Further to “Is universe, complex as human brain, conscious?” (You know something’s up when people who discuss science at Forbes are even having this conversation), Pos-Darwinista writes to ask, re a recent astrobiology article: “Case for Gaian bottleneck?,” “Is this a case for removing the label ‘science’ from some efforts at astrobiology?”
The Case for a Gaian Bottleneck: The Biology of Habitability
Abstract: The prerequisites and ingredients for life seem to be abundantly available in the Universe. However, the Universe does not seem to be teeming with life. The most common explanation for this is a low probability for the emergence of life (an emergence bottleneck), notionally due to the intricacies of the molecular recipe. Here, we present an alternative Gaian bottleneck explanation: If life emerges on a planet, it only rarely evolves quickly enough to regulate greenhouse gases and albedo, thereby maintaining surface temperatures compatible with liquid water and habitability. Such a Gaian bottleneck suggests that (i) extinction is the cosmic default for most life that has ever emerged on the surfaces of wet rocky planets in the Universe and (ii) rocky planets need to be inhabited to remain habitable. In the Gaian bottleneck model, the maintenance of planetary habitability is a property more associated with an unusually rapid evolution of biological regulation of surface volatiles than with the luminosity and distance to the host star. Key Words: Life—Habitability—Gaia—Abiogenesis habitable zone
(AHZ)—Circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ). Astrobiology 16, 7–22. (paywall) – Chopra Aditya and Lineweaver Charles H., Astrobiology. January 2016, 16(1): 7-22. Volume: 16 Issue 1: January 20, 2016 doi:10.1089/ast.2015.1387.
Pos-Darwinista snorts, “If this is science so is astrology, runes, animal entrails, horoscopes, divination.”
Understandable frustration. There is no evidence of life anywhere outside the vicinity of Earth. Mythical histories, as presented above, are fun and can be instructive, but they are not science. Astrobiology, as has been said before, is a discipline without a subject.
Why is the space alien science, but Bigfoot — on the same level of evidence — is not science? Seemingly, the space alien serves certain agendas that Bigfoot doesn’t.
We look forward to a paper that unpacks the psychology behind the choice to consider the unseen life of alien worlds as “science.”
See also: How do we grapple with the idea that ET might not be out there?
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