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New theory suggests that we may not be alone after all

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posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 12:27 PM
First, the article:

Astrophysicist Brandon Carter's long-standing argument against finding intelligent extraterrestrial life has been roundly challenged by a team of Serbian researchers led by Milan Ćirković.

Carter's theory assumed set timescales for two processes: the life cycle of a star and the emergence of complex life. By statistically combining the two Carter concluded that complex life takes longer to emerge than the life-friendly duration of most stars -- with the implication being that intelligence is excruciatingly rare in the Galaxy and we may be alone.

Not satisfied with this conclusion, Ćirković and colleagues Branislav Vukotić and Ivana Dragićević are now disputing these assumptions. In their Astrobiology paper, "Galactic Punctuated Equilibrium: How to Undermine Carter's Anthropic Argument in Astrobiology," they contend that there is no reason to assume life evolves only gradually. They argue life could evolve in fits and starts - mirroring an evolutionary theory called punctuated equilibrium.

The abstract of their paper reads,

Our approach is based on relaxing hidden uniformitarian assumptions and considering instead a dynamical succession of evolutionary regimes governed by both global (Galaxy-wide) and local (planet- or planetary system–limited) regulation mechanisms. Notably, our increased understanding of the nature of supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, and strong coupling between the Solar System and the Galaxy, and the theories of “punctuated equilibria” and “macroevolutionary regimes” are in full accordance with the regulation-mechanism picture. The application of this particular strategy highlights the limits of application of Carter's argument and indicates that, in the real universe, its applicability conditions are not satisfied. We conclude that drawing far-reaching conclusions about the scarcity of extraterrestrial intelligence and the prospects of our efforts to detect it on the basis of this argument is unwarranted.

In plain English, the conditions in the Universe required for the emergence of intelligent life have only recently been established (in cosmological scales). Prior to 'recent times', universal mechanisms were in place to continually thwart the evolutionary development of intelligence, namely through gamma-ray bursts, super novae and other forms of nastiness. Occasional catastrophic events have been resetting the "astrobiological clock" of regions of the Galaxy causing biospheres to start over. "Earth may be rare in time, not in space," they say. They also note that the rate of evolution is intimately connected with a planet's environment, such as the kind of radiation its star emits.

This is why the authors reject a strict uniformitarian approach; the Universe is not the same now as it was in the past.

And importantly, given the possibility that the conditions for intelligence to emerge are now in place, we shouldn't give up hope about our chances of discovering extraterrestrial life.

The full paper unfortunately requires purchase.

I don't have very much to add, I thought this was interesting and shareworthy.

As our understanding of universal processes expands so do seemingly the possibilities of extraterrestrial intelligent life.

[edit on 15 Jul 2009 by schrodingers dog]

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 12:38 PM
It is impossible to determine how life would develop / evolve elsewhere without any test cases (aka other inhabited worlds). The only information we have available is Earth. By the looks of things around here, life did a pretty good job evolving. However a simple microbe would do. Personally I hope we find more than that on Europa.

[edit on 15-7-2009 by DaMod]

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 12:55 PM
reply to post by DaMod

Nice to see science back it up but in my opinion it is very arrogant to think we are the only life in the universe.
Especially with all the cases out there.

Edit...for some reason it says I am replying to Damod.
Not directed at you Damod.

[edit on 15-7-2009 by DrumsRfun]

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 01:00 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

Interesting article, unfortunately the argument will go on until we discover life somewhere, and even then if it is only microbial there will still be the "there is no intelligent life" arguments until and if we discover that(or they discover us
). Anyways I think it is slightly ambiguous to state that in a likely infinitely expanding universe with a current estimate of 24 sextillion stars (27 zeros), and that is based on the limits of the Hubble Volume, that the mathematical odds of an infinite system do not compensate for even the most conservative estimates of planetary evolution of a species.

[edit on 7/15/2009 by jkrog08]

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 01:14 PM
Yes, as was proven in the past. Statistically there is an extremely high chance that other life exists and a very high chance intelligent life exists.
The universe is simply a very big place and has lots of possibilities to spawn life and good possibilities to spawn intelligent life. This is simply a fact, we know it and can calculate it. That is a very good thing.

The very reason that other life is possible is why this forum even exists. There are things to consider thou. When we discuss alien life we have to consider a few things.

- Earth isn't special and neither is mankind. For what we can conclude, the resources earth has are plentyfull in the universe. Water can be found in space nebula's. Some stars are made out of solid diamond and judging on statistical chances of life, so we as living organisms are probably common in the universe. That means we are not worth visiting for resources and intelligence.

