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Is Life is a Natural Planetary Phenomenon? Harvard's Sasselov says "Yes"

  Lightning

“Columbus forced everyone to rethink, redesign and rebuild their world view.That’s what we’re doing here. To put it in 15th-century terms, we’ve reached the Canary Islands."

Dimitar Sasselov, professor of astrophysics and director of Harvard University’s Origins of Life Initiative Project.

“It’s feasible that we’ll meet other sentient life forms and conduct commerce with them,” Sasselov says, pointing toward the exo planet he discovered on Nov. 12, 2002, he unofficially named Sheila, after his wife in Harvard’s astronomy-department laboratory. “We don’t now have the technology to physically travel outside our solar system for such an exchange to take place, but we are like Columbus centuries ago, learning fast how to get somewhere few think possible.”

Though it may be hard to think of it this way, at roughly 14 billion years old, the universe is quite young, he said. The heavy elements that make up planets like Earth were not available in the early universe; instead, they are formed by the stars. Enough of these materials were available to begin forming rocky planets like Earth just 7 billion or 8 billion years ago. When one considers that it took nearly 4 billion years for intelligent life to evolve on Earth, it would perhaps not be surprising if intelligence is still rare.

Sasselov expects the Kepler Spacecraft to rapidly increase the number of  planets already found orbiting other stars. Unanalyzed Kelper data may reveal numerous “super Earths” or planets from Earth-size to just over twice Earth’s size that Sasselov expects would have the stability and conditions that would allow life to develop.

If life did develop elsewhere, added Andrew Knoll, the Fisher Professor of Natural History at the Harvard conference, used the lessons of planet Earth to give an idea of what it might take to develop intelligence.

"Of the three major groupings of life: bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes," he said, "only the eukaryotes developed complex life. And even among the myriad kinds of eukaryotes, complex life arose in just a few places: animals, plants, fungi, and red and brown algae. Knoll said he believes that the rise of mobility, oxygen levels, and predation, together with its need for sophisticated sensory systems, coordinated activity, and a brain, provided the first steps toward intelligence."

It has only been during the past century that we have had the technological capacity to communicate off Earth, Knoll said. And, though Kepler may advance the search for Earth-like planets, it won’t tell us whether there’s life there, or whether there has been life there in the past.

The Daily Galaxy via harvardscience.harvard.edu

Comments

You have an error in the headline!!

Error!Zero proof of life outside of planet earth thus far.If something is found in the future:then okay this headline will THEN BECOME correct;& I + all people will know that God has made life to be a natural occurance outside earth.Right now?Just guesswork:not factual/scientific.

Error!Zero proof of life outside of planet earth thus far.If something is found in the future:then okay this headline will THEN BECOME correct;& I + all people will know that God has made life to be a natural occurance outside earth.Right now?Just guesswork:not factual/scientific.

Error!Zero proof of life outside of planet earth thus far.If something is found in the future:then okay this headline will THEN BECOME correct;& I + all people will know that God has made life to be a natural occurance outside earth.Right now?Just guesswork:not factual/scientific.

And your absolute knowledge of "God" is "factual/scientific"? Hilarious!

He says yes - I say no. My evidence is every bit as good as his. None.

Welcome to the world of speculative science ... please check your brain and common sense at the door ...

Kelper? Something to do with seaweed?

Francis, maybe you have misunderstood the headline. As you mention, we do not have solid data to proove or disproove the existence of life outside earth. BTW, I have no idea why you mention god in this context ....

This arcticle is about possibilities; there is a difference between "there _might_be_ intelligent life in the universe" and "there _is_ intelligent life in the universe".

Life will disappear as naturally as it appeared, when conditions are no longer met. Who said you are important? You are not. Deal with it. The multiverse in all its complexity, will create your own unique pattern again somewhere else and you'll live again, perhaps.

Some natural phenomena are simple. Others are incredibly complex, and there is no guarantee that life is the most complex of these.

The most successful creatures on Earth are not the complexe ones.

Very complex creatures are quite recent. Life do not tend "naturally" to more and more complex stuff. It is just one possible path (and we made it, Yeah !) that led to our "intelligence".

Now, here, Bacterias'life rules ! It's everywhere and thriving (and as I type this comment on my keyboard, I do not even want to think at the number of those creatures on each letter)

So, if any, it is far more likely we find SIMPLE life elsewhere than anything else.

Trade might be a little difficult...

Nice info...thanx

Sounds like ap lan to me dude. WOw.

www.anonymity.au.tc

Our galaxy has millions of stars and billions of planets allegedly. Do you think our planet is the only one with life on it? Look up at the night sky when you can see a lot of stars. If you can see hundreds or thousands of stars in one view of the night sky, imagine hundreds or thousands of planets at once in your mind. Ponder these: What do these planets look like? Are they similar to our own solar system or vastly different? How many contain life? How many are planets are similar to earth? Life may be able to exist on non earthlike planets as well...

Diving deeper in....If there are, or have been, beings who can travel amongst the stars and also know about our planet, they have already likely set-up some type of bases within our solar system.

