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    The Mathematical Probability Of Life On Other Earth-Like Planets
    By News Staff | April 16th 2008 01:01 AM | 401 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    Infinity was invented to account for the possibility that in a never-ending universe, anything can happen. Life on other Earth-like planets, for example, is possible in an infinite universe, but not probable, according to a scientist from the University of East Anglia.

    The mathematical model produced by Prof Andrew Watson suggests that the odds of finding new life on other Earth-like planets are low because of the time it has taken for beings such as humans to evolve and the remaining life span of the Earth. Structurally complex and intelligent life evolved late on Earth and this process might be governed by a small number of very difficult evolutionary steps.

    Prof Watson, from the School of Environmental Sciences, takes this idea further by looking at the probability of each of these critical steps occurring in relation to the life span of the Earth, giving an improved mathematical model for the evolution of intelligent life.

    According to Prof Watson a limit to evolution is the habitability of Earth, and any other Earth-like planets, which will end as the sun brightens. Solar models predict that the brightness of the sun is increasing, while temperature models suggest that because of this the future life span of Earth will be ‘only’ about another billion years, a short time compared to the four billion years since life first appeared on the planet.

    “The Earth’s biosphere is now in its old age and this has implications for our understanding of the likelihood of complex life and intelligence arising on any given planet,” said Prof Watson.

    “At present, Earth is the only example we have of a planet with life. If we learned the planet would be habitable for a set period and that we had evolved early in this period, then even with a sample of one, we’d suspect that evolution from simple to complex and intelligent life was quite likely to occur. By contrast, we now believe that we evolved late in the habitable period, and this suggests that our evolution is rather unlikely. In fact, the timing of events is consistent with it being very rare indeed.”

    Prof Watson suggests the number of evolutionary steps needed to create intelligent life, in the case of humans, is four. These probably include the emergence of single-celled bacteria, complex cells, specialized cells allowing complex life forms, and intelligent life with an established language.

    “Complex life is separated from the simplest life forms by several very unlikely steps and therefore will be much less common. Intelligence is one step further, so it is much less common still,” said Prof Watson.

    His model, published in the journal Astrobiology, suggests an upper limit for the probability of each step occurring is 10 per cent or less, so the chances of intelligent life emerging is low – less than 0.01 per cent over four billion years.

    Each step is independent of the other and can only take place after the previous steps in the sequence have occurred. They tend to be evenly spaced through Earth’s history and this is consistent with some of the major transitions identified in the evolution of life on Earth.

    Comments

    Jim Myres

    Prof. Watson, unfortunately, may be correct in his conclusion that "life on other Earth-like planets...(is)..not probable."  He may have proved the opposite by introducing infinity, "Infinity was invented to account for... a never-ending universe."

    "His model... suggests an upper limit for the probability of each step occurring is 10 per cent or less, so the chances of intelligent life emerging is low – less than 0.01 per cent over four billion years."  Less than 0.01% of infinity is a pretty big chunk of celestual relistate even over four billion years.  Intelligent life may be impossible to find - the proverbial needle-in-the-haystack but with these odds we at least know that the needle is there somplace.

    Had Prof. Watson not mentioned "infinity" his arguments would have been rock solid.

    One mustn't forget that 0.01% doesn't apply to the universe over. Such as; 1 in 10000 planets are capable of producing life. But it means that each planet has the 1 in 10000 chance of producing life. That probability does not change over time, simply because of the vastness of the universe. Just because we find 10000 planets doesn't mean we are bound to find some form of life. And the idea of infinity is simply allowing that one can never be sure. Which is obviously prudent.

    You have to consider that not all stars are planets and that each of the planets, for intelligent life to form, has to be in the inhabitable zone--the precisely right atmospheric conditions, elements that make up the substance of the planet, if a star is nearby to offer the correct temperature, weather conditions, gravitational pull, seasons, so many, many variables to account for. Also, you have to take into account the time frame, as mentioned in the article. Even if all of the right variables had allowed for a perfect, inhabitable planet, why would life form? What kind of life would be rendered? Of course, we would like to think it would be some sort of intelligent life. But maybe no life would form at all for billions of years. And then when some microscopic life did form, it would take billions of more years for that life to evolve to be anywhere near where we are and then after that, we would be the aliens. Billions and billions of years from now, we might not even look like we do now. We might be the otherworldly creatures. In conclusion, I think that Earth was a fluke or part of some perfect plan some unknown entity has for us. I mean where did this universe come from anyway? Why is it expanding? How did it even happen? What created the building blocks for the entire universe to be possible? The chances of us ever finding out the answers to any of these questions are mathematically incalculable. Our minds are not infinite. We don't have the answers to all questions, especially the impossible ones. It's irrational to argue about problems we cannot solve.

    i completely agree with your response to this article. the possibility of finding life on other planets is certainly an interesting subject but the questions i ask myself are the same as you. the building blocks of the universe could not just appear from nowhere and then out of pure coincedince create the world we now live in and the universe around us. If gases in the universe did cause a huge event we call the big bang, then where did these gases originally come from, who or what created them? there are many questions the human mind is not capable of answering and even thinking about them causes headaches. i guess we just have to wait and see what happens when our time comes. will it be nothing or is there a point to all this? is life determined or just random? i feel its both, birth and death are set, but what happens in between is your own choice.

    what makes you 100% sure that the building blocks of the universe could not just appear from nowhere and create the world we live in "coincidentally'. there are 100000000000000000000000 stars in our universe (closest calculation we have, 10 x 10^23), so it seems to me it would be pretty likely for this to happen randomly to at least one planet, probably several more. we'll say that on average a star has one planet (some have several, some don't have any, this is a conservative average estimation), that would mean that you would only need a .0000000000000000000001% chance of life on any given planet at any given time for life to be existing somewhere right now... if that percentage chance is any higher, there would be several life inhabiting planets. lucky you! your on one!

    oh and the reason we come up with such ideas as god and religion is to try to offer an explanation to all these questions that the human mind is not capable of answering as you said. the truth is you overcame incomprehensible odds to be born, so you should enjoy the time you have here as an intelligent being that can think and ponder these questions. if you were an animal you wouldnt know there was a universe. hopefully that made sense im kinda baked.

    OMG, that last sentence made me laugh

    HAHA!

    hopefully that made sense im kinda baked 
    Well you're half-right about one thing anyway.
     
    oh and who says there had to be a creator of the universe or the gases that caused the big bang. thats the thing about infinity, we can not comprehend it. the universe may be infinity years old which means it has always been here and will always be here... thats something humans cannot comprehend. 13.7 billion years since the big bang, yes, but some scientists think that it is contracting and 'booming' and it may have been here.. forever, which means there wouldn't have been anything that caused it. some people wont understand this because humans think in time, with cause/effect, past/future. there is no such thing as time in dimensions 5-10, or 5-11, depending on who you talk to (10 or 11 dimensions). 10/11 dimension being all possible events ever taking place at any given place confined to a single infinite point (infinite possibilities), which means one of those possible universes is the exact same as this one, except you bought 2% instead of skim ;)

    Really? String theory is the best you can come up with? If String theory is the bridge between relativity and quantum mechanics then surely the ridiculous nature of the theory itself is proof that one of them is incorrect. I would put forth that having a belief that all possible combinations are happening simultaneously is a total copout. We have to do better or we go no where.

    Interesting article and interesting comments, some of you really know how to argumentatively pown.

    This idea of infinite possible universes surely contradicts itself, because if every possible choice, position and outcome were possible then one of those universes would show that infinite universes were not possible and thus cause the whole design to fall flat, its either BS or finite possible universes, lets not forget science proves nothing! its all best guess and our current best guess is that the universe was formed through a Big Bang which in its self cannot be explained, the suggestion that an infinite amount of energy, matter and antimatter was condensed to a singularity and something (who knows what, God? Chance? Entity? Burp?) cause this to all exploded into an infinite universe spilling a finite amount of energy and matter how does something go from infinite to finite? some might say religion is trying to explain what we don't understand in a comprehending way, but isn't science doing the same? once again its best guess.

    Good points. Another implication of the infinite possible universes idea is that presumably an awful lot of them have a God - why not our own universe, for instance? So this proves nothing either way.

    Maybe its irrational to argue about problems we cant solve, but we would never advance if we don't ask these questions. I'm going to stay curious and optimistic about the existence of extraterrestrial life and hope that one day they will or we will find a way to communicate. Discovering outer life is a big step in human history to find out the meaning of life.

    Life on our planet, is supposed to have developed about 750 million years after the earth formed. With the age of the earth being around 4.5 billion years, thats relatively early considering we still may be around for a while. Of course this is 'life' not 'intelligent life' but is it hard to imagine that out of the trillions of stars in our universe, a few of them may have had similar conditions to ours or maybe even conditions more optimal than ours to upport life? When considering the age of the universe being around 14 billion years, and considering the fact that the age of stars can be anywhere from 100 million years to 100 billion years the idea that some form of life developed on at least one other planet sometime in the past or is still present seems very likely. And you only need one.

    Gerhard Adam
    And you only need one.
    And that's currently all you have.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thats all you need. Its probable that life exists elsewhere based on pure numbers, wether its inteligent or not is a different question - however considering again the sheer numbers, its likely there are some. It is clearly impossible to say if there is or is not, but common sence prevails. I cant help but think that that those who do not want to accept the posibility despite the face of the numbers beaming back at them are likely covertly religious, or want to beleive that there is more to life after death, the idea of accepting that there is life other than our own 'special little species' breaks down their belief that there is somewhere else to go, when again in most probable reality, they dont.

    Gerhard Adam
    It is clearly impossible to say if there is or is not, but common sence prevails.
    You were correct and then you lost it.  It is impossible to tell, which is why anyone claiming that there is ANY probability of it, is already wrong.  We simply have no data.  Invoking common sense offers no solution, because now you're simply wanting to argue that it's an idea you either like or dislike.  It isn't relevant.

    You cannot draw any conclusions from one sample no matter how hard you try, so you can dance around it all you like, but you have nothing.  To then shift the argument to claim some "covert religious" belief is distracting since it offers nothing in evidence, but simply attempts to discredit other individual's legitimacy.  I can assure you that I don't have any religious view, covert or otherwise.  I do however have a keen sense of when something is simply made up, and that is precisely what occurs when people want to invoke numbers they don't possess to advance an argument they have no evidence for.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You cannot draw any conclusions from one sample no matter how hard you try
    Well, yes you can, actually. It's called "Bayesian probability". You come up with a model and predict the probability of different outcomes, you then find what actually happens and revise your model. For instance, if the probability of life arising on an earth-like planet is a googolplexianth per Hubble volume then the fact that it has arisen at least once means that either the universe is LOT bigger than one Hubble volume or our original estimate was too low. Likewise if our model suggests it is almost inevitable then the fact it has only occurred once (to the point of our knowing about it) "within shouting distance" means that we again revise our model, this time downward.
     
    A great deal of crap has recently appeared on Science 20 about "frequentist" and "propensitivist" interpretations of probability but the fact is they are not belief systems to which one must swear allegiance, they are merely different angles on what is philosophically fundamental. Both are essential and Bayesian probability unites them. You argue as if frequentism were the only way to arrive at a probability. It isn't so. We know that a coin will land heads up about half the time - not because we've done the experiemnt but simply because the coin is symmetrical. We know that the chances of a cell assembling itself out of basic molecules by chance in one go is vanishingly small. 
     
    Cleary, the cowboy hat has diminished your sense of reasonable thought. Consider this, it has happened that conditions were perfect for life to exist on a planet. We know this, because we are here. Now, given the immense scope and not even quite known size of the universe, it would take an an imbecile of unquantified stupidity that borders on the retarded to not accept the mathematical probablilty that such similar conditions prevail elsewhere that are conducive to life.
    It is in fact totally beyond belief. But people will believe that Eve came from Adams rib. Or that politicians have our best interests at heart.

    Gerhard Adam
    OK wiseass ... please inform us how you can arrive at a mathematical probability of ANYTHING with one sample.  I'm all ears.

    Your statement is nothing more than an argument of inevitability as if you have the slightest idea of what the actual possibilities are in the universe.  Your argument is one based on faith. 

    What you uniformly fail to grasp is that we have no concept of how difficult, or how easy, life is.  Therefore you cannot make any qualified or informed statement about the "inevitability" of life simply because of similar conditions.  The fact is that we don't know and YOU most certainly don't know.

    So before you get all huffy.  Just remember that it takes real stupidity to make statements of certainty when you know nothing at all.
    Mundus vult decipi
    How do you feel we arrived on our planet? Do you think we flowered spontaneously, or are you a creationist?

    It seems to me that you cannot agree there is an infinite universe, that life is spontaneously created (all life, not just intelligent), and that the probability for life is anything less than, roughly, 99.99%.

    We exist. We know this because I'm typing this comment out to you, and that means we started on this planet in some fashion. I don't believe a divine being created us, nor do many rational people. Therefore we know that there is some set of variables that creates life. If there wasn't, we wouldn't exist. Sure, the chance of those variables converging could be .000000000000000000000000000000000001%, but in an infinite universe, with an infinite amount of planets who's traits mimic our own, the probability of it happening would approach 100%.

    Am I missing something here? I am a simple man, but it seems pretty simple to me.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...but in an infinite universe, with an infinite amount of planets who's traits mimic our own, the probability of it happening would approach 100%.
    Which is precisely where the flaw lies.  There can never be any such thing as infinity in a "real" sense.  Such an entity is perpetually in a state of creation and can never be defined in any meaningful way.(1)  As a result, in an "infinite" universe then you'd also have to allow for the existence of a god, since everything literally is possible in infinity.  It explains nothing and allows for everything. 

    Yes, we know that we exist and that provides us with exactly one sample.  We have no idea how hard or simple life is at forming.  We don't know how many times it may have been created and destroyed and what kinds of events must occur in order for it to survive the early stages.  We can certainly see how small the probabilities are that a particular species would actually evolve to communicate as we do, so that element renders the entire process even less likely to have occurred.

    I can certainly recognize that life as a much higher probability of occurring elsewhere than intelligent life versus intelligent life capable of communicating with us.  These are all separate and distinct cases and yet people want to conflate them.  If we were to find even a single microbe someplace else, then the probabilities change radically. 

    My point in all of this, is that despite how many people feel that life has a high probability of existence, the reality is that we have no evidence at this point, and we have no means of making a meaningful prediction.  All we have is our personal beliefs and hopes. 

    (1) "
    Briefly, nothing can be infinite, since in order for something to 'be', it must be defined and measurable."
    Mundus vult decipi
    "Briefly, nothing can be infinite, since in order for something to 'be', it must be defined and measurable." 
    What on earth is that supposed to mean?
    Gerhard Adam
    Just what it says.
    Mundus vult decipi
    No, you must have meant something by it. 
    "Briefly, nothing can be infinite, since in order for something to 'be', it must be defined and measurable." 
    Mathematicians have no problems dealing with infinite quantities. Physicists talk about infinite quantites all the time. Theologians talk about infinite entities all the time. What is it that you purport to know which all these lesser mortals are ignorant about? Your actual statement doesn't make any kind of sense whatsoever. Why must something be measurable in order to exist?  Supposing there is a mist drifting in front of an elephant making it less end less measurable as the day wears on. Does it cease to exist the moment you can't see it properly to measure it? If not, what do you mean? And while you're at it, please explain why we can't measure an infinite object? You don't have to use a tape measure, you can infer the size of the universe from the bit that you can see.

     
    Gerhard Adam
    ...you can infer the size of the universe from the bit that you can see.
    You can do nothing of the sort.  Saying that something is infinite [as a physical trait] is to claim that it is still in the process of being created, since such can never end.  Therefore there can never be any "object" that is infinite.  Besides, what's there to infer, if the claim is that the universe is infinite, then no value can ever be assigned to it.

    Infinity as an abstraction is not a problem, however as a physical trait, it is simple to argue that you can never describe a number for an attribute, that is accurate, of an infinite object without yourself having described some arbitrary end point to even make the claim.

    Would you be willing to claim that there are an infinite number of particles in the universe?  That there is infinite energy? 
    Why must something be measurable in order to exist?
    If you expect to say anything meaningful about it, then you must be able to describe it which is effectively a "measurement".

    Generally when the term "infinity" as used it is intended to describe a process that is essentially unbounded.  Numbers aren't specifically infinite.  Instead the process by which new numbers can be generated is unbounded such that any number can be arbitrarily made larger than its predecessors.  However this tells us nothing of infinity itself.

    If infinity were truly a trait that could be assigned then we might as well stop asking specific questions about the universe, because anything which has a probability greater than zero must exist, and must exist an infinite number of times.

    Correspondingly we could then argue that any finite value is negligible compared to infinity, so we could also argue that life couldn't exist because since it represents a finite value against infinity, then it is effectively zero [i.e. any number over infinity is zero].
    Mundus vult decipi
    Ayeee!
    Your words appear on the screen, they enter my eyes and are parsed into what resembles natural language. But no concepts emerge from the sentences. I won't say nothing happens as there is certainly some mental effort going on as my brain tries to fit the words together to mean something, but it's a futile effort. Nothing fits. It's like a surreal waking dream where you feel there ought to be some answer in the flood of words and images, but as you wake up you realize that you've been worrying about the amorphous French vitamin requirements of a left-handed credit card.


    Thor Russell
    Haha, thats a good one! I DEMAND a picture !!!
    I think Gerhard is talking about how infinity is defined rigorously in terms of limits, (the popular conception of it is incorrect because of the fact that infinity is NOT a number), of a process that can be used to exceed any given number. I think that is what is meant if I give the post the benefit of making sense, however after that things quickly make less sense.

    We know with multiverses unfortunately apparently anything that can happen does so an infinite number of times etc, the measure problem of quantum physics I think making things most difficult. I am sure there is much confusion to be discovered if you dig deeper, so I wouldn't recommend it, though I may watch with amusement if you do. 
    Similar concepts are easier to mock than make sense of ...
    http://www.science20.com/thor_russell/benevolent_galactic_overlords_are_among_us-88564 






    Thor Russell
    infinity is NOT a number
    anything that can happen does so an infinite number of times
    Whilst I agree that infinity is not (usually) regarded as a number, it is apparently acceptable to use the phrase "an infinite number".

    So there are infinite numbers but no infinity?
     
    Wrong!. If you are going to object to infinity on mathematical grounds - and Gerhard explicitly said the opposite, he has no objections to infinity itself - then you cannot have "infinite numbers" either. However you can create infinite quasi-numbers to augment whatever class of number you are dealing with, in particular most graduates will have come across the first couple of "alephs" which are the number of natural numbers and the number of reals. So whilst infinity is not a number in a mathematically rigorous sense  it can be used whenever a number is required. Which is what we do when we say the universe is infinite. That, of course, doesn't mention "infinity", it just says "infinite", a nit-picking difference to most people but when we are trying to work out why someone objects to it, we need to be sure it's not the mathematical concept.

    [I've edited the rest a bit since first posting. Nothing substantial!]
    To be fair on Gerhard, I do see that he is *trying* to define "infinite" operationally, but then nothing makes sense. And there was never a need to define it that way (operationally) in the first place. Infinite is what infinite does - "in" plus "finite": we *could* attempt to find the end or the total but there is no end. There again since we know the exercise would never terminate we would be wise not to bother. There is still no need to define it operationally, indeed half the problem with his idea is that the only way to measure the universe is with a tape measure. That's obviously not true, the more we learn about the nature of spacetime the more we discover about what solutions in General Relativity are viable. If Einstein, De Sitter, Schwarzschild, Hawking, Friedmann, Milne, Linde, Guth, Bondi, Hoyle, Eddington and Dirac could all consider an infinite universe to be possible in principle, I think I'll take their word for it rather than Gerhard's who, yet again, has triumphantly declared something to be impossible which the rest of the planet sees as a straightforward idea with a few rather trivial problems attached.

    Conscious machines? - Impossible!
    Intelligent machines? - Impossible!
    Transportable biospheres? - Impossible!
    Construction of provisional experience before sensory data? - Impossible!
    Estimation of probability of abiogenesis? - Impossible!
    An infinite universe? - Impossible! 
     
    I realized my mistake as soon as Gerhard answered first time. I'm going to agree to differ - even if he doesn't.
    Thor Russell
    Yes I see your point and share your frustration.Ironic is that Sascha considers infinite universes/possibilities to be so self-evident that they don't even need to be debated, Gerhard often defends Sascha yet won't debate this with him of course. Similar with intelligence. There are other things that annoy me also:

    Unsupervised learning - impossible
    Intelligence not meeting personal definitions of "intent" - impossible
    Chance that DD may completely disagree with such self contradictory position on intelligence - impossible
    Chance that the life's work of experienced biologists that sound remotely gene centric could be anything other than completely wrong - impossible
    Chance of being wrong on anything related to biology - impossible
    Chance of being wrong on any branch of psychology - impossible
    Chance of being wrong on fields not even related to expertise such as signal processing - impossible
    Suggestion that humans are more intelligent that bacteria - HUMAN BIAS
    Suggestion that world population will continue to follow a biologically expected "S" curve rather than accelerating to impending doom, - HUMAN BIAS
    Suggestion that "hope" is anything other than the most evil thing - HUMAN BIAS

    Suggestion that such positions may result from HUMAN BIAS - HUMAN BIAS!
    Thor Russell
    Gerhard Adam
    There, there ... does that make you feel better to get that off your chest.  Of course, it illustrates that you've understood nothing I've said, but I expect it does make you feel better.

    You see, Thor, your problem is that you have no arguments beyond waving your arms around claiming that others disagree with me and then arguing from authority to try and make your point.  It is telling that you chose to invoke "expert biologists" as your argument.  As for being wrong? 

    Of course I can be wrong, but it's going to take more than your arm waving to make it so, so if you have no argument, then I don't see that as my failing.
    Ironic is that Sascha considers infinite universes/possibilities to be so self-evident that they don't even need to be debated, Gerhard often defends Sascha yet won't debate this with him of course.
    Yes, and as evidence in how poorly you research your statements, you'd know that I did write a blog post about infinity, and you would've known that Sascha commented on it.  But, I expect you never even looked, after all you can't be bothered with someone you've already written off as being wrong.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thor Russell
    I did read your post on infinity, however what you have said now does disagree with what Sascha and all the other physicists say(or you have not explained it well). Pointing out like me and Derek have done that your view on intelligence is inherently self-contradictory has nothing to do with authority. You don't get the argument, but your model of how intelligence works is hopeless as a result. If you think it isn't nonsense then do what you have told others to do many times now and write your own blog on the matter. Not just state the position but explain experiments/concepts (start with unsupervised learning) and use it as a framework to make predictions and suggest experiments. Otherwise its just apparently misunderstood words at best, self-contradictory nonsense at worst.
    Thor Russell
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, you must have a fundamental problem then, because how you can claim that I'm contradicting myself on infinity, when I've simply quoted from the original blog is beyond me.  In fact, the quote I used was the one specifically that Sascha had highlighted, so it's hardly in dispute [from that post].

    I'm not sure how that provides the quantum leap over to discussing intelligence, however there have been several blog posts regarding intelligence.  However you seem to be hung up on machines, so it's probably not relevant.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thor Russell
    "hung up on machines" - my blog post was on neurons and unsupervised learning, a concept you seem obliged to deny the existence of.
    Thor Russell
    Gerhard Adam
    I fail to see the relevance to biological systems.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thor Russell
    Haha exactly! Ironically biological systems are very capable of it, computers barely so, yet you must say that it has no importance as it doesn't fit your ideology.
    Thor Russell
    Well, I can think of at least 1 thing that we can measure that is infinite. how about the number PI? 3.14........ Is there any end to that? Or is it in a constant state of being created?

    Gerhard Adam
    Actually that's not true.  The only way you can use the number PI is to force it to end at some point.  Otherwise the calculation is never-ending, which is a clear illustration that PI is in a perpetual state of creation.  The only way it can ever be used is if we arbitrarily end it at some point.

    So, every calculation you've ever seen that involved PI is an approximation and is never an exact value [since that is impossible to create].
    Mundus vult decipi
    That is because your understanding of mathematics is limited to counting on your fingers!

    Look, here's a simple use of pi to get an exact result.

    = -1
    Gerhard Adam
    Perhaps you'd care to re-arrange terms and demonstrate the result for pi?

    http://mathworld.wolfram.com/PiContinuedFraction.html

    Truncating the continued fraction at any point generates a fraction that provides an approximation for pi.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi
    Mundus vult decipi
    Yes, I was afraid the point would go over your head.

    You can prove Euler's formula without doing an infinite calculation. End of subject.
     
    Right, I'm off now. You can continue to confuse the readers of science20 for a week or so without fear of correction from me. Use the time wisely.
     
    Gerhard Adam
    How did that get to Euler's formula?  I said originally that you cannot calculate using pi as a number without using some finite numeric value.  To perform a numeric calculation that still holds true. 

    I specifically indicated that I had no problem with it as a numeric concept, but that as a specific number against which arithmetic calculations could be performed, then it couldn't be used.  I don't see that you've created any exception to that statement. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I suppose I had better say that I have managed to get near a computer, so I'm afraid my promise that you would have the stage to yourself for a week is rescinded.
    as a specific number against which arithmetic calculations could be performed
    The pi/Euler examples prove that you can make true statements about pi without doing explicit aithmetic.
        We have produced provable statements about an infinite universe which do not rely on explicit numeric calculation.

    So why do you keep asserting that it is impossible? All you have done is demonstrate something that is blindingly obvious to everyone - that you cannot do an explicit calculation with an infinitely long decimal.  Nobody says you can. But by applying, say, Cantor's extended number system, you don't have to count on your fingers.

    I don't expect you to agree. Just as long as everyone else has a chance to understand that what you are saying is not a well-thought-out critique of "infinity" but a rather trivial logical blunder which you refuse to acknowledge.
    I think this discussion demonstrates how important it is to understand the difference between theoretical and empirical evidence and which is being discussed. Personally, I would be surprised if either of you disagree at the fundamental level. Derek, you seem to be discussing theoretical proof, while Gerhard is discussing empirical proof. I think Gerhard would agree that theory helps to guide the interpretation of empirical proof as evidence for one theory over another. However, I agree with Gerhard that a single observation, or a very limited sample, relative to a large population, potentially infinite, makes empirical proof extraordinarily difficult to interpret.To introduce a bit of my own complication, we could also discuss the works of the philosopher Kuhn which basically states that we can never really know anything. I believe Kuhn's point is very similar to Gerhard's, however, I also believe that it shouldn't keep us from trying to understand whatever world it is that we perceive to believe (hehe) around us.

    totally agree. the odds are just too likely that other life exists. intelligent life, that's tougher, but still probable. this planet sure does have it's quirks... BUT THERE'S SOMETHING WE'RE ALL FORGETTING HERE.

    this is a model for life as we know it. but that doesn't mean there aren't hydrogen-based life forms instead of carbon. life living comfortably in 10,000 degrees Celsius or a flat barren planet with barely any sun, no moons, no seasons, no water and yet a unique set of ingredients make for a highly unlikely trade off between species. say, a world with only 2 species that work harmoniously together to allow life to persist. can you say i'm wrong? highly improbable, but still possible. anything is, really.

    thanks for your comment though, i think you really hit the nail on the head here. crazy time to be alive...

    come out and say it. God made the universe and all of its creatures, meaning earth was perfectly placed in a habitable zone and nucleotides were supernaturally coerced into bonding and creating dna which we are made of.

    Gerhard Adam
    That's a completely silly thing to say.  "Habital zones" and "DNA" argue for a set of scientific rules and structures which are not necessary to a god that is capable of simply performing miracles.  So, either the notion that specific scientific conditions had to be met apply and limit God's ability to create, or there is no need to postulate any scientific conditions since any conditions can be rendered moot by miracles.

    In other words, there is no logical argument here, and any such argument that resorts to supernatural conditions is simply foolishness, since anything can then be applied.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I wonder though, if this is in consideration of the type of planet. Are these figures taking into account the fact that life (as WE know it) can only exist on certain types of planets. So in reflection, do the numbers increase in the amount of odds? If, so, by how much?

    I really think people here aren't looking at the bigger picture. We have been educated in such a way to understand and comprehend certain rules and view points, eg how do we know that intelligent life on a planet far far away doesn't have the opposite rules of life or at least very different from our own?

    I refuse to even think for a second that there isn't intelligent life form somehwere else, scientists are too involved with numbers and possibilities to think out of the bubble. I teach music and I see so many amazing musicians being far too technical and forgetting the very essence of what music is, which is to create something pleasing to the listener, some Guitarists I know try and play at 1000 miles an hour which might be very clever but it detracts from what music is all about.

    Sorry I digress, my point is that it is possible that too much knowledge of certain information clouds your judgement
    and points you towards a path that is much more confusing and unrealistic. All I have to do to know the answer to the question "Is there intelligent life on other planets" is look out of my window, of course there is.

    Gerhard Adam
    I find it interesting that it is usually those that understand the least about science think that scientists are incapable of imaginative thinking. 

    It's unfortunate that too many people think that being imaginative necessarily means that one has to make stuff up or look for fantasy solutions. 
    All I have to do to know the answer to the question "Is there intelligent life on other planets" is look out of my window, of course there is.
    Oh boy ... another personal opinion based on ...... personal opinion.  How bloody useful!
    Mundus vult decipi
    I don't mean to be rude and you obviously know more about science than I do and to be honest I don't really think imagination comes into it. What do you see when you look out of the window? I don't see trees and cars and houses etc, I try and think about how all that came about, the evolution of life absolutely amazes me.

    Do we honestly think that there is no other intelligent life other than the life on our planet, come on, our planet is a speck. Where does space stop? And if it does stop what is behind that, I just think that if anyone thinks there isn't any other intelligent life form on other planets then they are very naive, I don't need to crunch out numbers to come to that conclusion or be a scientist.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...I don't need to crunch out numbers to come to that conclusion or be a scientist.
    Which is exactly when you leave the realm of science and dive into personal opinion and belief.  You can believe what you like and you can say it with as much conviction as you care to impart ... but if you don't have any data ... then it doesn't matter what you think.

    That's the problem with such pronouncements.  We have ONE example of a planet with life.  Until there's another one, that's all we have and it doesn't make one bit of difference what anyone's opinion is.  We always get into trouble when we just "know" something has to be true.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    I know we have only one sample, but why must we assume there's something special about it? Just because we have no evidence of extraterrestrial life (well as long as we discount all of the many many ufo incidents), we also have no evidence there's anything special about life on earth.

    If we want to make us special, we can make it so special it requires a God for us to be here, But I know you don't believe that either.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    We don't have to assume anything and we can believe anything we like. However, if we want the discussion to be scientific then we must confine ourselves to what is known. This provides a perfect example of how difficult it is to divorce oneself from personal beliefs when science is involved. You would think that it should be easy for people to accept the idea that we simply don't know. However, the majority of posters want to hedge their bets by asserting that life "must" exist elsewhere for whatever reason. Say what you will, but we don't know and no amount of posturing, rationalizing, or speculating will change that. Until something is discovered, we don't know. Does that make us special? Well, we are, until we find evidence to suggest otherwise.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    IMO, you were doing just fine until you said this:
    Well, we are
    That seems to me to be a negative bias, equal to the positive bias many others want to accept as true(including myself).

    If we are really special, as opposed to just plain not knowing, we better start spending more time reading religious texts.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Point taken.  I don't believe that unique equates to special, but that's often how people want to parse it out.  I simply meant, that until we have evidence to the contrary, we have to assume that our planet has a unique status regarding life (in being the only known sample to exist).
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    You really can't help yourself can you :)
    our planet has a unique status regarding life (in being the only known sample to exist)

    But the way I see this is with the hypothetical odds saying it's impossible, we're still here, we beat the odds and with a single sample.

    Since we have nothing, are made of nothing that doesn't exist all over the universe.
    Follow this with the list of reason we dismiss ID and creation.
    Then sprinkle on a handful of UFO sightings that are well investigated with credible witnesses and evidence.
    I'm optimistic life is plentiful, and I would not be surprised that intelligent life is plentiful.

    But I accept we don't know, You make me accept we don't know, but then you go and try and define odds lol...........
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    I don't believe I have ever defined such odds.

    Usually the closest I get is to try and highlight the distinction between life, intelligent life, and life capable of technology.  Since each is increasingly less likely, then we obviously can't simply move from one context to the other without considering what would change.

    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Define no, make your feelings known?
    As for an advanced civilization, I would say the odds are extremely poor.  All you have to do is examine all the species on this planet and consider how many achieved an advanced civilization.  That will give you an idea of how poor those odds really are.  With millions of species and billions of years, exactly one.  Those don't sound like good odds.  They're even worse when you consider how small the window is during which a communication opportunity would exist.  In our own case, it's only been over the past 100 years or so.  Very tiny opportunity, indeed.

    I see the glass half full, but as I said, you're right we don't know.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Your right about my feelings.  I'm continuously surprised by people that act enthused at the idea of finding intelligent life in the universe.  I can't think of a greater threat than that.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    For many years when asked if I'd go with aliens if ask I said yes, and I might still, but I'd be a lot more cautious than I use to be.

    I've also said that our broadcasting all of those radio waves into space is much like chumming for sharks...
    Never is a long time.
    This is only the probability that life arose on a planet like ours with all the right conditions. The probability that there is a planet like ours is 1 to 10 to the 139 as there are 123 factors defining the location, moon, tilt, mass, size of sun, etc. This plus 1 to the 10,000 in 4 billion years of stable planet is extremely unlikely.

    Mate you need to work on your stats - your probability is a bit weak.

    I am obviously out of my league when talking about something the likes of mathematical probibilities. However from the outside looking in it seems to me that the potential for life on other earth like planets would be astonishingly high. We know there are billions of stars and most probably earth like planets in the universe. I was just thinking when I read this article that the human evolution was extremely rapid in the scheme of things. From where we are now to what we were it has taken what 10 million years at max. How could anyone come to the conclusion that evolution could not happen just as quickly on of these for a low number million other earth like planets. Like my name says I am a complete layman some could say idiot when it comes to these things but I am always so interested in them regardless

    Gerhard Adam
    You're correct that once evolution begins then things can move rather rapidly.  If we assume that there is no cataclysmic event which annihilates all life on a particular planet then your scenario is quite plausible.  However, even so, there is a big gap between the existence of life and the existence of "intelligent" life and an even bigger one to the "intelligent" life capable of communicating.

    While I realize that you didn't specifically mention any particular condition, that is part of the problem in this type of discussion since it freely shifts between each of these qualified events.

    Overall, the problem comes down to this.  If there is at least one planet on which we find even microbial life, then there is a strong argument that the chemical conditions which give rise to it are probably "easy" and therefore a stronger case exists for it to be wide-spread.  However, until we find that planet, we only have one example (the Earth) and no matter how may billions of other worlds there are, there is no evidence that life is either "easy" or wide-spread.  Of course, even if life is wide-spread, there is no argument that intelligence is a necessary consequence of natural selection.

    Mundus vult decipi
    However, even so, there is a big gap between the existence of life and the existence of "intelligent" life and an even bigger one to the "intelligent" life capable of communicating.

