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Complex life may only be even possible in 10 percent of galaxies?

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From Science:

The universe may be a lonelier place than previously thought. Of the estimated 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, only one in 10 can support complex life like that on Earth, a pair of astrophysicists argues. Everywhere else, stellar explosions known as gamma ray bursts would regularly wipe out any life forms more elaborate than microbes. The detonations also kept the universe lifeless for billions of years after the big bang, the researchers say.

“It’s kind of surprising that we can have life only in 10% of galaxies and only after 5 billion years,” says Brian Thomas, a physicist at Washburn University in Topeka who was not involved in the work. But “my overall impression is that they are probably right” within the uncertainties in a key parameter in the analysis.

Acknowledging that most observers are principally interested in finding intelligent life, as opposed to just something that could be called “life,” the researchers note,

The analysis could have practical implications for the search for life on other planets, Piran says. For decades, scientists with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, have used radio telescopes to search for signals from intelligent life on planets around distant stars. But SETI researchers are looking mostly toward the center of the Milky Way, where the stars are more abundant, Piran says. That’s precisely where gamma ray bursts may make intelligent life impossible, he says: “We are saying maybe you should look in the exact opposite direction.”

See also:

“Behold, countless Earths sail the galaxies … that is, if you would only believe …

Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!

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There are about 500 billion galaxies. 10 % of that is 50 billion. Who knows how many planets are there in those 50 billion galaxies ? Why wouldn't evolution or ID agents create life in any one of those unseen planets ? Even if we believe Evolution is restricted to Earth because of myriad special purpose life measurements put forth by ID, there is nothing stopping ID agents from creating life in any of the other unseen planets. Me_Think
Allen, Leslie Orgel thought we needed to know more about the probabilities of life on this planet before we could say anything quantitative about the probability of life on other planets. Do you think we now know enough about the probabilities of life on this planet to make an affirmative assertion about the probability of life on other planets, or do you think Orgel was just wrong? Mung
Welcome back Allen. Hope all is well with you and those you love. Mung
Dr. McNeil: That our lives have real meaning, purpose, and significance is revealed by modern astronomy, chemistry and physics. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YhZRTQ0ME07tqCSCqC_iL4tdryniu8K1rKV6s4jyJWA/edit bornagain77
As for the number of galaxies that can potentially support life, the number is 10 billion (i.e. "billions and billions"), according to the article...unless someone has a different, evidence-based (i.e. not wishful-thinking-based) way of calculating this number. Allen_MacNeill
@ 2/Dionisio: No public funds have been spent on SETI. Here's the citation from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SETI_Institute#Funding_supporters): "Funding for SETI Institute programs comes from a variety of sources. Contrary to popular belief...no government funds are allocated for its SETI searches – these are financed entirely by private contributions." That took me less than 10 seconds to look up using Google. Try it sometime. Allen_MacNeill
My bet is that if we had all the relevant information available to us, we would see that life is not able to exist in almost 100% of all galaxies. I wish we could really check it out so that guessing could be eliminated. tjguy
Any public funds squandered on SETI and similar senseless endeavors should be better used to support more biology research, where tangible benefits are possible. Hopefully no public funds go to SETI and that kind of stuff. Dionisio
Similar things were said in "Rare Earth" quite a few years back. The entire "habitability zone" theory is based on similar thinking: where stars are dense, radiation is too powerful and persistent to allow any life. And then there is the problem that only certain generations of galaxies have any chance of containing the necessary mix of heavier elements (carbon, oxygen, iron, etc.). And of course the newer galaxies contain too many heavy elements, which means that there may not be an end to the universe, but we can calculate when the last galaxy capable of producing life will burn out. Since these are well known facts among cosmologists and astrogeologists, I don't understand why there would be any surprise among any serious scientists to have someone remark on it. Oh, wait! I forgot the Saganites: billions and billions... mahuna

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