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gdimond
2012-Jan-17, 11:15 PM
Hello,

My name is Grace Dimond and I am a junior at Elon University in North Carolina studying broadcast and new media. I am also an astronomy learning assistant in the physics department. For my class, Social Media Skills for Journalists, I am writing a blog-type story on astronomy.

Onto my question. Lately, planets have been in the news a lot. Various articles I have seen in the past week include:

*Astronomers see more planets than stars in galaxy

*Hubble snaps photo of oldest galaxy on record

*NASA Data Leads To Three New Planets

*SDSU astronomers discover new kind of planetary system

*What a New Planet Discovered in our Solar System May Mean

*New surveys find plenty of planets in Milky Way



Keeping all of these new discoveries in mind, what do you think about the probability of life on other planets? In our own galaxy? In galaxies far away? Do you have any theories about finding life on other planets? If you do think life on other planets is possible, what degree of intelligence would you expect?

Any other information with which you could provide me would be fantastic. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Feel free to contact me at gdimond@elon.edu



Thank you,

Grace Dimond

gdimond
2012-Jan-17, 11:52 PM
Hello, my name is Grace Dimond and I am a junior at Elon University in North Carolina studying broadcast and new media. I am also an astronomy learning assistant in the physics department. For my class, Social Media Skills for Journalists, I am writing a blog-type story on astronomy.

I don't know if this will get deleted because I posted something similar in another part of this forum, but I would greatly appreciate some opinions on the following questions:

Lately, planets have been in the news a lot. According to various articles, scientists have discovered new planets /galaxies. Keeping all of these new discoveries in mind, what do you think about the probability of life on other planets? In our own galaxy? In galaxies far away? Do you have any theories about finding life on other planets? If you do think life on other planets is possible, what degree of intelligence would you expect?

Any other information with which you could provide me would be fantastic. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.



Thank you,

Grace Dimond
gdimond@elon.edu

redshifter
2012-Jan-18, 01:19 AM
Interesting questions, though you could find a lot of various answers to those by searching this forum; these questions have come up before. Without getting too long, in my opinion:

Probability of life on other planets, either in our galaxy or others: 100% There is even a chance Earth isn't the only home to life in our solar system. I can't imagine in the entire universe Earth is the only host to life.

Degree of intelligence I would expect: No idea. There are possibly levels of intelligence we are ignorant of. I do think intelligent life as we understand it is possibly somewhat rare. IMO a significant % of life out there is probably on the level of microbes or single celled organisms.

Theories about finding life on other planets: If there is life in our solar system outside Earth, it's just a matter of time before we discover it. Might be a few decades, but IMO we'll stumble across it eventually. Intelligent life beyond Earth is another ball game. Might be they have to find us - so many variables here.

My pie in the sky theory for discovering intelligent life beyond Earth: When our exo-planet research tools are good enough that they can take a picture of an exo-planet and see the lights of alien cities on their planet's dark side. Or, when our exo-planet research tools are good enough they can analyze the atmosphere of an exo-planet and be able to measure pollution - and determine it's pollution vs. natural. Of course, that assumes intelligence advanced enough that they have lights (or need them), or pollution. If intelligent life on an exo-planet is in say the equivalent of a bronze age, or perhaps some sort of pre-hominid type, we'd have no way of detecting them. You can see where this is going. Intelligent life could be millions of years behind us, or ahead of us. Either way, we might never know about them.

Blackhole
2012-Jan-18, 02:51 AM
I pretty much share the same opinion as redshifter, although I'd put the probability of life outside of Earth at 99.999999%.

Swift
2012-Jan-18, 03:01 AM
Hi Grace, welcome to BAUT. I will put on my moderator hat for a moment and ask: are you sure you want your e-mail address displayed on a public forum, it may generate a lot of spam?

As far as your question, I think the probability of life on other planets, in our own galaxy or others, is extremely high. Recent finds would indicate that planets with Earth-like conditions are almost certainly in our galaxy, and it would therefore seem likely that life would also form on some of these worlds. Of course, until we can detect some actual evidence of that, it is educated speculation.