    A gap which all the evidence suggests has not yet been crossed...

    any of you idiots ever hear about god and jesus? our world is to perfect, we as humans are to perfect and complex for there not to be a god. stop being so hard hearted and arogant

    like someone said before this universe is infinite that means an infinite galaxies, stars, black holes, planets, etc. So if every thing is infinite that means the chances of life in this universe is infinite intelligent or not.
    people have religions as everyone knows. How do you think your religion was started? huh... no answer? exactly! But i'll tell you one day a person thought to hard about something he coulden't explain so he made up a god or gods to explain it.
    I read a reply to this article stating god made us perfect. no one or thing is perfect. If your christian [like me] than you know God had to clense the world. God also had to banish fallen angels like the devil. If God made us perfect than why do we look and act different? Why do we continue to wage war on each other? Other religions that think their perfect that have multiple gods if your so perfect why dont you have one god.
    alright i went a little of subject there. Also what if there is a universe of universes that would life is infinite like every thing else in the universe. But who is to say that we have finite universe that is controlled by some person playing a very complex version of the sims? that is all

    ok so then waht??

    I hope you are a Deep Cover atheist, trying to make religious people sound stereotypically uneducated. If so, well done.

    If not, you might want to swap your bible for an English dictionary. And describing yourself as "perfect", well, that's pretty arrogant.

    how can there be a god when so many religions have different gods? would that mean that every religion's god got together and made the universe and everything along with it? i respect each and every individuals beliefs but i just cant see how a "higher power" created us all with so many different opinions on life. i dont want people to question their religions or what they believe. how can you call other people idiots because they have a different opinion on god and the universe? i say you are an idiot for not looking at all the possibilities of how we were created.

    Well said, everybody has the right to their own opinion and no one person or one groups opinion is necessarily correct. An open mind will always find answers :)

    Very conscious though...though I DO want people to question their religions. Not by my actions, but of their own accord. It's one thing for someone to think about the scientific thought that can go into religion, explaining it in their own ways maybe while still acknowledging science behind events. But people blindly following their deities is a major problem in my mind. It causes people to respond in such the manner shown here earlier. The copout "well my God made us perfect so why should we even think about it?"

    It seems to me that you are the idiot. You believe ancient silly legends (Jesus was executed on a Friday and came back to life two days later).

    Yeah I heard of them. Can you prove they are real or ever existed? Nice name calling by the way. I have many names for narrow-minded christian types that you wouldn't like. Perhaps you should restrain yourself a bit instead of calling people idiots.

    im very sorry to have to tell u but we a far from perfect, there is nothing perfect about bieng able to use like what 20% of are brain, and the fact that we are constantly learning is another contridiction to the us bieng perfect, i am not saying there is not a god so do not get me wrong, im just saying, not imagine this, if there is infact a bieng strong and powerfull enough to create the earths and all the animals and the sun in 5 -7 days, do u really think life would only exist on earth with there bieng 100 of 1000 of planest out there for no aparent reason, what do u think they are there for decoration, no, thinking that humans are the only inteligent biengs in the universe is proposturas, and lets not forget that during the dark ages, the catholic riligion banned science thinking it was darkmagic, putting are civilasation 1000 years back, as others have said, religion is only there to give people a reason to not be scared and to have somthing to beleive in, again not saying there is no god.

    i'm still not convinced. nothing that was written is conclusive. basing the possibility of life on other planets with the age of our own planet and then trying to introduce infinity into the math and say that also suggests its slim to none to find life on other planets. if anything infinity would help prove life is most likely out there. there are plenty of solar systems out there we can't see or look into that maybe in habitable zones.

    one thing i don't think people realize or even care to is that theories such as the big bang theory are theories none the less and even though they haven't been proven wrong they also haven't been proven right either. and those are what people try to base their math on. not whats the real possibility. you also have to stop and think about ufo sightings. they have happened since before technology as we know it today. thousands of years ago they were sighted and other worldly type beings. cave drawings and such. they are everywhere. plus our government knows (even though they deny it).

    just saying. people try to come forward with what they think is good conclusive proof and really they don't have it. they took math off of un-conclusive evidence. he may be a prof but that doesn't make him right.

    First, the total mass of the universe is measurable and not infinite, thus there cannot be an infinite number of planets. Second, you misuse the term "theory." "In modern science the term "theory", or "scientific theory" is generally understood to refer to a proposed explanation of empirical phenomena, made in a way consistent with scientific method." (Wikipedia.org) A theory is not a surmise or guess, but rather it is a provisional explanation (as all explanations are in science) based upon the scientific method and the evidence that method uncovers. The reason all explanations (theories) are provisional is that were some evidence ever found to clearly refute a theory, and that evidence were to be found to be substantiated in numerous experiments then the theory would be found to be refuted. Theories include the very best understanding we have for the way things work and are sometimes backed up by thousands of independent experiments made using the scientific method and having identical results, offering the closest thing that humans have ever found to what we call proof.

    Demeter Design
    Nice counter, infinity is a challenging concept and I don't really see how a model can incorporate it.
    Maybe I don't understand infinity. Still, I believe Prof Andrew Watson conclusions to be wrong. How can he say "possible but not probable" when infinity is the unlimiting factor? If there is one planet with life in the universe then there are an infinite number of planets with life in the universe. I have asked people if .999... equals exactly one. Most people say no. They say .999... is "really" close, but not whole or one. Ok, if 1/3 is .333..., not close, but exactly 1/3, and if 2/3 is .666..., being exactly 2/3, then when you add .333... and .666... you get .999...which equals one, exactly, not really close, but one. Being infinitly close is being there. There are no odds or probabilities in an infinite universe that I can in vision.

    Less than 0.01%? But there are billions of galaxies with billions of stars with a handful of planets on each. 0.01% is 1 in 10000, which still means billions of planets could have life. Even if the probability of life occuring on any planet was 1 in a trillion, there would still be billions of planets with life

    that is another thing i was trying to get at. i applaud ur reply

    even so, you out of the billion or so planets with life, how much of that life is intelligent or in the reach of Earth?

    Wow, the probability of .01% seems like it is very likely that there is intelligent life relatively near us. Unless earth-like planets are extremely rare. To me though, it's hard to believe that the probability of intelligent life is .01%. What is the probability of molecules forming dna and cells?

    it is not likley for an Earth like planet to be near us because of these reasons. First you have to be in the the inhabitable zone. Second you have to have a mediumly thick atmospher. third you have to have a jupiter because it blocks us from all the asteriods or at least 99% of them. you have to be the right size. Mars was to small so either the size of Earth or up to 5x its size. you need a liquid core because it causes an electromagnetic field that blocks us from most of the Radiation from our star. that would be extremly hard to find but not impossible. lets go back in time a couple 100000000 and then Mars looked exactly like Earth but it was just to small to hold onto its atmosphere and it didnt have an electromagtnetic field. then Venus wich just had to thick of an atmosphere that caused green house effects and caused extremely warm temperatures. our solar system has three canidates. we had one planet on the the beginning of the inhabitable zone and one on the outside. we also have one in the inhabitable zone and thats what it takes to have life. so probably every galaxy has one planet orbiting a star within the inhabitable zone. so i believe theres one planet somewhere out there that supports life but its probably just bacteria or plants.

    Probability has no meaning in infinity, there is nothing to measure except the probable space between
    planets that support life in which that is what the above caculates, again in infinity to say what is the probablity is
    to say it is possible and if it is possible then it is also possible that it occurs over and over again in to infintum
    in an endless cycle. A once in a trillion chance that a planet would fall into a possible sun zone that would
    spark life and a trillion failures of the ones that meet the criteria for life and a trillion more that dies at
    and early stage , trillions more that died out in the dinosaur age and then one in an immeasurable amount
    of space and time that allowed me to make this speculation of a fool.
    Albert eat your heart out

    Clever, however such models are useless in the vastness of the universe if one was to consider the word infinity for example as proposed by Prof Andrew Watson. You would soon come to the conclusion that human beings can neither understand nor comprehend such words. Just by imagining infinity we thereby limit it, and convolute it to the human condition. True infinity is that which cannot be measured or even talked about, it’s a waste of energy. Taking into account infinity gives you power over it, and this too brings with it false understanding and models of probabilities, by silly professors. Anyone could claim anything, and who could stand up and say for sure that they are right or wrong. A theory of extra dimensions consisting of x numbers of universes and galaxies etc. only complicate his argument. He should focus his time on searching the skies for asteroids or something it’s far more practical. Don’t limit people’s desire to dream.

    The human mind has limitations. We are not capable of contemplating infinity. Example: If you take the letters of the alphabet and scrambled the letters around and extended this pattern out to infinity would the combination of letters eventually spell out the play Romeo and Juliet or would it never occur since there are infinite possibilities?

    I for one think its arrogant to believe that we are the only living things in all of infinity. I guess what we need is tangible proof of life elsewhere.

    Last comment. There is no need to find conditions that fit life because life evolves to meet certain conditions. There are places at the very bottom of the ocean get zero rays of sunlight year round yet life exists there? Unbelievable pressure and cold. Life is a force that fights to live. It evolves to the conditions it finds itself in..

    I agree that it is virtually impossible for the human mind, with it's limitations, to understand the vastness of the universe and then come up with a probable number as to the likelihood of life on other planets.
    It has been less than 50 years since we as a species have had the ability to leave our planet- and far less time
    since we have been able to send spacecraft to Mars, a close planet. To think that based on what we have been able to explore and understand up to this point is sufficient to make the claims this author is making is not only arrogant, but foolish as well.

    It is possible that life has evolved and disappeared and evolved again on Earth and or in other places in this Universe. The Earth has a way of reinventing itself and life always seems to appear when the right conditions exist.

    Let's remember one thing, science still can not tell us exactly how non-living matter turns into living, reproducing organisms. Did a bacteria eventually turn into Leonardo di Vinci? If i set my toaster outside for a billion years will it turn into a microwave oven? Doubt it. Why is there "something" instead of "nothing"? Before the Big Bang there was nothing. Can we really be sure that an object smaller than a flea turned into the entire universe. Let's stop pretending that we know where we came from.

    "Let's stop pretending that we know where we came from."
    Who's doing that then? I don't think any self respecting scientist would ever dare to suggest that they had an answer to that or many other mysteries of the universe.That doesn't mean that one day we won't find out though.
    In the mean time these mysteries are what inspire awe in us and make life and the Universe so fascinating.

    Hank
    Right, I am not sure why any commenters in here have objections to asking questions and seeking answers.   St. Augustine of Hippo did that same thing (tried to find an intelligible and sensible origin of the individual soul and all life) and he was hardly an enemy of religious people.    Religion was never meant to be brainwashing and isolation from creative thought - that's instead what cults do.
    they mean to stop stating evolution as a fact. "...It took human beings many years to evolve..."

    It's foolish to think that the answer to how everything was created would ever be solved. The time humans will live is miniscule compared to how old the universe is. As long as their are opinions and unless we find a way to live 100000000000000000000000000 years I highly doubt it.

    All that space and only us in it what a shame

    logicman
    All that space and only us in it what a shame

    "If there isn't life on other worlds, it seems like an awful waste of space."  Ellie (Jodie Foster), in Contact.
    Evolution is SHIT.Take that scientologists.

    Gerhard Adam
    Off your meds again ??
    Mundus vult decipi
    LOL Gerhard!
    evolution is a known fact in my book

    The Big Bang and Evolution are theories.I KNOW where I came from/.

    Out from under a rock?

    As opposed to what? A book that was written by mankind for mankind. Or what your church teaches you? Isn't it the same principle? To believe in something you have no proof of and have never seen for your own eyes? I am curious..... What's your take on Wicca? You being a "ReligiousDude" should know this. It even states it in the bible that they are just stories. It is this kind of thinking and narrow mindedness that keeps people in the grey area and unwilling to accept anything other than what they have been taught. Now believe me, I am not slamming religion or the bible, but if people are really going to make comments like this, expect someone to say something back.

    Dude, this guy is cracking a joke. He says, "I know where I came from".

    Where do all babies come from? Hmmm.....I'm not sure....maybe ask your parents?

    Gerhard Adam
    Of course you do ....
    Mundus vult decipi
    Daniel
    Hey,
    The premise of Prof Andrew Watson is that life is the result of casualty or ramdom interactions that by luck resulted in life.  Giving the other assumption of infinity, the comment of Jim Myres seems very outstanding.
    Strictly speaking we do not know if any of the assumptions are right (we cannot know).
    What about this, putting aside all religion thinking or belief, faith or whatever you call it; let's assume that there is some natural law which is not discovered yet, by which some elements have synergy with others (i.e. H, O, C and all elements of the organic chemistry), then the combinations of these elements will be more resilient, or once they are generated, the probability to be destroyed is is less than for any combination ramdomly created; so by natural selection there will be an evolution and more complex composites etc. will evolve.  It is just the opposite of entropy which as time pases lead to chaos, in this case because of synergy as time passes and the specimens are subject to "creative destruction" their synergy and complexity will increase.  We have examples of this in the economy or automotive industry which by the force of "competition" and the survival of the most apt or with better "synergy" the system becomes more and more complex.
    Gerhard Adam
    The premise of Prof Andrew Watson is that life is the result of casualty or ramdom interactions that by luck resulted in life.
    Actually you want to be careful here.  He actually said:

    "If we learned the planet would be habitable for a set period and that we had evolved early in this period, then even with a sample of one, we’d suspect that evolution from simple to complex and intelligent life was quite likely to occur. By contrast, we now believe that we evolved late in the habitable period, and this suggests that our evolution is rather unlikely. In fact, the timing of events is consistent with it being very rare indeed.”

    His point is not that life is rare, but rather the likelihood of finding comparably intelligent life in the universe would be more rare.  If you consider all the life forms present on the earth and then consider how many have developed the ability to communicate using radio waves, and then consider over what period of time (considering the existence of the earth), you can easily see that this is a very tiny window indeed.
    Mundus vult decipi
    hey,
    pls send more about that!!!!

    Steve Davis
    That sounds very reasonable to me Daniel, and I think that Gerhard might have hinted at this elsewhere. This idea puts the question of probability in a whole new light.
    Daniel
    If there is some article by Gerhard or anybody else about this idea, I would like to read it, it is very ininteresting; even I have not read anything similar before.
    Steve Davis
    In the Related Articles section at the head of these comments theres a link to Calculating the Odds... Gerhard made a comment there that I took to mean something very much like your idea.
    Gerhard Adam
    There are a couple of more philosophical problems with this perspective than simply the evolution of intelligent life.

    In the first instance, we only have one demonstrable case of intelligent life evolving.  However, we have to be careful to not infer that this was an "objective" of evolution, therefore we have to consider the possibility that it was an "accident" whose biological merit has not yet been established.  Even if we argue about our success in populating the planet, there are many species that experience such population bursts, but they don't require "intelligence" to do so and they never last.

    Additionally we have to consider what the probability is of actually being able to detect and communicate with another intelligent species at the same time interval where our technologies would align. 

    However, perhaps the most important consideration is our implicit assumption that intelligence necessarily translates into the scientific method and the desire to communicate with others.  Once again, we have to consider how long we (as humans) have embraced the scientific method as contrasted with our total time on earth. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I think you should also consider the age of the universe. Humans have lived on Earth into the thousands of years, but the universe is 14 billion years old. Imagine a society with merely 10,000 years on us. Assuming they had intellegent life develop in even a similar way to us, where would they be compared to us with a 10,000 year head start?

    Gerhard Adam
    ...where would they be compared to us with a 10,000 year head start?
    Probably extinct.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Daniel
    Gerhard, Steve,
    I was reading Gerhard comments to calculationg the odds... and I got amazed about his knowledge and logical way of thinking ...and patience.  I could not find the comment where a similar idea than mine was explained, but it does not matter, I'm not looking for a having a primicia (wouldn't have share it), but I want to know more about this.

    About your comments Gerhard, I think you are very right about the conclusions of Prof Andrew Watson.  Only point here would be that it seems to me tht even the smallest (not cero) probability multiplied by "infinity" would result perhaps in "Life on other Earth-like planets... is probable".  To be honest, I think he would have to have done a deep mathematical analysis, which I haven't, then I wrote "perhaps".  If he would have said "Life on other Earth-like planets, for example, is possible in a finite portion of the universe, but not probable", I would totally agree with that.

    Also your philosophical considerations I found them very logical and agree with them very much. 

    what I wanted to explain, and I want to make clear this is not a belief or a "want it would be" or "like it would be", as an idea (as a mental experiment), is that if there is a natural law by which matter gets complex and organized as time pases (even at a very slow pace), then it is very probable that as a result inteligent living organisms would result, such as us or even more inteligent, not as an accident but as an unavoidable result.  Again, I am not saying that this is something that it has to be like that because of god or somebody having planned it since the beginning etc; I am saying that it could be, as any other possibility could. 

    Gerhard Adam
    I would suggest you read Dave Deamer's posts for some interesting discussions regarding the origins of life and the chemistry involved.

    Prebiotic Simulations Show That Organic Compounds Were Present On Early Earth
    Volcanic Chemistry And Hydrocarbons In Early Earth History
    Stirring The Volcanic Pot For A Hydrothermal Origin Of Life
    Life: An Icy Origin?

    There are others, but this should get you started.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Just to expand on something only lightly touched on (for my own amusement at least)

    This .01 percent chance of intelligent life (unknowable but sounds reasonable enough) applies of course to Earth like planets only, the likelyhood of any particular solar system containing an Earth is far smaller than this:

    We don't know how big the universe actually is, but taking the observable universe we have an
    estimate of I think 9 billion trillion (9,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) stars?

    21 zeros almost seems like a practical infinity- but when we start dividing for known hurdles to forming Earth-like planets they start to dissapear.- some of these are very rough- but just for argument-

    only 10 percent solar systems lie in Galactic habitable zone (take off 1 zero)
    needs to stay there-circular orbit & correct speed
    only 10 percent have protoplanetary disks not blown away by radiation
    small percentage are single systems (1 star not multiple)
    small percentage are Sun-like (not to hot/short lived or small/cold)
    only 5% of these remaining systems observed have Jupiter-like gas giant to shield inner system from meteors

    now you have a decent solar system- you need a perfect inner rocky planet
    has to fit right in the habitable zone (decent chance)
    but very small chance of circular orbit- most other systems observed are eccentric
    You need a single very large moon to stabilize wobbles-(almost freakishly unlikely?)
    correct elements for atmosphere/oceans- no tidal locking to Sun, tectonic activity/ molten core-magnetic field etc etc

    what you're left with may well be a very small number of probable Earths- it depends
    on more accurate numbers- and any other unknown or overlooked factors- and the actual sie of the total universe.
    But the chances of one of these occuring close enough to detect, with intelligent life, at the same time as us?

    My money would be on no contact ever between two planets' intelligent life?

    Daniel
    If you are a smart gambler, you would rather be pesimistic when betting your money.

    In engineering, when you make a pure technical judgment you should be pesimistic to make sure you are preventing any risk.

    but very small chance of circular orbit- most other systems observed are eccentric
    Is this because we are observing stars which are representative of the total universe star population or it is as a result of our detection methods or procedures limitation, for instance we are watching tiny star displacements derived from an eccentric orbit, then concluding that there is an orbiting planet, but for the circular orbit planets there is no such tiny displacements so even they may exist we do not have a suitable technology to detect them.
    I think the major issue is that a life potential bearing planet (LPBP) would need to go through each step 0.01% chance. Even if you have nearly infinity of them, it only takes one step to go wrong and no intelligent life would be produced. So perhaps 1 lot of intel life per universe is about right.

    Of course there are other key things that we should note: extinction. A LPBP would also need to be in a safe zone away from supernovaes and asteroids etc. All of these would undermine the chances even further.

    I'd suggest that life of our kind is so rare that we'll be infinitely lucky to ever find 1 more type like us or better than us. And since predators are more intelligent that life is likely to be dangerous. Perhaps that's why they are in another galaxy far far away, and we'll never meet them.

    I am new to all this talk but I am a statistician. I looked at this yesterday and found this blog very interesting. I then looked at other information and learned about Drake's equation. I like Drake's Equation because I understand it. So, I think generally science is saying that we expect from 2-200 other planets with earth-like beings, broadcasting their existence in our galaxy (order of magnitude.) Recognizing that there are 100 billion galaxies, I conclude that we are not alone. My question is related to communication between other beings. If earth broadcasted our existence to to entire Milky Way galaxy, how fast would that broadcast travel? The speed of light? If it were the speed of light, then am I correct that we would only reach a small fraction of our galaxy (< %5) in 10,000 years (about the length of time humans have existed?) This also recognizes that at the speed of light, we would practically never be able to communicate outside the Milky Way. The distance is amazingly far and Drake does not account for this. Any insight?

    All that I have read is based on the assumption that we as humans are capable of knowing or learning about everything. That is a very arrogant approach to take, I am firmly of the belief that the more we learn the less we know. We have so called experts on all that we have learned, But in no way does that mean that they know everything about anything. why is that ?? it is simply because that when we learn something about anything, we discover that there is always something else that we did not know about that particular subject. Hence when we state firmly that there is no possibilty of there not being another life bearing planet, what we really are saying is, that to date with what we have learned is merely a miniscule part of what we should know, before we even begin to say someting is not possible. Example, we have learned somethings about our Planet, do we know everything about it, NO, will we ever know everything about our planet, the answer is no we wont. Why because this planet is constantly changing. As indeed is the universe, we will learn many things, we will never with any certainty truthfully be able say that we know everything about anything.

    Gerhard Adam
    This isn't about knowing everything.  It's simply about assessing the probabilities (based on the large number of possible worlds) and trying to make a determination of whether such life as we know it has a possibility of existing.

    Until we know far more about what that takes, we can only use our own experience which, to date, has established that there is only one world with life on it.  As trivial as that sounds, it is actually a positive sign, because that means the probability of life evolving in the universe is 100%.  Whether that translates into life evolving on another planet is yet to be seen.
    Mundus vult decipi
    As a responsible scientist you must be skeptical, so your conclusion is based on the evidence, knowledge and experience we can say that possibility of life similar to us in the whole universe is close to zero or zero. On the other hand, by using a different approach you would conclude that you cannot say that ther is no possibility of life similar to us in the universe; if hipotetically you were requested to asses the risk of finding intelligent life for a hipotetical human mission in a far remote zone of the universe, asuming of course that a breakthrough discovery / invention is made to let humans go there in reasonable ways and time, you would find that based on limited evidence, limited ways to collect effectively more evidence of remote regions of universe, limited knowledge and experience you could not in a responsible way say that there is no risk of finding intelligent life.

    Gerhard Adam
    Basically my point is that if it occurred once, there's a much higher chance that it occurred twice (or more often).  However, until we have more evidence, then it's simply speculation.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I just read about a statistical analysis which was done on the DNA of various types of life on earth. The analysis showed that it is much more likely that all life on earth has a common ancestor than that life occurred independently multiple times and has no common ancestor. I don't know much about the analysis, but if it is correct, and life only occurred once independently on earth, then your statement would clearly be "in play".

    Certainly we tend to think that if something happened once, it could happen again; But I don't think it actually improves the chances of it happening again. It seems to me that if life only occurred once independently that we really can't say much at all about the likelihood of it occurring somewhere else in the universe. We could have had the best possible conditions for life, the worst possible conditions, or somewhere in between. We simply don't know. Further, if we had the worst conditions, that would lead us to think that life is quite easy to make. If we had the best conditions, that would lead us to think that life is very hard indeed to make .

    It seems to me that we would have much more information if we found that life had more than one independent occurrence on earth. Take for example the idea that all life on earth has DNA that twists in one direction. From this alone we can not conclude more than that life occurred independently at least once. It could have occurred many times, but we can only confirm one independent occurrence. Under these circumstances, we can make some estimate of the comparative probability of one or many occurrences. That estimate goes something like this:

    If life occurred independently only once then the probability of all DNA having the same twist is 1. In other words, it can't happen any other way.

    On the other hand if life occurred independently more than once, the probability of all the DNA having the same twist is the sum of the probabilities of all the possible numbers of times life could have occurred independently.

    2 occurrences could yield twists of Left, Left; or left, right; or right left; or right right. 2 of these combinations yield "single twist" and 2 yield "double twist". Therefore the probability of getting a single twist from 2 independent occurrences is 0.5 (1/2).

    You can work out the probability of getting a single twist for any number of occurrences. Here is a list of a few of the probabilities:

    2 yields 1/2
    3 yields 1/4
    4 yields 1/8
    5 yields 1/16

    This gives you a series of sums which aid in getting at the sum of all possible numbers of occurrences which looks like this

    2 yields 1/2
    2+3 yields 3/4
    2+3+4 yields 7/8
    2+3+4+5 YIELDS 15/16

    So, as we continue to add the individual probabilities, the sum tends toward 1 as a limit.

    Thus, with only one twist present in earthbound DNA, the probability that life occurred only once independently is exactly equal to the probability that life occurred more than once independently. This is, of course, in the absence of any better information (such as the statistical analysis mentioned in the first paragraph).

    To me this means that there is a 50:50 chance that life is relatively easy to make, and a 50:50 chance that life may be somewhere between hard and near impossible to make. To my knowledge nobody has cranked this little tidbit into any of their estimates of the number of planets in the universe having life. If anybody knows of somebody else who has presented this analysis, I would be very interested to read what they have written about it.

    Glen Stone

    I just read about a statistical analysis which was done on the DNA of various types of life on earth. The analysis showed that it is much more likely that all life on earth has a common ancestor than that life occurred independently multiple times and has no common ancestor. I don't know much about the analysis, but if it is correct, and life only occurred once independently on earth, then your statement would clearly be "in play".

    Certainly we tend to think that if something happened once, it could happen again; But I don't think it actually improves the chances of it happening again. It seems to me that if life only occurred once independently that we really can't say much at all about the likelihood of it occurring somewhere else in the universe. We could have had the best possible conditions for life, the worst possible conditions, or somewhere in between. We simply don't know. Further, if we had the worst conditions, that would lead us to think that life is quite easy to make. If we had the best conditions, that would lead us to think that life is very hard indeed to make .

    It seems to me that we would have much more information if we found that life had more than one independent occurrence on earth. Take for example the idea that all life on earth has DNA that twists in one direction. From this alone we can not conclude more than that life occurred independently at least once. It could have occurred many times, but we can only confirm one independent occurrence. Under these circumstances, we can make some estimate of the comparative probability of one or many occurrences. That estimate goes something like this:

    If life occurred independently only once then the probability of all DNA having the same twist is 1. In other words, it can't happen any other way.

    On the other hand if life occurred independently more than once, the probability of all the DNA having the same twist is the sum of the probabilities of all the possible numbers of times life could have occurred independently.

    2 occurrences could yield twists of Left, Left; or left, right; or right left; or right right. 2 of these combinations yield "single twist" and 2 yield "double twist". Therefore the probability of getting a single twist from 2 independent occurrences is 0.5 (1/2).

    You can work out the probability of getting a single twist for any number of occurrences. Here is a list of a few of the probabilities:

    2 yields 1/2
    3 yields 1/4
    4 yields 1/8
    5 yields 1/16

    This gives you a series of sums which aid in getting at the sum of all possible numbers of occurrences which looks like this

    2 yields 1/2
    2+3 yields 3/4
    2+3+4 yields 7/8
    2+3+4+5 YIELDS 15/16

    So, as we continue to add the individual probabilities, the sum tends toward 1 as a limit.

    Thus, with only one twist present in earthbound DNA, the probability that life occurred only once independently is exactly equal to the probability that life occurred more than once independently. This is, of course, in the absence of any better information (such as the statistical analysis mentioned in the first paragraph).

    To me this means that there is a 50:50 chance that life is relatively easy to make, and a 50:50 chance that life may be somewhere between hard and near impossible to make. To my knowledge nobody has cranked this little tidbit into any of their estimates of the number of planets in the universe having life. If anybody knows of somebody else who has presented this analysis, I would be very interested to read what they have written about it.

    Glen Stone

    Gerhard Adam
    However, one also has to consider the possibility that we may discover that life existed someplace, but no longer does.  While that would make the case clearly strong for more planets bearing life, it also raises the problem of not knowing how long life is expected to last on a universal scale.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Daniel
    Or perhaps life has (will) appeared and disappeared several times in the universe, in different places.  Very interesting idea.
    Alright well I've read some of these comments and the most reasonable thing i can come up with is this, there are 3 things a planet needs to sustain life. A liquid core, for magnetic poles, an atmosphere (not to thick or it'll be like venus, and if there isn't enough atmosphere it'll be like mars), and a way of defending itself from the nature occurrences in space i.e. meteoroids.

    Now one thing also stood out...why should another planet need these three things? Look at the bottom of the ocean where organisms get no sun year round and they're under extreme pressure yet life is there. Life doesn't just happen...if there's an opening for life to occur anywhere in the universe life will STRIVE to exist. Even if this means adapting.

    This is my last point, probability. This article is honestly, and i know a lot of people will disagree, cannot be right. Probability cannot exist in infinity, because if there's an infinite amount of planets ( since the universe is infinite, as we know right now) then 0.01% means nothing since there are so many planets. There are BILLIONS among TRILLIONS among BILLIONS of galaxies, and within each galaxy there are BILLIONS among TRILLIONS of stars, all of which has the possibility of planets orbiting around a star, and all of those planets have the ability to support life.

    I can honestly say that not one man that has, is, or ever will walk on this planet will ever be able to wrap their mind around how big the place we live in is. As for me I believe there is other live out the universe, no matter how far away they are there is an advanced civilization out there.

    Hope this kinda helped..

    Gerhard Adam
    ...why should another planet need these three things?
    First of all, it may need more than that (like a relatively large moon to help stabilize the orbit), but that's beside the main point.  You cannot look at the adaptations that life has taken.  You must consider the specific conditions that give rise to life first (which presently aren't even known).  Once life occurs, then adaptations can occur to cope with harsher environments.

    Part of the problem is that if the environment is too extreme then either too much energy, or not enough is available to form the necessary complex molecules to begin the process.  So it does matter.
    ...because if there's an infinite amount of planets
    Actually there aren't.  The known universe is finite with expansion occurring.  This means that many worlds are moving away from us and out of our ability to ever know anything about them (i.e. they're moving outside of our horizon).  In addition, a recent paper suggests that only about 10% of the planets may be earth-like enough to even be considered.  While this is still a large number, it by no means creates any type of assurance. 
    "With the universe undergoing an accelerated expansion, all life forms on other galaxies accelerate away from us. As these life forms recede away at ever faster rate, one-by-one they cross our cosmic horizon and disappear out of our existence (and we out of theirs)."
    http://www.scientificblogging.com/comments/29511/Hi_Tiff_want_throw

    As for me I believe there is other live out the universe, no matter how
    far away they are there is an advanced civilization out there.
    That's fine to believe it, but I wouldn't hold my breath on the probability of it being true.  Life is one thing, with a much higher likelihood of microbial life than anything else.  As for an advanced civilization, I would say the odds are extremely poor.  All you have to do is examine all the species on this planet and consider how many achieved an advanced civilization.  That will give you an idea of how poor those odds really are.  With millions of species and billions of years, exactly one.  Those don't sound like good odds.  They're even worse when you consider how small the window is during which a communication opportunity would exist.  In our own case, it's only been over the past 100 years or so.  Very tiny opportunity, indeed.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Interesting posts on this topic of life beyond our own little slice of the cosmos. My thoughts are simply this, with respect to humans having evolved to the level of complexity we have when compared to the age of Earth it surely is a blip on the radar. Much like the dinosaurs before us, I wonder what creatures will dig our bones up from the ground in a hundred thousand years to display in their museums.
    What I can say from being graced with 40 years here on Earth whipping around the Sun is this - rarely are things in the universe singular events. As such, I find it hard to believe somewhere there is another planet going about its cosmic business inhabitants and all, be what they may, looking out into a star filled sky pondering who (what) else is out there. Rare it may be, impossible I don't believe is the case.

    Gerhard Adam
    Rare it may be, impossible I don't believe is the case.
    I suspect you're right.  Microbial life certainly seems fairly plausible and intelligent life is certainly possible given that we know it's happened at least once (so we know it's not impossible). 

    However, when we begin thinking about being in the same time window so that communications are possible, then we are becoming less and less likely to find contacts.   In my view that's a good thing, because after simply answering the question of life as a point of curiosity, I can see nothing except grief coming from any attempt at actual contact.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The Professors rightly answers this question with a model of mathematical probability. We calculate mathematical probability because of the unknown factors involved to derive a sensible conclusion.
    Is there a technology or way of thinking to discover such answers that are simply too profound for our level of intellect, and thus beyond our comprehension?

    Does relying on math alone limit our way of discovering new answers?

    Richard King
    As I recall, Isaac Asimov and a co-author published a book in the 1960s, or thereabouts, on the probability of there being planets for earth type life. Unfortunately, I can neither remember the title, or the other author, though may have a copy, somewhere - many packed away and "buried" books, for various reasons.

    Since then, my knowledge and understanding have moved on, very considerably, in many ways; I am no longer constrained by the scientific knowledge and understanding of life.
    You may be thinking of Intelligent Life in the Universe, by Shklovskii and annotated in the West by Sagan.

    Aitch
    Was it 'Races and People' by Asimov and William C Boyd?....I think pre 1960, though

    or 'Planets for Man' by Steven H Dole and Asimov 1964

    Both were in my reading list as a youngster

    I know what you mean about no longer being constrained...

    Aitch
    Richard King
    "You may be thinking of Intelligent Life in the Universe, by Shklovskii and annotated in the West by Sagan."

    No; defintely by Isaac Asimov and someone else, I can almost "see" the cover. I do not recall reading anything much by Carl Sagan, definittely not a book; he is not my type of author.

    There are Russian authors who interest me and their work is connected with life, though not  other planets and it is beyond the understanding and acceptance of mainstreamers.

    I *heard/saw* Professor Asimov give this lecture at Boston University in 1969-70, long before anybody else was talking this way... Carl Sagan apparently picked it up from him. I wish I knew the book title... would love to pass it on!!! Please keep trying to figure it out!!!

    How is this even a topic. We on earth are the most self centered things imaginable. You really believe that we are so special and the Universe is only capable of squeezing out one inhabitable planet. If it exists in one place it probably does somewhere else not in the same form, but alive). The only scientific answer right now is "we don't know".

    ultimately this would explain the Fermi paradox (or at least be a strong contributing factor).

    When you zoom in on the probability of "primordial soup" to complex life evolution you're dealing with chances that are less than 1/10^200. There are only 10^80 atoms in the universe. Very rare becomes impossible at 1/10^80 chances. Mathematicians have come to the conclusion that anything with less chance than 1/10^80 is impossible. Therefore Earth existing itself is extremely impossible, so the chances of complex life evolving elsewhere is mathematically impossible. The only reason we exist is because of the living God who created us with a purpose, and that purpose is to know Him and to delight in being His, because He loves all of mankind. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 God loves you guys!

