Sunday's 'Comment of the Day'--"Dead Zones of the Universe" --Do They Support the 'Rare Earth' Theory?
The big question, of course, is: among these planets, how common is human-level intelligence? Some think that it's nigh-inevitable. While I tend to agree that it's inevitable given enough time, I think it's an unlikely result in any given ecosystem. Then again, Dr. Michio Kaku (among others) has pointed out some obstacles that a sapient species must overcome to fully mature as a species. One is ecologic change: will the species pollute its environment to the point that it becomes no longer livable? A second is war, with the development of weapons of mass destruction: will cultural hate, combined with the ability to destroy huge parcels, likewise destroy the species' habitat? A third obstacle is the galactic environment -- events that are beyond the species' control.
But I also think we'll find plenty of planets where we can set down colonies once we've mastered interstellar travel. (And, hopefully, we'll have worked out how to do sustainable, low-impact colonization by then, having learned the lessons of the past.)
[Image above and below is spiral galaxy M33, a mid-sized member of our Local Group of galaxies. M33 is also called the Triangulum Galaxy for the constellation in which it resides. About four times smaller (in radius) than our Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy (M31)].
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