- Earth is very remote. From our point of view, all stars are drifting away from earth. We are pretty remote and as such not really a place someone would easily stumble on whilst going from A to B in a spacecraft.

- Signals from eart do not relatively reach far. It has been found out that our radiowaves and other signals are actually dispersing when they reach further into space. As such aliens from Alpha Centaury will not receive Hitlers very first television recordings.

- If there is more advanced life in the universe that can reach us then they are so advanced in their technology and civilisation that they would most likely see us as an uninteresting protocivilisation that is in some footnote in one of their huge databases.

As such we can conclude that even with intelligent life on other planets we are very uninteresting as a target for aliens. At most we are much like an antfarm or a restplace for advanced species. The manipulation of our race is a foolish act since we are really nothing special. If earth would hold a greater goal for an alien race then it would be that it is secluded and you can hide stuff here. But there are plenty of other places in the universe to do that.

Dispite all those signs we clearly have about our insignificance we ahve to continue looking into the skies and on our planet. This too is a field of study and it needs to grow with our species as we grow as a whole. Without care now, we will be left weak and exposed when we get to play with the big boys out there.

I also feel the need to make a footnote. U.F.O.s of alien origin might indeed have crashed on earth. That is the only exception we should consider as serious research. Alien U.F.O.s crashed on earth have a high chance of falling into the hands of gorenments or large corporations and have a large chance of beings sought for by aliens. However, we should consider that visitation by U.F.O.s and the crashing of them as rare as being struck by a life ending comet. The amount that arises on ATS on video's here is by far to high.
As a member I would like to see some cases back reviewed like Roswell and then particularly with as much clean info from 24 hours after the incident and not more. But perhaps I'm asking to much. Cropcircles and random orbs of light seem uninteresting to me and unlikely as alien incidents and more likely as terrrestrial incidents or wetherphenomenons.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 01:20 PM

Originally posted by DaMod
It is impossible to determine how life would develop / evolve elsewhere without any test cases (aka other inhabited worlds).

You know, I look at this a little differently.

If this paper shows us anything is that the probabilities of intelligent life increase proportionally to our dimensional (time in this case) understanding and eventually awareness.

Linear time is a uniquely human construct. We persist with this 'belief' because it is convenient to the mind. Ironically, it is fact one of the least understood of the mind made creations. Even as quantum mechanics and observed string theory keep deconstructing this notion we still cling to it.

My belief is, and it is merely a belief, that as we shed this mental addiction/prison of linear time a whole new universe will reveal itself to us. And in this new state of awareness, many life forms will manifest with whom we've been sharing space all along.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 01:42 PM
Your average scientist conclude that other life in the universe HAS to have a similar environment to us to exist? That makes no sense to me.

It's called adaptability, who says 'everything' needs water, oxygen, and perfect temperature like us? We can only speak for ourselves in this regard, but at least they're trying.

Who knows? Maybe soon they'll finally admit they found life on the moon and mars and hid it for decades.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 01:42 PM
Of course we are not alone.....In our Universe or in our planet still remains untold

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 02:09 PM
reply to post by Genus

It seems that many folks agree with you ...

Let's pause for a moment and look at the numbers.

Recent figures place the total number of stars in the Milky way at an astounding three trillion. I don't need to tell you that that is a huge number. But given how poor the human mind is at groking large figures I'm going to play with this number for a bit:

3 trillion fully expressed is 3,000,000,000,000 (12 zeros)
As an exponent it can be expressed as 3 x 1012
Re-phrased, it is 3 thousand billions, or 3 million millions
Which necessarily leads to this question: given such a ginormous figure, what does it mean to be rare?

Even if the Earth is a one in a million occurrence, that means there are still 3 million Earthlike planets in the Galaxy (assuming one Earthlike planet per star). Does that qualify as rare? Not in my books.

If, on the other hand, the Earth is a one in a billion occurrence, then there are only 3,000 Earths in the galaxy. That sounds a bit more rare to me -- but one in a billion!? Seriously?

We also have to remember that the 3 trillion stars only accounts for what exists right now in the Milky Way. There have been well over a billion trillion stars in our past Universe. As Charles Lineweaver has noted, planets began forming in our Galaxy as long as 9 billion years ago. We are relative newcomers to the Galaxy.

Our Biophilic Universe

But all this numerological speculation might be moot. We're overlooking the mounting evidence indicating that we live in a universe exceedingly friendly to life. What we see in the physical laws and condition of the universe runs contrary to the expectations of the Rare Earthers.

Indeed, we are discovering that the Galaxy is littered with planets. Scientists have already cataloged 321 extrasolar planets -- a number that increases by a factor of 60 with each passing year. Yes, many of these are are so-called "hot Jupiters," but the possibility that their satellites could be habitable cannot be ruled out. Many of these systems have stable circumstellar habitable zones.