If you look through the "Life in Space" part of BAUT you will find lots of discussions on this topic.

Marakai
2012-Jan-18, 03:21 AM
Regarding intelligent life in the universe, as those eminent researchers Professor Hobbes and Doctor Calvin established, we do have a near 100% established certainty that it exists in the universe. Because none of it has come here.

Sorry, I just couldn't resist!

More seriously, I would suggest looking at the Drake Equation (or is its name actually formally Drake-Sagan?). I very easy to understand mathematical "formula" that attempts to calculate the likelihood of other civilisations. The interesting part is that many of its factors that were once thought to be very small (i.e. unlikely) have increased drastically in recent years. For example the count of other planets around other suns.

Selfsim
2012-Jan-18, 03:30 AM
Hi Grace;

I might make use of redhsifter's categories for comparative purposes .. (thanks redshifter).

Probability of life on other planets, either in our galaxy or others: There is no mathematical way we can assign accurate probabilities of finding exo-life, (which might have evolved separately from Earth's), simply because we have no pre-existing data with which we can calculate such a probability. We can infer that because we exist, and with no verifiable observational evidence to suggest that the Laws of Physics, Chemistry, etc vary throughout our observable universe, then another life-form might have evolved elsewhere. This still does not mean that we can scientifically say it exists, or even 'probably exists', (from a mathematical perspective and using statistical arguments), however.

Degree of intelligence expected: Unknown and ultimately undeterminable from scientific theory.

Theories about finding life on other planets: They are all 'inferred' and based on optimism (which is OK) ... they are not scientific theories, because it doesn't matter how many negative findings we make after searching for evolved exo-life in our universe, we can't conclude that no other separately evolved exo-life exists. In other words: its all speculation .. not scientific theory.

Discovering intelligent life beyond Earth: Unknown and ultimately undeterminable from scientific theory.

Searching for exo-life: With no prior evolved exo-life evidence, no matter how precise and sensitive our remote exo-environmental sensing capabilities get, we can only ever conclude that exo-life exists either by it being so obvious via sightings that it would be 'undeniable' by a majority of the scientific community, it deliberately making itself known to us, or us making the contact with it (ie: testing it directly). We can only feasibly base our remote exo-environment sensing technologies on what we presently relate to as life (ie: Earth-based life). At present, this also would not necessarily lead to 'conclusive evidence', because the relationships between the measurements we are presently capable of making, and life as we know it, are solely based on our own Earthly experiences, and may not be necessarily indicative of what may exist elsewhere. Making contact with, or even sending probes outside our solar system to planets light years distant, is not presently viable, in terms of returning the information we need to make the determination. Our best bet is finding exo-life locally, ie: inside our own Solar System. If we can do this, we can calculate probabilities and learn a lot more about what we're looking for, in the process.

Hope that helps .. I've tried to stick to as honest a scientific perspective as I am capable of. (If it can be shown that I have overlooked something in what I have said, I am willing to change it .. and I will have learned more as a result). :)

Cheers

Noclevername
2012-Jan-18, 04:25 AM
My thoughts on the matter:
*The basic elements that make up life are some of the most common elements in the Universe. CHON (Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen), all the main components of life as we know it, and perhaps Sulfur and Phosphorus which are vital to the functions of Earthly life.
* Water, also necessary to all terrestrial life, is one of the most common compounds in the Universe.
*We know that certain complex carbon and CHON compounds form naturally under a wide variety of conditions, including in deep space; many of these molecules, found everywhere from certain meteors and comets to distant nebulas and the clouds of gas around newly formed stars, are regarded as the "precursors of life", in that they form the basis for many of the molecular strutures common in living things.
* Despite having only limited ability to observe extrasolar planets for only the last few years, we have already found hundreds of worlds, including several that sit in the so-called "Goldilocks zone" (not too hot, not too cold) where liquid water might exist on their surfaces-- not to mention the possibility of nonsurface water, like that found inside the ice moons Europa and Enceladus right here in our own solar system.
* Life here on Earth, according to fossil records, began almost as soon as it was physically possible, shortly after the crust cooled enough for water to condense on the surface. Therefore we know that it is possible for life to form relatively quickly under certain conditions.
* The laws of physics that allowed such complex self-replicating structures to arise on Earth are, to the best of our knowledge, the same throughout the known Universe.

