Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Uniqueness of Earth

"We have found that most other planets and solar systems are wildly different from our own," says Harvard University's Howard Smith — ’We are alone’ in the universe: astronomer. "There are very few solar systems or planets like ours," he continued. "It means it is highly unlikely there are any planets with intelligent life close enough for us to make contact."

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

It is seeming like the materialist bet that universe is teeming with life is unlikely. Even if, as the end of the article notes, it is possible that there are 40,000 planets in the galaxy capable of supporting life, the odds, even on a strictly materialistic basis, of those planets having intelligent life is minimal. As far as interesting life goes, we probably are very much alone as far as life on other planets goes.

2:22 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Also supporting the case for celestial loneliness, recent research suggests that "[a]cquiring mitochondria, it seems, was a one-off event" — Thank God for Mitochondria.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Indeed. Were I a materialist, I would be highly pessimistic about the likelihood of other life -- let alone intelligent life -- on other worlds.

Of course, if there are other worlds where the conditions for life exist -- atmosphere of the right type, climate of the right type, right kind of sun, no weird or likely fatal nearby interstellar anomalies, etc. -- and there is no life on them, that would open up the possibility of someday introducing life onto those worlds and then colonizing them.

But that would assume that it was possible to ever travel to such a world. And that is something that I am far from convinced would ever be a possibility. Barring the discovery of something right out of sci-fi like warp drive or navigable worm-holes, it seems highly unlikely.

Personally, I think that the universe is probably quiet when it comes to life, except for us and our little planet. And we are, for all intents and purposes, stuck on our world into the foreseeable future. Maybe, if we are lucky, very industrious and the technology develops right, we could colonize Mars on a large scale over a long period of time. But realistically, that's it. Mars. Maybe some mining in the asteroid belt. A science station orbiting one or two of the gas giants. Maybe. But realistically? Earth. Mars in the future. Far into the future.

12:26 PM  

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