    Gerhard Adam
    Please don't insult us by trying to be scientific...
    Mundus vult decipi
    Rod Rose
    Did Joel just say that Earth is mathematically impossible, or am I merely very tired?
    Gerhard Adam
    Yep, since the Earth is impossible, then the only possible explanation is magic.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You guys are very intelligent and I have enjoyed reading your discussions, and I'm not trying to insult you at all. Everything you are talking about is based on the assumption of our current evolutionary model. For life to exist on other planets all of the factors that are characteristic of a habitable planet have to combine on that planet at the right time, similar to ours. I was just pointing out that the probability of our planet existing with complex life like this is not just a small chance, it is a statistical and mathematical impossibility based on the definition that any odds worse than 1:10^80 is absurd or impossible (it is based on the estimation of 10^80 atoms in the universe). Of course this is difficult to quantify, but I have heard very conservative estimates that our chances of existing are 1:10^200 based on our modern explanation for existence of life. Your assumption is basically, because it happened here then it can happen elsewhere, but you are assuming that life came about here by that evolutionary model that is mathematically impossible.

    Gerhard Adam
    Your reasoning is faulty.  The probability is not 1:10^200.  It is 1, because it happened. 

    Similarly the original assumption of calculating such a large improbability is based on the assumption of a completely random assembly coming together to form some particular life (although that isn't exactly clear).  In fact, nothing of the sort happened, since the origins of life would be incremental with a building up of items leading to increasing complexity (which does NOT have to re-occur every time).  It would be like trying to draw a Royal Flush with multiple hands, but being allowed to keep face cards that are pertinent.  It isn't nearly as improbable as it might seem.

    Other examples are the preposterous ideas like a tornado stirring up a junkyard and producing a 747.  That isn't only a bad analogy, it isn't representative at any level.

    The reality is that the processes involved aren't nearly as random as you think since there are laws that govern which chemical reactions can occur, so it isn't simply that some arbitrary number of chemicals have to be accounted for.  It's true that an explanation isn't yet available that describes the actual processes that likely occurred, but that doesn't make them impossible.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Why are we being so Earth-centric? It should be conceded that the likelihood of life on Earth-like planets is slim to none. But that completely assumes that life has to be Earth-like! Just as ants are unaware of higher structures of being, is it not possible that we are unaware of many 'forms of life' that could exist but are not accounted for in our crude model?!?

    There should be no real answer at this time--only an "I don't know"

    Gerhard Adam
    Just as ants are unaware of higher structures of being, is it not possible that we are unaware of many 'forms of life' that could exist but are not accounted for in our crude model
    What is your basis for making this statement?  Ants are clearly aware of such higher life forms when they attack it if their colony is threatened.  The fact that they lack the intellectual capacity to contemplate it is largely irrelevant.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Once technology has reached the point where DNA can be manipulated and restructured all bets are off. Intelligence can be increased a thousand fold. And then a hundred thousand fold after that. Ageing can be eliminated. Bodies can be transformed into anythng - trees, electrons, shafts of light, which would render extra-stellar transportation posible - even if post light travel is not possible (I think it is ). And even though our technological age is barely a hundred years along, we have already begun to do it, albeit in primative baby-step ways.

    Gerhard Adam
    You're proposing changes to things you can't even properly define, let alone explain what it would achieve.  If you truly believe that intelligence can increase a thousand fold, then you've demonstrated that you understand absolutely nothing about biology and natural selection.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Artificial selection. Requiring scientific breakthroughs in areas not yet known.

    Gerhard Adam
    Never happen .... how many orders of magnitude do you think mark the difference between humans and chimpanzees?  If you consider that, then imagine the difference between the first 100 humans that could possibly achieve a 1000-fold increase in intelligence and tell me what the likelihood is that there would be a second set of 100 humans.  Most assuredly one side wouldn't survive the transition.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Here is still another way of looking for planets with possible life on them.

    I came across this interesting theory today while reading an article about the Oort Cloud at Space.com. The Oort Cloud completely surrounds the Sol System and is comprised of Ice Dwarfs and Frozen Cometary Nuclei. Ice Dwarfs are made of ice which is made of frozen water, comets are comprised of a myriad of materials but what both of these space objects have in common is their reflective nature.When photons are emitted from the Sun they are traveling at light speed. Even at this speed they cannot penetrate the Oort Cloud completely where maybe 80-90% of the photons are reflected back into the Sol System in all directions until they are absorbed or continue to bounce or reflect off of the Oort Cloud. With all of these photons bouncing around would create a convection style oven. The photons are emitted by the Sun and are trapped inside of the Oort Cloud's interior boundary thus heating up the inside of the Oort Cloud jsut as an oven heats up the inside of a loaf of bread that rises to a certain size. The same happens with life in a solar system such as Earth. The photons remain trapped within the interior of the Oort Cloud causing the temperature inside of this sphere to raise just enough to allow life to be sustained. We could use how light reflects off of the Oort Cloud to locate other possible habitable systems based on the fact that the same interaction that created life here on Earth would be present inside of a similar cloud made of ice dwarfs and cometary nuclei that would surround a star similar to ours.

    I look up at the sky as many people do and I question…The fact is that I don’t even know what the question really is! Why are we here? Are there more of us? Are we here by some cosmic mistake or here by some grand design? I have a feeling… That’s right, a feeling. By the way it’s all anyone has whether they want to admit it or not. There is no science or religion to explain anything. When it comes down to it I suppose there is only one question. Are we significant or insignificant? My feeling is there is purpose to the universe and it is teaming with life in its infinite galaxies filed with billions of suns. It might be that every sun has earth-like planets because life, I believe, is the rule and not the exception. The Alpha Centauri B system, which is the closet system to ours at about 4.5 light years away, could indeed have a terrestrial planet in the habitable zone. If that’s the case then that could imply that terrestrial planets tend to occur in the habitable zones of stars... So, I believe that life is abundant and wonderfully meaningful within a magnificent and awesome universe.

    My herethrough proposition is that wherath we shalln't be subsequent to the gravitational forces proposed by modern scientologists are completely irrelevant oneforth that of jupiter.

    Aitch
    I am reminded of an ancient eastern story

    A woman was seen out in the street on her hands and knees, and a passer-by asked what she was doing so late in the street?
    She explained that she had lost a needle and badly needed it to finish something she was sowing, so the passer-by get down on his knees to help
    Soon a third person arrived and enquired what was happening, and the passer-by explained that he was helping this poor woman to find her needle
    Then a fourth and a fifth person joined in looking
    Eventually, the first passer-by asked the woman, 'It would perhaps be more helpful if we concentrate the search where you dropped the needle?'
    'Indeed it would replied the woman....I lost the needle in my house, over there'
    'Then why are you on your knees over here searching for it?' he asked
    'Ah, that is because over there in the house, it was dark, but outside here in the beautiful moonlight, I can see to search more easily'

    The moral of the story is that one has to know where what is lost, was lost, in order to know where to look, to find it

    ....and we are looking 'out there' for intelligent life.....?

    We first must know where to find it....

    Aitch
    Larry Arnold
    Ah but what about "life, but not as we know it, Jim"?

    The definitions of life and intelligence are both human artefacts, born of what we know, and limited by what we can know.

    To posit alternative but sustainable intelligences needs some flexibility, perhaps the flexibility of a Science Fiction Author, I refer you to "Out of the Sun" by Arthur C Clarke. Go google .........

    This is simply the modern day equivalent of the belief that earth is the center of the universe. Yes, humans are so very, very special. Right...

    Larry Arnold
    Ah but I am the centre of the universe even if I were on the other side because it all moves relative to me, just as when I move from my bedroom to my bathroom, not just my flat but the entire Universe shifts to re-arrange the paradigm, a very neat trick :)
    Daniel
    Hey Gerhard,
     
    You said in January:
    Basically my point is that if it occurred once, there's a much higher chance that it occurred twice (or more often).  However, until we have more evidence, then it's simply speculation.

    Now BBC reports that
    Prof (Stephen) Hawking said: "To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational.

    So what for you is simply speculation, for Prof Hawking is perfectly rational; I quoted exactly to avoid any speculation.

    I am sure you will manage to make the two comments perfectly consistent :)
    Gerhard Adam
    Prof (Stephen) Hawking said: "To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational.
    I would agree that it is a rational thought, but that doesn't render it any more probable.  The primary point is that Hawking is indicating that it isn't some outlandish idea.  It clearly isn't an impossibility, nor is it based on some major scientific aberration. 

    We may feel optimistic or pessimistic regarding the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and it would change even more so when we add the element of intelligence and civilization.  However, there is nothing to suggest that such life exists, however it is rational to postulate that it might and even that it might be probable (that's where our respective speculative points of view come in).

    Once again, to reiterate, my problem occurs when we take speculation and feed into into a purported probability equation (which it isn't) and then when we arrive at some number which is completely made up, conclude that it is a virtual certainty that intelligent civilizations exist.  It would be equally effective to use a Ouija board for all the credibility that such an approach has. 

    However, since life does exist on earth and it clearly has evolved over hundreds of millions of years, then it is reasonable and rational to suspect that it may well have occurred somewhere else in the universe under the proper conditions.  But what does this mean?  It simply means that we hold a positive view (i.e. the probability that the probability of extraterrestrial life is greater than 0).  This doesn't make it a certainty and our speculation occurs because we believe the probability is greater than 0 without any evidence to suggest that it should be.

    Note that even in the last paragraph there are some significant suppositions that lack evidence.  I would speculate that the probability of life is greater than 0, however I'm less inclined to suggest that regarding intelligent life or civilizations.  Even in considering such "intelligent" life on earth, what would it mean if we did destroy ourselves?  Is there a finite probability that other intelligent life would form in a similar manner?  If we believe that then are we not guilty of assigning a directionality to evolution (which is another reason I'm not so optimistic about alien intelligence)? 

    If I were to ask you to speculate about two different probabilities;  (1) the probability that we'll make contact with an intelligent alien species and (2) the probability that humans will end up going extinct because of their own activities.  Which probability is higher in your view?   If it is the second point, then what does that say about the first?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Larry Arnold
    There is I suppose the possibility that sustainable intelligent life elsewhere is sustainable simply because it has not invested in the technologies necessary to get off the planet that have a strong probability of destroying the civilisation before they ever do get off the planet.

    There is more to interplanetary travel than merely being able to conceive of and design a technology to do it (presumably more advanced than ours) there is the necessity for the resources to build and sustain such energy consuming technologies, which I presume would need a certain level of industrialisation and population to allow innovation.
    Daniel
    Interesting comments and interesting conclusion:

    Pure speculation validated by rational thinking could be a good think after all (it could be what drives more scientific progress).
     
    I am not sure that the fact that we could end up destroying ourselves contradicts the directionality of evolution.  Without going into details, I think we can rationally speculate that evolution is a force in nature that as time passes it would lead to more and more complexity and organization (opposite to entropy, but related to it, since entropy makes the "creative destruction" in the sense of Greenspan says about market force.

    Again, more speculation; let's put human history as background, civilization has lead humans to progress and development by a more efficient usage of natural resources; as progress has increased wealthy societies become more sophisticated and vulnerable because society reach little by little a point or limit in which more progress cannot be done easily and on the contrary society enters a confort zone with very little margin if natural resources output is reduced.  In this condition a natural disaster or very likely a war, since competition by the resource becomes very intense had leaded to civilizations collapse in the past.

    Our current time is not an exception; thanks to the green revolution and other technological innovations productivity has increased several times and a world war has been out of the horizon for long time, but we are damaging the environment and with the rise of China and other big economies the balance between food demand and production is becoming critical.  Of course a breakthrough technological innovation could lead to a new green revolution etc., but eventually a natural disaster (i.e. due to environment damage) or a world wide war could eliminate us or dramatically reduce population and civilization progress.

    If Humans survive such a catastrophe, perhaps survivors would face very tough conditions and somehow (again speculation) would evolve to a more environment friendly society.  If not survive, within some millions of years a new intelligent species could arise.

    If this process happens in different planets at different times, eventually an intelligent form of life which can survive its own trend to self destruction or before the planet destroys itself.  Of course there is a lot of speculation in this, whether it is based on rational thinking...let's see.
    I would just like to say thank-you to all who have added comments to this subject. It is an honor to learn from so many intellilgent people. Of course we won't know the answer in our lifetime but It gives me hope that we indeed do have a future.

    I do not know whether there is life on other planets or not but it seems this universe belongs to us and sooner (maybe in next 10 millions years) it will be fully colonized by human beings.Good news is in next 10 millions years there wont be any government,no currency!! we all humans will be like superman - immortal. everything will be prevented rather then cured --it means -no crimes,no physical sufferings.There will be no hospitals,no universities or schools and no vehicles,no courts and no cops.We will be totally controlled by massive giant computers (built by us).Almost everything will be free.We will be back to some what stone age ----- only difference very advanced.We will be able to travel at light speed or even faster but not in any vehicle but in invisible energy crested by us.Sports wont exist as everyone will be a superman itself.Life may become more lonely and boring as we will become slave of these massive giant computers.Emotions will be there but our behavior will be controlled.There will be less attachment and family life may not exist..So what we will live for -- at present we live to look after our family and and work to buy all the necessities in life but if everything is free and we will never die then what we live for??? We will do what other species on planet earth does that is eat,travel and enjoy life. more to come soon...................

    10 milion years from now? If we survive that long, I'm guessing it won't be as organic beings - especially if we're surfing around the universe on light beams ;-)

    David

    Until we fully understand how life started on this planet how can we even try to begin to predict the probability of life arising on another planet?

    Dave Deamer

    "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

    The White Queen, in Through the Looking Glass.


    We often see statements that life has only one in ten to the umpteenth chance of beginning, so it could only happen by design. Quoting Joel's earlier comment, "When you zoom in on the probability of "primordial soup" to complex life evolution you're dealing with chances that are less than 1/10^200. There are only 10^80 atoms in the universe. Very rare becomes impossible at 1/10^80 chances. Mathematicians have come to the conclusion that anything with less chance than 1/10^80 is impossible."

    William Paley first used this argument in 1802, noting that finding a watch in a field is so improbable that one can only conclude the watch had a maker. But like the Queen, I can believe some seemingly impossible things before breakfast, and even observe them for myself after lunch. For instance, I believe in micelles, even though the probability of one ever assembling by chance is ten to the umpteenth power. When I want to confirm my belief in micelles, I make a solution of 10 mM SDS. This is an abbreviation for sodium dodecyl sulfate, which is CH3-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2--CH2-CH2-CH2-SO4- Na+. There is nothing exotic about such molecules. You might wash your dishes with this particular detergent. The solution is perfectly clear, and if you could see the molecules in solution they would appear to be randomly distributed. But if I double the SDS concentration to 20 mM, something almost magical happens: the individual molecules no longer go into solution, but instead assemble into micelles. If I did this experiment in my lab, I could use a sensitive instrument to measure light scattering by the solution, which would markedly increase as micelles began to form.

    Each micelle is a globular assembly of around 80 molecules with their oily hydrocarbon chains pointing inward and sulfate groups on the surface, where they interact with the surrounding water. The formation of micelles is one of the simplest processes of self-assembly driven by weak physical forces. Other such processes include lipid bilayer formation to produce cell membranes, hydrogen bonding between base pairs that assembles the double helix of DNA, and the folding of peptide chains into the functional configurations of enzymes and other proteins.

     Now let's calculate the odds of a single micelle forming. Each SDS molecule can either be in the micelle, occupying a volume of ~60 cubic nanometers, or it can be in the solution surrounding a given micelle which has a volume of ~25,000 cubic nanometers. Therefore, if we assume (erroneously) that the position of each molecule is always governed by the laws of probability, the chance that an SDS molecule will occupy the volume of a micelle is 60/25,000, or about one in 400.yes">  Now let's calculate the odds that 80 SDS molecules will happen to occupy that volume simultaneously. A quick calculation gives (1/400)^80. Micelles can't possibly exist! Yet not just one, but enormous numbers of micelles form in the solution simply by doubling the concentration of the detergent. The lesson is that the laws of chemistry and physics are not necessarily governed by the mathematics of probability. If you make the erroneous assumption that they are, you will be forced to believe that every micelle in the detergent you use to wash your dishes must have been designed.

    The same lesson applies to the origin of life. A reasonable hypothesis is that self-ordering processes on the early Earth produced complex assemblies of organic molecules, and that one or a few of these happened to be able to grow by polymerization and then to reproduce. We don't know how that happened yet, but recall that 60 years ago the structure of DNA and its replication mechanism were equally mysterious. My guess is that 60 years from now we will not only understand how life can begin, but we will be able to use that knowledge to synthesize artificial cells and apply them in biotechnology.

    What about life elsewhere? The laws of chemistry and physics are universal, so I think we can reasonably expect simple forms of life resembling bacteria to appear wherever there is an Earth-like planet with abundant liquid water, sunlight and organic compounds. But as Andrew Watson pointed out, the jump from microbial life to intelligent life required more than 3 billion years, and there is no guarantee that evolution inevitably leads to consciousness in living organisms. For this, and many other reasons, I am pretty pessimistic about our chances of detecting signals from other forms of intelligent life, even though I fully support SETI's attempt to do so. It would be truly wonderful if they someday prove my pessimism to be unjustified.






    Gerhard Adam
    William Paley first used this argument in 1802, noting that finding a watch in a field is so improbable that one can only conclude the watch had a maker.
    Having heard this comment numerous times, I'm surprised that no one has responded with an obvious corollary.

    Finding such a watch would be highly improbable and lead one to conclude in a maker or designer.  However, if one observed thousands of such watches scattered over the landscape and saw how each one was slightly different from the previous one while still retaining the basic design.  In addition, when this is coupled with the observation that these watches apparently can congregate together to produce newer watches, which are decidedly similar to the original ones, it becomes a completely different problem.

    Add to this the findings of older more primitive watches that seem to be the precursors to the modern watches, one would be forced to conclude that watches are not at all improbable and that there is clearly some mechanism at work that allows them to evolve and continue on without external intervention.  To extend the analogy even farther, then let's imagine that we have a whole series of springs and gears that have an independent existence and also thrive, we would be forced to consider that such apparently disconnected springs and gears must have come together at some point to create a more complex object (i.e. the watch).

    Of course, this comparison could go on and on.  The problem with Paley's argument is that it would be completely true of biology if we happened across a single organism and no others.  In that case, one would certainly be hard-pressed to argue against design since there are no connections into the past, nor into the future.  Such a singular random event, would truly be unlikely.  Fortunately, that's not what biology tells us.
    Mundus vult decipi
    “Imagine…a series of springs and gears”
    “Imagine” is a good start here. If you do have such a ‘finding’ then who set up the factory that made them? To say that they are independent and can make babies stretches “imagine” way too far. Any item or even situation that smacks to us of information requires that we can (or desire to) find the intelligence behind it. Behe uses this in his irreducible complexity idea so too does Dembski and Meyer. We seem to be like creatures buried in the business of the world and not able to see the forest for the trees. Everything around us screams of design…not chance! Randomness is OK (to a limited point) but too randomness is not chance (in my book). Chance allows for ALL possibilities, randomness allows only certain choices within a selection set. I’m going to assume that you understand the constants in ‘nature’ (such as what Martin Rees has provided in “Just Six Numbers”) and then also the ‘odds’ even against our ability to obtain our rather too unique moon, heck we hardly know for certain how we got all the water here on this planet…and although we understand how the elements of the periodic table were ‘cooked’ (making our bodies literally from stardust) we have no clue how or why hydrogen is abundant (and first and the most simple)—Occam’s razor screams out here (ultimately, there is no free lunch).
    How does one recognize information? And is it true that where design is KNOWN that intelligence is behind it? Further is it even possible to KNOW design when it confronts us?
    The watch is obvious…it has NO life to allow it reproductive abilities; thinking such goes way too far! Factories (assembly lines) make many watches from an inventory of parts which too are also made from some other intelligent source. And even then that source makes whatever…only to a point whereby the materials used to start this process were ‘created’…in the stars!? It seems that we are going to be seeking an uncaused cause…as we continue to go back and back to find a beginning.
    I had a discussion with an engineer once and he compared life and chance to a pile of ¾” crushed stone…like life, each piece is different and its shape (or looks) as if a chance occurrence. I interjected “random within parameters”. He stopped and said, “OK then, why?” I reminded him that though the rock is certainly all of the same type (a restriction already from all the other types of granite and basalt) all the shapes are not allowed. If it were chance then I would expect that given enough time what would appear through the crushing machine would be a near perfect sphere or too a pyramid or a perfect cube. NO ONE, is going to take up the position that those three shapes will EVER appear though the crusher…so therefore there is a limit to the randomness that can be known (chance requires all possibilities). Of course someone set the screens up and someone built the crusher and someone is supplying the power to the screening process…but too someone designed the crushing machine and built the plant/factory…and not one of those things is a chance happening or occurrence.
    If you walk down through the hills of South Dakota and come across four very large faces carved into the rock (Mount Rushmore)…why is it that no one says “Huh, what are the chances of that occurring by wind and rain and ice?” You might not know who those are faces of…but you know that someone intelligent had the information and equipment necessary and was able to carve them.
    If you are walking down a pristine beach (not one footprint in the sand) strewn with some hand-size smooth rocks you would not think much of it. If then you happened upon the letters “S.O.S.” formed by the arrangement of those rocks—it would cause you to pause! You would know a lot about this ‘design’: 1 someone is in trouble, and they are most likely an adult who knows how to spell in English. You would also look for footprints and or call out a “Hello”. Why would you do this if this were just a chance occurrence…caused by the waves and the wind?
    But information is even more persuasive (it gets worse!)…Let’s say there is no “SOS” but as you walk you come across two of the stones one on top of the other (the smooth worn stones balanced precariously). You would most likely say “Huh what are the odds of that happening by chance?” and continue on. But then what if you saw three stones and then four and then five…? At what point in your enjoyable stroll are you going to stop and inspect real closely for footprints…or call out “Who’s out there?”
    Even something that is worn by design to a smooth rock by the action of a mechanical nature that works within certain parameters its items can still ooze information…and that information leads us to seek the intelligence behind it. We are MADE to do this! It is part of the reason why we are here…to seek understanding in that we know internally that what is going on here is totally bazaar and weird.
    Newspapers are a prime example of the transfer of information…but the ink or the paper is NOT the information rather it just conveys the information it is the medium. The intelligence is not in the paper nor is it in the ink but it transcends the medium through which it ‘speaks’ its intelligence (its origin).
    When we look out the window on to a tree or at night to the stars we should also ‘see’ that there is a design here that moves information and that ‘code’ screams out intelligence. Does that mean there has to be a God? Well, I’m not sure at times but regardless it is not chance. We are a strange creature we are as if a traveler in a foreign land and we are not too happy about many things. Changelessness, perfection, fairness (or its lack) all of these we have a sense for yet not one thing in the world allow it a basis from which to discern: if there is nothing perfect then how and why do we seek it and want it? CS Lewis made a comment once: “if there exists n me a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy then most likely I was made for another world.” We should get away from the idea of a multi-universe and instead focus on multiple dimensionality…we are in four (time is broken) yet scientists believe there are upwards of ten or eleven dimensions. What if we are nothing less than spirits in an earthsuit and that we do graduate life through death and come out the other side into dimensionality far past four?
    We spend too much time arrogantly keeping science, religion, and philosophy apart—as if this is our game anyway and we have such power. Life is certainly weird but it also certainly not chance and I’ll give you ‘odds’ that when this is over…it won’t be over!

    Gerhard Adam
    You can argue about design all you like, but in the end you're left with the same problem, namely having to postulate how the "designer" was created.  If your argument becomes one of infinities, then you're stretching the bounds of credulity much farther than my simple example.
    Mundus vult decipi
    youve made the wrong conclusion based on occams razor. your explanation for life on this planet raises more questions like who created the creator. if you think in terms of infinity (always been here, will always be here), there is no need for a creator. and the only reason your thinking about questions like these is because you are an intelligent species that is capable of thought. the question that comes from this is basically, why am i so lucky? well yes you are very lucky, you overcame incredible odds of the universe to be born. there is really no point to the question, why am i so lucky, or whats the point of life, or who created us, or there has to be a higher meaning in all of this. no you just happened to be born here, and if you weren't born here the universe would still be how it is today. if you dont think in terms of time, as humans do, it is easier to understand, not that we ever can fully understand, but it is helpful. if there is no time, there was no creator, no cause and effect. in our dimension there is time, so that is how we think. dimensions 5 and above are without time. the occams razor conclusion would be that life popped up on this planet 4 billion years ago and evolved into an intelligent species that wants answers to the questions of life, and also enjoys life so it doesnt want to think that it ends after 80 years.

    if the chance of intelligent life at any given time on any given planet in this universe was .000000000000000001%, there would be 1000 planets with intelligent life. congratulations! enjoy the time you have here, especially because you can think and ponder such fascinating topics as this.

    Gerhard Adam
    ..you overcame incredible odds of the universe to be born..
    Sorry, but that's not how probability works.  It's like arguing what the odds are of drawing any particular card from a deck.   They are 1.0 since a card must be drawn.  However, it becomes relevant to discuss probabilities of repeating such a draw of a card.  Similarly your point would be valid if you argued incredible odds on "me" being replicated at some point in human history.  However, since there was no prediction involved in my "creation", there can be no probability associated with it.  You certainly can't argue about incredible odds that sex produces children, nor that such children would be human. 

    In other words, you can't look at a completed unpredicted event and then ponder how incredible the odds were that it should turn out that way (without knowing anything about the other choices available).  Such stories are common when people begin contemplating the events that gave rise to their career or their marriage, etc.  Yet these are not probabilistic examples since there was no prediction involved in the outcomes.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Well, first of all i wasn't talking to you, i was talking to the same person you originally replied to. when i say 'you overcame incredible odds to be born,' it should not be taken literally, as you have, all i mean is that life in this universe is very rare, look at drake's equation. i realize that since you have been born there is no point of talking about how rare it is, it's just the way it happened in this particular universe. however, if one significant event in our evolutionary history had been different 3 billion years ago, things could be radically different today, and maybe you wouldnt have even been born. keep in mind im referring to this universe only.

    the multiverse is completely different. universes are being created all the 'time' in the multiverse, i say time because that's how humans think, even though there is no time in the 10/11 dimension. parallel universes to this one exist, where the same exact events have happened and everything is exactly the same except you bought 2% instead of skim. and all these universes are floating around out there in what they call hyperspace. this concept is more relevant to the article and the idea of infinity. in a sense, this life is somewhat predetermined because it has to be one possibility out of infinite possibilities. but everyone knows what one divided by infinity is.

    oh and by the way the odds of drawing a particular card from a deck (say the ace of spades) are 1/52. you changed your example from 'a particular card' to 'a card must be drawn'. similarly the odds of your exact self being born in this universe are quite slim, it has to happen at some point in the multiverse, and that's where odds and probability become irrelevant, but in this finite universe it is very rare. it is the multiverse your unknowingly referring to, but in the multiverse the odds aren't 1/52, they're 1/infinity. the 1/infinity part is the only reason your argument can have a chance at making sense.

    looking forward to your response.

    Gerhard Adam

    I don't think you mean that the odds are 1/infinity since that value approaches zero and represents something nearly impossible.

    The concept of the multiverse (if it even exists) doesn't mean much from a biological perspective, since it also suggests that there are an infinite number of universes that never gave rise to life.  So the problem has simply been shifted up a level.  In fact, the problem here is that this essentially relies on the anthropic principle since our universe is observable only because it is "bio-friendly", which tells us nothing about the probability of life evolving on other planets or in other universes.  The only conclusion you could draw is that the other universes are irrelevant, since if this one is "bio-friendly", then this is the only one known to support life.  Which reduces the argument back down to the probability of life existing on other planets.

    My whole point is that it is meaningless to talk about probabilities for events for which there are no predictions.  It is pointless to talk about what might've happened 3 billion years ago, just as it is pointless to talk about how many universes might exist.  The scientific evidence AT THIS POINT, only confirms one planet with life on it.  Therefore whatever else we may think, there are no probabilities involved... only speculation.

    Even the concept of infinity is flawed as a scientific principle when it is removed from it's mathematical context, since it requires that no matter how much evidence is collected there is always the possibility that the next example will contradict all previous examples.  More to the point, infinity can't be measured, so it can't be justified as a argument in asserting probabilities.

    Mundus vult decipi
    id have to disagree that these questions are pointless, such as how many other universes might exist. that is the only circumstance that infinity really applies since this universe is finite in and of itself. and if infinity were to apply, such as in the 10th or 11th dimension all that would mean is this universe is one of an infinite amount of possibilities meaning everything that could ever physically occur, has occurred in that dimension. thats what i mean by 1/infinity, not that the odds are 1/infinity, obviously, because that is not a real number. all events have occurred in that dimension and this universe is just one of infinity, which is incomprehensible because we are down here in the 3rd/4th dimension.

    i fail to see what predictions have to do with probability. just because i say i think an ace of spades will be drawn, doesn't mean an ace of hearts wont be drawn... it could be drawn based on the same probability as the ace of spades.

    the problem is we are so primitive. think about it we've only been sending out radio waves for about 40 years, which means there is only a 40 light-year raidus around us in which a civilization would have to be in order to receive the radio wave. the milky way is 100 million light years across so just to reach another life form in this galaxy, we'd have to have been sending out radio waves for millions of years for anyone to receive it and us still be in existence at the time. thats just the milky way, now think about the other 100 billion galaxies. it seems almost impossible due to the physics of this universe that a civilization would ever find any signs of other life forms in the duration of its existence, let alone actual contact. i think we can agree that this will probably never happen. that doesnt make discussions over such possibilities of other life forms meaningless. with the vastness of the universe, many of the world's most renowned physicists believe it is highly likely that they are out there, just very unlikely that we will ever know about it. these questions are what make life here so amazing and if we were to just accept everything as it is... how boring would that be. to deem any unanswerable question irrelevant deprives us of the creative thought humans have evolved into being capable of, and that thought is what has led to such questions as these, which i find to be quite interesting.

    Gerhard Adam
    ... discussions over such possibilities of other life forms meaningless. with the vastness of the universe, many of the world's most renowned physicists believe it is highly likely that they are out there, just very unlikely that we will ever know about it.

    I always hear this argument, but invariably physicists are among the least qualified to make statements regarding life in the universe.  Instead of physicists and astronomers, perhaps it would be more credible if more biologists felt this way.
    i fail to see what predictions have to do with probability. just because i say i think an ace of spades will be drawn, doesn't mean an ace of hearts wont be drawn... it could be drawn based on the same probability as the ace of spades.
    You're missing the point.  The probability is only relevant when one is attempting to predict the likelihood of the Ace of Spades being drawn.   It allows us the means of assessing the possible events that can occur and then predicting the likelihood of a particular outcome.  Without such a prediction, the probability is meaningless.  This is precisely why the Drake equation is a meaningless calculation, since the specific probabilities aren't known, so regardless of what number is produced, it has no meaning.  While I understand that Drake's intention was to frame the question to indicate the nature of the elements that would have to be understood, this has since been taken to imply that the existence of life is inevitable.

    I also have a problem with the interchangeable use of life when what is meant is "intelligent life" or civilizations.  The latter being considerably less likely than the former.  Once again, radio waves have nothing to do with it, except for that specific rare event.  The discussion usually goes from consideration of "life" in some form and invariably presumes the existence of civilizations.  As has been argued in other posts, the existence of civilization (as we know it) on Earth is a quite unique development and can hardly be presumed to exist elsewhere.

    In the end, we have our speculations, but we have no evidence regardless of the ideas that people may embrace.  Large numbers do not generate facts nor evidence.  Regardless of how many infinities are invoked, they do not render something probable for which no evidence exists.
    Mundus vult decipi
    (i have been referring to intelligent life)

    well then i suppose we're left in a debate similar to:

    there's no proof that God exists, so God must not exist
    there's no proof that God doesn't exist, so God must exist

    we just don't know, and we can agree on that

    but one more note about infinity. if something is infinite, any fraction of it is also infinite. so taking into account what Gordon has said about there needing to be 200 parameters that line up in order for intelligent life to arise, it doesn't matter how small this fraction is, if we are in a place of infinity, then that fraction of the 200 parameters lining up is also infinity, meaning all possible outcomes actually occur, and we are one... of infinity, but in our human dimension.

    for clarity:
    do you deny the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in this (finite) universe?

    Gerhard Adam
    ...do you deny the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in this (finite) universe?

    Of course not, that's what "not knowing" means.  However, the article suggested a mathematical probability which is simply nonsense.   