For those reasons, I think that life is most likely relatively common in not only our Galaxy, but most Galaxies. Of course, when dealing with something the size of the Galaxy, let alone trillions of them, "common" is a very relative term. If only one in ten thousand exoplanets has life, that's still hundreds of millions of worlds in the Milky Way alone.

As for intelligence, presumably meaning in this case a human-level capacity for abstract thought and creativity, well, life on Earth managed without us for billions of years, so we know it's not a necessity. The random nature of evolution means that there's no guarantee that a particular world will develop creatures whose brains work anything like ours. So I think that intelligence as we define it may be quite rare. On the other hand, as I said, the Universe is huge and there's plenty of room for trial-and-error variations to produce something that we might recognize as thinking beings. So it would not surprise me if somewhere out there some alien is wondering if we exist.

schlaugh
2012-Jan-18, 11:42 AM
You could devote your entire blog on just discussing the Drake Equation (http://www.seti.org/node/434)and its underlying asumptions (some of which are slowly being quantified through research and observation, such as the Kepler mission). BTW, I tried to link to the wikipedia article on the equation but...no Wikipedia today!

Colin Robinson
2012-Jan-19, 09:49 AM
Hello, my name is Grace Dimond and I am a junior at Elon University in North Carolina studying broadcast and new media. I am also an astronomy learning assistant in the physics department. For my class, Social Media Skills for Journalists, I am writing a blog-type story on astronomy.

I don't know if this will get deleted because I posted something similar in another part of this forum, but I would greatly appreciate some opinions on the following questions:

Lately, planets have been in the news a lot. According to various articles, scientists have discovered new planets /galaxies. Keeping all of these new discoveries in mind, what do you think about the probability of life on other planets? In our own galaxy? In galaxies far away? Do you have any theories about finding life on other planets? If you do think life on other planets is possible, what degree of intelligence would you expect?

Any other information with which you could provide me would be fantastic. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Thank you,

Grace Dimond
gdimond@elon.edu

Hello Grace,

Probability and possibility are two different things. At present no-one can really compute the probability of life beyond Earth, in the Solar System, the Galaxy or the universe. In saying this, I do not mean to say that life has low probability. I simply mean than any figure for the probability, high or low, will be a guess...

As for possibility, yes, I do think life on other planets is possible. Life on moons (natural satellites of planets) is possible also.

Here I am not thinking of Earth's moon, but of Jupiter's moon Europa, and Saturn's moons Enceladus and Titan. Europa, Enceladus and Titan all have stuff that makes them of interest to astrobiologists -- scientists interested both in astronomy and biology -- e.g. signs of liquid water beneath the surface. Titan also has complex carbon-chain molecules, thick atmosphere, and liquids on the surface which are not water, but which some scientists think could be as useful as water to different sorts of organisms.

These three moons are all within our own Solar System, which is a very small fragment of the Milky Way Galaxy. If any of them do turn out to have life, it would suggest that the amount of life in the Galaxy is, as they say, astronomical. To say nothing of the billions of other known galaxies.


If you do think life on other planets is possible, what degree of intelligence would you expect?

Any degree of intelligence is possible.

However, comparatively simple forms of life (micro-organisms) are likely to be more common in the universe than comparatively complex ones. Here on Earth, life began about 3.5 billion years ago, but multicelled forms only appeared about 1 billion years before today. In other words, for most of the history of this planet, all inhabitants were single-celled.