And shockingly, the first Earthlike planet was discovered in 2007 orbiting the red star Gilese 581. It's only 20 light-years away, 1.5 times the diameter of Earth, is suspected to have water and an atmosphere, and its temperature fluctuates between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius.

If we are one in a billion, then, and considering that there are only 0.004 stars per cubic light-year, what are the odds that another Earthlike planet is a mere 20 light-years away?

Indeed, given all this evidence, the Rare Earthers are starting to come under attack. Leading the charge these days is Alan Boss who recently published, The Crowded Universe. Boss estimates that there may be billions of Earthlike planets in the Milky Way alone. "I make the argument throughout the book that we already know that Earths are likely to be incredibly common—every solar-type star probably has a few Earth-like planets, or something very close to it," says Boss. "To my mind, at least, if one has so many habitable worlds sitting around for five billion or 10 billion years, it's almost inevitable that something's going to start growing on the majority of them."

Life Abounds

And it gets worse for the Rare Earthers. They also have to contend with the conclusions of astrobiologists.

It's a myth, for example, that it took life a long time to get going on Earth. In reality it was quite the oppoite. Our planet formed over 4.6 billion years ago and rocks began to appear many millions of years later. Life emerged relatively quickly thereafter some 600 million years after the formation of rocks. It's almost as if life couldn't wait to get going once the conditions were right.

We also live in a highly fertile Galaxy that's friendly to extremophiles. The Panspermia hypothesis suggests that 'life seeds' have been strewn throughout the Galaxy; evidence exists that some grains of material on Earth have come from beyond our solar system.

Recent experiments have shown that microorganisms can survive dormancy for long periods of time and under space conditions. We also now know that rocks can travel from Mars to Earth and that simple life is much more resilient to environmental stress than previously imagined. Consequently, biological diversity is probably much larger than conventionally assumed.

The 'Rare Earth' Delusion

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 03:01 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

You should re-title the thread " New Truth"

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 03:35 PM
since our sun is only a small star in an enormous galaxy and a lot bigger ones exist it is madness to think that those other suns won't create conditions somewhere that can support and create life.

I think people who deny the existence of extraterrestrial life are stupid or brainwashed.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 03:37 PM

Google Video Link

IMHO this movie has a totally plausible plot, in fact I would go so far as to say that it is what is happening right now.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 03:39 PM
reply to post by LucidDreamer85

lol ty ... perhaps 'new and improved' truth.

As to the 'old' truth ...

The Drake Equation is Obsolete

The integers that are plugged into this equation are often subject to wide interpretation and can differ significantly from scientist to scientist. Even the slightest change can result in vastly different answers. Part of the problem is that our understanding of cosmology and astrobiology is rapidly changing and there is often very little consensus among specialists as to what the variables might be.

Consequently, the Drake formula relies on 'stabs in the dark.' This makes it highly imprecise and unscientific. The margin of error is far beyond what should be considered acceptable or meaningful.

No accounting for cosmological development or time

Another major problem of the Drake Equation is that it does not account for two rather important variables: cosmological developmental phases and time (see Cirkovic, "The Temporal Aspect of the Drake Equation and SETI").

More specifically, it does not take into consideration such factors as the age of the Galaxy, the time at which intelligence first emerged, or the presence of physiochemical variables necessary for the presence of life (such as metallicity required to form planets). The equation assumes a sort of cosmological uniformity rather than a dynamic and ever changing universe.

For example, the equation asks us to guess the number of Earth-like planets, but it does not ask us when there were Earth-like planets. And intelligence itself may have been present as long as 2 to 4.5 billion years ago.

The Galaxy's extreme age and the potential for intelligence to have emerged at disparate points in time leaves an absurdly narrow window for detecting radio signals. The distances and time-scales in question are mind-boggingly vast. SETI, under its current model, is conducting an incredibly futile search.

Detecting ETI's

Which leads to the next problem, that of quantifying the number of radio emitting civilizations. I'm sure that back in the 1960's it made a lot of sense to think of radio capability as a fairly advanced and ubiquitous means of communication, and by consequence, an excellent way to detect the presence and frequency of extraterrestrial civilizations.

But time has proven this assumption wrong. Our radio window is quickly closing and it will only be a matter of time before Earth stops transmitting these types of signals -- at least unintentionally (active SETI is a proactive attempt to contact ETI's with radio signals).

Due to this revelation, the entire equation as a means to both classify and quantify certain types of civilizations becomes quite meaningless and arbitrary. At best, it's a way of searching for a very narrow class of civilizations under very specific and constrained conditions.