    Similarly, even a possibility doesn't mean a certainty, nor does it mean that it can ever be known.  As I've stated numerous times, the only thing we know for sure is that intelligent life has only occurred on one planet.   Any more than this is speculative and not scientific. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    ... similarly the odds of your exact self being born in this universe are quite slim, it has to happen at some point in the multiverse

    Why does it "have to happen"?  There are many things that can be calculated using probabilities, however there are no guarantees than any of them will ever happen. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    To Gerhard Adam & "anonymous" on "who created the creator or the designer"
    First off we are not "arguing" Design or God or infinity...we are not arguing! It is important to me in such discussions that we do such 'talk' with no belittlement or ad hominem attack (so far we are doing well). Thanks!
    Going back to my original post (too long that it is; and so too will this one certainly be; sorry)--I hung to DIMENSIONALITY (pooh poohing "multiple universes")...please read it again. If we have up to 10-11 dimensions and one can 'feel' (I know I'm wiggling away from provable science--then again when is science totally provable? If science is not continually fine-tuning and discovering and changing then it is not science!) that we are inside of these bodies with a sense of eternity written into us (we really do not deal well with time)...then perhaps it warrants deeper inspection. Perhaps we literally are spirits in an Earthsuit, the Earth is our spaceship traveling in time, we are here to 'learn' something (I'd rather not get into that completely now), and when entropy winds us (or the universe/stars/sun) down...we get to graduate life (weird that it is) through death and 'go-home'!
    I know; that is really WEIRD!
    If many dimensions are is the key, then one of them which is able to be manipulated is time itself and being we are 'looking' for this "Designer"/Creator" (Call this "God" if you like--it will not bother me and I hope not you), then such a Designer brought into existence (that which most science is agree to with the Big Bang) Time, Space, Matter, and Energy.
    To say what was before the big bang is nonsensical--it is like saying "draw me a square circle" or see my friend Pete the married bachelor. What was before time cannot be asked--that which did the creating, is NOT limited or restricted by that dimension (time) which we ARE limited by. The 'Designer' is outside of (can't really say that) that which he made. In a sense this is the Kalam Cosmological Argument: 1) That which comes into existence or was born has a cause, 2) the universe has a beginning science knows this now, concluding therefore, 3) the Universe was caused. We live in a cause & effect environment -- we know nothing else -- in fact nothing else makes much sense -- but of course that is true for we are stuck in four dimensions. But if there are more than four dimensions than we need to think outside that 'box'. Why is it that we can even contemplate such thought? Frankly, we should NOT be able to think like this; nor write like this; nor even fiddle with movies postulating the fantasy of time-machines; star-gates; matter-transfer units (beam-me-up-Scotty); and of course time-dilation via speed approaching light (relativity). But Aaaaah, we have proven that time slows down as speed increases (we have done this experiment in the SR-71 and NASA has flown an atomic clock around the world and compared it to the one left on the ground -- time disjointed itself!).
    WHAT MAKES ME, ME AND NOT YOU -- THAT IS IN THIS EARTHSUIT IS NOT MEANT TO BE LIMITED IN TIME!
    Therefore the Creator is certainly not limited -- and do we have attributes similar to this Designer? Well I think yes (for a later post) but if that is so then we do not fit well in this limited dimensionality (and we know that already) so too maybe we have other attributes of this Designer -- like being foreign to time! So what is the analogy to this Designer (and us)? Well, the analogy is in writing a book: the author (is the Designer), and the plot (how time, circumstance, and decision causes life) and the physical book/pages (are what we call the physical world). Aaaah, "yes" we are the characters in this very strange four dimensional 'book' (being 'viewed' by and even still written by a Designer in dimensions past our four). I know! I did not ask to be here either!! In this 'BOOK'!!!
    The Author created the book and the plot and set the story in motion...BUT that author (like any earthly author) is not restricted by that plot or that time or that motion. The earthly author stands outside of the 'book' he has written just as the Designer stands outside of the limited dimensionality of 'our' life in this 'Book' the designer writes. The Designer can no more be limited by time and create than you can perform your own brain surgery (you need to use the very brain you're going to do the surgery on to do the surgery -- it's circular referencing in the extreme).
    So who created the Creator? No one! that Designer has never known not being. He was not born; was not created; has no mother or father; He is spirit (whatever you want that to mean -- the Designers existence is not in time, nor energy, nor matter, nor space). That Designer stands outside of the Kalam Cosmological Argument (definition) for that Designer 'stands' (and I do not mean that physically) outside of our limitations (our four dimensions). The Designer was not created; the Designer was not begun.
    I realize that you are all going to fume here for none of this can be proven (you're right) but then again science cannot prove gravity, the quantum world, whether there really is something called nothing; and just what is "vacuum" anyway? If we are talking 'existence' outside of four dimensions then why would anyone try to use science to prove dimensions past four? Science is restricted to the very four we want to go past (out of). To think that one can use four dimensions to prove five, six and up to eleven is asking way too much of science--obviously!
    But if I am JUST a four dimensional materialistic creature then why can I think like this? I'm not the only one you know; who thinks like this!? How is it I can comprehend the incomprehensible?
    Life is too WEIRD to believe that science can ever answer it all. If there is a Designer then he did design like we do (it's an attribute) using order and math and logic and reason and relationship and too beauty and art and expression and too love. Can you use science to prove love? If not--then you have to say that love does not exist! You want to tell your spouse that you can no longer love her/him because you realize that science can not give you three feet of it or prove it by showing your four pounds of it? If you tell your mate "I cannot love you anymore because I know via science that there is no such thing as love." Then you stress your life at the possibility of being alone; and this will hurt you 'inside'-- WHY? Why is that type of hurt not the same type of hurt that you go to the doctor for so he can make you 'feel' better? LIFE; is NOT just science!
    The Designer did more than just seed the creation with: Time, Space, Matter, and Energy. That Designer also implanted (somehow into the energy and matter) INFORMATION (which points back to himself as the Intelligence) and too RELATIONSHIP ABILITIES/DESIRES such as gravity (we know how it works but we do not know WHY) and friendship & love (we know how to recognize it but we are at a loss to understand it yet 'nearly' all intelligent creatures seek it).
    I dare you all to get off JUST the science (it is a limitation) and grab WITH the science a probe into philosophy and religion and see if somehow the 'three' are "shaking hands" behind the curtain? Are we all too tied up in self-worth or positioning to see this? We're being manipulated and played with--doesn't that bother you all?

    Gerhard Adam
    There were a few instances where you raised the question on why we could think the way we do and contemplate:
    Frankly, we should NOT be able to think like this; nor write like this; nor even fiddle with movies postulating the fantasy of time-machines; star-gates; matter-transfer units (beam-me-up-Scotty)

    However, this is precisely why science exists in the first place.  The fact that we can think of all manner of things, but we need some logical discipline that allows us to form ideas, test them, and potentially embrace them as being indicative of some reality.

    This isn't the full story however, since the premise of science is in the testing, so your example regarding love is irrelevant.  Science isn't intended to define reality, but simply to help us understand those elements of it that lend themselves to that particular approach.  Philosophy also plays a role and despite the fact that it is often treated dismissively, it is key to exploring those areas that are fundamentally untestable.  Sometimes philosophy may overlap with science, but often it is unresolvable and merely a vehicle to engage in more thought.

    If one wants to discuss the likelihood of life on other worlds, or other universes, then there is no problem just so long as it isn't mistaken for science by invoking probabilities and behaving as if the unknown elements are simply inconvenient.  What isn't known is stark and can't be simply brushed aside by invoking speculative calculations.  From a philosophical perspective we all have a view of what we think is likely or not, however from a scientific perspective there is only the fact that we simply don't know and currently have no way of knowing.

    Mundus vult decipi
    "...there is only the fact that we simply don't know..." and by your conclusion can not use probability either to tend to the lieklyhood of this occuring verses that occuring...and so then (and therefore) what is the point of these discussion at all? Everything we think we know can not rationalized into possibilites (because we will never totally 'know' anything perfectly and testing for repeatability can nnot always be done so the Big Bang and forenstic and palelotology can also not be consdiered as any type of science. The conversation then just jumps off the edge as we turn into lemmins.

    Gerhard Adam
    Everything we think we know can not rationalized into possibilites (because we will never totally 'know' anything perfectly and testing for repeatability can nnot always be done so the Big Bang and forenstic and palelotology can also not be consdiered as any type of science.

    How do you make that leap?  Perfect knowledge was never a requirement, however to calculate a probability means you must have a sense or knowledge of the possible outcomes.  The worse this knowledge is, the more speculation and guesswork is involved.  In the case of extraterrestrial life, there are too many unknowns to argue that there is some mathematical probability model that works or means anything.

    As for your other points, they work as science because they can make predictions which can be verified.  The better the predictions, the greater the likelihood that a particular theory is accurate or reasonable.

    Once again, you can't even argue that the speculation about extraterrestrial life makes predictions beyond the claim that it exists.  The problem here is that the absence of evidence can be argued indefinitely since any failure to locate life can simply be dismissed by suggesting that we need to explore more planets.  Admittedly, if we should happen to find any form of life, then the probabilities change radically and we would have significant additional data to make such a claim or prediction, but we don't have such information at this time.  Therefore in the absence of such information, to make the claim that extraterrestrial life exists is purely speculative.  We may believe it to be highly plausible or we may believe it to be quite rare, but we have little scientific basis for suggesting one claim is more legitimate than the other.

    The whole argument about extraterrestrial life is bogged down in an argument about large numbers instead of the conditions for life.  Astronomers can have infinities upon infinities of planets and choices, but without the knowledge about how easily life can form, that is a completely irrelevant argument.  It certainly gives us many choices about where such life might form, but it doesn't make it inevitable.  Furthermore since this invariably extends to intelligent life, then the argument becomes even more tenuous since there are numerous other factors that could preclude such a thing from ever happening.  Specifically, the conclusion that intelligent life exists, implies that intelligence is a direction or natural consequence of evolution.  More importantly, it isn't simply a matter of intelligence but a very specific intelligence with a very specific cultural development that would give rise to space exploration.  Each additional condition places greater odds against it's development.
    Mundus vult decipi
    “How do I make that leap” well, I’m trying to figure what part of information is good to use to form an opinion in a probability manner even if we do not have all the info (and we never will have the total sample size other than to say it is not infinite for the universe is not infinite). For example; many, many months ago astronomers were saying: Hey, we’ve found 100 exoplanets, and even though they are large hot-Jupiters it shows that planets are out there…and too then maybe there are some Earth-like planets hiding in between. Then they find out that the location of their orbits, type of orbit, closeness to the parent star, and mass of the exoplanet…are all so very important too allowing an Earth-like planet to exist . THEN they announce. “now we have a total of 455 found exoplanets”. These are numbers showing increasing star systems searched and more (over three-times more) exoplanets found and yet they are just more hot-Jupiters. This is NOT good news for any probability conclusion of finding an Earth-like planet. It is such a simple conclusion but yet (if I understand you correctly) this is not a good probability result. WHY? I conclude by this ‘information’ that the more exoplanets we find (now) the more unlikely we will find an Earth-like planet! Read the “Rare Earth” (chapter two).

    Gerhard Adam
    This is NOT good news for any probability conclusion of finding an Earth-like planet. It is such a simple conclusion but yet (if I understand you correctly) this is not a good probability result. WHY?

    You aren't understanding my position correctly.  Clearly the more data we have the more a probability calculation becomes viable for the particular phenomenon being discussed.  In particular, my argument originates with the Drake equation as being a reasonable probability calculation regarding the existence of extraterrestrial life.  While there are some elements for which good probabilities exist, there are others that are completely unknown.  In the latter case they cannot be anything but speculative.

    Perhaps part of the problem is that my posts have spanned several such discussions and perhaps I'm making assumptions that you are unaware of.  In the first place, my argument with the probabilities comes from the Drake equation.  In the second, when numbers are put into that equation without any basis for assessing certain probabilities and then concluding that life is all but inevitable ... well that puts me off.

    I personally believe that life is likely, intelligent life less likely, and a civilization like ours exceedingly unlikely.  However, those viewpoints aren't derived from any scientific data, it's simply what I feel.

    Another aspect of the problem is that we're searching planets that are clearly too far away to make a difference regarding the existence of life, and we're banking far too much on a civilization similar to ours regarding contact.  This is taking the least likely manifestation of life and then using that as the basis for exploration.  Our first steps need to be determining whether any form of life is possible within our solar system.  There are certainly some possible candidates and this would make a huge difference in helping us assess the probabilities that life can originate someplace else.  If true, then we would have two instances of life existing within a single solar system which would seriously bolster the argument that it may be quite common.

    Once this has been determined, then we can consider the possibilities of intelligent life existing, but (in my view), this will never be discovered unless we stumble on them by accident.  Bear in mind that intelligence does NOT presume technological development to the point of space travel or communications.  Similarly for the civilization case, it is highly unlikely that contact would occur and if it did, it might well be disastrous for one of the two groups involved (assuming physical contact were possible).

    In my view, the latter two cases are merely novelties and don't mean much.  The overwhelming majority of species wouldn't fit into either category and yet it would be hard to deny that they aren't significant in their own right.  A universe found teeming with such life would truly be an amazing discovery, so worrying about intelligence seems like a waste of time.

    Mundus vult decipi
    I invite you all to go to amazon.com and dial up those two books (Rare Earth, by Brownlee and Ward AND The Privileged Planet, by Gonzales) and then READ THE COMMENTS ABOUT THE BOOKS (119 for Rare Earth and 74 for the Privileged Planet). Compare the 1 & 2 star negative comments with the 4 & 5 ‘star’ positive comments and notice that there is more name calling (ad hominem attack) this to me signals weak knowledge of the subject material and poor relationship and communication skills (when you can’t discuss the subject then ridicule and attack the speaker—that is poor knowledge and is very childish). The discussion here is moving along very nicely, yet…

    It seems to me that the way the posts are going on this ScientificBlogging site is to separate science from philosophy and religion—keep the three apart (that is a common occurrence in our current times) however during Copernicus’s time that was not the case; science was considered a reasonable way (in fact an honor) in which to understand God (and in a sense to partner with Him) and how and why this creation was Created. Admittedly, “how” deals with science and too “why” deals more with religion and philosophy…yet there is a blending here and I gather strength to say that those who can allow the three topics together (science, religion, and philosophy) will move forward in a very interesting and amazing manner. The ONLY thing we have to lose is the admittance that there might actually be a Creator God…but IF that is where the evidence leads (in those three subjects) then that is the way those who seek Truth should be willing to go despite the unpopular circumstances or the unpleasantness to be responsible to our being here and those around us. The whole idea of the Principle of Mediocrity (that we are common in the universe) was pushed by Carl Sagan…when it was determined that there were more galaxies (Hubble accomplished this) and too more planets (exoplanets) and so ‘they’ then assume and extrapolate that there must be more universes (we have not one iota of scientific proof of there being more universes and yet no one here seems to be bringing that poor scientific mannerism to bear). Copernicus was after a way in which to reasonably understand the movement of the planets (their use of epicenters was not working well to describe the function of planet retrograde movement). The Church during Copernicus’s time was also bent on keeping man at the center of ‘things’ (for their power trip…not Godly but rather selfish and self-centered) and in fact now we know that there is NO center to the universe. The church then was amiss in placing God in their ‘box’ and so ‘figure’ that man must be important (everything revolves around mankind because we are created in Gods’ Image—no everything revolves around God…as Creator!). Yet this is a falsity, God is not interested in material ‘center’ but rather relationship ‘center’ and too now we know that the universe does not have a center (the expanding balloon skin analogy).

    Nowhere that I have visited are there ‘folks’ who will dig into those three subjects and just ‘get-on-with-it’. There always seems to be effort expended to run with any and every possible subject OTHER than God. It’s anything but God—even flying spaghetti monsters. Pascal (the mathematician) put forth a wager (Google it: Pascal’s Wager). Where he says it is wise to give God your bet and to Bet on God. For if you are wrong then you have lost nothing for there was nothing to gain (you’ll become worm food like everyone else) but if you are correct then you have won everything for then there is spiritual life past physical death. This is a poor-mans Christianity BUT; I wager that seeing as how God is a true lover that He will stoop to conquer IN love regardless of the situation (if you understand that then you’re on the ‘road’!

    Here is a little spit from the book reviews and his analogy is very cute but true when it comes to the uniqueness of our situation (in life), the parameters of our planet being here, and too even the fine-tuned cosmological constants that are required to allow us a universe (none of it BTW do I dismiss as a fluke…for IF I did then I too could label every other person out there as just fodder for me to use as best suits my Darwinistic gain).

    "The Privileged Planet" required some effort to get my head around but it was well worth it. Whatever your stand regarding a Creator, this book is a great read. If you are an atheist, read it so you can understand your adversary's point of view and you can hold up your end of the argument. If you are one of faith in a Creator, the book helps validate your stance; it just helps things make sense.
    I think a good way to describe the book is to use the same analogy the authors used on page 267. The following passage was used to explain the Weak Anthropic Principle: "Another analogy is the popular story of the firing squad. Imagine an American intelligence officer, captured by the Nazi SS during World War II, who is sentenced to death by a firing squad. Because of this officer's importance, the SS assign fifty of Germany's finest sharpshooters to his execution. After lining him up against a wall, the sharpshooters take their position three meters away. Upon firing, however, the officer discovers that every sharpshooter has missed, and that instead, their fifty bullets have made a perfect outline of his body on the wall behind him.
    "What would we think if the officer reflected upon this situation, and then responded, "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see this. If the sharpshooters hadn't missed, I wouldn't be here to observe it"? We would rightly wonder what he is doing in intelligence, since the more sensible explanation would be that, for some reason, the execution had been rigged. Perhaps the sharpshooters had been ordered to miss, or they had colluded with one another for some unknown reason. In short, the best explanation would be that the event was the product of intelligent design. Shrugging one's shoulders and concluding that it's a chance occurrence is just dense."
    And so be it with the universe as well.

    Gerhard Adam
    The ONLY thing we have to lose is the admittance that there might actually be a Creator God…but IF that is where the evidence leads (in those three subjects) then that is the way those who seek Truth should be willing to go ...
    Actually you seem to misunderstand the distinction between religion, philosophy, and science.

    The role of science is to examine what "rules" or "laws" govern the behavior and operation of the world around us.  There is nothing in the role of science that attempts to poke holes in religious beliefs (although that is what many religious people would have you believe).  As Hank has pointed out in other posts, many scientists are religious and see no contradiction between the two perspectives, so a separation is not only logical but a requirement so that their objectives don't become compromised.

    Philosophy is involved in exploring many of the elements of the human thought process and why we do the things we do.  This will necessarily cross-over into scientific areas as well as religious areas depending on one's inclination or belief.  However once again, the point is to keep this separate from religion.

    Religion is a belief based on faith.  This is the reason for separating it from the previous areas, because faith must, by definition, be capable of existing in the absence of evidence.  Therefore to accept something without evidence, it cannot be scientific nor of any philosophical interest.

    This doesn't denigrate religion, but the unfortunate reality is that too many religious people want to hijack science and philosophy as a way of converting their faith-based belief into a scientific truth.  This cannot be done and does a disserve to both.  Beliefs are not subject to simply being true or false ... they are what we believe, for good or ill.  If you were to tell me that what you believe is true, I would unequivocally tell you that you're wrong and don't know what you're talking about.  Your belief is clearly "true" to you, but to assign some universal applicability to it, is the epitome of arrogance in assuming that everyone must see the world as you do or be "wrong".  Even people of the same religious faith rarely see things the same way and that's as it should be.  Religion and belief are intended as vehicles to help an individual cope with the world and the circumstances they are in. 

    If God's existence could somehow be scientifically proven, then religion would be dead because there would no longer be a basis for faith.  Wthout faith, any counter-belief simply becomes a fairy tale and nothing would have further meaning in that regard.  So enjoy your beliefs and if they work for you then that's a good thing.  However, if you attempt to intertwine your beliefs with scientific proof you will do neither one justice.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "Actually you seem to misunderstand the distinction between religion, philosophy, and science".

    Based on which 'rule' is it; that I "misunderstand"?

    Frankly, what you've said is fine but it is a limitation...and "faith" is what religion has going for it but that science is not based on faith?! You mean faith that quantuum wolrds point to substance rather than uncertainity? That numbers are infinite yet too subsative?!? A "2" means nothing without defining what it is that is two. So by itself it is abstract and such is the ability to do mathamatics in an abstract manner ONCE one understands the 'faith' that must be placed in those numbers to reach a conclusion (answer) that itself too is not always of substance. BTW...just what is it that has perfect substance and that is not based on faith that tomorrow the world YOU know will be upsidedown. Schrodengers cat perhaps is not dead.

    We seem to be bantering and not getting very far in any direction...I guess you need to set some ground rules as to what it is that you do beleive in so that others can find a cominality for discussion. I've been at this for a long time (I'm 61!)...and I find that many who are younger go about reinventing the wheel and are amazed that it is round only when they do not look at it too closely.

    Later all

    G

    Gerhard Adam
    To suggest that science is based on faith completely missed the boat.
    That numbers are infinite yet too subsative?!? A "2" means nothing without defining what it is that is two.

    Then you throw this in which is irrelevant since mathematics isn't science.  It is a system of logic that is well understood to be a formal system of logic derived from a minimal set of axioms.
    I guess you need to set some ground rules as to what it is that you do beleive in so that others can find a cominality for discussion.
    Once again, you don't seem to differentiate between what I'm suggesting regarding science versus what I might personally believe.  If you seem to think I'm reinventing the wheel, then perhaps you haven't been at this nearly long enough.
    Mundus vult decipi
    TO...Anonymous
    I do not know where you got this

    " if the chance of intelligent life at any given time on any given planet in this universe was .000000000000000001%, there would be 1000 planets with intelligent life"

    But of course I do not agree (please allow me to do so). First off you mentioned that 'little' number was a percent "%" so does that mean that the 1000 planets lose two more decimal places? Making only 10 planets? Or did you crank that in already to your division (I honestly just do not know)?
    Thank you for saying "intelligent life" for I am not going to debate the extremeophiles (we will not be communicating any recipe books or far-side jokes with them nor will they share any "Encyclopedia Galactica'' or come down here and use us as their base ingredient for their "secret sauce").
    Every exoplanet (there are 455 so far see http://exoplanet.eu/catalog.php) to the best of my understanding: is a GAS GIANT. There can be probability placed here (a bit): How many star systems have been checked and of them how many have planets (455) but out of them how many have Erath like planets: NONE!

    "NONE!!" What kind of arrogance is this?

    How do I know that?
    There are a couple of things floating around that you have all not read-up on (get the books "Rare Earth" and "Privileged Planet"). You know....I just know that you won't do that!! OK well anyway, in short if a solar system has a gas giant it must be of a certain type and be in a certain location and then the 'earth' like planet must also be in a certain location (in relationship to the parent star and that gas giant). NONE CAN BE...SO FAR AS THEY HAVE BEEN FOUND and that is out of 455. OF 455 PLANET SYSTEMS NONE CAN HAVE AN EARTH LIKE PLANET INCLUDED IN TO IT.
    There are more reasons a couple are that the GHZ must be in a certain place in the galaxy and away from the arms, the SHZ has to allow its earth-like planet to be in a special location, the star has to be on the main sequence and be of a type G2 yellow dwarf so that the 'type' frequency of light meets the spectrum we currently have, and no binary stars (they make orbits eccentric -- bad news for a habitable planet). I COULD GO ON...but get those books! There are MANY REQUIRED PARAMETERS!

    Some say there are over 200 parameters required for habitable planets and intelligent life. That is a WHOLE bunch of chancy flukey mistakes that WE DID GET here on Earth. Just how "lucky" do you feel (my anonymous friend?). You have much better odds...buying Powerball lottery tickets - You do buy them, correct?!
    If I limit out those 200 required parameters and call on just 100 of them then that means the chance (probability) of them all lining up is 100 factorial. That's ONE over 9.33262154 X 10 (to the 157 power). That is you must more the decimal point 157 places to the right then put a one on top of it and that gives you the 'chance' that you could have an Earth. Now I'm impressed at your level of FAITH (in chance); to give you your life and your Earth! Scientists understand that the number of hydrogen atoms in the universe is around (from) 7.0 X 10 to the 79 power to 1.5 X 10 to the 82 power http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observable_universe. You need many more atoms on the checker board to even play with odds that extend to the 157 power you've only got up to 82!! If you were to play with the seconds in the 13.7 billion years science allows you -- you do not have enough -- but the Earth has been here for only 4.5 billion so you can't even use the 13.7 billion seconds (4.5 billion years in seconds is 1.41912 X 10 to the 17th power). ONLY 17! You've got to do a whole bunch of FAST evolutionary magic to catch up to the power of exponents to the 157th power (and remember I halved the 200!). Doesn't evolution require slow change over many thousands of years? How can all these parameters occur so quickly?

    Ever seen that Discovery channel movie "What if We Had No Moon?" It is such a long-shot 'fluke' of chance that we have our moon (it's a weird moon compared to all the others!) and it just so happens to be the apparent size of the sun giving us near perfect eclipses. You do know WHY eclipses are i9mportant to science don't you? Oh...no moon?...then we ain't having this discussion: for we be dead!

    Further we cannot investigate the Big Bang singularity event by taking it into the laboratory (well maybe...eventually with the LHC). We use a different type of science and probability: like forensics and paleontology neither of which can be repeated to prove the assumed conclusion. But they do determine reasonable doubt (in court and in the museums). There is way too much doubt that chance can line up all the 200 parameters at one place and at one time just so we can be here to ponder that situation. AGAIN...we should not be ABLE to ponder the situation! We should not even CARE to ponder the situation!! The mere fact that YOU are here pondering this, makes me ask why are you even pondering this?!! You (WE) should be out doing (y)our Darwinistic hording, hunting, humping things and not wasting time here with all these USELESS time-wasting mind-bending questions!!! BUT I AM WORSE THAN YOU! For I am here asking you why, you're here asking why!!!

    Has anyone been watching the science channel lately? Morgan Freeman is going to host a whole series of Universe type questions: wormholes, time travel, black holes, are we alone in the universe? etc etc.

    The probability can be narrowed...the Drake Equation (which you must believe in if you believe that other intelligent life is out there) has been greatly IMPROVED adding more parameters and unfortunately making the chances less likely. Both books say we are RARE IN THE UNIVERSE! So whether you like it or not my anonymous friend you are not a mistake and you are not a fluke and you are not 'born' of chance!! Geee, you have more faith in chance than I would need to believe in God (a some kind of spiritual world past four dimensions)!

    Martin Rees did a great book titled "just Six numbers" and if you have not read this (INTENTLY) then I'm talking over your head and that is not fair to you. Any cosmologist who can get the complicated math and facts into laymen's terms has my attention -- not only because I do not want to turn the crank on the math but they can make it comprehensible to the common mind. And such questions as these 'far reaching' ones defy reason that we should even ask them and further (and unfortunately) have no Darwinistic survival value attributes. that is, we do not need to understand Hinesburg's Uncertainly principle (and all the other abstract and complicated 'things') to be Darwinistic creatures. WELL, perhaps we are more than JUST Darwinistic 'monkeys'. I know you are...for I know that you are not a mistake and that you have opinions and that you have feelings! In fact, I know that you are a conscious observer and moral agent knowing the difference between right & wrong and you know this intuitively. I know you enjoy humor, and friends, and to debate subjects (like this one) which go far past your basic monkey level 'brain'. I further know that if I look into your eyes...you are not (to me, anyway) just a meat robot; there is an eternity there; there is a self; there is an "I"; there is a spirit (whether you believe it or not and whether you like it or not)! I think that you like all humans know (but so too life in general) that life has value and meaning and purpose, and it is no more is lost to the sands of time than matter is lost when it changes energy states (1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics).

    We are travelers in time: 'spirits' trapped in a bio-Earthsuit, journeying through a foreign land and wanting to go Home. Use your science to PROVE me wrong!

    i trust that you meant no disrespect in that post, if not, so be it.

    very very interesting friend, i can see you have faith in a deity, but i still dont see why. why is it that just because we're here there has to be a reason.

    i can see that we disagree here so i'm not going to spend a whole lot of time here as i have a couple papers to write, but i do have two questions id like to hear your opinion on

    1) it is evident you believe in some sort of deity/creator. id like to hear your take on organized religion i.e. hinduism, buddhism, judaism, christianity, and islam and if you think any of them are an accurate portrayal of the point of our existence. also your thoughts on the bible etc... or if you disagree with religion and just believe that there was some deity out there that created our 1 million year evolutionary history. i fail to see why a deity would create ME (the human race). it also just doesn't make much sense that there would have been a universe for 9 billion years, the earth for 4.59, and then traces of our ancestors start popping up finally after 13 billion years. but this whole universe was created for us? we all have souls that this deity cares about? then why did it make such an extensive universe/multiverse if its just for each and every soul on this one planet out of billions of planets. if theres ANY chance at all that these parameters could line up, thatd be good enough for me, and obviously they have. but i just dont see how theres a god who loves my individual soul out of such vastness. if 'We are travelers in time: 'spirits' trapped in a bio-Earthsuit, journeying through a foreign land and wanting to go Home' why make it so complex? why not just do it the way our ancestors thought god did it? (a dome over the flat earth). id just like to hear your religious views a little bit with regard to the specific questions above.

    2) eternity is infinite. how can there be a beginning, either birth on earth, or death on earth, to eternity (home) if its infinite? infinity means it has always been here and will always be here... how can it just start on 8/6/91 or whenever i die, and THEEEEN go on forever/eternity...?

    PROVE-
    very eager to hear your response, i mean no disrespect in any of this and hope you didnt either. but am highly intrigued by what you have to say, i hope you can kind of see where im coming from.
    if youd label your next post with 1) & 2) for answers to my questions id greatly appreciate it.

    Well, anonymous...
    1) Certainly no disrespect whatsoever...was intended (and if you ever think otherwise I ask you to let me know what it was I said...that was offensive). It can be hard to 'e-mail' and get ones point across for the tone and body language is not there to help convey humor or sarcasm or direction beyond each other!
    2) Deity can mean whatever you think it means; 'HOWEVER'...if there is a God then He is not sharing the 'turf' with any other god (everyone worships something!)...so to be intolerant (sorry) but logical...there can only be one right and correct answer to creation...what we do is keep narrowing down the possibilities (and that's OK we are suppose to "seek". Got a Bible? Look at Jeremiah 33:3!!). Our problems are restricted by our dimensions and therefore when quantum worlds pop up it can sometimes make 'knowledge' of Deity easier and/or more difficult (so it is hard, sometimes, to know what is right and what is not...yet usually morally we have a conscious that really does let us know...if we will listen. I was allowed one time an analogy: Pain is to the body as conscience is to ones spirit. Now look to Acts 24:16). There are many who have no clue if God exists and many more who refuse (by an act of their 'freewill') to even allow that possibility from eking into their 'being'. We are responsible for our choices--that's not any surprise to anyone. "Choice" is interesting, for why should we have it? Why not be just like the insects and 'do' our thing as if by some chemical trail and be numb to reason or even mundane to 'purpose' that we would/should be able to discern...even then have no 'thought' to time or being? In time we can make choices for by time the energy levels 'entropy-out' and allow change (second Law of thermodynamics). All things wind-down from lower entropy to high entropy (low entropy is high state of order/energy; high entropy is low state of order/energy). All things entropy-out: relationships, intelligence, heat, mountains, the sun will burn up its hydrogen, and you and I will get older until what makes me, me and you, you gets let go. We know that the universe is cooling down losing its heat--this 'movement' is called "time's Arrow" and it is ONLY in time that we can utilize our discernment of choice to make change (we just are frantic to know 'what' needs to be changed...for the right). Seeing as how most things that we REALLY value are abstract qualities (love, honor, integrity etc) then I fathom a 'Guess' that those things that go with us (and are valuable) are the abstract qualities of 'spirit' and that when they enter timelessness (other side of physical life) they are then FIXED and SEALED into us and cannot change (once through the boundary of time 'nothing' can then be changed for it takes one to be IN time to make change. Here is where we make change for what we will be outside of time!). There are many atheists (and too scientists) that still seek the truth...and regardless of how unpleasant it may be...they will go the way the evidence leads. That is good and any change otherwise is not done by other humans but is an internal change of heart (look to Ezekiel 36:26 and too Romans 12:2)--and too science cannot go there. God cannot be placed under a microscope and too the Bible is not a science textbook (In my opinion...it is not to be taken word for word in all things! discernment and choice again is required). The Bible is a strange (interesting) book and one should ask why and how it was that people in flip-flops, herding sheep, and being harassed by Roman soldiers, 2000 years ago should and could think like this and have it be pertinent to our current age, philosophy, and too even some sciences! Really!?!? Cosmology states that the universe is expanding and accelerating as if we were at the center (all points are moving away from us) but then they say it is as if we were on the skin of an expanding balloon where all points look as if they are moving away from all other pints and that there is NO center to the (expanding/stretching) 'skin' of the balloon. Well then look to Isaiah 40:22 and then too Psalm 104:2. Why would anyone back then think the universe was like the fabric of a tent being stretched? For that period of time that is not too bad of an analogy for there were no balloons then to use in their demonstration but even so why think the universe was stretching in the first place?!?!

    2) Your first question has lots of questions in it...and good ones. We should take it outside the discussion board [gordonta (at) comcast (dot) net]. Ever hear of Hugh Ross? Get his DVD: "Journey Towards Creation" (Google anything I've mentioned in past posts) in the bonus section he gives a very interesting explanation using logic and science as to why certain religions are possible and others are not but that only one provides a green-light to seek further and to know that something total ODD is in the works. And that God is real (but past our dimensionality).
    The one I've always 'liked' goes something like these: "If God is so Loving then why does He send good people Hell?" I guess the parallel to that is: "Why do bad things happen to good people?" I've got a handicapped daughter and I had watched 70 people burn-up at the Ramstien AB Airshow Crash of 1988. I've asked these questions!!
    3) What kind of "papers" are you writing? Are you a teacher?
    4) "...deity out there that created our 1 million year evolutionary history." "One million?" I'll give ya half that (at the Precambrian explosion). Many physics 'folks' (ha ha) say that everything we 'experience' materially is really more space (atoms have 99% space - no material!) and forces (weak force, electromagnetic force strong force). SO there is no material 'stuff' and when we feel something it is the forces interacting that do the 'touching' or the cutting...or the bullet that penetrates and destroys...ones Earthsuit. So what if Deity thought all this up? There was no material at the big bang! It had to condense out from the energy as it expanded. and if what condensed out is mostly space then that too sort-ta fits the E=MC2 formula. We know also that ALL the elements that make up our body were 'cooked' in the nuclear furnaces of stars up to iron then we need a supernova (oh type 1A only!). Someone's been stirring the cosmic soup for the past 13 billion years seasoning it just right expecting us to come along--Heck it's almost as if the universe knew we were coming! All this is too 'fishy' for me to just say "fluke" everything in me screams "purpose"!
    5) "...i fail to see why a deity would create ME" NICE! Wow but I have screamed that one out into the darkest nights!! What were you thinking when ya put me here...ya might as well hacked up a hairball for all the trouble this life has placed before me!! Did I somehow piss You of or something??! ha ha ha... Ya, that's a good question! And too I just dig those out-of-body experiences. Arrrrggggggggg! Somehow I got to know that: life is a test, it is temporary, it is done in trust, and it's not about us. It is really all about relationship! We do not have to pass the test...we just have to TAKE IT, UNDERSTAND IT, ENDURE it, and TURN IT IN! (sort-ta...that is; we owe a death: look to Ecclesiastes 12:7). We are not here to rape, pillage, and burn...we are here to steward the planet, relate correctly with all things and creatures (yes you can swat a mosquito...and drink beer) and to seek truth as to our reason for being here...that is to look in awe that we even have attributes that transcend that which is material around us. That intelligence (God) is real and that we have similarities to this creator. Of course there is more...!
    6) let's do your number 2 via e-mail. But for thought....anything that is infinite cannot be a material thing for all things 'cool' down (entropy again). Black holes and unbelievable gravity will eventually consume all things past their 'thingness'....or the universe will thin out and freeze away--reaching absolute aero (sort-ta). The only 'things' that could be infinite are those things that are abstract (in our materialistic world...and those same things will be 'material' in a timeless 'world'). The Bible says "Love never fails" Of course not, it is infinite...as are all relationships...an attribute seeded into our material form via God a Deity that transcends time. If God is outside of time and allows us (say a) 'spirit and love ability' then why would it be temporary? How could God give us His attributes and they be limited--does God make junk? The reason love does NOT work well here is that we taint it with conditions; expectations; and selfishness (look to 1st Corinthians 13:4-8). Do we ever practice such 'love'? NO! And we could not either...no matter how desperately we try...because we do not really work correctly--it is as if we have been poisoned (and most do not know it or understand it nor will they face it). Here is another infinity: Numbers! No matter what number you give me I can always add one to it...we will never reach the end (except when the sun goes red giant -- or we die from old age while foolishly wasting our time trying to outdo each other in number counting). We have a finite sized brain that can comprehend infinite numbers then if that is so the numbers cannot be materialistic for they would not all fit inside my brain! Thought is infinite; we can count infinite numbers; God is infinite; our ability to think infinitely is similar to an attribute of God for in a materialist 'limited' world we should NOT be able to do this. When you leaned to count you were NOT taught that 2+3=5!! You were taught that 2 apples + 3 apples = 5 apples (and you know that there cannot be an infinite amount of apples--for one, the Earth could not hold them all for I would always be able to add one more--but not in apples...only numbers of them in thought). When we came into this world we came into a foreign 'land' of materialism...and we took to the three space dimensions TOO well...it's the time dimension that calls us into question why it does not work well (and are there others too such as perfection and fairness): time goes to slow when we are young, too fast when we are old ("Why, just yesterday Suzie was playing with her dolls and now she is getting married: Where did the time go?") we try to buy time, save time, kill time, borrow time...we wear it on our wrists, mark a calendar so we will not misplace 'time' forgetting that specific 'time' that then causes us to lose that time, regretting that we cannot then find the time and then wondering where it went? If we have too much time we are bored and if not enough we are late. TIME is not our friend...because it is not meant to be our restriction: that why life is a journey and this is a test and entropy works so well always moving us closer to Home. What will you be like when you pass through the materialist barrier into a place where time does not impact you any longer? Eternity is not a place where there is so much time that it cannot be counted it is a condition where time has no effect--spirit is a condition of being in abstract and of timelessness...not a materialist thing for such things that are material are IN time only.
    G

    Gerhard - If I saw that comment on a Facebook page, I would click the LIKE button.

    currently i'm working on an essay in plant physiology, the differences between hydraulic charatcteristics of plants over seasonal and circadian periods. from what i've come across, many plants are closely adapted to the environments they occupy ,and changes in the environment sometimes causes appropriate changes in the hydraulic characteristics. if a planet similar to earth, but lacking certain properties that we believe are essential for life, may exist, why is it not possible for life to exist? do physical constraints that dominate our world necessarily pose problems for life on other planets? is it not possible that we cant even begin to conceive ways in which organisms may evolve to survive? i think before we can state the improbabilty of life occuring on other planets we first need to define life... especially seeing that the creation of the first synthestic organism has somewhat thrown the conventional idea of life out the window. personally i think by restricting our thoughts on this subject, to the physical rules that we are subjected to, severely limits the true possiblities that may exist. i'm sure that if a archea bacterium had the capability to think when it first appeared, it would never have concieved that the world would look as it did now. similarly during the times of dinosuars, if they had they mental capacity to question, would they have fathomed that mammals would outlive them? similarly we are part of only a fraction of an instant in the infinite-ness of the universe so its difficult to talk of improbabilities when our knowledge is so greatly limited. i do acknowledge however that to contemplate inifinite possibilities may be a little time consuming. lol. also following the way of science we accept only what is testable and falsifiable, so i think we are sorta forced to think along the lines of physics and its rules governing every part of the universe. i'd also like to keep it real though. basically i think its good to remember that as much as we want to theorize and hypothesize, we cant ignore the fact that what we know is very limited and basing arguments on something that is not fully understood doesn't seem like good science to me. lol. i know i'm beginning to ramble over wierd philosophical stuff now so i'm just going to say i think science should always remain humble in its findings. who knows, one day something may come and completely topple current views of an idea. i feel that scientists that cant accept the limitations of science are no better than pitch-fork wielding mob people burning someone at the stake for thinking the earth is round.

