At NDPI Life:
The Cosmic Zoo: The (Near) Inevitability of the Evolution of Complex, Macroscopic Life
William Bains and Dirk Schulze-Makuch
Abstract: Life on Earth provides a unique biological record from single-cell microbes to technologically intelligent life forms. Our evolution is marked by several major steps or innovations along a path of increasing complexity from microbes to space-faring humans. Here we identify various major key innovations, and use an analytical toolset consisting of a set of models to analyse how likely each key innovation is to occur. Our conclusion is that once the origin of life is accomplished, most of the key innovations can occur rather readily. The conclusion for other worlds is that if the origin of life can occur rather easily, we should live in a cosmic zoo, as the innovations necessary to lead to complex life will occur with high probability given sufficient time and habitat. On the other hand, if the origin of life is rare, then we might live in a rather empty universe. (public access) More.
The problem with this type of analysis is that we have a probability of 1 for lots of life on Earth and not a single verified instance of life elsewhere. It’s a sophisticated, updated version of the Drake equation.
If, by contrast, we had 1500 planets with some form of life, we might be able to develop decision-making tools to address 150,000 others.
These speculations are interesting and worthwhile but for now they must remain speculations. Incidentally, this particular speculation implies a law-like underpinning of the universe. We shall see.
See also: Did Viking discover life on Mars forty years ago? Rob Sheldon, our favorite physics commentator (and physics colour commentator), has long believed that Viking did find such evidence on Mars.
Does nature just “naturally” produce life?
What we know and don’t know about the origin of life
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