Cosmology

You heard about it here first: Statistically, we just know there is life on other planets

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Ian O’Neill tells us, “Milky way stuffed with 50 billion alien worlds” Discover (Feb 19, 2011)

Making estimates may sound trivial, but it does put the search for ET into perspective. There’s at least 50 billion worlds, which have fostered the development of basic lifeforms? How many have allowed advanced civilizations to evolve?If there are any space-faring alien races out there, “the next question is why haven’t they visited us?” Borucki asked. He responded with: “I don’t know.”

I wonder if we’ll ever know.

One problem I have with statistics that start with a current sample of one is that it strikes me as difficult to compute the odds that there are two, no matter what the sample size is. If we find a donut-shaped planet, does that mean there must be another one out there? Possibly, but if very specific and unusual conditions were required to produce it, those conditions may never have been repeated anywhere.

Very specific conditions produced life on Earth.  Whether these conditions were unusual cannot be established on the magic of large numbers alone. Still, it’s all good fun and great sound bites.

9 Replies to “You heard about it here first: Statistically, we just know there is life on other planets

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    I liked this bit of uncharacteristic restraint, for exo-planet researchers, in the linked article;

    Chances of Exoplanet Life ‘Impossible’? Or ‘100 percent’?
    Excerpt: Going to the opposite end of the spectrum, Howard Smith, an astrophysicist at Harvard University, made the headlines earlier this year when he announced, rather pessimistically, that aliens will unlikely exist on the extrasolar planets we are currently detecting.

    “We have found that most other planets and solar systems are wildly different from our own. They are very hostile to life as we know it,” Smith told the UK’s Telegraph.

    The Harvard scientist even dismissed the future Kepler announcement, pointing out that upcoming reports of habitable exoplanets would be few and far between. “Extrasolar systems are far more diverse than we expected, and that means very few are likely to support life,” he said.
    http://news.discovery.com/spac.....-what.html

    notes;

    Compositions of Extrasolar Planets – July 2010
    Excerpt: ,,,the presumption that extrasolar terrestrial planets will consistently manifest Earth-like chemical compositions is incorrect. Instead, the simulations revealed “a wide variety of resulting planetary compositions.
    http://www.reasons.org/composi.....ar-planets

    Exoplanet Hunters Fail Predictions – August 2010
    Excerpt: In Caltech’s latest Engineering and Science magazine, John Johnson was interviewed about the state of extrasolar planet hunting. Johnson has been involved with leading planet-hunting pioneers. A recurring theme in the interview is the surprise that planetary systems were found to be radically different from predictions.

    What are some of the current big questions that you guys are trying to tackle?

    We’re interested in how the solar system formed. We’re interested in our immediate environment and describing its origins. And beyond that, we’re interested in general in how planetary systems formed. There are some very specific questions that arise at every turn. There are so many surprises in this field—almost nothing is turning out as we expected. There are Jupiter-mass planets in three-day orbits. There are planets with masses that are between those of the terrestrial planets in our solar system and the gas giants in the outer part of our solar system. There are Jupiter-mass planets with hugely inflated radii—at densities far lower than what we thought were possible for a gas-giant planet. There are giant planets with gigantic solid cores that defy models of planet formation, which say there shouldn’t be enough solids available in a protoplanetary disk to form a planet that dense. There are planets with tilted orbits. There are planets that orbit the poles of their stars, in so-called circumpolar orbits. There are planets that orbit retrograde—that is, they orbit in the opposite direction of their star’s rotation. There are systems of planets that are in configurations that are hard to describe given our understanding of planet formation. For instance, some planets are much too close to one another.
    But a lot of those surprises have to do with the fact that we have only one example of a planetary system—our solar system—to base everything on, right?
    What’s interesting is that we’ve found very little that resembles our example.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100831a

    Weird Orbits of Neighbors Can Make ‘Habitable’ Planets Not So Habitable – May 2010
    Excerpt: New findings from computer modeling indicate that some of those exoplanets might fluctuate between being habitable and being inhospitable to life because of the forces exerted by giant neighbors with eccentric orbits.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....143419.htm