    If you consider all of time (13.7 billion years or multiples of that) and space, and the fact that NASA has recently announced the detection of hundreds of potentially earthlike (as opposed to jovian) planets right in our interstellar back yard, it is difficult for me to believe that the universe is not teeming with life or that millions of intelligent civilizations have not existed.

    Gerhard Adam
    You may believe it or not, it's still not evidence.  It's interesting how your comment went from "hundreds of" potential earth-like planets to "millions of intelligent civilizations".

    In the end, it doesn't matter how many planets there are, or how big the universe is.  The only thing that matters is if the proper conditions can exist to give rise to such a "civilization" (note: I am distinguishing this from simply the case of life on another planet).

    What should be abundantly clear is that even on Earth, intelligence is insufficient to qualify for extraterrestrial exploration and that it took a unique manifestation of that intelligence to produce a culture and society capable of such activity.  I find it hard to believe that people so readily take that for granted and simply assume that such a result is a fore-gone conclusion.
    Mundus vult decipi
    First off, i think one should take into consideration that life is hardy. Look at our planet. Life is everywhere and nearly impossible to suppress for any length of time. (Just try getting rid of the weeds in your garden). Although that is also an unfair comparison to the universe because, in all reality, we have absolutely nothing to compare it to. Think of the number of planets that we actually know to exist and that it may be possible to reach in our lifetime. Now think about how many planets we estimate are in our universe. Now think about how none of us can even begin to conceive of the size of what we believe to be our universe. Now think about how we haven't even ruled out Mars as a possible carrier of life, and it's right next to us!

    The fact of the matter is that no one can say even the chances of life because all we can base it on is ourselves. Do you look at a rock on the ground that happens to have a bug on it and immediately conclude that all rocks have bugs on them? Of course not. Nor do you look at said rock and conclude that it's nearly impossible for rocks to have bugs on them.

    The real issue we face is our own time on earth. If it is true that we have only a billion years left on this earth, than we need to get a move on. Spreading the human race is the only logical way to insure that we will be around to find life somewhere else in the universe. In the meantime we will also be safeguarding ourselves in the event that we do meet life, and it is smarter or simply more advanced than us, we aren't caught in the whole mess of worrying about our entire race being wiped out in one fell swoop.

    So yes, there are many questions that we will probably never find the answers to, at least not in any of our lifetimes, but they are by no means the most pressing issues. I don't know about you, but if some life does show up, and sees us as a threat, i don't want to have to bank on an Ender Wiggin showing up to save us. Lets save ourselves now, before we have to.

    Gerhard Adam
    Life is everywhere and nearly impossible to suppress for any length of time.
    I don't understand why the supposition that life exists, automatically leads everyone to conclude that it inevitably leads to an intelligent life and civilization with ambitions comparable to our own. 
    If the only point is that life exists, then it's probably a reasonable position, albeit one that will be unlikely to be confirmed without our ability to actually visit such a world.

    On the other hand, intelligent life has absolutely no guarantee of existing, nor is there any sort of biological inevitability to its existence.  Even if one wanted to credit primates with an extraordinary intelligence, it is important to remember that the majority of homo sapiens time on Earth has NOT been in a state of scientific exploration, much less the ability to communicate beyond our immediate locale.  Therefore, even if intelligence exists, there is no reason to conclude that it leads to space exploration or communication.  In effect, it is quite reasonable to suggest that life may exist, but that the odds are overwhelmingly against an intelligent civilization comparable to our own.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I don't completely disagree with what you're saying, but what you are basing it on. "The odds" say absolutely nothing, because we have thus far failed to find any other life than that of our own planet. What, if anything, are you basing your claim of the probability of civilizations comparable to our own? Yes, from the way that we developed on our planet, it seems that intelligent life is quite improbable, but the fact that we have not even managed to send a person farther than our own moon demonstrates our incompetence in this matter. We have no idea what life could be like on other planets, or even galaxies. How can we conclude that the way we evolved is the only way that intelligent life could have ever evolved? Yes, we have made leaps and bounds in science, technology, and space research, but compared to what we don't know and have no possibility of knowing at this point, we know virtually nothing.

    Gerhard Adam
    You're correct, but given the information that we have (our own planet), then we have to conclude that the odds are not good.  Given the millions of species that have existed on this planet throughout its history, only one has ever achieved the ability to communicate extraterrestrially. 

    Given such a small showing regarding the evolution of intelligence, especially when we factor in the biggest bulk of human history, it seems that intelligence (of the sort we're considering) is not a highly probable event.  In addition, in concluding that other planets support intelligent life, there's a strong tendency to presume that this is an evolutionary objective, which it clearly isn't.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Have you ever considered the notion that perhaps that fact that we are "intelligent life", as we call it, prevents other species on our planet from achieving intelligence? Perhaps intelligence is a niche that can only be filled by one species? Since there is no way for us to know what would have happened to the rest of the world if we had not evolved this way, how can we say how rare it is?

    Gerhard Adam
    Regardless of the explanation for why it may be rare, the fact remains that it is.  Therefore given our limited sample set, we can only conclude that it is quite likely that this would exist elsewhere as well (if it exists at all).

    Bear in mind that my point is that it is only a unique set of circumstances that pushed humans in the direction to achieve the civilization they did.  They were quite content to be an intelligent species without the slightest inclination to producing the society we have which gives rise to our technological achievements.  Had that twist not occurred, we could very well be a quite intelligent species without the slightest ability or interest in extraterrestrial travel or communication.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I'm going to have to disagree with you on that point. I think that we couldn't really be an intelligent species if we didn't have that drive to improve upon the current society. What defines an intelligent species anyway? Some say it is the ability for sophisticated communication that is making this conversation possible. Personally I can't imagine a species with our kind of intelligence that wouldn't be intrigued by space and the possibility of others like them.

    Gerhard Adam
    You're missing the point and displaying a bit of bias.  The reality of our species is that we spent literally thousands and thousands of years being the "intelligent species" on this planet, and despite our current technological achievements, our species is not appreciably more intelligent than it has been since its origins (first homo sapiens).

    There are many examples of societies that have thrived and continue to thrive without having the technological ability to communicate or travel in space.  It could easily be argued that our own society lacks such a fundamental "intelligence" since individually we would be unable to do anything like you're describing.  My point is that it is an extremely unique manifestation of our social structure and NOT our intellect that has made that difference.  Therefore intelligence is insufficient for that achievement.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Of course other species have thrived, but none on earth have thrived as we have. Our species has single handedly taken over practically the entire earth (excluding oceans). In fact we have reached the point where people like you and me, and many others, live in a state that we take life for granted and all of actions are no longer solely aimed at living and passing along our genes. Look at other species and almost all of their actions can be looked at in terms of evolutionary advantages. You can ask the question 'how is this helping this creature live and reproduce?' but with humans, you cannot ask the same question of a girl playing piano or reading books.

    We have far surpassed the point that any other species on earth has. Because of that, I don't find it surprising at all that we are interested in space travel. It is the next place for us to expand to. Evolution calls for us to spread our species as far as possible to preserve ourselves, and very soon earth will be stretched to it's breaking point. Already we are seeing the impact that we have had on our planet. Strictly speaking in terms of species preservation, it is amazing what we have done with the earth and how completely we dominate it, however our intelligence tells us that we are depleting resources and destroying our environment. Maybe this foresight is a characteristic of intelligence, who knows? But the point is that there will come a time when our planet will not be able to hold us. What then? Population restriction laws? No, I think it is much more prudent to populate other planets as well.

    Gerhard Adam
    Your still missing the point.  What you refer to as "our species" is only true for a tiny fraction of its existence.  Even then, what you attribute to homo sapiens isn't true of the species itself.  It is a result of a unique social grouping that has given rise to this civilization.  There have been many other civilizations before this one and none resulted in the technological achievements of the present.  You can certainly argue about the development of science and technology over the past few hundred years, but then you'd have to make the point that this is knowledge that simply isn't available nor understand by the average homo sapiens.  Even those that understand it are powerless to utilize it.

    Instead what we have is a unique social evolution that has transformed homo sapiens into a cultural species wherein its "intelligence" resides and that could give rise to extraterrestrial communication or travel.  No other organization of homo sapiens has ever, nor would ever achieve something comparable.  Therefore it isn't a function of human intelligence, but the strange twist of fate that gave rise to our particular brand of social organization.

    It's somewhat analogous to the idea of insect evolution for bees or ants.  It is a unique adaptation that provides for a social grouping that causes the particular manifestation that we see and the same kinds of development occurring at that point.  It is no coincidence that humans and ants are one of the few species that grow their own food.  It is the collective and not the individual that gives rise to this.

    Therefore to postulate a comparable "intelligence" on another planet, there would also have to be a corresponding social evolution (of some type) that would allow individuals to leverage their individual abilities into greater achievements. 

    I won't argue about your optimism regarding colonization and population, but suffice it to say that those are all challenges that our social system must address, lest biology make the decision.

    Mundus vult decipi
    I get your point, but are you really claiming that what our ancestors did had so little an effect on our science and technology today? Of course civilizations of the past didn't reach this point! Because we are constantly building on the knowledge of predecessors. The majority of animal species that we consider "smarter", like dolphins or gorillas, have communities of their own. Many species function as civilizations and not as individuals because it is successful.

    I do agree that a very unique set circumstances brought us here, but i do not agree that they were so incredibly unlikely. I am open to the possibility that life is horribly rare or horribly common. The fact is, as of now we don't know. As for intelligent life, we have an even vaguer idea.

    By no means were homo sapiens "transformed into a cultural species" as far back as we know, homo sapiens have been cultural. Think of cave drawings and such. There is an abundance of evidence that early humans lived in groups passing down their culture from generation to generation.

    I think we are thinking of the human race differently. It seems to me that you are thinking of past human civilizations as totally different from ourselves. However, since they are our ancestors, their triumphs are our triumphs, their failures, ours. Somewhere along the line they figured out that growing food was more reliable than hunting and gathering. We still use that tactic today. So it isn't that every other civilization has failed to reach this point, rather it took this long to get here.

    Gerhard Adam
    By no means were homo sapiens "transformed into a cultural species" as far back as we know, homo sapiens have been cultural. Think of cave drawings and such. There is an abundance of evidence that early humans lived in groups passing down their culture from generation to generation.
    Once again, the point isn't that homo sapiens aren't cultural, but rather that it is one specific unique culture which gave rise to our particular brand of "civilization".  Simply consider the radical change that occurred between the two cultures that clashed when Europeans came to North America.  No one would suggest that Native Americans were any less intelligent than Europeans, and yet there is such a stark contrast in their respective cultures it's hard not to notice.

    Also, before anyone gets their hackles up, I'm not suggesting that somehow European culture is "superior", because the cultural path that gave rise to this form of "civilization" occurred over 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture and the rise of the city/state.  This was such a radical departure from all previous forms of human social grouping, that it was quite unique and quite specific in its results.
    Somewhere along the line they figured out that growing food was more reliable than hunting and gathering. We still use that tactic today.
    I have to disagree, since you're suggesting that somehow there was a problem that someone solved.  Not true.  Starving people do not develop agriculture.  Agriculture could only develop when the species was already quite successful.  I agree that it changed the power dynamic, but it had little to do with being more reliable. 

    You need to think about what our culture really means, and not simply that it is technologically successful.  Our culture carries an implicit coercive force that we all recognize and accept.  We willingly sacrifice a portion of our freedoms to belong to this group.  We grant the group the right to determine the terms and conditions under which we are allowed to eat or have access to resources.  One does not build a rocket to send a man to the moon through the use of volunteers.  This requires people that are willing to commit (sometimes their whole lives) to decisions regarding education and experience to do a small part of what the society requires.  This is so radically different that virtually every other species (other than ants), that it is a truly unique evolutionary path that has lead to human technological achievement.  It could not be done any other way.

    This is the primary difference in the European/Native American confrontation that occurred back in 1492.  Europeans were organized around a division of labor that allowed them to field professional armies and to partition out what was expected of individuals whereas native tribal societies had no such concept.

    I've obviously glossed over a great deal, but the point remains that it is our unique culture (which was certainly not an inevitable consequence of evolution) that has produced the technological culture we see today.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Larry Arnold
    It's the old and impenetrable question of unknown unknowns and the limits of what we can know.

    So far everything in terms of extraterrestrial civilizations capable of contact with ours is framed in somewhat anthropomorphic and anthropocentric terms.

    The only way out I see, is to consider that we cannot know what forms alternative evolutionary processes might lead to, considering there have been so many on earth.

    The comparison with ants is interesting, I wouldn't be the first to come up with notions of a technologically advanced analogy of insect life, so again who knows, perhaps the extraterrestials will be wanting make alliances with the ants and termites first :)
    I resent your use of the word 'unique' here. Saying that the evolution of bees and ants is a unique adaptation is a contradictio in terminis. Even so, ants aren't a 'species'. There's thousands of different ants species and ant societies. Ask E.O.Wilson. And then you use it as an analogy to the development of human social organisation. Makes it even less 'unique', doesn't it? Thinking of it, it seems to me there's a rather common tendency in evolution to try the benefits of a social organisation, be it in bacterial mats, locusts, ants, african blind moles, sardines, crows, elephants, gorilla's, chimps....
    And what is that 'particular brand of social organization'? Are you talking about the NASA? I know of a 'particular brand of social organization' you probably wouldn't like to include, that nevertheless gave rise to the genius of Wernher von Braun, father of the NASA space program (oops, i typoed 'progrom'). Anyway the rocket was a chinese invention, and it all started with the invention of fire and ballistics...Monkeys throw coconuts, I don't see much unique or particular.
    Your expression 'humans and ants are one of the few species' is probably just part of common, inaccurate use of the english language. English is such a poor language for expressing thoughts in clearly. But we are on the internet, so we have to manage. But sloppy language is the beginning of sloppy thinking, especially in blogs.

    UvaE
    I don't understand why the supposition that life exists, automatically leads everyone to conclude that it inevitably leads to an intelligent life and civilization with ambitions comparable to our own.
    Agreed. Judging from the myriad life forms on Earth, it's obvious that intelligence is just one of many successful strategies. Maybe I'm too influenced by the writings of the late S. J. Gould, but we owe our existence to so many varibales and contingencies, that the "accident" may not have repeated itself that often, if at all. It may be---twins aside--- as likely as finding a physical and psychological clone of oneself.
    Gerhard Adam
    I think there's an even more important aspect that keeps being overlooked as well.  Our modern society isn't simply a product of human intelligence, since such intelligence has existed for thousands of years.  Instead it is directly a result of our unique social organization as well, so that would have to be replicated in an alien species to even have the possibility of "evolving" a technological society.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The number of stars is just too much for one to be a fluke, just one to have life on it. But still, the probability of perfect conditions is small so life would be probably few, and definitely far between so the chance of commutication with them is unlikely. I'm still not opposed to looking for intelligent life, because you just never know, or funding astrobiology, because someday earth will be unihabitable and knowledge of how to live in space would be crucial.

    i agree, but i think it might also be possible that life could have come about in a totally new way somewhere else. the leading theory nowadays is panspermia, saying that life on earth from "seeds of life" that came from elsewhere in the universe. this theory in itself implies that life exists elsewhere in the universe. the other thing to keep in mind is that we have such a narrow idea of evolution and the requirements of life, because all we have to go on is our own planet. we really dont know anything because we can only conceive of life happening on an earth like planet and it's incredibly difficult for anyone to imagine intelligent life occurring in a way drastically different than our own evolutions.

    The probability of life on earth "contaminating" other planets in other solar systems in other galaxies (thus sparking life on said planets, solar systems and galaxies) is far,far,far greater than life starting from scratch. How do we know that life on earth truly started on earth? I'd say that the chances of life on earth due to biological contamination is magnitudes higher than life starting from the primordial soup.

    Given another thousand years or so, we humans will be busy "contaminating" the worlds around us. And a thousand years following that, surrounding galaxies will also be "infected" by our footprints. Evolution on a galactic scale will create thousands of new human species over the next hundred thousand years. Millions of years following, space "domination" (as a result of inevitable warfare between the different human species) just might involve "genetic germination" of life on distant galaxies as a tactic to "outspread" the enemy, assuming over millions of years, the various Mankinds would have perfected the manipulation of DNA and our genome.

    Who knows? Maybe a handful of these germinized planets were forgotten and let to evolve into intelligent life without interference. Maybe earth is one of these planets?

    Millions of years is a tiny cross section of time in our universe. Certainly not nearly enough for life to start from scratch through a series of coincidences. However, if we start off with intelligent life, millions of years is more than enough time for the intelligent life to make a mess of things in the galaxies around it. Spreading like spores, like bacteria and viruses until here are trillions of different humanoid species, most not even aware of one another....probably thinking they are unique and alone in the universe.

    My point is, intelligent life just needs to happen once. After that, life on other planets is a virtual guarantee given a mere few million years more. Evolution will hide the fact that we all came from the same source and we will all cherish the misguided thought that life has cheated the odds in the galaxies that surround us.

    "intelligent life just needs to happen once. After that, life on other planets is a virtual guarantee given a mere few million years more. "

    When someone calls a thing inevitable, it's a guarantee he hasn't given it any serious thought. Nothing is "inevitable," although it may seem so between sips of beer.

    "Given another thousand years or so, we humans will be busy "contaminating" the worlds around us. And a thousand years following that, surrounding galaxies will also be "infected" by our footprints."

    You're saying that in two thousand years we'll make it to the nearest galaxies?? I'm wondering how, since they are millions of light years away.

    Panspermia is usually thought of as the propagation of spores on or within interstellar grains. You seem to believe it has been done by a race of Johnny Appleseeds. A reasonable question is, why would they do that.

    "space domination (as a result of inevitable warfare between the different human species)"

    This sounds like an awfully good reason for that first intelligent race NOT to spread any spores.

    Look, starting life on a planet is not just a matter of sprinkling a few germs here and there. Every life form requires the existence of other life forms. It's necessary to transplant an entire ecology. Furthermore, you will not find any suitable planets. The Earth's climate and atmosphere evolved along with the life. A planet will not have an oxygen atmosphere unless life is already present.

    i agree with much of what you said concerning the exaggerations and assumptions of the previous commenter. however i disagree on several points. First off, i don't think that every life form requires the existence of other life forms for example, ferns and moss and such are completely independent and don't even need other life to pollinate them, because the reproduce with spores. secondly, ecologies change. they are flexible and are not the rigid confines you make them out to be. finally, you can by no means say that you wouldn't find suitable planets. just because the earth evolved the way it did, does not mean that that can be the only way a planet can support life. many many many organisms do not require oxygen to live so an oxygen atmosphere is not relevant at all.

    Gerhard Adam
    First off, i don't think that every life form requires the existence of other life forms for example, ferns and moss and such are completely independent and don't even need other life to pollinate them, because the reproduce with spores. secondly, ecologies change.
    You need to re-think that statement.  Mosses and ferns are very much dependent on all the predecessor life-forms that gave rise to single celled organisms, the evolution of the operational parts of the cell, chlorophyll, the cell wall, etc.  These are not simply arbitrary independent events, but a full continuum that required probably hundreds of thousands of organisms before the first mosses or ferns even had a chance to come into existence.

    You're only considering a plant that came into the world long after the hard work was done (i.e. building the first functioning cell).  From that position, natural selection can move in a variety of directions from which the ferns and mosses are certainly one category.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You know what would be fuckin crazy if there was an itellegent, super advanced race of flightless birds. That came to earth and ripped your face off because instead of contributing to society you spent you whole life dicken around on computer. If you believe in anything don't you believe we should be helping one another. Yes, i believe there is life on another planet but there is and life here it is getting pretty fucked up. If there was aliens that could visit us what the fuck would they even want from us. .WE ARE ALL MONKEYS. Thats why I believe we are a higher being's ant farm. We know nothing but the farm. WE MUST BREAK THROUGH... Pardon my French but i need attention:)

    Life on other planets ? Who said there needs to be a goldilock zone for life? Maybe for Humans and life as we know it! Couldn't there be fire breathing, no oxygen needed , methane ice eating aliens everywhere? So take the guessing .0000001 percent and add??? Doesnt that make you think how limited our minds are capable of?

    Could be walking gas mountains on Jupiter that talk to each other?
    Well prove otherwise, guess what you cant!

    Making it to another planet is beyond man's capabilities out of our own system for now and near future, mentally or physically!
    So until we humans come up with beam me up scotty tech this is lala land!

    My conclusion from reading the article and numberous post is nobody knows nothing and we humans love to ramble about what we assume on possiblities of life!

    Dream On- Beam me up Scotty!

    Gerhard Adam
    Who said there needs to be a goldilock zone for life? Maybe for Humans and life as we know it! Couldn't there be fire breathing, no oxygen needed , methane ice eating aliens everywhere? So take the guessing .0000001 percent and add??? Doesnt that make you think how limited our minds are capable of?
    You seem to have difficulty distinguishing between what is known in science versus what your imagination can concoct.  This isn't about being imaginative, but rather it is based on what we know about how biology works.  This may not be applicable in all cases, however, it is useless to speculate using the science fiction realm with no evidence for any alternatives.

    Unless you've been in contact with some extraterrestrials, the only evidence we have for life at this point is that of Earth.  Therefore, the only conclusion we can arrive at is that there is a "Goldilocks" zone for life. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Well then take the Earth, what about hydrogenosomes, no oxygen needed, almost no sunlight or heat and survive at incredible pressures. Or how about chemolithotrophs, living without any oxygen or organic matter. Or what about thermoacidophiles living in extremely hot acidic conditions, even at temperatures that are close to the lowest known temperature of lava.

    Just because they are not prevalent doesn't mean that they couldn't form the basis for the dominant species of life on another planet. If these extremes are taken into account, then extraterestrial life takes on all kinds of possibilities beyond anything that 'your imagination can concoct'.

    Same poster as above, sorry Gerhard, I have just needlessly commented without fully reading the previous comment before yours. Of course there has to be limitations, after all if you only consider temperature as the factor it can only be so hot or cold before life or most chemical interactions become impossible.

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, I didn't see your comment to that comment.  I tend to respond before I always read too :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    ... what about hydrogenosomes ...
    ... how about chemolithotrophs  ...
    ... what about thermoacidophiles...
    ... doesn't mean that they couldn't...
    In those statements, tell me the part that isn't speculative?  For all the difference it makes, you could add the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot.  It simply doesn't make it any more scientific regardless of how many "what ifs" you throw in there.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You seem to be stuck on Man's knowledge( science) and what Earth displays as life! If you account for the Goldilock zone only for possible life as we know then fine, Life can only come about in a goldilock zone as we know it and I agree!

    But when you take in account the remaining 99.999999999999% of the universe is outside that zone then?? Nobody knows,( zero, zilch, notta, ect) what aliens may live a certain way! You can argue, must have this or that for life but this may not be true for possible aliens that may lurk in the universe!

    When I find one ill let you know! But dont hold your Breathe! Ha Ha!

    With our current state of knowledge, to assert that there is "probably" life on other planets first requires demonstrating that life "probably" emerges when some cominbation of chemical elements are in proximity with each other over time.

    I'm not a scientist or indeed very much learned in any way, but what bothers me about these kinds of explanations is that we only base our theories on biology and physics as we know it, and i would imagine that anyone posting in this kind of forum can agree that our knowledge is woefully lacking in the grand scheme of things.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...we only base our theories on biology and physics as we know it,
    What else would we base our theories on?  Simply because there's knowledge lacking doesn't open the field to endless speculation.

    If something new is discovered then our theories change,  if not, then they don't. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Infinity. Pretend that it means unlimited in size. There is a possibility of multi integrated dimensions of time and distance that means the mathematical laws that we follow dose not exist anywhere outside of an indigent spiceice of life. Our brains use it to lable possibility and fact. To agree with mathematical terms to determine the existence of life in other place is an illusion. Which leaves no place for belief in a higher power of understanding. How can someone use mathematics to explain things that cannot be explained. Because there is unlimited size of the universe who's to say that we aren't placed in a spot teaming with life in other galaxys that are and have been indigent enough to travel to different places of space and time to inhbit another planets

    Gerhard Adam
    How can someone use mathematics to explain things that cannot be explained. Because there is unlimited size of the universe who's to say that we aren't placed in a spot teaming with life in other galaxys that are and have been indigent enough to travel to different places of space and time to inhbit another planets
    Well, that's simple.  How about the lack of any evidence?

    What you don't seem to grasp is that it doesn't matter what you can imagine.  It only matters what you can demonstrate from a scientific perspective.  Does that mean that there can't be life?  Obviously not, but the difference is that scientifically we have no evidence for it.  Speculate all you like, but don't imagine for a moment that it has anything to do with science.

    For some reason, there seems to be a sense that because we think something is likely to be true, then it's sufficient to just declare it to be true.  What we believe is at one level and what we can prove is at another.  Lack of any evidence or proof does not mean life doesn't exist, any more than believing that it does exist is sufficient to establish it as being proven.

    People seem to think that throwing around terms like "infinity" qualify as evidence.   Mathematics isn't proof of anything, especially when it can only be presented in terms of probabilities for which half the terms have no definition (as in Drake's equation).

    Until life is actually discovered some place, we have exactly one planet that represents our sample set.  That simply isn't enough to make sweeping statements about the rest of the universe.


    Mundus vult decipi
    I have to disagree Gerhard, of course it matters what we can imagine. All great scientific discovery starts with the imagination of a possibility and science then sets about proving it. The reality is that at present we are not advanced enough ourselves to go about proving life on other planets so instead we are reduced to theory and imagination.

    I personally believe that there is a high likelyhood of 'life' being on another planet. I think it is such a high likelyhood to be almost a certainty. Whether that 'life' is intelligent or even is something we would reconise as life is questionable but still the possibilities are endless and I for one am only disappointed knowing that I probably won't be on this plain long enough to find out the answer.

    Gerhard Adam
    All great scientific discovery starts with the imagination of a possibility and science then sets about proving it.
    This has nothing to do with that.  We already know what life is like here, so there's nothing to imagine beyond speculating about where else it might.  That's all it is.

    Your argument might be more persuasive if you were considering the effects regarding "origin of life" questions, etc. since that could certainly provide a scientific basis for assessing what the possibilities are on other planets.  However, simply speculating about large numbers of planets is neither science nor the path to discovery.  It is simply speculation.

    The question of life on other planets isn't subject to scientific proof.  It's really as simple as "tripping" over it.  There are no scientific laws in play here.  Even if someone could conclusively "prove" that life could exist in the universe, it still wouldn't mean anything until and unless we actually found it. 
    I personally believe that there is a high likelyhood of 'life' being on another planet. I think it is such a high likelyhood to be almost a certainty.
    ... and that's where my problem begins.  You've stated your personal belief as being that life has a high likelihood.  Then you've extended that high likelihood into "almost a certainty", from which many have already extended that idea into "inevitable".

    It's nothing of the sort.  You were absolutely correct when you said "I personally believe".  After that it is no longer scientific.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I appreciate that there is no way to scientifically prove the existence of life on another planet and as you say we are reduced to simply tripping over it. However without the imagination that there might be something out there and theories of what that looks like and where it might be then what the hell is the point of exploring.

    Everything is opinion, particle physics uses mathematical formulae to hypothesise the existence of particles such as the higgs boson. Is it so wrong then that we should use mathematical probability to predict possible life on other planets?

    and evrything we know about the universe outside of our solar system is a second hand acount

    well i dint say it was completely true i was showing that people disregard potability as fact. Also because people not all tend to just believe things that they are told which is actually the first step in anything scientific is take something and question it until you can declare it an impossibility by first hand acount

    We human beings believe that we have reached a definte point wherein we can say that we have a set of answers or equations to evaluate or theorise whatever is going on. A hundred years back the big bang, black holes, neutron star all this would have seemed a joke. Astro physics are still in the nascent stages and theoretical physics has become its base. The universe that I believe is something which is beyond human comprehension for now and what we see and understand today are vague. The distances that are being calculated between galaxies are mind boggling and so to believe that there may be intelligent life somewhere over there may be a figment of our imagination. We the intelligent human beings started showing signs of intelligence somewhere a million years ago a speck in the time that has passed by (time is something that was created by humans). Animals dont understand the concept of time for them they are just there surving on their basic evolutionary traits "eating" and "procreating". From the animals point of view there is no time "they are simply there or they won't be there" total clarity is exactly what you can call it. Humans on the other hand have a huge amount of information with regards to the very existence which can be defined into scientific, philosophical or religious knowledge. In the case of universe all this information and knowledge fails because we are trying to know something which simply cannot be known. Even if we reach the stage where star trek kind of missions are possible where spaceships can reach warp speeds then also understanding universe would be something like a fish trying to understand relativity. The major hurdle is the distance, the space it is simply infinite and even if it is finite it would seem as infinite because travelling those distances is unimaginable. Intelligent civilisations even if it pops somewhere over there by some mysterious impossible circumstances then also it would seem implausible that they will be able to reach us or contact us. So knowing whether they are really there or not will not make much of a difference.

    Aitch
    My only comment, I think, is to ask why bother?, since no man/woman/other form of human, actually has higher odds than any other, of guessing/predicting, analysing, or surmising the answer about life on other earth-like planets, having not been to any, the whole exercise is futile, other than to provide a little amusement as rival intelligences try to out-do each other, in appearing more right than the last or next guess If it happens, it happens...as to whether we will know is another story entirely Aitch
    What is the probability of someone rolling a 20 on a 20 sided die 1,000 or 100,000 times in a row with out rolling any other number? Now whats the probability of someone rolling X on a Z sided die with an unknown rule set to determine if the next roll breaks the chain?

    The steps to go from non life to life is a bit more complex then 4 steps, yes you can place a group of them in 4 categories but the steps needed and interdependence of those steps, places a very large (unknown) chance of these steps resetting.

    Thats assuming that the first step, of life from no life is even possible evolution only commits on existing life and only in a theoretical manner.

    Hi reason,

    Are you alluding to the twenty amino acids that are universal to all of life as we know it? I think the probability of this specific genetic code 64->20 is 20!/(20!*(64-20)!). Until now I haven't found a computer program that can handle this calculation, but it's huge, I mean very, very tiny.
    What's more, why these 20 amino acids? I never understood why there doesn't exist a simple, cute amino acid like C2H5-C(NH2)(COOH), which I'd like to name ethyline. It would be very useful, and harmless, still life (as we know it) didn't pick it.
    As for your stop codon, that's already in the genetic code, three of them, so that makes 23 significant codons.

    All of you out there should read about the Rare Earth hypothesis, especially section 2 of:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_Earth_hypothesis

    The Rare Earth hypothesis grants that the ubiquity of the extremophiles here on Earth points to microbes being common in the universe, but maintains that the conditions required for complex life to evolve from microbes in less time that a star spends on the Main Sequence, are very rare. For starters, most stars, and most locations in a galaxy, are not suited to the emergence of complex life.

    Ward and Brownlee, the authors of the book Rare Earth, are not evolutionary biologists and their argument is mostly astrophysical and geological. The evolutionary considerations Andrew Watson raise (which other evolutionary specialists, such as Ernst Mayr and Francisco Ayala, have raised before him) make the emergence of intelligent life even more improbable.

    Rare Earth and evolutionary reasoning, plus the Fermi Paradox, suggest strongly that our earthly home is an unusually friendly place, and that our emergence on it was a close call. Ward and Brownlee conclude that it is defensible to to assert that we humans are most likely unique in the Milky Way. I say that if we are the only the only creatures in the Local Group capable of scientific reasoning and technology, then for all practical purposes, We Are Alone. The moral implications are clear: we need to take much better care of ourselves and our planet.

    your right we don't exist its to "improbable"

    See

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observable_universe

    Received science concludes that our universe began from a singularity about 14 billion years ago. We do not know the present day size or mass of the universe about us that resulted from the Big Bang. All that we can know about is the observable universe, that part of the universe whose emitted electromagnetic radiation has had time to reach us since the Big Bang. The observable universe is a sphere centered on the Earth whose radius is about 45-50 billion light years. This radius considerably exceeds 14 billion light years for general relativity reasons I won't go into here. At any rate, the observable universe is finite in size and mass, and we humans could indeed be unique within it. All mention of physical infinity in the article at the start of this thread is misleading: the universe we can talk about is most definitely finite.

    The two most stunning discoveries of the last century were that all cells use huge nucleic acid molecules to code a large amount of information using the same genetic code (ignoring RNA viruses and such), and that our universe began a finite time ago in a highly energetic state. This thread continues the Conversation those discoveries initiated.