Multicelled life forms not only take time to evolve, but also require more energy than single-celled ones...

If and when we do find extraterrestrials, the first we find are likely to be microbes.

John Jaksich
2012-Jan-19, 10:02 AM
It seems most of the opinions that have been posted-- I also share.

If it is that you want to see more science (in terms of hard data) I suggest

the SETI institute on youtube or go to http://www.seti.org/talks for their talks.

I think some of them would be great topics for your blog at your campus.

And, of course you can go to the Google+ webcasts for BAUT webcasts ----you

you should be able to find it.


Best of luck to you

IsaacKuo
2012-Jan-19, 03:33 PM
However, comparatively simple forms of life (micro-organisms) are likely to be more common in the universe than comparatively complex ones. Here on Earth, life began about 3.5 billion years ago, but multicelled forms only appeared about 1 billion years before today. In other words, for most of the history of this planet, all inhabitants were single-celled.

Multicelled life forms not only take time to evolve, but also require more energy than single-celled ones...
While I find this hypothesis to be plausible, I'm wary of assuming it to be true. There may be important environmental factors, and the most obvious is the level of oxygen. Complex life as we know it requires a certain level of oxygen. For most of the history of Earth, the level of oxygen was kept low by geological absorption. But when this effect saturated, the oxygen level rose--and this is when complex life evolved. In other words, it's possible that complex life evolved pretty much as soon as environmental factors allowed it to happen.

In that case, it might be that complex life can evolve quickly, and it could even be the case that it evolves quickly on most biospheres. For example, planetary bodies similar to Europa might be oxygen rich due to dissociation of surface ice and geological migration of the generated oxygen to the ocean below. Such a biosphere might enjoy high levels of oxygen early in its history, without waiting billions of years as on Earth.

Or maybe not, of course.

My point is that we don't know, and we have reason to question whether our own single example is representative in general.

If and when we do find extraterrestrials, the first we find are likely to be microbes.
I'd bet on probes, not microbes. (In other words, robots.)

Colin Robinson
2012-Jan-19, 08:49 PM
While I find this hypothesis to be plausible, I'm wary of assuming it to be true. There may be important environmental factors, and the most obvious is the level of oxygen. Complex life as we know it requires a certain level of oxygen. For most of the history of Earth, the level of oxygen was kept low by geological absorption. But when this effect saturated, the oxygen level rose--and this is when complex life evolved. In other words, it's possible that complex life evolved pretty much as soon as environmental factors allowed it to happen.

In that case, it might be that complex life can evolve quickly, and it could even be the case that it evolves quickly on most biospheres. For example, planetary bodies similar to Europa might be oxygen rich due to dissociation of surface ice and geological migration of the generated oxygen to the ocean below. Such a biosphere might enjoy high levels of oxygen early in its history, without waiting billions of years as on Earth.

Or maybe not, of course.

Good point. If Europa does have an oxygen-rich subsurface ocean, it may have complex active organisms, and they may have been swimming about there before Earth evolved complex life.

On the other hand, it's conceivable that free oxygen very early in the history of a planet or moon could actually prevent life from getting started. Variants of the Miller/Urey experiment have shown that large organic molecules form much more easily in reducing conditions (hydrogen-rich conditions) than in oxidizing conditions.

A worst-case scenario for Europa may be that it not only lacks life, but doesn't even have organic molecules more sophisticated than formaldehyde.

ravens_cry
2012-Jan-19, 09:00 PM
@IsaacKuo:
Welll . . .
Robots would mean an existence of other intelligent life. Not only that, but technological intelligent life more advanced (in technology at least)than our own.
If you look at our own planets history, multicellular life has (to the best of our knowledge) existed for less than half of the time life has existed on our planet, and mind a far tinier fraction still and mind with industrial capabilities for an absurdly small fraction, and technology capable of creating self aware, self replicating robotics?
It plain doesn't exist on this world
Admittedly, we don't know how this would play out on other worlds. We don't even know, as others have pointed out, the true probability of life, let alone mind ,let alone technological mind, let alone industrial technological mind.
I just say your a lot more likely to pick out a green bead than a red bead if there is so many more green beads.
Unfortunately, this is admittedly supposition, we don't know even the number of beads period.
We have one bead, with many bags we have yet to open.
Hopefully our next generation or so of planet finder telescopes will start giving us spectroscopic data on Earth (or so) sized extrasolar planets atmospheres.

