Extraterrestrial life News

Moon not needed? Life more likely on “tilt-a-worlds”?

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Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life
Tilted orbits/NASA

Looking for life in our universe by chance alone takes us to the amusement park.

From Phys.org:

A fluctuating tilt in a planet’s orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah’s Weber State University and NASA. In fact, sometimes it helps.

That’s because such “tilt-a-worlds,” as astronomers sometimes call them—turned from their orbital plane by the influence of companion planets—are less likely than fixed-spin planets to freeze over, as heat from their host star is more evenly distributed.

This happens only at the outer edge of a star’s habitable zone, the swath of space around it where rocky worlds could maintain liquid water at their surface, a necessary condition for life. Further out, a “snowball state” of global ice becomes inevitable, and life impossible.

This computer-simulation-guided thought increases the habitable zone by 10 to 20%.

Their findings also argue against the long-held view among astronomers and astrobiologists that a planet needs the stabilizing influence of a large moon—as Earth has—to have a chance at hosting life.

“We’re finding that planets don’t have to have a stable tilt to be habitable,” Barnes said. Minus the moon, he said, Earth’s tilt, now at a fairly stable 23.5 degrees, might increase by 10 degrees or so. Climates might fluctuate, but life would still be possible.

The moon, the researchers claim, could actually be a disadvantage.

Good thing They have called back and are now barrelling to Earth at warp speed.

Paper here (open access).

How did we get to this amusement park anyway? Here’s a partial explanation: How do we grapple with the idea that ET might not be out there?

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11 Replies to “Moon not needed? Life more likely on “tilt-a-worlds”?

  1. 1
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Such speculations are dubious, at best.

    We have one single data point, in a universe of potentially billions of planets.

    Given the sheer scale of our ignorance, it is a bit premature to introduce any kind of speculation as if it bears the imprimatur of science, but it is especially reckless to do so when that speculation contradicts the only actual piece of evidence we have.

    Earth. Moon. Q.E.D.

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    Not just more likely, more fun!

  3. 3
    turell says:

    It is an upsidedown world that accepts simulations as reality. GIGO still applies. Just sopping up grant money to support a department. “Rare Earth” And “Privileged Planet” certainly would disagree.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    a few notes:

    Milankovitch Cycle Design – Hugh Ross – August 2011
    Excerpt: In all three cases, Waltham proved that the actual Earth/Moon/solar system manifests unusually low Milankovitch levels and frequencies compared to similar alternative systems. ,,, Waltham concluded, “It therefore appears that there has been anthropic selection for slow Milankovitch cycles.” That is, it appears Earth was purposely designed with slow, low-level Milankovitch cycles so as to allow humans to exist and thrive.

    Evidence from self-consistent solar system n-body simulations is presented to argue that the Earth- Moon system (EM) plays an important dynamical role in the inner solar system, stabilizing the orbits of Venus and Mercury by suppressing a strong secular resonance of period 8.1 Myr near Venus’s heliocentric distance. The EM thus appears to play a kind of “gravitational keystone” role in the terrestrial precinct, for without it, the orbits of Venus and Mercury become immediately destabilized. … First, we find that EM is performing an essential dynamical role by suppressing or “damping out” a secular resonance driven by the giant planets near the Venusian heliocentric distance. The source of the resonance is a libration of the Jovian longitude of perihelion with the Venusian perihelion longitude.

    Of Gaps, Fine-Tuning and Newton’s Solar System – Cornelius Hunter – July 2011
    Excerpt: The new results indicate that the solar system could become unstable if diminutive Mercury, the inner most planet, enters into a dance with Jupiter, the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest of all. The resulting upheaval could leave several planets in rubble, including our own. Using Newton’s model of gravity, the chances of such a catastrophe were estimated to be greater than 50/50 over the next 5 billion years. But interestingly, accounting for Albert Einstein’s minor adjustments (according to his theory of relativity), reduces the chances to just 1%.