    The three great discoveries of our species are language, agriculture, and symbolic communication. The first two are not unique to humans. For example, ants "farm" fungus. A few species give tantalizing hints that they can communicate by making sounds. But written language and symbolic reasoning (primarily mathematics) appear to be uniquely human.

    Aitch
    Received science concludes that our universe began from a singularity about 14 billion years ago


    see 4m.35s into this video for alternate evidence of 16.4 Billion years

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9LQihokzc4&feature=related

    Aitch
    Anything evolutionary in nature on our planet can't be used as a basis for conjecture as to whether life can evolve on a habitable planet...Life on our planet is carbon based for instance, and we know now that life can evolve as silicon based...If anything, science has shown us that if life can get any kind of foot hold it will run with it...Difficult steps it seems, is part and parcel of evolution itself..Indeed,,,its the very driving force of evolution..It's what causes it to occur...What is more difficult than the fight for survival...You can't base that into a mathematical model.

    I assume that life requires a very complex chemistry. There is no evidence whatsoever that silicon can support such great complexity. There is enormous evidence that carbon, interacting with hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and phosphorus, can. There is no evidence that there other elements can support the requisite complexity. Any organic chemist will tell you that organometallic compounds have wonderful catalytic properties. Well, life on earth is very much predicated on organometallic compounds, starting with hemoglobin and chlorophyll.

    In 1913, Lawrence Henderson argued that it was difficult for life to succeed without liquid water, and his reasoning still stands. This, and the fact that complex organic molecules are reactive only between 0 and 60 degrees, strongly constrains the Stellar Habitable Zone.

    The Rare Earth hypothesis cheerfully accepts the ubiquity of microbes. They are tough critters that can arise, thrive, and evolve in a broad range of conditions. We can see that here on earth. The Rare Earth hypothesis does conclude, though, that the conditions required for the emergence of multicellular life in a fee billion year rare in the universe.

    Perhaps there is a one in 10,000 chance at any given time. But, it seems to me like those numbers are based off of elements here on Earth. On different planets in which we have not examined at this point, new elements could be available. Gases are, in all known cases, the formation of life. Therefore, to put it simply, with new elements, it could be a whole new scenario.

    early life such as anarobic life could live without oxygen, these organisms still exist today, some organisms in geothermal vents dont need the sun they use sulphur for their energy, some organisms such as tad live in 300 degrees super heated water under extreme pressures.

    so in a nutshell we have organisms that could live without oxygen in 300 degrees celcius with no sun on planet earth already. Dont think a planet needs our specific conditions to spawn life. It could be quite possible for life to exist without carbon, silicone could also work and who knows what else. People like to define ods based on what they know but look at the world and all the obscure organisms, it would not surprise me if there is life on planets we would define as conditions that could not sustain life.

    evolution is fact, not because i read it because i have seen it with my own eyes in a biochemistry lab and because i induced it. using electricity in water to assimilate organic molecules and amino acids and nucleic acids can also easily be done in a lab. Not to mention the fact that we carry the genetic code of all our ancestors. Chicken have teeth if you inhibit certain enzymes, then they express their ancestral genes, frogs turn from fish to land organisms in a few weeks before our eyes. we all come from one cell, its fact it not garbage like creationists like to believe, if you don't work in a laboratory dont speculate about anything regarding evolution because the simple fact is you do not know what we know, you have not seen what we have seen. We do have more facts and in all honesty we know more.

    im so sick and tired of the arugment that we have to come from a creator because everything is so damn perfect. do you even have a definition for that word? life has been created from carbon in a lab, how does that fit into your theory? if you have a valid argument i would love to hear it but stop posting one liners here because it just proves your arrogance and ignorance.

    Wow, I have never read such a needlessly aggressive post. You know more than others because you have personally experienced something, big woop, well I have personally experienced a ghost, seen the loch ness monster and been abducted by aliens. That means that my opinion is more valid than yours in all matters outside scientific knowledge. I am being facetious of course, but just because you think you have experienced something does not mean that only people of equal experience to you have a right to comment on these boards.

    By the way, I agree with you about there being a lack of any sort of evidence behind creationism and personally I am not a religious man, but that does not mean that evolution is the only answer. It is simply the best explantion we have at this time. If someone believes in creationism then that is ok and it is also ok for them to post an opinion based on faith, you ask for proof but that in itself negates the idea of having a faith. Whilst I am not religious I have faith that there is something bigger than me, a force, a being, an entity or something on the whole more mystical than that. I also believe that that being had influence on the process of life and the evolution of species. These ideas, evolution and creationism, do not have to be mutually exclusive and my opinion is no less valid than yours.

    if you have seen a ghost and the loch ness monster and you scientifically documented it then yes your opinion on those 2 subjects are more relevant . if your follow up argument to that is that you can photoshop (fake) it then its bordering conspiracy theory so lets not go down that road. I have documented examples of evolution, has any of these creationists ever taken the time to look at that evidence. If you do not have all the data then your opinion is worth less than someone who has more data. I know this goes against everything the world tries to teach us but right and wrong does exist in this world. I personally believe someone with more data and more experience can provide better insights.

    I have a right to be angry, its an evolutionary inherited emotion, if it serves no purpose in this argument it makes me feel better so it serves a purpose. I don't like creationists who drop one line in a post then leave with the idea that they have shown everyone the truth. I meet these people on a weekly basis. They feel superior and think they know the truth with no evidence, they are also not willing to look at proof.

    I personally think if you believe something with absolutely no proof you should be classified as insane. it is all good to say to each his own but what if we are raising a religion brain washed world of zombies who fly into buildings and use religion to kill in the name of god....

    "" you ask for proof but that in itself negates the idea of having a faith""

    isnt that just a very convenient excuse? would a god create a being with questions and then leave him with no proof to find his way and if he does'nt blindly believe in something he is forever doomed.... that sounds like insanity to me.

    anyways im not here to discuss religion, go read about some of einstein and Bohr, sometimes they had such violent arguments they had to continue the next day. Im not saying thats the right way, im just saying its not wrong, and people are pationate about subject. I for one am pationate about science and people writing it off with one line of "look at the flowers there must be a god"" angers me like some people would be angered if you had to insult their family.

    I have never said evolution and creation have to be exclusive in any sense. I said man can create life from carbon which means man can create life. Im sure not 0.01% of creationists have read about that.

    So in conclusion i believe not everyones opinions should matter, and im not talking about forums on the internet, this is just garbage to make the time pass, But if we are 4 scientists and 4 train workers in a room arguing about particle physics im not going to listen to the train workers.

    Agreed, but this isn't a laboratory, this is an internet forum and everyone has a right to post thoughts. You have a perception about what you know but that's all it is a perception. For all you truly know we may not even exist, again I am playing devils advocate.

    Faith has got nothing to do with damnation, religion has. Faith is about believing in something without proof. My point is simply this, discuss by all means, ask questions, understand why someone might choose to think in a way contrary to your own and you might be suprised in that you actually learn something you thought you knew was right turns out to be wrong. Your anger towards creationists stems, by your own words, from the lack of willingness to consider another option or look at the 'facts'. I find it funny though that in stating that their opinion doesn't matter you are doing to them exactly what it is about them that gets up your nose.

    As for having a right to get angry because it's an evolutionary response, I'll tell the next murder suspect that it's their right to kill someone who is a threat to their dominance because after all it's an evolutionary response. I suggest taking a deep breath, opening a window and relaxing a bit!

    I am reffering to this comment:""any of you idiots ever hear about god and jesus? our world is to perfect, we as humans are to perfect and complex for there not to be a god. stop being so hard hearted and arogant""
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As I have stated it is just the internet and a way to pass the time, i a m not trying to find any truths here.

    perception yes, its possible we don't exist which means nothing matters and everyone is wrong. but with that theory nothing matters and there are no rights and no wrongs.... in this world on this planet in this dimension when i drop a glass it will fall. that is fact. now by changing the parameters that might change but it does not change the fact that it is fact in this world.

    with that in mind I believe we can see more truths using science than faith, and i will also accept that we might be dead wrong but at least i have reasons why i believe what i believe, i take time to look at it and to study it. Faith is just what it says faith. you might as well believe space donkeys with wings created us.. no one can prove you wrong. So on a forum like this its like playing chess with no rules when you argue because you can never be wrong unless you can somehow prove donkeys with wings did not create the universe.

    using an extreme example like murder to say anger is wrong is just no way to argue. there is clearly a distinct difference between the two. Anger has a place in the world and people use it to win wars, to drive them, call it anger passion whatever you want but to compare it to murder is to say if you enjoy food why not become a feeder and eat until you are obese... clearly balance plays a role

    ""
    I find it funny though that in stating that their opinion doesn't matter you are doing to them exactly what it is about them that gets up your nose.
    ""

    I have given them more than enough to argue with, reasoning and my reasons why, im asking them to argue not to drop one line and leave the forum. I have no problem with them telling me im completely wrong and i live in a dreamworld but back up your statements. I also have no problem with me thinking im right and they are wrong.

    People have a tendancy to look for the middle way, grey areas where everyone is right. why is it so difficult to accept that there are rights and wrongs in the world. I accept that I might be wrong, Why cant they??

    Same person as above Jaco and I couldn't agree more. I have tremendous respect for people who have faith because for me the concept generally is diffcult and I think that faith at best is a wonderful, inspiring thing. However, at the other extreme it is dangerous and foolhardy. I think the type of people you are refering to are bigots and they also have no right to post opinion if they are not willing to listen to anothers in an open way. Afterall, Jesus supposedly taught love and patience for your fellow man, hardly an attitude displayed by some religious zealots that post on these forums. I also find this quite hysterical, since these people preach about a religious way of life they clearly are unable to subscribe to themselves.

    However, I suspect the post you are refering to may be a troll because it is stated without dialogue, on a forum that will clearly be of more interest to the scientific community than it will be to a religious one using blatently inflamatory language. So I am sure it was written purly to illicit a response. to that end it has succeeded.

    I do not see how it would be even remotely possible to come up with an equation that would predict the odds of life arising on other planets. For one it seems to be completely wrong to use Earth as a standard model for the evolution of life. Each step in it self comes with a different probability. The first step, bio genesis, seems to be the most unlikely. The problem is that because of the fact that each step seems to be unlikely and random, there is no way of standardizing the time frame in which they all occurred. They could all happen within 100 million years, a billion years, or not at all. There is simply no way of knowing without having other points of reference such as other inhabited planets. Without even considering the possibility of the existence of alternate forms of life other than carbon-based life forms. My apologies if i butchered your language by the way.

    What are the odds of a hydrogen atom forming and the process of an increasing complexity of elements evolving from the simpler elements? Then these elements evolving into clumps and then molecular formations and crystalline structures? These elements are constantly reordered into innumerable alternate combinations over time. Even though there is finiteness in the number of atoms in the universe, there is still quite nearly an infinite number of recombinations of these same atoms possible over a constant time frame. It amazes me that in only 200,000 years one particular species develops a technology that permits it the potential of committing an inadvertent act of transpermia through the introduction of another species off planet, such as humans leaving some hardy bacteria on Luna or Mars, that just so happens to be able to reproduce and gradually change it"s new environment into a habitation for new speciation and so forth. We're only accounting for a particular scale of existence and particular dimensions. The possibilities are unlimited. We are only looking for something just like ourselves. That is pretty self-centric. Perhaps there are other wonderful things to discovery just as unique and complex as "intelligent" "life". Perhaps there is something beyond consciousness. Perhaps our older and wiser living siblings on Earth and perhaps elsewhere decided that civilization and technology were a bad idea and evolved a more quiet form of existence.

    So, what was here before there was even anything that qualified as something?
    Why can't we figure it out?
    How can we calculate odds of life existing somewhere else?
    Isn't that suggestive of a finite universe?
    If the universe is finite, is there a wall that we come up against? If there is a wall, then what's on the other side of that wall? If it's nothing then what is nothing?

    This is the thing, there is an answer, everything has an answer.
    How did everything materialize from nothing?
    How does pressure build up for a big bang to happen when before the big bang there was nothing?

    F-this, my brain hurts, gonna go surf some porn.

    That I understand

    We shouldn't even be talking about this really.. Considering the probability is beyond what we can see, we really can't say what's out there. We can guess, but the chances of any one theory being correct or even close to correct, are slim. I think once we are capable of closely studying other galaxies, maybe efficiently and quickly going millions of times further than we can now, then we can start pondering the possibility of cosmic neighborhoods, and developing relationships with alien species. Honestly, what do you think us humans would do if an alien species contacted us tomorrow? Surely what they portray in movies (politicians, "leaders", and so on..) cannot be 100% fiction. There's definitely someone out there that would want to start some shit, and we'd have a war on our hands. We wouldn't know how to handle ourselves, so we should just enjoy the fact that we are a dominant species and have a planet to ourselves, and use it how we see fit.

    I was wondering something here. i have been looking at all these comments and it all talks about planet similer to earth that are inteligent to earth (well, i only read halfway through). has anyone considered intelegent life on planet that ain't like earth because evolution is when a species addapts to anything that would threaton the species. so what would we think that could kill off life here may not affect other planets.

    i mean life on other planets

    Presenting opinions as percentages is still an opinion and has no validity in statistics. Measurements are not presently possible so we must resort to common sense. There is a 50% chance that life exists on another planet.
    In other words, there either is life or there is not life.
    ...James E Gambrell

    This question is really a multi level argument for me because the question of life on other planets is as much about our own origins as it is about searching for alternate life. I would think it highly likely that we would find the building blocks of life on other planets and microbial life is highly likely. However the key question is what will that life will look like when we find it. If it is very similar to earth organisms then this has profound implications on the origins of life on this planet. If totally different then this also has implications on our search for life.

    What is interesting though is based on the vast number of galaxies, stars, planets etc then the mathematical probability of life being on other planets should be a certainty. In fact based on the mathematical probabilities it is almost certain that there will be alien races with technology vastly superior to ours. Millions of planets spread out across the universe all teeming with life of infinite inteligence. It is a statistic often quoted in the respondents to the above article. This begs the question, why haven't we detected them? Admitedly if special relativity theory is not flawed in some way then face to face contact may never happen, regardless of how inteligent we or any other life forms get. However, as a planet we pump out vast amounts of energy in the form of microwaves etc into space, it would be reasonable to expect another planet of intelligence to be doing the same thing. We detect the faintest radiation from the very first moments after the big bang so why can't we detect signals from other life.

    This paradox for me indicates that life is nowhere near as abundant as science fiction would have us believe. Maybe we are alone in the universe in which case what theological implications might that have?

    How could we be so arrogant to assume we are alone looking up at the universe?
    Look at the Hubble's "ultra deep field" image and remember that's a black dot in the night sky...
    Our intelligence is likely minute on the cosmic scale but at least we're smart enough to realize that possibility.
    I wonder if aliens drink beer? lol

    It's not arrogance to suggest we might be alone. It's arguable that those who don't believe in aliens actually at the moment are more correct than those who do. A belief in aliens has no more basis in fact than religion. After all both have no proof of their beliefs.

    I am a 70 year old man with a computer background and a great interest in Universe. But for us to think we are all that there is, is arrogant of us to think that. In this vast universe we are all there is? We are the 'top dogs'?, The chosen ones, in all this of space and time. We don't even have the technologoy to make it to Mars in a reasonable time and a safe way, so we have no idea what is out there, and at what stage of evolution other beings are at. Where will we be in a 100,000 years? The Earth is shy of 5 billion years old, what of other star systems that have came and went while other beings 'star jumped' for a new beginning. Some day we will have to do the same as Earth has maybe a billion years left? It is the vastness of space and speed of light that limits any communication. Our technology is tens of thousands of years from visiting other galaxies. The odds are too great to not have other intelligent beings, forget the 'order of events' that had to happen for us to exist, small odds compared to the odds of the different star systems in all the galaxies. Time travel with 'worm holes' or not, is still thousands of years away to our next star which is 10 light years away. We know about the next star system, but that distance is but a 'gran of sand' in the universal "light" scale. Our solar system is but 5 billion years old +- and the uniiverse if 14 billion years old +-. What do you think was going on for the past 10 billion years? Waiting for us humans to evolve? Pure arrogance. Proof will come when our technology permits it, than maybe we will be worthy of the enlightment. For now, I place my faith in GOD. I am sure GOD would be pretty bored if we were all there was to watch.

    Gerhard Adam
    It's not arrogant, it's the only scientific position to take, since we have no evidence outside of life on this planet.

    You can believe what you like and you can comfort yourself with probabilities all you like, but it isn't science and it isn't proof of anything.  Why should that lead to the conclusion that we are the "top dog"?  It simply means that we don't know and no amount of speculation or conjecture will change that.  Whether we want to fantasize about alien visitors or tweak the Drake equation, the end result is the same.  We have no evidence of life anywhere but here on Earth, and until we do, it's all speculation.
    Mundus vult decipi
    This could be very true.
    but it is also possible that other Earth-like planets developed life before us. and therefore are more advanced than us. they dont necessarily have to be technologically advanced, with flying spaceships and time travel, but they could be more advanced in other ways.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...but they could be more advanced in other ways.
    What does that mean?  Within the context of a technological society, "advanced" suggests some kind of linear development path, but within the context of biology it makes no sense at all.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I mean maybe they aren't focusing on technology they way we imagine. maybe they aren't focusing on creating high tech space craft or whatever, maybe they are advanced in ways us humans cant explain because we havent gotten there yet. i mean, anything is possible.

    Gerhard Adam
    I agree that they might be intelligent without the same technological society, after all advanced technology is not purely a product of intellect.
    Mundus vult decipi
    lol how can they say its very low chance, for 1, humans dont have a clue on how huge space is, its space so there cant be an end to it, if there was a boudary then there will just be more space beyond that, they dont know how many planets there is, how many stars there is or how many galaxies there is, most scientists are simply basing there facts on what happens on earth and how long it took for humans to evolve no taking into account that things can be totally different else where, evolution might evolve alot quicker, the planets out there r alot older than earth so life would of been growing for longer than earth, we go on how long earth will last but others may last even longer than earth, and jus because life on earth needed to be a certain distance from the sun to support life and have water and other chemicals on the planet for life to occur, doesnt mean that every living organism in the universe needs the same chemicals as we do on earth to live, doesnt mean there isnt other types of chemicals out there than we know of, scientists can never know the truth i never listen to scientists on this subject as they only go off what they know about this planet and how life occurs on this planet. they say no contact has been made but how do we know this how do we know the government dont lie to us, they do alot of it.

    Gerhard Adam
    Instead of criticizing what scientists don't know, you might stop and think what you don't know.  If you don't know it, then how can you suggest anything beyond what you do know.

    To argue that there must be life, or that there's alot of it, or that there are lots of planets that could support life .... that's meaningless if you don't have any evidence.  Since we have no evidence, then we can't assume what does or doesn't exist in the universe.

    We know contact hasn't been made because (despite what most of the crackpots say), there are too many governments on the planet that have competing interests with each other to ever keep something like this quiet.  It wouldn't be a "conspiracy" of one government, but many. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    ohhh ok so cos scientists know what happens on this planet that means it must happen else where, voyager 1 is the only probe thats gotten to as far as the edge of our solar system, thats the furthest we have sent a probe to investigate, so out side our solar system no scientist can say whether there is life out there, seriously get a grip im simply stating if were here then there has to be more, cos we would be totally selfish to think we r special and that this planet is special that we r the only planet to evolve,,,,and for u to say governments cant keep this quiet about contact hahaha is so laughable, you really think the government are just gunna come out and say yeah we been in contact with aliens, knowing that news like that can make people worry and panic that there is intelligent life out there that can possibly harm us all,,,no chance the government all together wouldnt want panic amongst people,,they lie about important things every day, what makes you think this is any different, and if one government had made contact you really think there going to tell anyone else i dont think so not untill they have every bit of info from these beings as possible,,they wont want other governments getting in contact with them too,

    Gerhard Adam
    ...cos we would be totally selfish to think we r special and that this planet is special that we r the only planet to evolve...
    Since when does selfishness have anything to do with the probability of life?  You're just trying to rationalize something with no evidence.  No one is saying there is no life, but without evidence, one can't argue that life must be plentiful.  No one knows, including you, so you can argue all you like, but in the end, it's simply not science.
    ...for u to say governments cant keep this quiet about contact hahaha is so laughable, you really think the government are just gunna come out and say yeah we been in contact with aliens, knowing that news like that can make people worry and panic
    Oh, please ... stop that nonsense.  I'm not interested in your government conspiracy ideas or ridiculous notions about alien visitors and alien technology.
    ..not untill they have every bit of info from these beings as possible...
    This shows you how ridiculous these ideas are.  It's difficult enough for scientific discoveries and breakthroughs to be solved by brilliant people that spend their entire lives working towards understanding.   However, all the "alien believers" think that acquiring advanced knowledge and technology is simply a matter of sitting around and talking to aliens.  Even if aliens had attempted contact, the communications hurdle alone would be immense.  Do you think that scientists are also keeping quiet (after all, they would be necessary to understand the advanced science and technology), simply sitting in Area 51 watching alien Powerpoint presentations?

    How would advanced technology be used without telling those that would have to manufacture it?  So, if such technologies are available ... simply show me patents or other intellectual property filings that demonstrate a technology that is NOT a consequence of our normal scientific progress and then you might have a point.  However you can't find anything like that, because despite how many people go on and on about Area 51 and the like, there isn't a single advanced piece of technology that doesn't follow a normal human development path.  Sorry ... no shocking advances.
    Mundus vult decipi
    oh and they definitely cant say the probability of other intelligent life out there is low at 0.01% simply cos they have no clue whats outside our own solar system they cant zoom right into a planet hats so far away and see whats roaming around on it, what do scientists do to prove there isnt life so far found,,,oh yeah cos for life to supposedly exist you need to be a certain distance from the star, and you need certain chemicals, they go off what we need on earth, they should say they cant be sure cos we can only say what we need on earth to live, we cant say what other beings out there might need to exist. they should say based on the amount of galaxies and stars and planets that we can see the probability is quiet high...saying its very low and 0.01% is not scientific and selfish

    Gerhard Adam
    You're joking, right?  The probability should be higher otherwise it's selfish? 

    Until there's evidence, right now the only thing we know absolutely is that Earth is the only planet with life on it.  You may think that's selfish, but that's scientific.  Anything is purely speculation and you can believe what you like, but you can't pretend that it's based on anything except your own beliefs.
    Mundus vult decipi
    i didnt say it would be easy for governments to talk to the aliens, but untill they have found a way of getting past the communication bridge and then when they have, and have everything they need to know and if they believe they are a threat to us they will communicate with other governments about the threat, if there is no threat from them then the government in contact will keep it to themselves they wont want other governments communicating and possibly getting the technology these aliens may possess,and when they do get past the communication issues then they will try find out what technologies they possess and if we can replicate them or not, notice i say MAY not that they do have cos as u say i dont know, and selfishness comes into this subject because alot of people do not believe in aliens and think we are the centre of the universe and think that we are special thats selfish....and scientists cant make a break through unless they start seeing things other than what happens here on earth and in our solar system they need to think outside their little bubble,

    its scientific proof that earth is only planet with life, and how did you work that out, why cos the governments and the scientists that work for them say so.....even tho everyone knows the governments are liars and crooks, there is also proof that aliens where once on this planet, things like the pyramids, ruins in south america and central america, proof that the stones cut where not cut with or transported by the way so called scientists and historians believe, they say the pyramids was was built in 20 years meaning every stone would of had to been cut moved and placed every 9 seconds, the weight of these stones would be impossible for a group of humans to move up hill on a ramp with logs and rope, specially in 9 seconds lol...stone cut in ruins in peru and mexico have been proven that even with todays technology it cant be done, oh but im sure you will say its not been proven but it was scientists who proved it,,,,there is images that were carved so long ago of aliens and spaceships, in a tomb in egypt there is hyraglyphs however u spell that, of modern day helicopter and other modern day machines,,,so tell me how thousands of years ago they carved them

    and you also have no arguements, cos you cant prove anything either, your going off what so called scientists say when scientists only base their theories on what happens on earth,,,,maybe if they opened their minds and realised there is much more than earth and our solar system they might jus make a breakthrough on alien contact,,,oh and by the way there is also videos of ufo's example one in jerusalem that many people witnessed and videoed and your so called scientists couldnt debunk this and couldnt explain what it was, some scientists said it wasnt anything of human technology, ofcourse your gunna say its a hoax, so closed minded living in your little bubble of humans being special seriously im not arguing anymore cos you really are self centred and closed minded. if you reply you wont get one back cos your an idiot.

    oh one last thing, there is proof that there was life on mars, because structures have been spotted on mars, but i guess u will say oh they just had to of magically appeared

    Gerhard Adam
    Wow ... you are so far off, you can't even be called just wrong.  You're not even on the same plane of existence.
    oh one last thing, there is proof that there was life on mars, because structures have been spotted on mars, but i guess u will say oh they just had to of magically appeared
    I don't even know what to say to a statement like this.   It seems obvious that you have some rather "interesting" opinions. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    oh and people, there is life on the dark side of the moon, there is a video of neil armstrong who said in an interview with a professor from a university that he and the other astronauts where warned to never return to the moon, why you think there has been no more missions to the moon, you really think scientists and government are gunna just go to the moon in one small area of it collect a couple of samples and never return again lol dont be silly. the reason there is no scientific proof people is cos scientists and governments wont share it with you.....nasa also say that we are due solar flare this year but it wont be strong, and wont cause to much damage,,there is no proof on how strong it will be they cant say how powerful it will be until it happens, they didnt know how strong the tornadoes and how many there was gunna be in central and southern states of america....its funny cos it wasnt that long ago that on their website they said they cant predict the suns patterns and movements anymore its totally changed its pattern,,,yet they seem to think that a solar flare wont be strong,,,,they dont know people, they are simply trying to keep things calm and deal with it later when it happens if its more powerful than they predict, solar flares hurt our ozone layer and magnetic field, the things that protect us, it is very possible that a huge solar flare can pierce through and destroy our atmosphere the very thing that keeps us alive

    look it up you idiot you will find the proof you need, or maybe you dont want to know the truth maybe you just wat to believe that nothing exists but life on this planet lol seriously closed minded

    the atmosphere of mars is made up of carbon dioxide, nitrogen traces of oxygen and water and argon your scientists you love so much, say that there is evidence that there was large oceans on mars at one time, all the basis of life to exist according to your scientists you love so much, they also believe that they had a thicker atmosphere similar to earth at one time, they have theories on how it was destroyed, and one is solar flares, one is a catostrophic collision with comet or asteroid, so your scientists have proved there was probably life on mars, and the structures found on mars suggest intelligence. im not saying there was but i can say thats proof that probably was the possibility goes up alot higher than the 0.01% state don this site.

    every now and then there is some scientists who want people to know the truth and try telling people, but the governments ridicule them and then say they are liars, and people think oh the government says there liars they must be liars then cos the government is perfect and never lie hahahahaha idiots i feel bad for them cos when something does happen they will be like "oh but the government never warned us or told us anything", but those who are open to the possibility will be like "well we was warned not by the government but we was warned and guess what people i am prepared as best i can for anything that comes this way if i dont make it atleast i tried unlike those close minded idiots", seriously wind me up close minded fools.

    WOW, do you know what Gerhard there are times when you know you have witnessed something truly wonderful, the aurora borealis, meteor showers, a pod of dolphins socialising, stumbling into a real life conspiracy theory schmuck etc. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you David Tinsley, right I'm off to watch the Northern lights!

    conspiracy theories r simply opinions which everyones entitled too,you have your theories even if they are so closed minded and i have mine, atleast im not a closed minded d**khead and if you think dolphins socialising is truly wonderful then you really havent seen anything wonderful in your life cos thats not wonderful at all.

    Gerhard Adam
    OK, I've listened to enough of your nonsense, but "theories" are NOT opinions, so you need to get over yourself.  You may be entitled to your own opinion, but you aren't entitled to your own facts.  I don't particularly care what your opinion is and I'm not really interested in your speculation about how evil the world is and how everyone is out to murder us.

    You are certainly "open-minded" to the point of where it is positively "airy". 
    Mundus vult decipi
    oh and there not theories if they have been proven to be true you idiot

    where do you think stories of gods came about fools, aliens thats were every religion says their gods came from the heavens the heavens being the sky and what flys down from the sky oh yeah things that have clearly few in from space

    you dont have to be interested in my opinions for me to say them, im still going to say them,,,and theories are opinions, scientific theories are not based on facts, as theories are things that have not been proven, my facts are things that have been proven by the so called scientists u love so much, i do have theories aswell obviously they havent been proven but my theory is my opinion, and the opinions on those who are open minded, and are not stuck in a little bubble thinking everything we see here is alls there is in the universe, like yourself. and i didnt say everything is out to kill, no where in my comments have i said they are out to kill, i have said neil armstrong and the other astronauts where warned not to go back to the moon but i never said there out to kill. so get your so called facts right....you have your opinion that were the only intelligent life in the universe which in my opinion means ur selfish, i have my opinion which i believe we are not so special and that there is life out there and that they have been in contact and that they have been here many times in the past and present and will do for a long time there is enough evidence to put the probability of intelligent life out there as very possible, there isnt enough to say definitely but enough for the probability to be high, not low like it says on this site.

    and you cant call it nonsense, to say something is nonsense means you can prove its not true which you cant prove, and i havent said i can fully prove aliens exists before you say anything, i have simply said there is enough to put the odds of there being intelligent life to a high probability

    i got to say, this planet is evidence that life exists in the universe, we humans and other animals are evidence that there is intelligence in the universe, think of the universe as a planet, and think back thousands of years ago when humans n one small part of the planet thought they where the only civilisations and thought their island or where they lived was the only place, and people thought the world was flat, those people never knew there was other life outside of where they lived, but there was they just couldn't prove it, just like we now on earth cant prove it, but the fact that the universe can support life and intelligent life, ie; this planet and us, is evidence enough

    Gerhard Adam
    Your confusing opinion with knowledge.  Whether we think there's more life (intelligent or not) is immaterial if we don't have evidence.  That's what people can't seem to grasp.  What you believe and what you know are two different things. 

    One sample (i.e. Earth), does not constitute proof of anything.  This becomes even more apparent when you consider that of the millions of species that exist or have existed, only one has attained the ability to communicate using radio waves.  What does that tell you about the probabilities?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Judging by the way this thread is trending I am not sure that intelligent life exists anywhere but in my living room, and even then I am not too sure

    the probability is still high based on the fact of how many millions of planets there is out there, if this universe can support intelligent life who can communicate using radio waves i.e, humans then that is proof, thousands of years ago when one civilisation in one tiny part of this planet thought they were the only ones, were they the only ones, NO so for us to make the same mistakes as they did thousands of years ago to think we are the only ones, just proves how stupid humans actually are, just because you cant see dont mean that nothings there, ok there is no definite proof just like there was no definite proof for them thousands of years ago thinking they where only humans on this planet, but we must learn from the past and understand the probability is much higher than some people think

    Gerhard Adam
    ...just proves how stupid humans actually are, just because you cant see dont mean that nothings there, ok there is no definite proof just like there was no definite proof for them thousands of years ago thinking they where only humans on this planet, but we must learn from the past and understand the probability is much higher than some people think.
    No, that's precisely the point.  You're cherry-picking your comparisons and drawing conclusions.
    Here's a quick reference from Wikipedia on human migration:
    Historical migration of human populations begins with the movement of Homo erectus out of Africa across Eurasia about a million years ago. Homo sapiens appear to have occupied all of Africa about 150,000 years ago, moved out of Africa 70,000 years ago, and had spread across Australia, Asia and Europe by 40,000 years BC. Migration to the Americas took place 20,000 to 15,000 years ago, and by 2,000 years ago, most of the Pacific Islands were colonized.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_migration
    What you seem to be missing is that if you were to go back 40,000 years ago and asked if there was anyone living in North America, the correct answer would have been no.  It didn't have anything to do with probabilities, and they certainly weren't stupid.

    However, more importantly, ALL the people that lived in various parts of the world were there because they migrated from a central location.  There were no people anywhere until they moved there.

    If we follow that argument, then other planets will only have life on them when humans colonize them.  Your historical comparison makes no sense, since it didn't involve independent development or evolution of humans making contact.

    In the example of space, there's a completely separate biological trajectory required and there is NO evidence at this point that life is easy, or that it exists anywhere else.  You can assess probabilities all you like and you can believe what you like, but it isn't scientific evidence.  Until that is obtained, we simply don't know. 

    It would certainly help if we found some form of life anywhere else, because that help in determining how difficult it is for life to begin someplace.  However, even if life is found elsewhere that's still a long way away from showing that intelligent life can evolve.
    Mundus vult decipi
    i believe humans are not of this planet, i believe that humans where sent here to start again start the human life here on earth, i just look and i see we are not made for this planet, we have had to adapt and build the planet to what we want and how we want it, every other being on this planet is built specifically for this planet, where as humans have been moulding this planet to suit us, the planet is alive and everything on it apart from humans are made for this planet are natural, we are definitely not a natural part of this planet.

    Gerhard Adam
    That's one of the goofiest things I've ever heard.
    Mundus vult decipi
    and how do we know that life began in africa, there is no way at all to prove that life began in africa and that they migrated to other countries, for one how did they get from africa to australia when they would have to of travelled by sea and for that you need boats, and boats according to scientific proof only came along around 7,000 years ago , and how is it goofy can you prove that we humans are not from another planet, you just got to look at the bigger picture, and look at how we humans seem to of been moulding the earth to suit us, were as every other being on this planet seems to be built to suit the planet were as we humans are definitely not built to suit this planet, examples, why are we destroying the natural order of this planet, why do we have to make clothes why isnt our bodies built to suit the climate that we have to create clothing, other animals have naturally adapted to changes where as we humans have had to create our own things to adapt to changes on the planet

    Gerhard Adam
    ...how do we know that life began in africa...
    The fossil record.
    ...for one how did they get from africa to australia when they would have to of travelled by sea
    Not so:
    Human migration to the Australian continent was first achieved during the closing stages of the Pleistocene epoch, when sea levels were typically much lower than they are today. It is theorised that these ancestral peoples arrived via the nearest islands of the Malay Archipelago, crossing over the intervening straits (which were then narrower) to reach the single landmass which then existed. Known as Sahul, this landmass connected Australia with New Guinea via a land bridge which emerged when prevailing glacial conditions lowered sea levels by some 100–150 metres. Australia's coastline also extended much further out into the Timor Sea than at present, affording another possible route by which these first peoples reached the continent. Estimates of the timing of these migrations vary considerably: the most widely-accepted conservative evidential view places this somewhere between 40,000 to 45,000 years ago, with earlier cited (but not universally accepted) dates of up to 60,000 years or more also proposed; the debate continues within the academic community.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_Australia

    ...look at how we humans seem to of been moulding the earth to suit us, were as every other being on this planet seems to be built to suit the planet...
    Sure, except for ants, bees, beavers, termites, birds, etc.  In short just about every animal that must either build something or modify its environment for it to live (even if its just digging holes to lay eggs).  Even bacteria modified the environment and gave rise to an O2 atmosphere (and on a much larger scale than anything humans have done).