    Privileged Planet Principle – Michael Strauss – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318884/

    The Privileged Planet – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV5zkifLSbc

    Privileged Planet – Observability Correlation – Gonzalez and Richards – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5424431

    The very conditions that make Earth hospitable to intelligent life also make it well suited to viewing and analyzing the universe as a whole.
    – Jay Richards

    Does the Probability for ETI = 1?
    Excerpt; On the Reasons To Believe website we document that the probability a randomly selected planet would possess all the characteristics intelligent life requires is less than 10^-304. A recent update that will be published with my next book, Hidden Purposes: Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, puts that probability at 10^-1054.
    http://www.reasons.org/does-probability-eti-1

    Linked from “Appendix C” in Why the Universe Is the Way It Is
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters ? 10^-1333
    dependency factors estimate ? 10^324
    longevity requirements estimate ? 10^45
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters ? 10^-1054
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe ? 10^22

    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^1032 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.
    http://www.reasons.org/files/c....._part3.pdf

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere (10^-1054) – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    I liked this bit of uncharacteristic restraint, for exo-planet researchers, in the linked article;

    Chances of Exoplanet Life ‘Impossible’? Or ‘100 percent’?
    Excerpt: Going to the opposite end of the spectrum, Howard Smith, an astrophysicist at Harvard University, made the headlines earlier this year when he announced, rather pessimistically, that aliens will unlikely exist on the extrasolar planets we are currently detecting.

    “We have found that most other planets and solar systems are wildly different from our own. They are very hostile to life as we know it,” Smith told the UK’s Telegraph.

    The Harvard scientist even dismissed the future Kepler announcement, pointing out that upcoming reports of habitable exoplanets would be few and far between. “Extrasolar systems are far more diverse than we expected, and that means very few are likely to support life,” he said.
    http://news.discovery.com/spac.....-what.html

    notes;

    Compositions of Extrasolar Planets – July 2010
    Excerpt: ,,,the presumption that extrasolar terrestrial planets will consistently manifest Earth-like chemical compositions is incorrect. Instead, the simulations revealed “a wide variety of resulting planetary compositions.
    http://www.reasons.org/composi.....ar-planets

    Exoplanet Hunters Fail Predictions – August 2010
    Excerpt: In Caltech’s latest Engineering and Science magazine, John Johnson was interviewed about the state of extrasolar planet hunting. Johnson has been involved with leading planet-hunting pioneers. A recurring theme in the interview is the surprise that planetary systems were found to be radically different from predictions.

    What are some of the current big questions that you guys are trying to tackle?

    We’re interested in how the solar system formed. We’re interested in our immediate environment and describing its origins. And beyond that, we’re interested in general in how planetary systems formed. There are some very specific questions that arise at every turn. There are so many surprises in this field—almost nothing is turning out as we expected. There are Jupiter-mass planets in three-day orbits. There are planets with masses that are between those of the terrestrial planets in our solar system and the gas giants in the outer part of our solar system. There are Jupiter-mass planets with hugely inflated radii—at densities far lower than what we thought were possible for a gas-giant planet. There are giant planets with gigantic solid cores that defy models of planet formation, which say there shouldn’t be enough solids available in a protoplanetary disk to form a planet that dense. There are planets with tilted orbits. There are planets that orbit the poles of their stars, in so-called circumpolar orbits. There are planets that orbit retrograde—that is, they orbit in the opposite direction of their star’s rotation. There are systems of planets that are in configurations that are hard to describe given our understanding of planet formation. For instance, some planets are much too close to one another.
    But a lot of those surprises have to do with the fact that we have only one example of a planetary system—our solar system—to base everything on, right?
    What’s interesting is that we’ve found very little that resembles our example.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100831a

    Weird Orbits of Neighbors Can Make ‘Habitable’ Planets Not So Habitable – May 2010
    Excerpt: New findings from computer modeling indicate that some of those exoplanets might fluctuate between being habitable and being inhospitable to life because of the forces exerted by giant neighbors with eccentric orbits.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....143419.htm