pzkpfw
2012-Jan-20, 12:15 AM
Duplicate threads merged.

swampyankee
2012-Jan-20, 01:17 AM
Hello,

My name is Grace Dimond and I am a junior at Elon University in North Carolina studying broadcast and new media. I am also an astronomy learning assistant in the physics department. For my class, Social Media Skills for Journalists, I am writing a blog-type story on astronomy.

Onto my question. Lately, planets have been in the news a lot. Various articles I have seen in the past week include:

*Astronomers see more planets than stars in galaxy

*Hubble snaps photo of oldest galaxy on record

*NASA Data Leads To Three New Planets

*SDSU astronomers discover new kind of planetary system

*What a New Planet Discovered in our Solar System May Mean

*New surveys find plenty of planets in Milky Way



Keeping all of these new discoveries in mind, what do you think about the probability of life on other planets? In our own galaxy? In galaxies far away? Do you have any theories about finding life on other planets? If you do think life on other planets is possible, what degree of intelligence would you expect?

Any other information with which you could provide me would be fantastic. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Feel free to contact me at gdimond@elon.edu



Thank you,

Grace Dimond

The first headline -- "Astronomers see more planets than stars" -- is clearly wrong. First, astronomers have only imaged ("seen") a very few planets; the existence of the others is inferred by indirect means. Second, they have not even inferred the existence of planets around many stars. There are astronomers who are predicting that there will be more planets than stars in the Milky Way (and, by extension, many other galaxies).

Onto your major question, I think it's quite obvious that every planet detection, even those outside of what we consider the "habitable zone," increases the probability of some form of life. Organisms have been found it the most unexpected places on Earth, such as 10km deep boreholes, so I would be surprised if there is not some form of life out there someplace, perhaps even as close as Mars.

eburacum45
2012-Jan-20, 04:17 AM
@IsaacKuo:
Admittedly, we don't know how this would play out on other worlds. We don't even know, as others have pointed out, the true probability of life, let alone mind ,let alone technological mind, let alone industrial technological mind.
I just say your a lot more likely to pick out a green bead than a red bead if there is so many more green beads.

It may be that there are many more red beads (robot probes) than green beads (worlds supporting microbes). The robot probes could be designed specifically to operate in deep space conditions, and to replicate and spread from world to world; microbes would be less likely to survive a transit from one planet to another, let alone one star to another. So microbes would tend to stay on the world of their origin; in theory replicating probes could be everywhere.

astromark
2012-Jan-20, 05:43 AM
Welcome here Grace Dimond.. and I should like to add that the stream of information has just begun..

You are right about the recent news from astronomy.. Many more planets than first indications would have had.

This is not a surprise.. Most of us except that Stars have planets.. most it would seem do.

So the chance of a similar environment as this might be increasingly possible..

and that a life bearing environment could be found soon..

but I always like to add that the timing of 'This' races development is and has been, fickle.

