In “Why life begins and ends on Earth” (Daily Telegraph, January 24, 2012
Advanced life is unique to our planet – despite Stephen Hawking and SETI’s best hopes, argues
” UK biologist and commentator Steve Jones offers the opinion of German physicist Schrodinger (yes, of cat fame) on life:
in 1943 the German scientist gave a series of talks in Dublin entitled What is Life?, which set out to define just what that state means to a physicist. He saw that what unites all living things is that they have an inside and an outside. They need energy to keep the two apart; without it, they die. Within their walls they make their own environment, safe from the random chemical noise all around. Life is no more than a local patch of order.
A potted Darwin story of life follows, then a comment,
Natural selection may well be grinding away on all those Earth-like satellites out there, and might even have generated some primitive forms of living creature. But the call for a single unique shift to a high-powered economy able to impose order upon itself happened just once in four billion years on our own planet, and is unlikely to have been answered anywhere else. That much reduces Hawking’s estimate of the chances of a brain like his being at work in a distant galaxy.