    You also seem to be seriously missing the part of human history before 10,000 years ago (i.e. the Agricultural Revolution) when humans lived like hunter/gatherers and did little to modify their environment.
    ...why do we have to make clothes why isnt our bodies built to suit the climate that we have to create clothing,
    ... because you no longer live in central Africa.

    You might want to try actually looking up some of this information before you continue with this line of thought. 

    However, what is annoying is how you start with "how do we know" and then proceed to expound on how "you" know.  If you haven't actually examined the evidence or explored the theories, then your speculations don't help much and are just idle nonsense.

    Mundus vult decipi
    i dont say i know i say i believe,,,,and if your so up on this, you tell me how you know humans began in africa and how supposedly scientists know we began in africa, you say we wear clothes because we are no longer in africa, so why do they wear clothes in africa, and other hot continents, and why hasnt the human body evolved to adapt to the cold weather if you say we wear them cos we are no longer in a hot continent then surely over the thousands of years being out of africa we would of evolved to adapt to the cold weather, but we havent, hence why we are not made for this planet

    Gerhard Adam
    Look, believe what you like.  I really don't care and I don't have the time or inclination to try and educate you to a different perspective.  If you want to believe that we were deposited here by aliens, then go for it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You cannot confuse opinion and fact. The FACT is we have NO evidence that proves that there is life anywhere else in the universe. There is one theory that suggests that the seeds of life may have arrived on an asteroid, no evidence for this but a theory. If this was the case then perhaps other planets could be populated in this manner but again absolutely zero evidence. I used to be a firm believer in life on other planets and used statistics to justify my beliefs saying things like an almost infinite number of solar systems, with a large number of planets that could in theory host life then it is a statistical certainty that life exists.

    However I then read Fermi's paradox which basically says that statistics show that life should be abundant throughout the universe, if this is the case then why do we not observe them constantly after all if that many planets bear life it stands to reason that there are a vast number of planets that have intelligent life in advance of our own and yet we just don't see any evidence for this. In my opinion (notice not fact) when you apply Fermi's paradox thinking to the statistics argument it seems to suggest that we are genuinly alone in the universe and I am afraid until concrete evidence exists to the contrary this has to be the assumption.

    it wouldnt matter if you tried anyway, because everything you say is just scientific theories, opinions of scientists on how human life began, there are scientists whos opinions are the same as mine, and some out there of the same opinion as you, both are not right or wrong untill there is absolute concrete evidence, and in all seriousness the only possible way for that to happen is we went back in time and seen it for ourselves, other than that there is no way of proving how life began on earth or how the universe even began,

    Science will one day prove both of these beyond reasonable doubt without going back in time. But right now there are very few scientists that would argue that ET landed and left humans behind a few thousand years back. If we had evolved on another planet then why would our DNA be so similar to other species on this planet, it wouldn't. We must have evolved on this planet, it is the only sensible answer.

    There is a body of thought that suggests that Amino Acids were 'delivered' via comets rather than being created on this planet but that is a million miles from aliens populating the planet.

    Gerhard Adam
    There is a body of thought that suggests that Amino Acids were 'delivered' via comets rather than being created on this planet but that is a million miles from aliens populating the planet.
    While interesting, it is largely irrelevant since it doesn't move us any closer to understanding the "origins of life".  While it might explain how life arrived on Earth, it says nothing else.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    Concrete evidence ... no.  However, if life can be generated in a lab, then we have at least one plausible scenario.  Whether that represents the precise mechanism by which it occurred on Earth, we wouldn't know.

    The problem with the "origins of life" question is that, even if you tried to observe it on another planet, if the conditions were absolutely perfect to witness it, you could never be sure about what happened.  After all, on one side of the transition you'd simply have "inanimate" chemistry occurring, and on the other side, something would suddenly be "alive" (whatever that means).  In a sense, its a type of "spontaneous generation". 

    In other words, we can find all the proper conditions for "life" to exist, but we don't really know what the building blocks are.  Are cell membranes alive?  Is it simply a fortuitous act of a membrane forming and capturing certain critical chemicals?  Perhaps the transition to "life" is even more subtle to where we actually have chemicals that are subject to a kind of "selection" which eventually become "alive" because of complexity and little else?

    I don't think the point is to explain exactly how life began on Earth, as much as it is researching how life can begin.  Once we know that, then it becomes easier to investigate likely places to see if it did develop, since we would understand more of the requirements.  In particular, one of the key questions that needs to be answered by such research is whether life is "easy" or "hard".  If it were readily produced, then that raises the probability of its having occurred elsewhere.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Interesting, don't you think it is highly likely to be 'hard' though since if it wasn't we should observe it happening generally on this planet all the time, we have the 'perfect' conditions to support life but we haven't observed these things taking place.

    I wonder whether this might suggest that the conditions needed to create life are vastly different to those needed to support life in which case it would suggest that life is unbelievably unlikely. All conjecture I know but interesting none the less!

    Gerhard Adam
    That's true, especially when one considers that early conditions are Earth were significantly different than they are now and consequently the changes caused by early lifeforms this may have made it more conducive to life, but more difficult to originate life.

    On the other hand, it may simply be that life requires a bit of "peace and quiet" to allow the chemistry to work and with active life all around, it may simply be too disruptive or difficult to acquire the necessary molecules.  Basically it seems that once life starts, it never restarts.  So we don't have divergent processes taking place to move life in a variety of directions.  Instead we see what appears to be a single point of origin with natural selection defining all the branching points.

    Once again, this suggests that life must follow a specific formula, which would indicate that Earth-like life is the only way it can manifest.  After all, if there were multiple paths to life, then why not have multiple origins (unless competition simply drove those out)?  ... a lot of unanswered questions.

    Mundus vult decipi
    However I then read Fermi's paradox which basically says that statistics show that life should be abundant throughout the universe, if this is the case then why do we not observe them constantly after all if that many planets bear life it stands to reason that there are a vast number of planets that have intelligent life in advance of our own and yet we just don't see any evidence for this.

    you say why do we not observe them, well simple cos we havent been able to send a probe any further than the edge of our own solar system, if we do find a way of travelling so far then we would be able to observe,,we could be being observed by another being from another planet, we could of been contacted and we wouldnt know cos the governments are liars they hardly ever tell the public the truth.

    So government conspiracy keeps the existence of life on other planets a secret.

    In the last few weeks in the UK we have had the exposure of politicians for expenses fraud, an outing of a love cheat footballer that was prohibited by the courts, Fraud allegations at the largest sporting body in the world etc etc. With the freedom of the internet do you really think that every government in the world conspires to keep this silent? and if they did, that they would really keep it secret?

    Besides, sending a probe far enough shouldn't matter. We have observed background radiation from milliseconds after the big bang. We can observe events that happen in the blink of an eye billions of miles away but cannot see aliens or alien life.

    lol you say about dna, well scientifically if you lose chromosomes then you should be less advanced than you was b4 you lost them.....now scientists believe that humans came from apes, yet apes have 48 chromosomes, humans have 46, so we lost 2 so how is it we have advanced by losing 2 scientifically to advance you would need to add not lose them, clearly science has that wrong. hmm wander how much more science has wrong????

    That is so far from correct I hardly know where to start. Chromosomes have nothing to do with intelligence or evolution. The highest number of chromosomes found is in a fern having over 1200 and a kangaroo has 12 does your thinking make a kangaroo less inteligent than a fern?

    And as far as humans are concerned the addition of a chromosome causes some terrible side effects.

    Gerhard Adam
    Just a point of clarification.  The chromosomal difference between humans and apes appears to be related to the fusion of two chromosomes in humans (or the fission in apes, depending on your point of view).

    So, humans and apes share the majority of the same genes, but the difference is in how the chromosomes are manifest.
    The chimpanzee and human genomes may be distinguished by 10 karyotypic differences that include nine pericentrc inversions and one fusion of ancestral chromosomes (homologous chimpanzee chromosomes 12 and 13) that gave rise to human chromosome 2. In none of these cases, however, has a gene been interrupted in the breakpoints.
    http://www.metaprimate.com/primate-species/chimpanzee-vs-human-genome.html

    Mundus vult decipi
    Is science a proffession for you Gerhard or is it a hobby?

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, I'm not an academic, and some of the scientific disciplines are areas of interest, but I was scientifically trained also.  I'm not trying to be evasive, just trying to explain how it fits into my life.

    In a nutshell, I'm not an academic and I don't engage in active research.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Great, your in the same area as me then. Any recommendations for a good read?

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, what are you interested in?  Mostly I tend to focus on biology, so that's been where I've been doing my reading.

    Specifically I'm interested in areas like evolutionary biology, especially exploring areas like cooperation, altruism, etc (and game theory).   Also philosophical areas such as belief systems, free will, consciousness as well as the neuroscience associated with these topics.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Anything really, just so long as it's user friendly. I'm degree level education in Geology but that was 12 years ago, really enjoy cosmology and have read 'a brief history of time' and would like similar generic books in other areas. Nothing too speciifc just a general introduction to Biology and philosophy would be great, its been nearly 20 years since I've done either.

    Gerhard Adam
    Evolution in Four Dimensions - Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb
    Descartes' Error - Antonio R. Damasio
    Philosophy of Biology - Elliott Sober
    Life Ascending - The 10 Great Inventions of Evolution - Nick Lane (great book)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Many thanks Gerhard, I will give them a read, as for this thread I am going to give it a wide berth from now on. It's hard to have a sensible debate with congenital idiots, present company excluded of course.

    lol you say about dna, well scientifically if you lose chromosomes then you should be less advanced than you was b4 you lost them.....now scientists believe that humans came from apes, yet apes have 48 chromosomes, humans have 46, so we lost 2 so how is it we have advanced by losing 2 scientifically to advance you would need to add not lose them, clearly science has that wrong. hmm wander how much more science has wrong????

    like i said we may have seen alien life jus the government wont tell the public at the risk it causes panic, now you may think it wouldnt cause panic but the governments are not gunna risk that...and just because we can see the stars and planets and the radiation and micro waves and what have you, if lets say they are not travelling amongst the stars does that mean there is no intelligent life, to actually know you would have to zoom in on distant planets like we can see the surface of mars and so on untill we can see the surface of distant planets they cant say for sure. my original point is the probability of life is definitely not 0.01% as suggested and definitely not slim it is 50-50

    On what basis can you say 50-50?

    I suppose on the basis that there is either life or there isn't then it's 50-50 but the same could be said for the argument that the universe is a figment of my imagination, it either is or it isn't so 50-50.

    explain to me how structures have been found on mars someone, buildings suggests intelligent life either was on mars or possibly still is, explain to me someone how nasa caught a huge craft while observing the sun with soho a craft that is 75,000 miles long.

    Gerhard Adam
    This keeps getting better all the time. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I had to check the calendar because for a second I thought it was April 1st.

    well you cant say the universe is a figment of your imagination simply cos you can see it lol so that makes it 100% that it exists

    so no one can tell me how buildings were found on mars or explain the 75,000 miles craft seen on soho?????

    Ha ha ha ha, give me a break, a spacecraft that is the same size a Saturn? and the only evidence is a grainy image? Well I better retire to the bomb shelter and prepare for the invasion.

    And 'BUILDINGS???' is there a negative measurement on the IQ scale?

    Gerhard Adam
    Well I better retire to the bomb shelter and prepare for the invasion.
    No point ... they'll simply ram the entire planet.

    BTW, to read all about it (don't overlook the part about the Galactic Council):
    http://thetruthbehindthescenes.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/ask-nasa-what-this-is/
    Mundus vult decipi
    ive read all this and i use this site alot, alot of good things, daveyo on there speaks alot of sense, there is defo something out there watching us

    1) can you explain what else the 75,000 mile long object could be and can you explain what other smaller objects the shape of the ufo's we see the nazi's created.
    2) you can clearly see that they are buildings and towers, there is definitely no mistaking them.
    3) also do you think neil armstrong was lying when in an interview with a professor he stated that he and the rest of his crew was warned off the moon by beings, and told never to return, they said that what they saw looked like these beings were mining on the moon, they also said these looked similar to us humans, but i guess you will say he was lying or joking lol when in the interview he sounds very serious.

    Holy crap, I think this forum has reached its own version of Godwins Law and as such I bid you good night. I will not waste anymore time debating idiotic theories with an imbecile!

    there no more idiotic than gerhard and the other persons theories,,therefore gerhard and the other anonymous must be imbeciles too, neither theories are facts, gerhard's mine and yours are simply opinions

    There IS life on other planets out there.... just because you haven't discovered it, doesn't mean that I haven't.

    Now with that irrelevant question answered, lets turn our attention back on to our dying world and stop killing each other huh? While our brothers and sisters starve to death? Our animals go extinct by the thousands. Whoops there went the cure for cancer with the dodo.. Whoops the cure for diabetes is just about to go extinct too.

    Oh well, lets go back to creating false religions that are designed to abuse our children. And justify our disgusting behavior by washing our sins away in a man who died 2000 years ago. Then go back and sin again, and again.. whoops here comes the guilt.. "forgive me, i've sinned.. well i feel better now, hey that child looks attractive, here kiddy kiddy kiddy. hey what. it wasn't me, it was the devil!!"

    The oil crisis is coming.. turn your computer off and go for a run. Do something constructive with your life. Instead of bickering with nobody's on a computer screen.

    Just ran across this website, very interesting perspectives from every person here. I love the people who ask if I or another Christian has evidence of God. For me yes, it is simple, I clearly do have evidence of God. I have evidence of God that I found 2 years ago, while I was 26 in graduate school. I still have that evidence, I cant not physically hold it and show it to you but I can tell you about it and you may make up your own mind.

    The universe is so large and confusing, we will not exist long enough to understand it. I use to drive myself crazy trying to figure out answers to everything. I realized its not about understanding or knowing for me anymore, its about something greater than that. I believe I will get my answers, maybe some through you guys or maybe through God, I am in no rush to find them out anymore. But I just wanted to say I have evidence that Jesus is real, to be honest it would take me more than an hour to explain all the evidence I have to any of you. It is nothing to do with feelings or carrying around faith in my heart. It is real evidence, that is locked in my mind and I share with people sometimes. To this day it brings tears to my eyes and a jolt through my heart just thinking about it.

    Look real hard, most of you say there is no God, have never really gave God a chance. Just try real hard and maybe you will find something there. I did, and I use to be exactly where all you are now.

    Personally I think the search for life on other planets is a waste of time. The closest posibility is 4.5 light years away (if we could travel at light speed.). Stop wasting everyone's tax money on the search for life on other planets and start concentrating on the life on this planet (Earth). Life is short...don't be stupid!

    www.ihatenasaBS.com

    Randy Thompson

    Personally I think the search for life on other planets is a waste of time. The closest posibility is 4.5 light years away (if we could travel at light speed.). Stop wasting everyone's tax money on the search for life on other planets and start concentrating on the life on this planet (Earth). Life is short...don't be stupid!

    Randy Thompson

    This is simple.. The human race will NEVER figure out why or how we got here. It's not possible for us to understand it. We only have about 1 billion years left on this planet and I would bet my bottom dollar the human race won't even be here to witness it. Like everything else that has come before us, we will be extinct.. Enjoy the very small amount of time you have on Earth.. If you really want my honest opinion, the human race as we know it is a fluke.. A diesese.. A virus.. We are no more than bacteria swimming around on a blue rock..

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, that was certainly helpful.
    ...the human race as we know it is a fluke.
    DUH! ... how many other species like humans do you see around?  Of course, one could argue that every species is a fluke, since it could never be replicated in exactly the same way.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Do you not believe life on Earth, no matter what form it may be in, is a fluke? What do you believe?

    Gerhard Adam
    Besides stating the obvious, what exactly are you getting at.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Do you not believe life on Earth, no matter what form it may be in, is a fluke? What do you believe?

    yes

    Interesting argument about intelligence.
    Our intelligence to me is very limited. We have a very limited memory, with mostly very limited comprehension abilities.
    So as intelligence goes we are pretty retarded.
    Bearing this in mind, if there are life forms with serious intelligence, IQ 4 figures etc, how would they ever be able to communicate with us?
    How would you tell say, a cockroach how intelligent you are??

    Gerhard Adam
    How would you tell say, a cockroach how intelligent you are??
    I think you've got that backwards. 
    Bearing this in mind, if there are life forms with serious intelligence, IQ 4 figures...
    Once again, I'm not clear what your point is, since it is doubtful that you have an acceptable working definition of what "intelligence" actually is.  This is a mistake I hear over and over from people proposing that somehow there is "more" or "less" intelligence to be gained in some fashion. 

    I also think you make a serious mistake in assuming that there are significantly higher levels of "intelligence" to be attained.  We are NOT "retarded" in any meaningful sense of the world.
    Mundus vult decipi
     How would you tell say, a cockroach how intelligent you are??
     
    I'd tell it "I'm smarter than you" and tread on it if it disagreed.





    First we know there is intelligent life on a planet. There is no reason to assume the general physics of the universe while it was forming is any different elsewhere in the universe, given that other galaxies look like our galaxy.

    Solar systems are formed by swirling dust condensing into the star and the planets surrounding it. While some are different, wrong size etc. there are still stars exactly like ours that is just the nature of stuff. Like whirlpools in a stream.

    The idea our sun is unique or our planet is unique given the number of potential suns and planets is absurd. Once you have a planet with the right conditions, then the probability of life arising and the life evolving is very high. This is not rocket science. It is like saying If there are hydrogen and oxygen, the probability of water forming is very low?!?! No, if there are those two atoms, the probability is high water is going to form.

    Without us being able to SEE a solar system with a sun similar to ours and to put up some statistical probability factor that a sun of our size would produce a planet is silly. Given the fact that dust swirls are the source of the planets, I think the likelihood planets form in similar sizes and at similar distances is likely much higher than statisticians predict. Look again at whirlpools which form behind rocks or the distance of ripples on a sandy ocean floor.

    Saying that a dust storm is going to randomly make a 747 is a silly argument. What about a dust storn creating a pile of debris that is similar to another pile of debris?

    I do not think condition need to be exactly the same, just similar. As someone pointed out we have three planets, with potential in this solar system and life did form on one.

    We know homo sapiens have been around for 250,000 years, but out oldest civilization appears to be 10,000 years. Do you honestly think it took us 240,000 years to "get it together?" Since we know tectonic plates move, i.e. slowly drift "floating on the liquid core, then what of the possibility than the whole skin slipped (which would account for the north pole being in between 140 and 170 different places.)

    What if a different planet was just slight closer to its sun and did not form polar caps which are the likely cause of earth's skin slips and that culture had 250,000 years of uninterrupted development.

    I think we have "echos" of older developed civilizations here on earth in the Atlantis-Mu myths and the fact there are two other "religious" god-sons who performed the identical "miracles" as Jesus. We have the Egyptian hieroglyphics which do not have any development like every other writing system, but appear full blown. The Pier-Ryes map and a host of things like this.

    There certainly is a fair probability any flying saucers we see on earth are from here, but with a universe which is 14 billion years old could there be life which developed into intelligent forms a billion years ago? What would they know about space-time continuum? If you went back 1,000 years on earth you would find the scientific community would likely agree a woman could not control a metallic object weighing 6,000 lbs at speeds of 60 mph while only a few feet from another woman doing the same thing, but we see it everyday.

    To think our mathematical models of solar system creation are accurate is absurd. Most scientist 100 years ago could tell you the continents did not drift. And if you went back another few centuries the majority would tell you the earth was flat, was the center of the universe and a host of other scientific "truths".

    That there IS life here on earth means the probability there is more life is high.

    To the people with the "little old man in a mud puddle" god who is cranking our different varieties of chickens, pigs and goats, who told you that was how it was done?

    Could you see what is written in the Bible as a metaphor for a creator who at the inception created a system whereby life would spring up "out of dust" i.e. lifeless stuff, into a life form which would divide its forms and adapt to changing conditions, i.e. evolve? Would this be a powerful creator?

    To me this sounds like an infinitely more powerful creator, than the little old man in a mud puddle who only did this once and was so parsimonious as to send down only one enlightened being? The true word of God? in a book? I doubt that. To me the true word of God is the lessons contained within the creation itself.

    I think the physics of the universe is such that life will spring up in many places. There is the possibility that life did not START on this planet but was brought here on an asteroid. There are asteroids found with possible life forms or evidence of prelife forms on them.

    Atoms are everywhere and the molecules which form from them are too. In such a vast place as the universe that we know DOES have intelligent life, it is to me far more likely there is life elsewhere. We are still in elementary school when it comes to unlocking all the keys, but look at how fast this knowledge is expanding in just our lifetimes. What would a few thousand years of this produce? What would 200,000 years produce or a few million.

    Given that we have just learned the universe is still expanding and through the Deep Field project also know it is much larger than we thought AND that there is intelligent life in a hugely vast universe, the probability that there is More Intelligent life in the universe is greater than 1.

    Walt71100
    I especially agree with the statements in the second to last paragraph:
    "We are still in elementary school when it comes to unlocking all the keys, but look at how fast this knowledge is expanding in just our lifetimes. What would a few thousand years of this produce? What would 200,000 years produce or a few million."

    At the exponential rate we're learning today, it seems that the next few thousand years will easily be long enough to locate and communicate with other intelligent life in the universe.  
    GEHARD, YOU STUPID

    Gerhard Adam
    Oh yeah ... but one has to marvel at the towering intellect that would allow someone to misspell a name that they could have Cut 'n Pasted.  Wow ... you're dazzling me with your brilliance.  I also noticed that you didn't just misspell it once.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I believe there are two central scientific theories of the origins of life on earth, and both lead me to believe life must be relatively common all over the universe. We believe life on earth started as simple single cell organisms that came from either:
    1. the random combinations of chemistry and environmental conditions occurred, that enjoyed the principals of self-organizing matter, that spawned life
    2. a strain of bio matter frozen in an asteroid that rained down on earth while it was very young (4 billion years ago while our solar system was completing its formation)

    If the later case, it seems reasonable that life would be all over universe, because these cosmic bio transfusions would be scattered somewhat randomly as a result of cosmic collisions and the like.

    If the former case, than it seems reasonable that life would be all over the universe, because the conditions here on earth (e.g. distance from our star, size of the planet, chemical makeup, etc.) must be relatively common throughout the universe. Either way, it seems certain that life would be not too uncommon on other suitable planets that can sustain liquid water.

    Water was recently discovered on Mars and we’re on our way to look for some bacteria in that water, in an upcoming NASA mission. If we find some bacteria, we will certainly bring it back to earth and grow and analyze it, and then have proof that other planets also host life. If we don’t find that proof on mars, it would still seem unimaginable to me that life isn’t common throughout the universe.

    However, even if there are many intelligent civilizations even within our galaxy, the distances are so great, and the time frame are so long, that communicating with, or traveling to, these ‘people’ would require a totally different command of our physical world that what we can do today.

    This gets back to the point I recalled yesterday, which is, it could take many many years of continued scientific advancement before we understand time-space and the other laws of physics that would allow for this communication or travel. With the scientific advancements of the last few decades, we are just now to a point where we can seriously pursue these questions.

    Gerhard Adam
    If we find some bacteria, we will certainly bring it back to earth and grow and analyze it, and then have proof that other planets also host life.
    That would be about the dumbest thing we could do with it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Perhaps rare if you are looking for it, but with 100 billion+ galaxies it isn't rare at all.

    Gerhard Adam
    ... and you're able to conclude all that with a sample set of 1?
    Mundus vult decipi
    I think that this topic and discussion is useless. We simply don`t have any data. We don`t know the real number of stars or planets in the universe. We don`t know just how many of those planets have the conditions needed for life to start. We don`t even know what these conditions are, because we don`t know how life started in the first place. Maybe some other forms of life don`t need these "perfect" conditions that we have on earth. You people say that planets with these conditions are rare, but you don`t really know it. Unless you have seen it, it is just a theory. It might as well be that there are more habitable planets than not for some reason that we don`t know. Different forces and energies that we can`t even comprehend might be at work. Any thing is possible. Thus there is no answer to a question like "what is the chance for life on other planets?". It is like answering a question that does not ask any thing.

    Psychology hasn't been mentioned much so far other than obliquely in regard to wtf 'intelligence' is anyway (it's not selected for much anymore, so other than a curious to some & irrelevant to most Darwinian happenstance, we can't say a lot about it cos those who'd care to ask aren't hot fuckmeat for xx chromosome humans currently, nor is this situation likely to change anytime soon).

    Plus: cultural malaise since mid 90s...once our culture-culture starts to drop off a cliff you can be sure higher order raisons d'etres will fuck off too.

    Plus: social mismanagement fuelled by nihilism, coldasstone 'market' patterns of mechanistic human 'evolution' or rather any general trend... no upward motion required, no improvement required. Devolution is evolution.

    Plus: Peak Oil, scientific social structures, engineering substructures, fossil fuel support structures- Mr Adam is right to fixate on the massive world-remodelling required even to peek outside our planet's atmosphere...

    Overall: the extent to which this question will become slightly more answered (it'll never be conclusive) is economic is the sense of two levels of entropy: how much our planet and its 'intelligent' (all 6 of those humans) inhabitants can be moved around and forced to do stuff such that the small number of people who care can learn a smidge more before the end comes. The 1st entropy is simply how many times we can fuck around with the rubik's cube of our spaceship earth before the coloured patterns start to repeat themselves (this is usually when we get to conversations about 'infinity' and 'faith' and things coming out of nothing, and we get to those points pretty quickly- hence metaphysics and so forth) or the colours start to fade and peel off and we pass the peak and start to get penned in to ever simpler results of our inquisitive play (again when this happens culturally, it's a good indicator that the other shoe is about to drop in other areas).

    The 2nd entropy as mentioned above is the expansion & thermodynamics/direction of time in our tappable dimension problem. The objects available for study/comparison/contact (and we don't know if there is anything interesting in the entire universe other than gas giants masquerading as 'planets', galaxies that died before their light reached us, galaxies so long deceased that their light will never quite bridge the information threshold of a universe rushing ever-faster toward incredibly spread out & diffused heat death....

    That's one of the great things about this iteration of reality: we can't say if there's any markedly different way things could unfold such that we're here to ask these questions but the only way to even get barely intelligible answers is to be as we are now at every point since the BB (which we don't know for sure-sure even happened), but of course in this gloriously anthropomorphic universe we only come to be after the point where it would have been most useful to be. And in fact, i couldn't describe a universe any less hospitable to intelligent life. Life itself is ruthlessly oriented to decay, cruelty, incoherence and constant soul-sapping struggle.

    So on the main topic at hand, my view is that there's nothing in the universe to indicate any human -meaningful information that isn't apparent in the cycles and strictures of life on Earth.... and the weird way our civilisation peaked at the mid point of Sol's lifespan and that there is in many regards such a non-descript character to the parameters for our planet and solar system etc...everything seems to be 'middleish' with Sol, Earth...our galaxy, the placement of this discussion in the general lifespan of the universe which seems to be tipping rapidly down from its midpoint/nicely balanced/viewable highpoint. Like we discover the current point in the lifecycle of the most abstract and vast/ancient and the same point where our resources peak correspondingly, scientific, socio-political, technological etc...

    Now, it's this sense that a lot of things hang on and you can easily flip it to total symmetrical nihilism and a mapping of the Bellcurve ghost in the shell of most of the stuff we perceive (blip from nothing-gradual&rapid upwelling of one thing after another causation feedforward mechanism-peak of resources on a variety of scales_gradual&rapid downswelling to 'nothing'/heat death/vacuum+photons=bare bones quantum state until next (or never again) p-brane collision) or you can 'see' intelligent design and flip the same assertions (facts to me but Mr Adam will no doubt call me on the manifold flaws in my reasoning) into a meaningful existence for humans, for life elsewhere.

    Two points on ID & life elsewhere due to numbers argument:

    1: No intelligent designer would fuck up repeatedly and make life anything like us elsewhere (we're at best an exact replication in biological form of the indifferent,chaotic,mostly empty, mostly dead, mechanistic, cold,cruel, and doomed universe we live in). Unless ultimate intelligence requires/is partner to/causes ultimate sadism (we have evidence for and against this in our human lives)....

    2: if life were meaningful and extant elsewhere the existence of evolution as the underpinning force statistically as well as biologically and even in terms of probablistic infinite (though Darwinian evolution at many levels of observable reality sort of goes against infinite anything- there's no information in infinite anything, just rich noise, if that makes sense- you maths heads won't like that intuition; I know it's not a full idea without data appended etc), it seems like we're sort of meant to plow our own species furrows alone anyway.... isolation and a constant pressure inwards seem to be the way of things, as much as the life virus is if anything an attempt to burst outwards, out of self, out of cells, into other cells....life is sex/sex is life. To that extent it seems like life on other planets just removes our own question to another classroom. It's good food for thought, but it doesn't really help us if there are many, none apart from us, or just a handful. The structure of the universe from the point of being able to ask the question onwards seems ever more against us being allowed an answer.

    As with all the big questions, we'll never know. In fact we seem to live in a universe where knowledge itself is sort of the enemy... the universe prefers to hide its secrets in absurdity than reveal all to the efforts of science (not that science doesn't tell us a lot of stuff, but a lot of stuff just dissolves pretty quickly when looking out into space/time. Ultimately, we live in a universe which is 99% hostile to life. There might be a lot of stuff crammed into 1% but slightly more than half of it is already dead, as a species we're going to be the same way within a a few decades, and at best what follows will be ever more entropically degraded as the second half of that 1% collapses asymptotically (until we reach a big swathe of timeless non-nothing darkness interspersed with an eternal possibility of chance) towards its parent star of 0.

    I guess it's pretty much a question of outlook. In my experience there is almost always less than you expect when you look into things, darkness always looms more each day, it'll all end in fire and frost, the only arena in which there is more stuff than you expect is the human cultural arena (some people would throw in 'love' etc as another more rather than less exception, as someone did above)... that facility of joined up minds to create worlds within worlds. In a weird way I'm kinda saying Seinfeld and Megadeth and Bach and Picasso et al are the only things which open up a mindset where positive answers to any of the big questions seem remotely likely. But even cultural virtual realities are informational and entropic and so yeah, no hope there.

    As said above maths and statistics might say one thing but hmmm the universe at core ISN'T logical or reconcilable, and if you postulate chaos theory, quantum reality at the base of this weird reality, you sorta automatically accept unanswerability, decay, meaninglessness... and if you accept hose things shape life concurrently/correspondingly, then you accept that life isn't that special, and although possibly 'unique' is. by dint of its struggle against the nature of its own identity/motility/resistance against the parameters of its own gestation, than like Catholic teenagers wearing priests collars while BDSM fucking each other to oblivion, your own rebellion is the ultimate linkage to your chosen object of scorn/triumph...so too with life as a virus here and abroad in the galaxy and beyond.

    Anyway, hopefully there was an interesting musing or two in there somewhere if anyone is bothered sifting though it. apologies for resurrecting (though by own conclusions I've just furthered its demise one step more lol) an old discussion. The poster above me has said relative human ignorance allows that anything is possible and although we can't know for sure, pessimism more often than not (time's arrow) is proved, whereas optimism is more wrong the longer we go on. That in itself makes intelligent structured planet sized life unlikely: anyone who gets to this stage is by default one stage away from suicide ( humanity is certainly hellbent on being hellbent and by fuck we'll be a sidenote soon enough) as is the universe itself...It doesn't even seem like a grand evolutionary arc to unviersal self-awareness (ie us) has anything good about it since having achieved it, there's nothing else to do except a vain attempt to decorate the void with our shotgun spattered consciousness.

    And I'll end on the consciousness note....cos it's consciousness which closes the alpha-everything ever-omega loop...the consciousness issues are those issues which will by accident/cosmic design answer all our other big questions. For example does there NEED to be any other life in the universe? We've concluded all it's 'tractable' to know in the levels of reality we can poke at (barring massive revolutions in FTL travel/possible quantum energy sources etc) so yeah considering what it takes to get an us where we are at all and considering that even at its best extent our knowledge is hopelessly retarded for the purpose to which it's worthwhile applying it... even our best raison d'etre seems inefficient, and so we ourselves become an inefficient sidenote, an accident...it's possible that accidents occurred elsewhere/when but given that the universe is merely very big and not infinite (or rather when it is infinite in demise/continual increasing expansion, it won't exist), it seems there's probably just us, and if parallel universe exist etc, seeing that intelligence conveys no evolutionary benefit on us or the universe containing us-variants, presumably most possibilities exclude us and intelligence (we are by default the highest level of intelligence achievable lol).

    One final musing is that things are completely different at a practical level along different points on time's arrow or universal evolution or whatever way you want to look at it...inasmuch as we're losing information at an exponential pace and soon enough there won't be any stars left in our planet's sky beyond the looming red ball of our dying sun, if we rewind things to an earlier point when the universe was hot/dense/primoridal/more yes than no/more something than nothing... who's to say something unintelligible to us as anything other than 'magic' was the norm for a brief while... for stuff we take for granted now will become impossible henceforth, why shouldn't the universe equally be more potent earlier than now? It's not scientific territory at all but I'm quite taken with the idea that there was a first race for whom a second in their section of time's arrow allowed what a billion years now contains... perhaps they did seed while they could,perhaps they did travel far when far was a lot nearer than it is now?

    It seems unlikely they'd be as sadistic as to commit us ( and possible other planets+species etc) to what existence entails, and if they were, they're just dickheads like us anyway and not worth proving the existence of, cos you can seem 'em in the mirror in the morning!

    Probability of life on other Earth-like planets is likely, or will be. Who said it has to "originate" from the actual planet? Interplanetary colonization is always an option, assuming we don't self destruct by then. So the probability of life on other planets is actually the combination of the probability that:

    1) we find a habitable planet
    2) we know how to terraform it
    3) we don't go extinct by the time it happens

    Much better odds than 0.01% over 4 billion years.

    On a more serious note, the reason we can't find other "intelligent" life on other planets is because we are cherry picking our definitions to the point that the boundaries are so tight than nothing else other than life on earth qualifies. Who is to say that our interpretation of time and space and matter, for instance, is absolutely correct? They are all, in fact, theories despite popular opinion.

    The very word "intelligent" is a human term. It is a term that is used to describe the way we interpret the universe around us. Key word here is "we".... you know....humans. We want proof of other "beings" in our universe, yet we box them into to how "we" interpret our universe. We interpret our universe through reasoning....processing.....calculating. We interpret time moving forward. We only understand our universe through our 5 senses....but we extend our senses through science and technology so that we "sense" other things such as cosmic radiation, electrons, etc. But again, this is simply our own interpretation of what the universe is.

    Who is to say that other "beings" must think like we do? Why must they even have a brain? To see? Touch? Who is to say they even experience progression in time? Or even exist as matter?

    But of course, in our search for intelligent life, we must somehow define it....so we establish this strict definition for this intelligent life to somehow be similar to us. To be able to think like us....to feel like us. Live on a planet like us. Reproduce....adapt...and so on. So it is no wonder that beings like us may never exist.