I would not be expecting dramatic news yet..

ravens_cry
2012-Jan-20, 10:02 AM
It may be that there are many more red beads (robot probes) than green beads (worlds supporting microbes). The robot probes could be designed specifically to operate in deep space conditions, and to replicate and spread from world to world; microbes would be less likely to survive a transit from one planet to another, let alone one star to another. So microbes would tend to stay on the world of their origin; in theory replicating probes could be everywhere.
Yes, I wondered that as well, I agree that bacteria surviving a trip to another star unaided is unlikely to put it mildly, but if there was robotic applicators moving from planet to planet then you run headlong into the Fermi Paradox.
On our planet at least, there is precisely zero red beads, while green beads in almost every kind of environment and niche and have for magnitudes longer than there even could have been a red bead.
Here's another thought. Self Replicating Robotics may not be sufficient to breach the void between stars in a meaningful way. While computers are more resistant to radiation in some ways, as they have gotten more complex and the circuits finer, they have gotten more so.
An automaton capable of indefinite self operation, maintenance and replication would be a complex thing indeed, let alone something with that nebulous state we call sentience, sapience, conciousness, intelligence and/or mind.
Maybe by the time we create something of that level of complexity, it will be almost as tied to this planet as we are.
A depressing thought, and one I dearly hope not to be true, if we can not make that journey, I wish our children to take it, but a thought nonetheless.

Githyanki
2012-Jan-20, 03:47 PM
We can't, logically, say that there is life outside of Earth until we do more research; it's fallacious to assume that just because the Universe is vast and there's "No way we could be the only example of life" doesn't mean, therefore, that in our understanding, life should exist elsewhere. It could be that the odds of life are 1:100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 etc. and we just are very lucky.

There are probably no intelligent aliens out there waiting for us to join their galactic-league. If you examine the life on Earth, you'd see that most species only last for a few million years and chances are, if we find any aliens, they will either be ruins billions of years old or microbes waiting to evolve, billions of years from now. It's true, we only have one example of life and their could be different examples of life out there, but we need more research.

My personal opinion, is that bacteria rules the universe and any where there is liquid water, you'll find microbes. It is my hypothesis that microbial life is a natural process that occurres in the geological process of early terrestrial worlds with liquid water. But I have to do more research to prove that.

IsaacKuo
2012-Jan-20, 04:21 PM
Yes, I wondered that as well, I agree that bacteria surviving a trip to another star unaided is unlikely to put it mildly, but if there was robotic applicators moving from planet to planet then you run headlong into the Fermi Paradox.

Not a problem. There are many plausible resolutions to the Fermi paradox, of which I have expounded upon many times before in this forum.

My speculation is that technological aliens existed, and that one or two of them have sent out some factions of probes across the wide regions of the galaxy (possibly designed specifically to destroy each other). They could be nearby; they could even be within our own solar system.

According to my speculation, there are any number of plausible reasons why these hypothetical probes haven't contacted us yet--the simplest being that they simply aren't programmed to do so.

For example, the probes could be the alien equivalents of cruise missiles or captor torpedoes. They might not contact us humans for the same reason cruise missiles don't contact birds and captor torpedoes don't contact dolphins.

Or maybe the probes are designed specifically to seek out and contact life forms, but our planet Earth doesn't match the parameters of the sort of biospheres they seek. Mini-neptunes are apparently the most common type of planet out there, so maybe the overwhelming majority of biospheres evolve on mini-neptunes. Our solar system might have been ignored simply because it lacks mini-neptunes.

Or maybe they are indeed interesting in Earth and they're studying us, but purposefully hide themselves for purposes of scientific purity. Or maybe they don't go out of their way to hide themselves, they just only bother to visit and take samples every few million years or every few centuries or every few thousand years.

There are just so many plausible possibilities.

Selfsim
2012-Jan-20, 09:57 PM
There are just so many plausible possibilities.
and with no means of practical falsification being either presented, or self-evident, appears ultimately destined to not being any more contributive towards science than a 'fluke' discovery of exo-life.

I find the volumes of such speculation to almost swamp the reality which is simply: 'unknown' .. a perfect state from which to launch productive scientific investigation .. and which has been demonstrated repeatedly, to make tangible returns of incrementally useful, practical knowledge.

Regards

IsaacKuo
2012-Jan-20, 10:27 PM
… and with no means of practical falsification being either presented, or self-evident, appears ultimately destined to not being any more contributive towards science than a 'fluke' discovery of exo-life.