Rather, SETI should continue to redefine the ways in which ETI's could be detected. They should try to predict future means of communication (like quantum communication schemes) and ways to identify these signals. They should also look for artificial objects such as megascale engineering and artificial calling cards (see Arnold, "Transit Lightcurve Signatures of Artificial Objects").

The future of advanced intelligence

Although possibly outside the auspices of this discussion, the Drake Equation does not account for the presence of post-radio capable civilizations, particularly post-Singularity machine intelligences. This is a problem because of what these types of civilizations might be capable of.

The equation is used to determine the number of radio capable civilizations as they conduct their business on their home planet. Again, this is a vary narrow view of ETI's and the space of all possible advanced civilizational types. Moreover, it does not account for any migratory tendency that advanced civs may have.

The Drake Equation does not tell us about exponential civilizational growth on account of Von Neumann probe disbursement. It does not tell us where advanced ETI's may be dwelling or what they're up to (e.g. Are they outside the Galaxy? Do they live inside Jupiter Brains? Do they phase shift outside of what we regard as habitable space? etc.). This is a serious shortcoming because the answers to these questions should help us determine not just where we should be looking, but they can also provide us with insight as to the makeup of advanced intelligence life and our own potential trajectory.

In other words, post-Singularity ETI's may represent the most common mode of existence for late-stage civilizations. And that's who we should be looking for rather than radio transmitting civs.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 03:40 PM
I love this kind of stuff! I think its really good that scientists are realising that we have no real frame of reference, so they shouldnt be so strict in where they think life will/does occur.
Its so crazy thinking about what could be out there.. I still find it pretty amazing that there could be many planets out there that would be easy for us to live on because they have near enough the same enviroment as us!

Makes me laugh a bit as well, when you see all the crazy predictions of doom/alien conspiracies on here.. because really why would the any of the vast majority of them be true? If there's some super advanced aliens who manage to easily zip here and back to where ever they're from, then what would they want with a civilization who only in the last 50 years have they managed to put a couple of their own species on the moon?... We dont seem to have any redeeming features about us either, to aliens we probably look like some insane species that are hell bent on destroying themselves and who cant even get on with eachother!

And going off on a tangent slightly... but there's every chance we havent even been detected by aliens yet. Our radio signals dont even last too long by the sounds of it... and you'd probably have to get pretty damn close to see that there's anything actually going on down here!

Another thought as well.. we could have already detected a planet that has life on it, we just have no way of telling yet. Same with aliens as well.. there's got to be millions of planets out there in the universe, maybe they dont feel the need to check every planet out? Or maybe they already have done, except they maybe had a quick nose around before we got to a point where we could be deemed 'intelligent'?

[edit on 15-7-2009 by Bluebelle]

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 03:51 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

i like some of George Dvorskys stuff but its hard to take that article seriously when he states theres 3 trillion stars in the galaxy. Luminous mass remains unchanged (around 100 billion stars) its dark matter there is more of than we thought. His numbers are way out.

[edit on 15-7-2009 by yeti101]

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 04:00 PM
reply to post by yeti101

I believe your estimate is the one that NASA uses. One of the things that I find remarkable is that it is estimated that the Milky Way Galaxy produces 7 new stars every year. That is 7 new chances for the possibility of life to develop every single year.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 04:33 PM
reply to post by TurkeyBurgers

well its still up for debate 100 billion minimum or up to 400 billion if your feeling saucy. Most recent astronomy papers use the 100 billion number. Its nothing to do with nasa.

The 3 trillion Dvorsky uses is becuase he made the mistake of thinking these guys were talking about an increase in luminous mass. But its an increase in dark matter only.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 05:35 PM
let me add this, all life on Earth is Carbon based. How do we honestly know that life has to have Carbon to construst. life out in other parts could maybe be silicone based, or plasma based. the possibilities are endless.
Mankind is pretty barbaric when you look at us. I have to hope there is something better out there.

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posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 05:42 PM
Is there any intelligent life on Earth? Humans seem to be showing lack of intelligence by destroying the planet's eco system and totally reckless if and probably will one day press that big red button and make the Earth into a new asteroid field.

I do beleive there is intelligent life out there and that we have been visited but are we really worth being contacted?

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 05:52 PM

Originally posted by DrumsRfun
Nice to see science back it up but in my opinion it is very arrogant to think we are the only life in the universe.

Arrogant or sad? If we are the only life in the universe, that puts us in a pretty lonely position, don't you think? All of our struggles and accomplishments, and the knowledge that we've attained might never been known outside our own little planet. And when we're gone, that will be the end of the universe. All useless.

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