    So, when we observe occurrences in the universe that we do not understand, we dismiss them as inanimate anomolies that require further study. We often assume they are naturally occurring because our universe is governed by physics and science, despite the fact that we don't yet understand it. We NEVER even entertain the possibility that these anomolies may have anything to do with something "intelligent" because if it doesn't make sense to "us", then it can never be "intelligent". Like a cockroach coming across an iPhone. It will never comprehend what it has just experienced because in that little tiny brain, it can process limited information about it: "it's cold...it smells like sweat.....I can't eat it", because it's interpretation of the universe around it is limited.

    So yeah....let's continue on this fruitless act of finding intelligent life. And we will do so by limiting this life to how we observe our universe. Because we know that if it's not us...then it can't be them. (I'll leave you guys to ponder that last sentence).

    i wish there was i leave all be hide in one exploding shot

    Mr. Ip, thanks for that very straight forward veiwpoint. I laugh now knowing that I spent the last 1.25 hours reading this thread due to the interesting comments being made when all I had to do was skip to the end to get to the best point.

    In short, I think of how much I didn't know 5-10 years ago, and how much I know now and can only wonder ...how much will I know later that will cause me to laugh at my self in the here and ((then...)).

    Mr Ip, your thought process is in my book(s), sound... Thanks for saying what I meant to say but didn't have the words (Or knowledge now) to say it.

    As science formulates all the improbable things that happened for this earth to be just right...(they just recently said the sun and earth are not even a good match
    http://www.universetoday.com/37174/sun-earth-are-unlikely-pair-to-suppor...

    expecting another earth to exist is just plain stupid. Its akin to saying that because there are 7 billion people at least one of them should be able to fly.
    Earth was hit by another planet that merged its core with ours--that alone is game over as far as odds of intelligent life.
    What are the odds a person getting hit my a meteor, then winning the lottery again and again again again again again and again and then getting struck by lightening and there also being another person that the same thing happened too? It doesnt matter that 7B people exists...the odds of the first events are too improbable to happen once.
    Look, all this buffoonery comes from idiots like Sagan and others who just dont want to except the odds because it points to a Creator. Even the Big Bang Theory itself had to be formulated by a catholic Physicist because none of the atheists wanted to ever consider the universe had a beginning because they knew where that leads.

    No reasonable, unbiased, man would ever consider even the cohesion of the atom to be anything other than impossible to form randomly let alone the trillions of other domino's that had to fall exactly as they did for us to be here. They just stick their fingers in their ears and sing la la la lalalala.
    The universe was designed. Every reasonable person on earth knows this in all of 3 seconds--only fools deny it.

    Gerhard Adam
    Actually this is what happens when simple minds make simplifying assumptions that aren't true and then try to explain how the world works.

    You want to reject probability and then invoke even greater complexity and even more improbable entities [and include magic] and that sounds reasonable to you?
    Mundus vult decipi
    This is where material science lacks. It keeps on studying the OBJECTs of this Universe(seen), but while doing so, it forgets about the SUBJECT(seer). The existence of objects has no relavane as long as the subject is not present. Hence the spiritual science speaks about the Subject / the seer / the consciousness. If further says, "this vast amazing universe was created by YOU, but you have forgotton your TRUE nature". This means the earth, d trillions of people around me, the sun, the moons, nay the galaxy or the visible, the non visible universe all created by me. When we hear this, we will say, this would be the biggest joke of 21st century. But the vedanta says, you beleive it or not. But this is the fact. This universe is your creation only. You will now say at the most i can create 10 or 12 children, how can I be the creator of this 6 billion people or rather this universe. Vedanta, says whtre u, beleive it or not, this is the truth. few 100 years before people believed it that earth was the centre of universe and sun was revolving around it. but today the we know whats the truth. hence REALITY is always different from what you see. U are the creator of this universe is true. Truth does not bow to society rather society has to bow down to truth. To prove this, it further says, when you go to sleep, you go for a dream there. the moment of dream is called REM (rapid eye movement) and as per science the REM lasts for 90 seconds. In this 90 seconds, you dream flying from one destiny to another, you also create dream people / objects / places / animals / events / space / time etc etc. There also you are chased by a dog and you keep running, running and get exhaust." But my dear friends when do you come to know that this was only a dream. WHEN YOU WAKE UP. But during those 90 seconds, your CREATOR status was CONCEALED. the dog was created by your dream, but you were running becos of fear. you acted like a creature of that event and not like a CREATOR of your own dream world. Similarly this universe is created by YOU. But the same is not known to you becos of some mysterious power consciously working to misguide us, to mislead us. Why the mystery ? Do the creator of this vast universe wanted some sort of praise/appaluse becos of which he created us. its as if a sweeper praises to a NASA scientist about his achievement. The scientist would no way got thrilled by this praise. The why we are hear. ???? ......was this our choise ......- will write about it later

    If I am interpreting these odds correctly, then we shouldn't even exist...is that right?

    The Bible answers the question, "Is there life on other planets?"

    Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created..."
    There was one creation.

    Genesis 3:20 Adam named his wife Eve because she was the mother of ALL the living.
    Every living person came from one person.

    God made us preeminent. We are it!

    You cannot fail to have noticed by now that merely asserting Goddidit is not persuasive - not even to other Xians like myself.

    So why, oh why, do you do keep doing it?

    The written Word of God is truth. Jesus, the Word in the flesh confirms it.
    No one has been able to prove it wrong in thousands of years. It does not contradict science.
    From the looks of things much of modern academia does not want a god.
    The Word of God was written so that we would believe by faith, not undeniable fact.
    If God wanted robots without free will it would be that way. He has given us enough information
    to believe in Him if we choose. Science is our attempt at discovering how God did His work.
    If anyone wants to pursue that now, great! Those who follow the way mapped out to get to God the
    Father will get to see how He did it one day. We shall know fully as we are fully known.

    Science and Theology are not supposed to be in conflict. The Bible does bring many things to light
    that can help us along the way to understanding.

    I am sorry if you think I am naive in asserting the Scriptures are true and helpful.

    God bless!

    Gerhard Adam
    Science and Theology are not supposed to be in conflict.
    They aren't in conflict.  However, it seems that those with a theological bent never know when to just keep quiet and keep their beliefs to themselves.  In short, your preaching is not appreciated.
    Mundus vult decipi
     However, it seems that those with a theological bent never know when to just keep quiet and keep their beliefs to themselves.
    It is not those with a theological bent nor those with an atheistic bent (who can be just as bad) who never know when to keep quiet, but rather those who never know when to keep quiet who annoy everyone - including people on their own side, as it were, who constantly have to apologise for them.
     
    [Edit]

    If nothing else, this thread settles one question which, sooner or later, comes up in any discussion about the origin of life:

    Some people say that if you gave a million monkeys a million typewriters for a million years, one of them would, by pure chance, write something intelligent.

    Now, thanks to the contributors to Science2.0, we know this to be FALSE.


    :)


    MikeCrow
    Some people say that if you gave a million monkeys a million typewriters for a million years, one of them would, by pure chance, write something intelligent.

    Now, thanks to the contributors to Science2.0, we know this to be FALSE.

    :)
    I'd like to disagree, But I think the statement isn't formed correctly.
    Give a million monkeys a million typewriters where the monkey get's to randomly pick a single letter, which get's passed to it's descendants, who pick a single letter, and so on.

    I think this drastically changes the odds of getting something meaning full typed out.

    And maybe it's be better if it wasn't monkeys, but bacteria, but that's just quibbling........
    Never is a long time.
     but that's just quibbling.. 
     Make that a million and one. 
    MikeCrow
    Well with a million and one they'd have typed up the entire internet by now.....
    Never is a long time.
    How is it that, the probability of life is only measured by the framework of Earth's evolution? The supposition that intelligent life can only evolve from carbon based life forms and water is counterintuitive. As we have no basis for comparison, I can understand such preconceived notions; but I also understand that they are just that, notions. Science is self-correcting and the point here is not "if" but "where" and "how many". The idea that, "humans aren't smart enough to understand, and prove, such points" so, "they shouldn't even bother thinking about it" is ridiculous. How do you ever expect to become smart enough? I keep forgetting that the "flat earth society" is still around.
    This is in no way a theological debate. I have no problem accepting the possibility that "science is man's catalog of god's work". If you believe that science can't prove that humans are incapable of walking on water, intelligent life is the least of your worries. While I'm on the subject, you can't prove god's existence by telling someone it says so in the bible. If you think you can validate your source material with, your source material... intelligent life is the least of your worries. (i.e. "I know the bible is the word of god because the bible tells me it is") If you maintain that everything had to come from something else, then so did god. You can't stop a path of logic when it suits you. The bible doesn't deal with life on other planets but to insinuate that you know what god has done, or isn't capable of doing, makes for a less than omnipotent being; and it's blasphemous.
    These things are much more simple than people will allow them to be. "The devil is in the details" and people seem to make more details than actually exist. For those of you that need the simple answers: Yes, there is life on other worlds. Yes, there is a "god". And most importantly....."No, it's not what you think, or believe, in both cases.
    Now go hug your friends, and family, and tell them you love them.

    Gerhard Adam
    How is it that, the probability of life is only measured by the framework of Earth's evolution?
    Like so many others you're confusing the "probability of life" [which is a specific mathematical framework] with your belief that life exists.  Regardless of what you believe, probability requires a specific sample set and then determining what the likelihood of any particular event is within that sample set.  Since we only have a sample set of one, calculating a probability simply isn't possible.

    If you want to speculate, then feel free to do so, but recognize that that is all it is.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The proballity of life (intelligent or not) else ware in the universe is very very high. The factors that limits us as of today is the great distances between the locations. Thinking about communication via signals, I think we need to still work on it, but it’s just a matter of time. It seems impossible that we are alone in this vast universe (some say infinite).

    Its pretty long.........

    Self-replication is the cornerstone of any definition of life.
    After all, how can you really know what happened when Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago? Two things scientists can agree on, however, are that the first kinds of life, whatever they were, must have been able to reproduce themselves and must have carried information.
    To sustain life, information about oneself must be passed from one generation to the next. It is that information, in the form of inheritable characteristics that gives life continuity. It is the accidental altering of those characteristics over time that makes evolution possible. We do this with genes.
    Genes of DNA and RNA and were made of protein, lipids, and other ingredients. Something simpler must have preceded them.
    A hint as to what that may have been came in 1981, when Thomas Cech of the University of Colorado discovered a kind of RNA that functioned as an enzyme, partially triggering its own replication. Until then, replication had been thought possible only through collaboration among DNA, the storehouse of genetic information, RNA, the mobile dispenser of that information, and protein, which exclusively makes up the enzymes that catalyze the process. Now Cech had shown that RNA could be an enzyme and therefore could once have taken care of the whole business by itself. The news galvanized scientists, who enthusiastically painted a picture of an ancient world inhabited by naked RNA genes, which went on their way merrily self-replicating until DNA and protein evolved to assist in the procedure. Thus ensued the development of living cells and the very bacteria we claim as our own ancestors.

    But while this proposed RNA world was certainly closer to the origin of life, it clearly wasn’t the beginning. Although much simpler than bacteria, RNA is still a complicated piece of molecular machinery, containing more than 30 atoms connected in an intricate, interlocking fashion. It couldn’t have sprung wholly formed into the primordial landscape. Something preceded it. That something must have been the simple carbon-based molecules that underlie all life--organic compounds.
    What were those first organic compounds? And how did they form? The questions bedevil origin-of-life researchers. Over the years they have come up with a host of imaginative and intensely debated possibilities. Perhaps the most influential first surfaced four decades ago, when in a dramatic experiment a University of Chicago graduate student named Stanley Miller simulated the creation of life in a laboratory.

    Today Miller is a renowned and feisty 62-year-old professor of chemistry at the University of California at San Diego. Back in Chicago in 1953, however, he little knew what he was getting himself into. My research director, Harold Urey, gave a talk about the origin of the Earth and the solar system, he recalls. He said that if you have an atmosphere like that of early Earth you ought to be able to make organic compounds easily. I said, ‘I want to do it,’ but he tried to talk me out of it. It was a very risky experiment, and it was his responsibility to make sure that I had an acceptable thesis within a couple of years. I said that I’d give it a try for six months to a year, and if that didn’t work out, I’d do something conventional.

    Urey agreed, and the two set to work. They designed a glass apparatus consisting essentially of two flasks connected within a closed circle of glass tubing. Miller pumped into the larger flask the gases thought to be present in the early atmosphere: hydrogen, methane, ammonia, and water vapor. The smaller flask he partially filled with water--it represented the primitive ocean. He then shot bolts of electric current through the gaseous mixture to simulate primordial lightning storms. For a week the electricity sparked, while Miller sat back to see what would happen.

    It didn’t take long to see I had it, he says. The organics just poured out. It was very exciting.

    As the scientists watched, fluids rained out of the gas chamber, turning the clear water in the ocean pink, then deep red, then yellow-brown. When Miller analyzed the brew, he found that it contained amino acids, the building blocks of protein. The lightning had reorganized the molecules in the atmosphere to produce organic compounds. It looked as though making organics was easier than anyone had suspected. Perhaps the origin of life was simplicity itself, nothing more than the routine consequence of basic conditions on early Earth.
    Thus emerged the picture that has dominated origin-of-life scenarios. Some 4 billion years ago, lightning (or another energy source, like ultraviolet light or heat) stimulated a hydrogen-rich atmosphere to produce organic compounds, which then rained down into the primitive ocean or other suitable bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, or even a warm little pond, as Charles Darwin once suggested. Once there, these simple compounds, or monomers, combined with one another to produce more complicated organics, or polymers, which gradually grew even more complex until they coalesced into the beginnings of self-replicating RNA. With that came the RNA world and ultimately the evolution into cells and the early bacterial ancestors of life.
    The picture is powerful and appealing, but not all origin-of-life researchers are convinced. Even Miller throws up his hands at certain aspects of it. The first step, making the monomers, that’s easy. We understand it pretty well. But then you have to make the first self- replicating polymers. Nobody knows how it’s done.
    Maybe the beginnings of life came from interstellar space. The notion is not as farfetched as it may seem. If you go to the moon, or look at the craters on Mars or Mercury, what you see is that the whole inner solar system was being subjected to a very intense bombardment from space at that time. You can infer that the same was true for Earth. And in fact, in the early nineteenth century, organic molecules were found in a meteorite, although some people suspected that it had simply acquired earthly organics in the thousands of years since it had landed. In 1969, however, such skepticism was dispelled once and for all when a meteorite fell in Murchison, Australia. A prompt examination revealed a large number of amino acids, components of RNA and DNA, and other organic compounds.

    More recently, in 1986, European and Soviet spacecraft flew by Halley’s Comet. People had strongly suspected that comets were rich in organics, and that was absolutely borne out by the observations made by the spacecraft. And whereas the fraction of organics in meteorites is no more than one-twentieth of their mass, the flybys found Halley to be fully one-third organic compounds.

    However, it’s likely that most organics aboard meteorites and comets never made it to Earth. At these velocities, at least 10 to 15 miles per second, the temperatures you reach on impact are so high that you end up frying just about everything. And those organics that survived would probably have been too few and too scattered to evolve into life.

    But interplanetary dust particles (IDPs for short) are another matter. In contrast to their larger cousins, these particles, tiny specks no larger than .004 inch across, routinely reach Earth. They get slowed way up in the atmosphere. Then they remain floating around for months, even years, before they come down. NASA samples IDPs directly in the atmosphere with modified U2 spy planes fitted with adhesive collectors on the wings. What researchers have found is that IDPs also contain organic material--although only about 10 percent worth. Perhaps, then, dust seeded early Earth with the stuff of life.

    Since his discovery of the Galápagos hot springs, Corliss, who now works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland, and a growing number of his colleagues have been promoting the notion that hydrothermal vents were the birthplace of life. The thing about the hot springs, Corliss says, is that they provide a nice, safe, continuous process by which you can go from very simple molecules all the way to living cells and primitive bacteria.

    The crux is the word continuous. For besides providing safe harbor for the development of life, vents offer a natural temperature gradient. The vents have it all, from the cracking front in the interior, where temperatures reach 1300 degrees and cool water filtering down from above cracks the superheated rock, to the 40-degree seafloor. Whatever temperature you want, says Corliss, you have your choice. And any chemist will tell you that where you find a temperature gradient is where you’ll find chemical reactions--maybe even the ones that began life.

    The reactions Corliss envisions began at the cracking front, half a mile deep in the planet’s crust, where seawater encountered hot magma. There, in this seething caldron, elements like carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulfur interacted to form new, organic compounds. Just as in the Miller-Urey experiments, says Corliss, if you heat simple molecules to high temperature, you can make organic compounds.

    But heat is a double-edged sword. It facilitates chemical reactions, but it can also destroy the products of those reactions. If exposed to high heat for too long, organic compounds decompose. It’s a very simple argument: if you keep a roast too long in an oven that’s too hot, it’s going to get charred, says Miller, who has little use for this scenario either. The vent hypothesis is a real loser. I don’t understand why we even have to discuss it, he says, his voice rising to an exasperated falsetto.

    Corliss, however, thinks he has an ace in the hole: a vent’s temperature gradient. He thinks it likely that the circulating seawater cooled the newly formed compounds almost immediately. If you quenched them very rapidly, you could preserve them, he says. Then they rose and mixed and worked their way up in the hot springs, through this huge complex of fractures, cooling as they went.

    Finally the organic compounds were deposited onto the clay minerals lining the mouth of a vent. And there they stayed. Rather than simply emerging and dissipating into the vast ocean where they might never encounter another organic molecule, the compounds accumulated on the clay surface. There, in a concentrated colony, they were able to interact with one another and with the endless supply of new compounds rising in the hot springs, until over time the first stirrings of primitive life emerged.

    It’s the perfect environment, Corliss says. You couldn’t design it better. With the clay minerals lining the fractures in the upper part of the hot springs, the organic material has something to stick to. It’s an ideal way to concentrate the organic material made at the cracking front. Now it can build up and evolve.

    The prospect is bolstered by the likelihood that in the turbulent early Earth there were many more hydrothermal vents than today. Presumably it was hotter within primitive Earth, so there was even more hydrothermal circulation to cool things down, says Everett Shock. And, therefore, more safe havens in which life might have evolved.

    Furthermore, the clay lining the vents could have been far more than just a convenient medium on which organic compounds could evolve. Chemist A. Graham Cairns-Smith of the University of Glasgow sees clay as a solution to the mystery of how simple organics made the leap all the way to self-replicating genetic material. In fact, Cairns-Smith sees clay itself as the first genetic substance, what he calls a crystal gene.

    Clay minerals, he explains, are crystals formed from the weathering of rocks by water. And clay, like any crystal, grows by itself-- think of crystals of frost expanding on a windowpane. Crystals, in other words, self-replicate. So if self-replication is the key, life did not start with organic molecules. Life started with crystals. That is, it started with clay.

    It’s not a new idea--the Bible proposed it long ago, in a slightly different form. But in Cairns-Smith’s hands the notion takes on an evocative modern flavor. With clay, I’m advocating an earlier genetic material that is fundamentally different from DNA and RNA, he says. You needed a previous stage of evolution in which the present means of evolution was itself evolving.

    Again, picture a hydrothermal vent, with organic compounds settling on clay crystals lining the fissures. But this clay was no inert surface upon which organic reactions happened to take place--it was living, growing, even assisting those reactions. As the crystals grew, they developed nooks and crannies that were a perfect fit for the organic molecules rising in the swell of water. As snugly as pegs settling into holes in a pegboard, these molecules made themselves at home in this surface. Once there, they reacted with other molecules comfortably ensconced in niches next door. Because the positioning was so precise, similar reactions could occur over and over again. The crystals, then, actually catalyzed the formation of new organic compounds.

    In time the organics evolved into RNA, which, with its strong interlocking structure, returned the favor, helping out the growing clay crystals. I don’t think RNA’s genetic function came first, Cairns-Smith says. My guess is that at first it had a structural function. It helped stick the crystals together. Finally, as it became a self-replicating molecule, RNA jettisoned its clay scaffolding. And early life struck out on its own.

    This scenario, attractive as it may seem, is--like so many others--too farfetched for Miller. It’s not that I don’t want to entertain new ideas--that’s fine, he says. The question is, does this chemistry work? Actually work in the lab? Either it does or it doesn’t. His point is well taken. Whatever else may be said about Miller’s ideas, his experiments worked. Talk, even informed talk, is cheap. If they’re to have an impact comparable to Miller’s, these champions of crystals and vents and interstellar particles must demonstrate their scenarios.

    But how? You can’t try to make early life at existing hot springs--they’re already replete with bacteria and other life-forms, so the environment just can’t be the same as it was on the primordial planet. And re-creating an ancient hydrothermal vent in the lab is a mind-boggling prospect. Still, vent researchers are busily conducting experiments designed to do just that. Elsewhere, Chyba is collaborating with Carl Sagan and others in an attempt to nail down the possible link between extraterrestrial objects and the origin of life. And Cairns-Smith is investigating the chemical relationships between minerals and organic compounds.

    But while he recognizes the importance of experimental proof, Cairns-Smith cheerfully acknowledges that he may never come up with any. I’m hoping that people with new techniques or people who make the appropriate discoveries will phone me up and say, ‘By the way . . .’ The origin of life depended on all sorts of accidental circumstances. Proving how it happened will take another piece of luck.

    Simply put energy itself is infinite but can last finite, thought has mass, the more people think on a singulair ojbect
    the object gains weight. ( Something from Nothing ) dont believe me feel free to research it out and email me your response

    actually, by considering thoughts to have no mass you are embracing the paradigm many people (including philosophers and neuroscientists) would find unscientific. In science, everything must obey the physical laws in order to exist. This means that everything in the physical world must have mass and occupy space. So, if you think that thoughts have no mass, you don't consider them part of the physical world, but of a kind of "thought world", or "world of ideas" like Plato believed. Indeed, you are embracing what is known in philosophy of the mind as 'dualism'. This means that there exists a solid world of objects and things of mass and space, and parallel a world where there are 'things' without these properties, like thoughts and emotions. Rene Descartes was the most prominent representative of this view.

    But what you said and the way you said it doen't sound like you wanting to stand on the unscientific side. Then, you would have to admit that thoughts don't exist in some spherical twilight zone, but are part of our physical world. Indeed, considering thoughts being made manifest in the physical brain, suggests that these thoughts must have physical properties themselves. Otherwise you would have to explain how a physical substance like the brain can produce something nonphysical and how you are going to prove it. In addition, according to neuroscience, thoughts aren't the electrical energy that can be measured at the scalp. Thoughts are produced by the concerted, i.e. simultaneous, working of distributed networks within the brain. These networks work with chemistry, rather than electricity. The chemical substances that nerve endings use in order to communitcate with each other have, indeed, a certain mass and occupy space, making them part of the physical world. This view is kown as materialism.
    example is psychic phenomenon thought actually being able to manifest in the materialistic world

    therefore the thought of something cant be created from nothing is actually creating something from nothing
    before now the thought didnt exist, and now it does this arguement is pointless cause its something itself doesnt have an answer that can be finite plausible or implausible. the idea the calculations making something impractical
    and impossible is retarded when im-possible make sense in short term even if theres a trillionth of a percent that life can be created on other planets then someplace somewhere has intelligent life
    in any case another explantation i like to tell people with this arguement is
    humans are a tiny spek of bacteria compaird to the vast infinite size of space, space cant have no end nor no beginning its space empty space that is used to store crap in the air in the room is space you cant take or add space to space
    therefore is everlasting; space wasnt created from god or big bang it just existed the start of something marvelous
    something existed from nothing - thought of space
    now if we are the only intelligent species in the vast infinite space doesnt it make you wonder where did everything else go? how can infinite probability relate to nothing else intelligent.
    and honestly are humans really intelligent most of us humans are fuckin retarded and stupid and we call that intelligence

    What you described with human thought giving matter extra mass is hogwash/bullshit/etc. It sounds like you have gotten the idea of Quantum law and the Uncertainty Principle totally messed up. In quantum mechanics, when we 'think' and act on making measurement one property of a particle, the other property becomes unobservable, thus this particle will never be accurately controlled. These properties includes objects' momentum, rest mass, and position. At the atomic level, everything is occurring at the most tiniest level that measurement of every property at once is almost impossible; it's like running toward a traveling bullet with a weighing scale, and saying you'll measure it even though you have all the information momentum and speed of the traveling bullet.

    Anyways the possibility of life with autonomous consciousness to create their own systems of society and technology (hereby possessing intelligence) are improbable yet infinite considering how great the universe is, and the fact that the possibility is there for habitable biospheres with the ability to allow life to begin, reproduce, and evolve. Actually I'd happy if there are flower, fauna, and even more complex multicellular organisms walking on the surface of another planet. It sounds amazing already that there can be another planet out there serving as the relic of life and biology in the universe, and I'm happy with that.

    ) "Briefly, nothing can be infinite, since in order for something to 'be', it must be defined and measurable."

    what are you on sir?

    Not Everything that Matters is Measurable and Not Everything that is Measurable Matters:

    all “immeasurability” is just an illusion caused by three basic types of misunderstanding about measurement problems:

    The object of measurement (i.e., the thing being measured) is not understood.
    The concept or the meaning of measurement is not understood.
    The methods of measurement proven techniques used by science generally are not well understood.
    he ho work that out man

    Gerhard Adam
    To use infinity is an attempt to quantify something, therefore it must be measurable to be quantifiable.  Otherwise it is simply an arbitrary claim at a trait that can never be confirmed.  Since you can never prove that something is infinite, then, by definition, any such claim is a supposition.

    Even in mathematics, the process is typically used to define a process and not a number.  Which is why you can have the apparent absurdity of having infinities that are unequal to each other.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Utter piffle, Gerhard, for the reasons I gave last time you said it, not least being the impressive list of top rank scientists who were prepared to consider the possibility of an infinite universe whether they personally thought it likely or not - pitted against one cranky old blogger with a big white hat* who just keeps saying "The universe can't be infinite because my tape measure isn't long enough to measure infinite things".
     
    *Nothing disrespectful about the hat: I mention it purely so we all know who I'm talking about; it's a very *nice* hat really.
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, perhaps, but Einstein hated it.  Feynman thought renormalization was "dippy" [and mathematically suspect] and some mathematicians like Doron Zeilberger think it's "abstract nonsense".

    My only point is that if you want to define infinity as a process, then we have no quarrel.  If you want to define it as a number [i.e. quantifiable] then you're going to have a problem.  If you don't accept that, then perhaps you could provide a non-mathematical explanation for how infinities can be different in relation to each other.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Renormalization isn't infinity, it's getting rid of the things!

    And Einstein makes my point, the great man may not have *liked* the idea, but he didn't try to pretend that it was impossible in principle.
    My only point is that if you want to define infinity as a process, then we have no quarrel. If you want to define it as a number [i.e. quantifiable] then you're going to have a problem.
    Actually, last time you pontificated, you certainly did have a problem with infinity as a process because, you said, it never finishes and, by some sophistry that I cannot recall, this means it is impossible.

    But be that as it may, I would never dream of defining infinity as a process. It is a quantity. It can be used anywhere an ordinary number can be used.

     
    Gerhard Adam
    It is a quantity. It can be used anywhere an ordinary number can be used.
    No it can't.
    If you treat infinity as a number, you fundamentally break everything that makes arithmetic work.
    http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2008/10/infinity_is_not_a_number.php
    You can also review all the operations that are supported versus those that are undefined, while clearly illustrates that it has unique arithmetic properties beyond that of an "ordinary number". 
    http://www.suitcaseofdreams.net/infinity_paradox.htm#Arith
    Infinity is not a number; it is the name for a concept.
    http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/faq.large.numbers.html
    Georg said no, infinity is not a number. It is a concept. But Georg said, infinity is a concept with properties that can be precisely stated. But what was most important was he identified two kinds of infinity and proved there was an exact mathematical relationship between the two.
    http://www.coopertoons.com/caricatures/paulcohen_continuum.html
    In any case, you may disagree with some of my sources, but suffice it to say that you cannot use it where you would use an ordinary number.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Oh how a little learning is such a dangerous thing!
     
    There is a VAST difference between
     
    a) "It can be used anywhere an ordinary number can be used" and
    b) "If you treat infinity as a number"
     
    That is the WHOLE POINT of Cantor's extended number system. The suitcaseofdreams link, far from supporting your view, explains the matter perfectly. 

    c)  "Infinity is not a real number but the extended real number line."
    d)  "Infinity obeys a different arithmetic than [sic] finite numbers."
     
    So you just put infinity in your formula and when it comes to doing the sums, use the correct arithmetic.
     
    Same goes for your other links. 
    In any case, you may disagree with some of my sources, but suffice it to say that you cannot use it where you would use an ordinary number.
    I do not disagree with your sources at all.  They are exactly the sort of dumbed-down explanations that make everything nice and simple to non-mathematicians. Well, to most of us, anyway; clearly they are wasted on you.  None of them say "you cannot use infinity where you would use an ordinary number." They all say precisely the opposite; not only explaining that, yes you can use infinity, but also telling you exactly how you then have to handle the calculations. 

    What amazes me is that you can cite a page on which "Dr Bob" says:
    You wish to introduce a new element (or maybe two elements), infinity, which you wish to append to the real number system. That is not prohibited. After all, that is how we got from natural numbers to integers (appending negative integers and zero), and from integers to rationals (appending ratios of integers), and from rationals to reals (appending limits of convergent sequences), and from reals to complexes (appending the square root of -1). What you end up with is not the real number system, however. Furthermore, if you wish to define the four operations + - * and / for this new system, you probably want them to be the same on real numbers, and just add on the definitions of things like infinity + r and r/infinity, for any real number r.
    and still deny that infinity can be used in lieu of a real number as long as you use the right rules. 

    Oh, hang on. Your grasp of cosmology is better than that of Einstein, De Sitter, Schwarzschild, Hawking, Friedmann, Milne, Linde, Guth, Bondi, Hoyle, Eddington and Dirac: why should I be surprised that your understanding of numbers surpasses that of Kurt Godel and Georg Cantor?
    If you want to define it as a number [i.e. quantifiable] then you're going to have a problem. If you don't accept that, then perhaps you could provide a non-mathematical explanation for how infinities can be different in relation to each other
    You can extend the real number system with a single object, infinity. The difference between aleph null and aleph one is interesting and well explained in your links but doesn't affect the arithmetic rules and that's all we're talking about here.
     
    Gerhard Adam
    To reiterate, I said that you could not perform numeric calculations using PI without approximating it's numeric value.  I never claimed that you couldn't manipulate equations using infinities, although I did indicate that the mathematical application was not my concern in that discussion.

    In any case, your point that it could be used as an ordinary number, did not qualify it by stating that there were different rules of arithmetic, since clearly the rules of arithmetic that apply to infinities do NOT apply to ordinary numbers and vice versa. 

    I don't know why you suddenly felt that it was OK to jump onto cosmology and advance an argument from authority, but that says nothing about my point.

    Even in most cases where infinities is used in calculations it produces nonsense or is eliminated, so to argue that it somehow contributes in terms of numeric calculations is disingenuous at best, although I've never disputed that there are rules for manipulating infinities when it comes to equations.

    As I said in my original post.  My problem is that infinity cannot be used as a trait to describe something physical.  Your argument simply asserted that this wasn't true, although you apparently don't feel compelled to offer a counter-argument beyond asserting that if it can be used in mathematics then it must be manifest in the physical world. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    The example you require is the one we were talking about. Which is why I did not feel, it necessary to remind you. If a model yields an infinite size to the universe then the infinity can be used in Cantor's extended number arithmetic. In the extended number system, the rules for infinity may be different from the rules for finite numbers but they are still all numbers. In other words there is no "ordinary numbers which obey ordinary arithmetic plus some others that don't. They are all "ordinary" under the extended system. There's nothing difficult about this.

    In this very context we calculate the probability density of life without involving infinity. However to get the probability we then multiply by the size of the region. Infinity times a very small but non-zero number is infinity, and infinity times precisely zero is undefined - meaning that *in that particular case* we need a better theory.

    As for the argument from authority - yes, Gerhard, I do regard the mathematical ability of Einstein, De Sitter, Schwarzschild, Hawking, Friedmann, Milne, Linde, Guth, Bondi, Hoyle, Eddington and Dirac as carrying a greaty deal of authority. Pitch them against a mathematician who understands that he is controversial and I might agree that the newcomer should be given a chance, indeed given some leeway as breaking new ground is quite likely to result in the odd non-critical error. Pitch them against you - or me - who are to all intents and purposes laymen - and my money will be on the oldies.

    I do not recall saying anything about "it must be manifest in the physical world". Of all contributors to Sci20 I am probably the least likely to say any such thing. What I do say is that if the arithmetic requires an infinity then it does not lead to any problems in the maths.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...and I never claimed that infinity was a problem within the mathematical domain.  My problem stems from people taking the mathematical concept and arbitrarily applying it to the "real world" under the assumption that everything imaginable suddenly becomes possible because the maths says so.
    Mundus vult decipi
    My only point is that if you want to define infinity as a process, then we have no quarrel. If you want to define it as a number [i.e. quantifiable] then you're going to have a problem.
    Gerhard Adam
    OK, so I didn't say it very well.  If you look at the original post, I've recognized its role in mathematics.  It's that middle state, where it is supposed to represent something "real" that I have the problem.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I think it all began this way:
    There was Just Nothing, at very Beginning of the Very Beginning and this Nothing had something known as Absolute Nothing, but which had to be stated as something hence evolved Everything.
    So mpkr law :-
    Very Beginning + Absolute Nothing = Everything (That implies Time + No matter = Matter)

    This Gerhard guy is real.... I think my kid's say "Douche" being the guy that argues everyone else's comments and FACTS!!. Does not make you smart or intelligent it makes you the ass that disagrees with sound physics and science so people will think he's right. When in all reality he's so lost in his own bullshit he cannot and will not ever see anything that goes beyond his thinking process.

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, I think we have a new example of incoherent.
    Mundus vult decipi
    the possibility is not low, i personally encountered a species, they call themselves humans and are very arrogant and single minded to see that if they are exist then others will have the possibility, anyway they are very dangerous creatures and i advise not to get in touch with them for a few more thousands years ,until they come to understand themselves better and gain more respect for life,

    By the logic of Professor Watson's logic we should not be here but we are. Probability - the prediction of outcomes from known quantifiables. Probability - here we can compare everyday use of the word i.e likelihood as opposed to a number expressing the likelihood that a specific event will occur, expressed as the ratio of the number of actual occurrences to the number of possible occurrences. Since we only know of one example extrapolations from this one example of how many other examples there are may be self limiting. A more interesting analysis might be to compare the number of live form planets we know of as a ratio of those we know do not. Anyone care to do the maths?

    KatSeiko
    I like the way that it was told in "Contact". There are 200 billions of galaxies visible to us. And each one of those has give or take 200 billion stars. Now if only one in 10.000 stars has an earth-like planet, and only one in 10.000 earth-like planets has a chance for life - the chances are quite good for that already. If there is a chance of one in 10.000 again for that life to be intelligent, then there is probably someone "out there". But the chance that they meet us is so slim.. Our light and transmissions might reach them in a few million years, long after humanity is not there anymore. Maybe we are just the first to be here?