Home Forums General Chat Outer Space and Astronomy Alien Life Deemed impossible.

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    Howard Smith, a senior astrophysicist at Harvard, made the claim that we are alone in the universe after an analysis of the 500 planets discovered so far showed all were hostile to life.

    Dr Smith said the extreme conditions found so far on planets discovered outside out Solar System are likely to be the norm, and that the hospitable conditions on Earth could be unique.

    “We have found that most other planets and solar systems are wildly different from our own. They are very hostile to life as we know it,” he said.

    He pointed to stars such as HD10180, which sparked great excitement when it was found to be orbited by a planet of similar size and appearance to Earth.

    But the similarities turned out to be superficial. The planet lies less than two million miles from its sun, meaning it is roasting hot, stripped of its atmosphere and blasted by radiation.

    Many of the other planets have highly elliptical orbits which cause huge variations in temperature which prevent water remaining liquid, thus making it impossible for life to develop.

    A separate team of scientists recently declared the chance of aliens existing on a newly discovered Earth-like planet “100 per cent”.

    Professor Steven Vogt , of the Carnegie institution in Washington, said he had “no doubt” extraterrestrial life would be found on a small, rocky planet found orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581 last September.

    Such hopes are likely to be raised further in the coming weeks, when Nasa’s Kepler satalite is expected to confirm the existence of hundreds of new planets.

    But Dr Smith dismissed the claims, insisting that other extrasolar planets differ starkly from our own and that even if they did support life, it would be impossible for humans to make contact.

    “Extrasolar systems are far more diverse than we expected, and that means very few are likely to support life.

    “Any hope of contact has to be limited to a relatively tiny bubble of space around the Earth, stretching perhaps 1,250 light years out from our planet, where aliens might be able to pick up our signals or send us their own.

    But communicating would still take decades or centuries.”

    I personally don’t believe in Alien life in the ‘classic’ context is absolutely ludicrous by any stretch of logical thought. The sheer idea the alien life is bipedal, and perceives the world in visual cues and sounds is just idiotic. Its even more absurd that any form of sentient life would look at things like war, and politics as you do, as these things are not universal, and generally revolve around the (rather substandard) human psyche.

    That all being said, I think this guy jumped the gun a bit. I mean 500 planets and we are disbarring all life? Talk about utterly ignoring the scientific method. (as I understand it.)

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/spac … anets.html

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    Actually I think things like warfare will be a constant in the universe as no matter the species, scarce resources at their local area will always provide the excuse. The style and shape of that warfare though could vary a lot. But for species at around the same tech level as us, it’s certainly possible they would have nukes, rockets, tanks ect as the laws of physics would be the same for them. The weapons though, especially smaller arms, would be more tailored to exploit their own weaknesses. For example some alien life might have an aversion to loud noise. So its likely you might see such a culture develop sonic based weaponry. God help us if an advanced species ever decides it likes the look of our mud ball. 😕 Mind you, perhaps their biggest weapon might be a massive water pistol! 😆


    Speaking of war, lack of resource can be negotiated, but when you throw religion/faith into the mix, alien or not, war is the most likely result.


    Well, then you add religion into the mix, all bets are off. This in itself has caused many horrible chapters to be written in our own history. 🙁


    Scientists can’t even get global warning facts straight so a guy that has analyzed data from 500 planets out of billions in our galaxy doesn’t sound to dependable.


    I am guessing that Howard Smith may have been mis-quoted. Only an idiot would claim that by looking at just a few (on a galactic scale) planets, with still un-proven methods, that we are alone. The universe is simply too big for us to be the only life within it. Such an idea of humanity being the universe’s only attempt to look upon itself, is totally preposterous. So much so in fact, that we as a race should get out there asap and stake our claim before all the good stuff is taken by others! 😛

    Geraldine wrote:
    Such an idea … is totally preposterous.

    Incredulity is not a safe premise from which to form a position. Fact is, we don’t know what the odds of life cropping up are like; we only have this one example, and the anthropic principle means that of course we’ll always have at least one example, otherwise there could be no study.

    Life itself, sentient or otherwise, is an amazingly counter-intuitive bit of chemistry. What we have is a localised patch of reversed entropy, where a chemical reaction tends from chaos to order, and spreads whilst doing so. It seems so obvious to us that it can happen, only because we (earth-evolved life) are the example of it happening. It does go counter to most of what’s observed around the universe, though.

    The universe is a huge place, so there might well be more of it. What we don’t know is whether the odds of it happening are as long as the universe is wide. If the odds are hundreds of billions to one or longer, we might never see non-terrestrial life. It’s all likely to be in other galaxies.

    Of course, life is no guarantee of space faring life. For most of the history of life on this planet, the dominant species have not been big technology users. Remember, we didn’t out-evolve the big reptiles; we only had the chance to evolve at all when they were smashed out of existence by some external force. They were remarkably successful, having lived on Earth for a statistically noticeable proportion of Earth’s time. If they hadn’t been wiped out, they’d still be here, adapted perfectly to the current climate and terrain. Large mammals wouldn’t have shown up.

    So, life might be unlikely, and technological life a complete fluke. It’s by no means inevitable. We just won’t know how likely it is until we find more. Until then, we appear to be alone and might have to face the fact that this might actually be the case.


    My opinion. Well I disagree with this astro dude.

    It’s about chance and statisticks.

    There something like goldylock zone.

    we got one planet in it and most out side.