    Privileged Planet Principle – Michael Strauss – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318884/

    The Privileged Planet – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV5zkifLSbc

    Privileged Planet – Observability Correlation – Gonzalez and Richards – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5424431

    The very conditions that make Earth hospitable to intelligent life also make it well suited to viewing and analyzing the universe as a whole.
    – Jay Richards

    Does the Probability for ETI = 1?
    Excerpt; On the Reasons To Believe website we document that the probability a randomly selected planet would possess all the characteristics intelligent life requires is less than 10^-304. A recent update that will be published with my next book, Hidden Purposes: Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, puts that probability at 10^-1054.

    Linked from “Appendix C” in Why the Universe Is the Way It Is
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters ? 10^-1333
    dependency factors estimate ? 10^324
    longevity requirements estimate ? 10^45
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters ? 10^-1054
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe ? 10^22

    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^1032 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.
    http://www.reasons.org/files/c....._part3.pdf

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere (10^-1054) – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

  3. 3
    Bantay says:

    *sighs*

    Good grief. Yet another worn out appeal to large numbers…as if those large numbers have some kind of causal ability? Articles like this only serve to perpetuate the pop science myth that large numbers make materialist dreams come true.

    What the faithful at Discovery, Discover, Scientific American, Astronomy, Nature and other clearinghouses of naturalistic dogma don’t want anyone to realize, is that there is no more chance of life anywhere in the universe if this 50 billion are doubled, tripled or quadrupled. In other words, even if there are 400 billion exo-planets, there still would not be any life whatsoever as long as the necessary parameters are not first met with exquisite precision for which naturalistic resources are insufficient to account for.

    As a side note, I can’t help but notice how many colorful, glossy pop science magazines give large numbers causal qualities only an extra-dimensional, purposeful, super-intelligent and loving Creator could have (but refuse to consider a Creator of that type), while ignoring the math indicating that if intelligent life would be found someday, it would literally, be a miracle.

    http://www.reasons.org/files/c....._part3.pdf

    And lastly, for those naive simpletons who were not convinced at the beginning of the article, they post this at the end, perhaps to close the deal?

    “There’s at least 50 billion worlds, which have fostered the development of basic lifeforms? How many have allowed advanced civilizations to evolve?”

    Stop the presses! What about the possibility of there not being ANY other world with even basic life?

    And what evidence is there that life would be on any exo-planet that could support life? None! Zero! And what evidence is there that life would evolve (in the Darwinist sense) on any exo-planet? None! Zero!

    And some call this science? Good grief.

  4. 4
    jstanley01 says:

    Maybe I shouldn’t, but I have found the fact that cutting-edge scientists are retreating from the observable cosmos — via the multiverse theory — to make the odds that they need more plausible to be chronically humorous.

    Almost beyond other parallels, as a matter of fact.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Semi OT:

    Fibonacci Numbers – Euler’s Identity – The Fingerprint of God (See Video Description for Euler’s)
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5988843/

  6. 6
    Bantay says:

    Predictably, when I made counter-points at the comment section of the article, there must have been some anti-ID thought police on the prowl. A couple responders quickly assumed the position..of genetic fallacy, making rather pathetic burps of “ID rant” and “cosmological ID”

  7. 7
    zeroseven says:

    What’s the difference between the appeal to large numbers in the article and your appeal to vanishingly small probabaliities to justify your theory? Aren’t you appealing to numbers also?

  8. 8
    Joseph says:

    I admit it- I am just as bad as Ian O’Neil- my “reasoning” is quite different, however.

    Ya see I “know” there are other intelligent organisms “out there”. I get that from lack of arrogance by not thinking that this universe was designed just for us.

    I am also “sure” that those intelligent organisms have pretty much the same conditions we have here on Earth- just as “The Privileged Planet” predicts.

    It could also be that I am watching “ancient astronauts” too much…

  9. 9
    Bantay says:

    Joseph….You’ve been watching “ancient astronauts” too much. 🙂

    Bornagain77…..visit the article. Come and play!

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