"...and predation, together with its need for sophisticated sensory systems, coordinated activity, and a brain, provided the first steps toward intelligence..."
On earth, only a small proportion of animals are predators and we humans form an even smaller proportion of those. It was our inability to successfully predate without weapons that led to the need for tool-making and thereafter the development of manipulative intelligence that we now accept as civilizing life behavior. We developed from strategic hunters to intelligent hunters through the creation and use of artifact to enhance our otherwise inadequate capabilities.
If predatory behavior is a major key to the rise of intelligent life, then these factors significantly reduce the proportion of living entities in the universe that will achieve a similar degree of intelligence to that which we gained via the extended skills that we alone required for predatory survival.
If ninety-nine percent of life in the universe has adequate or abundant sustenance without the need to hunt in a complex fashion (think fish, insects, birds etc) then the chances of the appearance of a similarly evolved life form to our own, via the tool-maker predator route to intelligence, is significantly reduced.
We should extend the Drake Equation to account for and include the microscopically small number of living entities that have needed to kill to eat and thus that have developed the mental and physical tools for advancement.
Discount then the predator types whose environment permits them to predate without significant exploration or innovation, such as killer whales and those for whom the abundance of food negates the need for advancement beyond hunt, kill, eat, such as lions and the resulting life-pool will provide the outer limits of a group that will contain entities with the possibility of needing an equivalent intelligence to our own to survive.
Within that pool of species will be a diversity such that maybe only one tenth of one percent of predator tool-makers will have made it to sophistication... and that's before any one of them looks up and wonders if they could travel to the stars.
The odds are microscopic, even in a universe such as ours, that recognizable civilized life will have evolved.
It is fairly safe to say that we are the only angel on the pin head that is actually able to dance.

It's one huge jump from discovering exo-planets to postulating that humans will one day trade with sentient alien life forms. Even after four billion years, Earth has only given rise to one sentient life form. Life itself may be comparatively common but sentience appears to be just a rather curious fluke. Our sentience arose from a chain of serendipitous events involving the odd mutation (as in our weak jaw muscles), social environment, shorter guts (gut tissue is expensive, in terms of energy requirements, to grow so shorter guts meant more energy to fuel the brain), opposable thumbs etc. There is no reason to assume that such serendipity is a repeatable process elsewhere. Even if it were, we are assuming that sentient life will last long enough for us to contact it and certain evidence shows us that, even here on Earth, we are in the process of devolving. The human brain is shrinking and that shrinkage might be evidence of a decline in mental ability. Who is to say that, in a few hundred thousand years, humans will still be around on Earth. Thought provoking as this article is, it makes too many unproven assumptions. Most of the most successful life forms on Earth don't require intelligence. Take sea squirts, for instance!

Un disputable truth. But, hold it. Is anyone capable of calculating the odds involved in life having been created on Earth, considering the Human Brain as an example? The latter, a task for the guys who believe in the possibility of an Earth type of planet, including a super evolved civilisation.

Un disputable truth. But, hold it. Is anyone capable of calculating the odds involved in life having been created on Earth, considering the Human Brain as an example? The latter, a task for the guys who believe in the possibility of an Earth type of planet, including a super evolved civilisation.

Maybe the other planets dont yet have 'fleas' but probably will if we continue to evolve!

I am not interested in microbes on Mars. Where are the fabulous blondes with anti-gravity bras and spray-on catsuits who have a peculiar desire to indulge in cross-species mating?

Should this Dimitar Sasselof or any member of NASA wish to contact they can do so via this site. Following the publishing of my book in the next three months titled, Earths Mysteries Explained you will all have the answers to many mysteries of our world, and also the undeniable absolute proof of alien activity on the planet earth from many years ago. The proof is here gentlemen.Over the last 6 years I have developed a technique of communicating with extraterrestrial life and they have provided me with loads of information.


The jumped-up ape with delusions of grandeur.

While I have no doubt that the universe is teeming with life, I would like to put forward an idea which suggests that conscious life (that also has the ability to manipulate its environment and therefore the capability of announcing its existence) is either very rare or even non-existent elsewhere in the universe. I hasten to add that this is not a religious argument concerning God-given uniqueness, but a purely philosophical one about man's unsuitability for survival.

This idea starts from the viewpoint that consciousness, far from being an attribute which puts us at the top of the evolutionary tree, is just another of nature's many genetic mistakes. This particular mistake will prove short lived. This attribute has caused our species to quickly step outside nature's constraints and bring about changes to it, the outcomes of which we are neither clever enough to calculate nor intelligent enough to avoid. As we have seen on a small scale throughout history, we are more than capable of destroying the environment which sustains us - we are now doing so on a planetary scale. Add to this idea the possibility of some major, natural disaster either wiping us out, or at least setting us back a good few thousand years, and I would suggest that it begins to look increasingly unlikely that we will survive for any reasonable length of time.

I suggest that consciousness coupled with an ability to manipulate creates a species which will suffer the same fate anywhere in the universe. The survival strategy which drives this type of species to succeed at its beginning is not bred out quickly enough to enable it to deal with the conditions it creates for itself in the future. This is mainly due to it being incapable of selecting for the best attributes, as it could never be intelligent enough to determine what they should be.


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