The elemental building blocks are universal; their abundance is not.
The amazing thing about life, is that it is always so very adaptable. Who knew that bugs can live at 140C, or with metabolism so slow it takes centuries to replicate?
Sheldon: There are red flags all over this data, but the investigators are standing by their measurement. This is what irreproducible papers look like in physics, and why the same crisis that afflicts other disciplines also afflicts physics.
Researchers: An all-ocean planet would be sterile due to lack of nutrients leached from land.
So, it turns out, even if there IS lots of water in a solar system, that doesn’t add up to habitability either. Talk about Rare Earth and Privileged Planet.
From their results: More likely is that many of the planets orbiting M-dwarf stars to have very thin or possible no atmospheres. In both cases, life forming in such systems appears less likely than previously believed.
He ends with, “The ancient question ‘Are we alone?’ has graduated from being a philosophical musing to a testable hypothesis. We should be prepared for an answer.” It’s worth asking another question: What if, after decades of research, no answer comes? What would that change?
The fundamental problem is still the same: It is very difficult to extrapolate from a sample of one instance of life. Suppose we had information on tens of thousands of exoplanets, thousands of which had life. Making the reasonable assumption that a pattern develops within this data, we could then give fairly reliable odds on a given planet having life if its relevant data are known. But we don’t have any of this. It’s all a dreamscape.
Wherever you thought you were on that planet, you would soon be somewhere else. But it’s not really anywhere, is it? Advice: Stay home on solid Earth.
This means that the search for extraterrestrial life should focus on planets with strong magnetic fields. Meanwhile, why is it that a thousand coincidences pointing in the same direction never seem to add up to a pattern, just something to explain away?
Okay but now one question: If none of those 47 planets has life, does that count as evidence against the proposition that “We Are Not Alone”? Does anything count as evidence against the proposition?
From Universe Today: In addition, research into how life evolved on Earth has shown that water alone does not guarantee life – nor, for that matter, does the presence of oxygen gas.
Well, in fairness, failing to treat them respectfully is one sin we can safely say we haven’t committed; we have never encountered an alien ecosystem.
It turns out that other solar systems are not shedding much light on how ours came to be: But as the menagerie of young planetary systems grows, researchers are struggling to square their observations with current theories on how our Solar System and others formed. Such ideas have been in turmoil ever since astronomers started […]
That’s a common problem when we ask great figures their opinion about things they haven’t studied. From a review of Stephen Hawking’s (1942–2018) last book (or the last book that could be put together plausibly under his name), Brief Answers to the Big Questions: Because of the likelihood of a nuclear confrontation or an environmental catastrophe, […]