    Among Darwin Advocates, Premature Celebration over Abundance of Habitable Planets – September 2011
    Excerpt: Today, such processes as planet formation details, tidal forces, plate tectonics, magnetic field evolution, and planet-planet, planet-comet, and planet-asteroid gravitational interactions are found to be relevant to habitability.,,, What’s more, not only are more requirements for habitability being discovered, but they are often found to be interdependent, forming a (irreducibly) complex “web.” This means that if a planetary system is found not to satisfy one of the habitability requirements, it may not be possible to compensate for this deficit by adjusting a different parameter in the system. – Guillermo Gonzalez

    And although Materialists/Atheists try to chip away at one or two parameters here or there for a life supporting planet, the fact of the matter is that it is all an exercise in self deception, for there are now known to be hundreds of parameters that must be fulfilled in order to have a planet that will support not only intelligent life like humans, but bacteria as well:

    Privileged Planet – Michael Strauss PhD. – video

    Updated list:

    Linked from Appendix C from Dr. Ross’s book, ‘Why the Universe Is the Way It Is’;
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. 10^-1333
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^324
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^45
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters ? 10^-1054
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 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.

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere (10^-1054) – video

    Moreover, it is interesting to note the willful blindness that atheists/materialists impose on themselves. They do this by ignoring the fact that even if the entire universe were nothing but a life permitting environment, they still could not explain the origin of life:

    Book Review – Meyer, Stephen C. Signature in the Cell. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
    Excerpt: As early as the 1960s, those who approached the problem of the origin of life from the standpoint of information theory and combinatorics observed that something was terribly amiss. Even if you grant the most generous assumptions: that every elementary particle in the observable universe is a chemical laboratory randomly splicing amino acids into proteins every Planck time for the entire history of the universe, there is a vanishingly small probability that even a single functionally folded protein of 150 amino acids would have been created. Now of course, elementary particles aren’t chemical laboratories, nor does peptide synthesis take place where most of the baryonic mass of the universe resides: in stars or interstellar and intergalactic clouds. If you look at the chemistry, it gets even worse—almost indescribably so: the precursor molecules of many of these macromolecular structures cannot form under the same prebiotic conditions—they must be catalysed by enzymes created only by preexisting living cells, and the reactions required to assemble them into the molecules of biology will only go when mediated by other enzymes, assembled in the cell by precisely specified information in the genome.
    So, it comes down to this: Where did that information come from? The simplest known free living organism (although you may quibble about this, given that it’s a parasite) has a genome of 582,970 base pairs, or about one megabit (assuming two bits of information for each nucleotide, of which there are four possibilities). Now, if you go back to the universe of elementary particle Planck time chemical labs and work the numbers, you find that in the finite time our universe has existed, you could have produced about 500 bits of structured, functional information by random search. Yet here we have a minimal information string which is (if you understand combinatorics) so indescribably improbable to have originated by chance that adjectives fail.

    To get a range on the enormous challenges involved in bridging the gaping chasm between non-life and life, consider the following: “The difference between a mixture of simple chemicals and a bacterium, is much more profound than the gulf between a bacterium and an elephant.”
    (Dr. Robert Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, NYU)

    “To go from bacterium to people is less of a step than to go from a mixture of amino acids to a bacterium.” – Dr. Lynn Margulis

    Does the Probability for ETI = 1? – Hugh Ross PhD.
    Excerpt: we describe calculations done by evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala and by astrophysicists John Barrow, Brandon Carter, and Frank Tipler for the probability that a bacterium would evolve under ideal natural conditions—given the presumption that the mechanisms for natural biological evolution are both effective and rapid. They determine that probability to be no more than 10-24,000,000.
    The bottom line is that rather than the probability for extraterrestrial intelligent life being 1 as Aczel claims, very conservatively from a naturalistic perspective it is much less than 10^500 + 22 -1054 -100,000,000,000 -24,000,000. That is, it is less than 10-100,024,000,532. In longhand notation it would be 0.00 … 001 with 100,024,000,531 zeros (100 billion, 24 million, 5 hundred and thirty-one zeros) between the decimal point and the 1. That longhand notation of the probability would fill over 20,000 complete Bibles.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Verse and Music:

    1 Corinthians 10:26
    Certainly, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything it contains is his.”

    Kari Jobe – Forever (Live)

  6. 6
    VunderGuy says:

    Hey, is it possible to give me a list of ALL of the problems facing the OOL/Extra Terrestrial life?