A "fluke" discovery of exo-life would contribute vastly more to science than any speculations involving the Fermi Paradox. It would be a monumental event in human history, and our appreciation of our place within the universe.

My point with listing the mind-numbing range of plausible possibilities is to demonstrate the hopelessness of falsifying anything with the Fermi Paradox. It's open to so many different plausible resolutions that it hardly seems to falsify anything, practically speaking.

Selfsim
2012-Jan-20, 11:00 PM
A "fluke" discovery of exo-life would contribute vastly more to science than any speculations involving the Fermi Paradox. It would be a monumental event in human history, and our appreciation of our place within the universe.

My point with listing the mind-numbing range of plausible possibilities is to demonstrate the hopelessness of falsifying anything with the Fermi Paradox. It's open to so many different plausible resolutions that it hardly seems to falsify anything, practically speaking.
Agreed.

Focusing on falsifiable propositions, and local exploration of our Solar System, are productive past-times.

Voluminous unfalsifiable speculation swamps the realistic strategies and is thus ultimately detrimental to the cause of answering questions about exo-life.
Reduce the speculation, and the Fermi-paradox becomes a moot point.

Regards

Gomar
2012-Jan-23, 02:46 AM
Anyway, what's the connection between life on other planets and your major? None I reckon. A blog about exobiology is
a waste of time as nothing has ever been found anywhere in the galaxy indicating any level of intelligence on any planets.

Consider, had there been any super intelligent beings thousands or even millions of years ahead of humanity, dont ya thinks Earth
would be awash with alien visitors, tourists, colonists, slave traders, excavators, cooks, etc.
Why isnt anything in the galaxy out of place, or artificial; all is chaos and disorder. Why havent any alien radio or TV signals been detected?
They are too far from us that even flying at 4x speed of light it's not possible to get here. Thus, why waste money and effort on SETI?

The Milky Way
2012-Jan-23, 10:14 AM
Hello,

My name is Grace Dimond and I am a junior at Elon University in North Carolina studying broadcast and new media. I am also an astronomy learning assistant in the physics department. For my class, Social Media Skills for Journalists, I am writing a blog-type story on astronomy.

Onto my question. Lately, planets have been in the news a lot. Various articles I have seen in the past week include:

*Astronomers see more planets than stars in galaxy
*Hubble snaps photo of oldest galaxy on record
*NASA Data Leads To Three New Planets
*SDSU astronomers discover new kind of planetary system
*What a New Planet Discovered in our Solar System May Mean
*New surveys find plenty of planets in Milky Way

Keeping all of these new discoveries in mind, what do you think about the probability of life on other planets? In our own galaxy? In galaxies far away? Do you have any theories about finding life on other planets? If you do think life on other planets is possible, what degree of intelligence would you expect?

Any other information with which you could provide me would be fantastic. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Feel free to contact me at gdimond@elon.edu



Thank you,

Grace Dimond


Hello Grace:)

The only thing thats against life elsewhere i space is human doubts, and our lack in tech to discover life itself.
Everything else humans have discovered points in the direction that there is plenty of life in the universe.
If it can happe once it will surely happen again and again like it did here on earth.
In fact WE are life out "there" that others may be trying to find.
- so yes there is life out there, we just have to find it, and one day we will, or maybe it finds us.

what do you think about the probability of life on other planets? In our own galaxy? In galaxies far away?
As we dont know how often or rare life is, it would be pure guessing to answer this, anyone can come up
with a guess or roll a dice - both are useless.
Is there life all over the galaxy, or is life only present in 1/1000000 galaxies? we simlpy dont know it yet.

what degree of intelligence would you expect? If we find life, we will expect low lifeforms to be more
likely than high intelligent lifeforms. We cannot be sure, but we would expect it - the truth may be very
different to what we expect :)

Ilya
2012-Jan-23, 04:41 PM
My opinion?