    Wich means that most planets are indeed very extreem positioned. So exclude at least 95%

    We discover first the most large and close to the sun gas giants.

    Wich is very different then what we have. So there is extreem variation and most of them outside the goldylock zone.

    But with many miljard of stars and factor 3 to 15 planets per star.

    Wel most of them wouild be so extreem thus steril.

    But the extreem numbers do great deal to chance.

    we know that there can be life in extreem conditions. On vulcanic oceanic floor.

    But there is a limit. So we curently don’t even know if moons could have life. We only know that there is fluid water.

    So the chance that there is life out there and inteligent is large.

    but could be rare like 1000 or 10000.

    Wich means not likely in the neighberhoud.

    Our milky way 200miljard stars / 10.000. So per 20mil one alien race.

    Also we are isolated by the extreem distances but also in what time the evolution come to be, but also could fade away.

    In miljard of years planets can change to.

    I don’t expect life in the galacy core area. to much radiation

    It boils down how many stars got somethin in that GZone.

    And if how many are earth like 1 out a miljion with 1% in GZ means 2000

    And with all those space game scifi stuff. That there is lot of interaction out there. NO.

    That how we wish it could be. More brainwashed by hollywood.

    It could be that aliens are mostly isolated. Not all barriers can be taken.

    braking the sound barrier doesn’t mean speed of light is breakable. We are now not sure it can be. Keep in mind it could not be broken even by a race with miljard years of evolution. If so. they are far far far awayyyyy……

    So space trading would be something that isn’t so posible . you need next to a broken FTL barrier a releative close group of aliens with a few lightyears.

    It make no sense to trade with a race with no FTL means of travel. if your neigbure is 250 Light years away.

    And with that war between races would be rare to.

    Might be possible but not plausible.

    It hard to commit to with the 25 Lightyears.

    So if aliens are out there if more then I took as example. we don’t see any because they are by extreem distances isolated for and likely to each other to.


    Some good common sense points there in my opinion SuperG.

    We are making some headway, slowly on traveling in space. Do I think we will travel the speed of light in the next 100yrs, hell no. We are still using gasoline powered cars so no way.

    But the ‘New Horizons’ spacecraft was launched in Jan 2006 and it reached Mars by April 2006. Granted we did use a slingshot effect to propel the craft faster and it is going at about 33,000+ mph currently and should make Pluto in 2015.

    This is why your points are so valid. It’s because I don’t think we could sustain a crew that long without cryosleep, they would go insane or food and/or power would pose a problem.


    My point is that we are just at the front door wenn about talkin of exploring.

    the funding is done on scientific exploring nature and is very expensive.

    this fase far away of a interstellar trading economics.

    The problem is with this is the technology.

    First fase.

    Orbital reach

    orbital satelits.

    orbital station.

    Moon walk

    Moon exploration

    Moon base

    Moon mining

    Moon city.

    Moon space port.

    Space mining of close astroids.

    With all those fases thenology need to leapfrog to higher level also make it more economical feasable and not just traveling time.

    Still far away of trading because the resources and funding need the collective support of severel big countrys.

    not big corporations.

    Wenn technoligy comes wen going to orbit is economical and commercial feasable more fases are doable with less financial support.

    And single big country can handle that and coporations.

    But the one man company space trucker is still far far away.

    The technolohgy and economical commercial feasability must be the same for one man company similar to own a truck on earth like a 18 weehler. but then the same runtime and higher tech to support something like that in space.

    this also need a high level of space kolonisation. On earth lot of regions to do bussnes for a trucker. But in pre trading local space not.

    a mars base and moon distric is not much for a fleet of corporations and lot of small companys.

    So you need 10.000 places to trade and that can only be wenn kolonising also other stars with nations in multi miljion people with lots of space stations and space mining in suroundingh stars and FTL is a must.


    My response is small, but I must just say that 500 planets is simply not enough considering the scope. Since we now estimate 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe (and no that number is not just made up by me), I would have to say 500 planets is sort of a laugh in comparison.


    Always reckon there's a good chance of some thing out there.

    Was it carl sagan or arthur c clarke who said that there was three possibilities.

    1 The galaxy is teaming with life.

    2 No one out there.

    3 We are the fist ones.


    My hunch and that's all it really is = life is rare but we are not alone…

    No idea what rare means though.

    But if you think about it if there's only one earth in every galaxy that's literally millions of earths.

    Sad thing we won't get to see a single one..

    Space is big guys..


    I agree that a 500 planet sample may be a bit small to make such a sweeping declaration. I personally find it very hard to believe that there is not some other planet somewhere in our universe if not within our galaxy even that has conditions capable of supporting some form of life. As others have pointed out, our galaxy is enourmous and it is only 1 out of billions of galaxies in the universe.


    I think with the number of other galaxies in the universe its quite likely there exists other planets just like Earth. Probably many of them. So there is a reasonable chance that one or some of them have life.


    Its most likely that the life that exists there will work the same way as our world. There wont be the same animals or plants, but unless there is an entirely different way of constructing a living cell to the ones on our world, then the process of life will progress in a similar way to on our planet. The life on any Earth “clone” could be at any stage of evolution. The very nature of “living things that can die” creates the evolutionary cycle.


    One way to find out how likely there will be life on an Earth clone, would be to figure out how it spontaneously appeared in the first place. A question I have never found a satisfying answer for.

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