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    VunderGuy, does this help?

    Suzan Mazur: Origin of life shifting to “nonmaterial events”? – December 15, 2013
    Excerpt: The first paradox is the tendency of organic matter to devolve and to give tar. If you can avoid that, you can start to try to assemble things that are not tarry, but then you encounter the water problem, which is related to the fact that every interesting bond that you want to make is unstable, thermodynamically, with respect to water. If you can solve that problem, you have the problem of entropy, that any of the building blocks are going to be present in a low concentration; therefore, to assemble a large number of those building blocks, you get a gene-like RNA — 100 nucleotides long — that fights entropy. And the fourth problem is that even if you can solve the entropy problem, you have a paradox that RNA enzymes, which are maybe catalytically active, are more likely to be active in the sense that destroys RNA rather than creates RNA.

    Chemistry by Chance: A Formula for Non-Life by Charles McCombs, Ph.D.
    Excerpt: The following eight obstacles in chemistry ensure that life by chance is untenable.
    1. The Problem of Unreactivity
    2. The Problem of Ionization
    3. The Problem of Mass Action
    4. The Problem of Reactivity
    5. The Problem of Selectivity
    6. The Problem of Solubility
    7. The Problem of Sugar
    8. The Problem of Chirality
    The chemical control needed for the formation of a specific sequence in a polymer chain is just not possible through random chance. The synthesis of proteins and DNA/RNA in the laboratory requires the chemist to control the reaction conditions, to thoroughly understand the reactivity and selectivity of each component, and to carefully control the order of addition of the components as the chain is building in size.

    RNA world: Chemists Propose a Seemingly Unlikely Environment for the Origin of Life – February 27, 2013
    Excerpt: Benner and his colleagues consider three major problems with the RNA-world model:
    *The “asphalt problem”: Organic reactions often produce unreactive byproducts. These byproducts are a mixture of pieces of the product or polymerization of the product, but are chemically insignificant and otherwise unpromising. Hence the metaphor of “asphalt.” Typically, avoiding the production of such byproducts requires very specific and controlled conditions, or post-reaction purification steps.
    *The “water problem”: Many of the bonds in RNA will undergo hydrolysis. This occurs when water reacts with the bond, causing it to break apart. In a lab, the problem is easily addressed by using a different solvent. However, the environment of the early Earth could not draw on the resource of various organic solvents.
    *The “impossible bond problem”: The authors refer here to the difficulty in forming certain bonds in RNA. Usually this follows from thermodynamic issues that prohibit bonds from spontaneously forming.
    Conspicuously missing from the authors’ list of critiques are the “chirality problem” and the “information problem.” Later in the paper, however, they concede that their model does not solve the enigma of chirality, and they allude to a potential “fatal flaw” in their proposition, namely that the kinds of RNA molecules that catalyze the destruction of RNA are more likely to emerge than RNA molecules that catalyze the synthesis of RNA. –

  8. 8
    VunderGuy says:

    Dude…words cannot express how much that helped. Thank’s a bunch.

  9. 9
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Forgot to mention: if it were true that having a moon made life less likely, it would make the materialist OoL case even more difficult and logically precarious (assuming that is even possible).

    Verdict: Own goal.

  10. 10
    Joe says:

    The earth has a fluctuating tilt. However a planet with a large obliquity is a different story. In that scenario the equator can become the polar region and then shift back to being the equator- nothing can adapt to that., especially given unguided evolution.

  11. 11
    Joe says:

    Also it should be pointed out that the alleged giant impact that gave us our moon also gave us our rotational speed. Where would these moon-less rocky planets get their rotation from? Without that there isn’t any fluctuating tilt.

    And reading the article it does refer to extreme obliquity which, as I said, would give living organisms a chance to adapt.

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