trying to turn this into a GOD versus evolution debate, I was pointing out the many. many,.... things needed for life to exist(whether created or not) and even from an evolutionary standpoint intelligent life could be very rare even if the conditions are ideal.

I am a Christian, but am also a huge sci-fi fan, love star trek/wars will read any Isaac Asimov book I can get my hands on, i'm a member of set@home and einstein@home(IOW I have no problem with E.T.) just adopting a pessimistic position(based on available data)....I had noticed some discussion on new planetary finds and of course the 'alien conspriracys' and thought it would be a good idea to point out how difficult it is for life to exist(as we know it) it is far more than just finding Earth like planets around Sun like stars.

The Drake equation however well thought out, is FAR to speculative to give even a reasonable figure of civilizations, and leaves out so many variables, I agree in such an enormous universe its probable but not necessarily likely(IMO)....

I would love nothing more than to be wrong, but with all we know about 'life processes' and dependancy, we have "listened" to many stars(via SETI and the like) in our "neighborhood" and nothing as of yet, and if the Drake equation was even close(remember it predicts MilkyWay civilizations to number in the millions) we would of heard from someone by now dont you think? I say its just as likely we are alone, as we are not........regardless of how much we might not want that to be(yes I meant we). Again I think this is a great topic and appreciate everyones input



posted on May, 11 2005 @ 01:55 PM
link   

Originally posted by Rren
and even from an evolutionary standpoint intelligent life could be very rare even if the conditions are ideal.


We may come to find out that "ideal conditions" are more the rule than the exception.

Consider the formation of galaxies, we know from observation that there are countless galaxies, no two are exactly the same. The conditions must be exponentially 'difficult' for an entire galaxy to form, no? Yet they do, again and again ad infinitum.

How would the rules differ for the formation of 'solar' systems? (or extrasolar systems in this case). The reason we don't observe that there are countless systems is only because we lack the ability to resolve them.
I believe that once we have the ability to 'see' them, we will.



Originally posted by Rren
thought it would be a good idea to point out how difficult it is for life to exist(as we know it) it is far more than just finding Earth like planets around Sun like stars.


How is it so difficult? Scientists have found life to exist where it was previously considered to be impossible, e.g. ecosystems existing on the chemicals produced by deep sea black smokers.



posted on May, 11 2005 @ 05:04 PM
link   

originally posted by Divergence
How is it so difficult? Scientists have found life to exist where it was previously considered to be impossible, e.g. ecosystems existing on the chemicals produced by deep sea black smokers.



But the story about the source of life-sustaining energy in the deep sea is still unfolding. In the late 1980s, scientists documented the existence of a dim glow at some of the hot geothermal vents, which are the targets of current intensive research. The occurrence of "natural" light on the dark seafloor has great significance, because it implies that photosynthesis may be possible at deep-sea geothermal vents. Thus, the base of the deep-sea ecosystem's food chain may comprise both chemosynthetic and, probably in small proportion, photosynthetic bacteria
Source

These lifeforms are not independant of "regular lifeforms" in other words if you put them at the bottom of some other planets ocean(like Europia for ex.) they would not survive, they are a part of the food chain and dependant on the "regular old life" around them for survival. As I said Earth is ideal not every "Earth-like" planet is going to meet the innumerable amount of conditions need for life to exist and thrive(as shown in my original post).

Sure its probable, in the sense that we can't know everything, but with what we do know its not necessarily likey to be so abundant as some might think, and as I said earlier with regards to ET contact you need two civilizations in the same part of the galaxy(relatively speaking), existing at the same time(again relatively).....Given you get the right conditions for life you still may end up with a world with no intelligent or sentient life....




top topics



 
0

log in

join