I think life is pretty common on other planets. I also think vast majority of this life is simple bacteria. Life big enough to see (discounting algal mats and such) I think is very rare, and intelligent life extremely so. I would not be surprised if we are the first technological species in the galaxy.

Colin Robinson
2012-Jan-25, 01:34 AM
My opinion?

I think life is pretty common on other planets. I also think vast majority of this life is simple bacteria. Life big enough to see (discounting algal mats and such) I think is very rare, and intelligent life extremely so. I would not be surprised if we are the first technological species in the galaxy.

Simple bacteria?

It is true that bacteria are comparatively simple -- that is, compared to eukaryotes and multicellular life. Still, as Lynn Margulis said: "To go from a bacterium to people is less of a step than to go from a mixture of amino acids to a bacterium." (from Origin of life (http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/L/lifeorigin.html) in David Darling's Encyclopedia of Science.)

That is why it is so difficult to assess the probability of living micro-organisms appearing, even on habitable worlds. It also means that finding even "simple" organisms on another world, when and if it happens, will be a huge scientific breakthrough.

Luckmeister
2012-Jan-26, 07:25 PM
Anyway, what's the connection between life on other planets and your major? None I reckon. A blog about exobiology is a waste of time as nothing has ever been found anywhere in the galaxy indicating any level of intelligence on any planets.

As has been pointed out in other threads, we have only begun to look.


Consider, had there been any super intelligent beings thousands or even millions of years ahead of humanity, dont ya thinks Earth would be awash with alien visitors, tourists, colonists, slave traders, excavators, cooks, etc.

No, I see no reason to assume that. It wouldn't be like crossing the Atlantic ocean to get here, even if they were relatively close.


Why isnt anything in the galaxy out of place, or artificial; all is chaos and disorder.

Why would it have to be?


Why havent any alien radio or TV signals been detected?

Again, we have only begun to look.


They are too far from us that even flying at 4x speed of light it's not possible to get here. Thus, why waste money and effort on SETI?

So, if one day SETI were to find evidence of intelligent life on an exoplanet 500 ly away, you're saying that confirmation of its existence 500 years ago, even if we couldn't interact with it today, would be meaningless? I totally disagree!!

Selfsim
2012-Jan-26, 11:10 PM
If it can happe[n] once it will surely happen again and again like it did here on earth.(My bold and edit in []'s ).

Interestingly, the only two areas of science and mathematics supporting this opinion, requires: (i) evidence that the Universe, (beyond our observable part of it), is infinite, which is not practically feasible to determine, but nonetheless, philosophically conceivable.

The other 'support' comes in the form of (ii) the 'Cosmological Principle', which is a working assumption in Cosmology, (of justifiable standing .. but always under scrutiny/examination).

Once again, the above statement draws heavily on inference, and thus the term 'surely', is likely used in the common-language sense .. not the formal scientific/mathematical sense.

Regards

simbaman
2015-Apr-10, 07:34 AM
What if there is some sort of life on other planets,maybe some kind of germ that would even know who we are let alone what it is! The main thing here is the distances you have to travel to get to these planets, going at the speed of light (which i do not see us ever obtaining) It still is 4.5 light years to our nearest neighboorhood star. We will never know because before we figure how to travel s.o.l. this earth will be long gone!

simbaman
2015-Apr-10, 07:48 AM
The distances are just too great to these planets and it will be 100's of years before we will know how to travel at the speed of light if ever!these planets are so far away from us even we could go at the SOL who knows if we could sustain such a journey!

Sun Man
2015-Apr-20, 06:14 PM
Type the word "Aliens" into Youtube search. So many videos. Also, mufon.com and ufostalker.com have so many reported sightings it is really mind boggling.

Noclevername
2015-Apr-21, 06:22 AM
Type the word "Aliens" into Youtube search. So many videos. Also, mufon.com and ufostalker.com have so many reported sightings it is really mind boggling.

But none of them are backed up by repeatable hard evidence. Until we actually find something that can be scientifically analyzed in detail, we can't truly say we've found proof of alien life.