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Earth Space Science

Is the Earth Special? 745

Hugh Pickens writes "Planetary scientists say there are aspects to our planet and its evolution that are remarkably strange. In the first place there is Earth's strong magnetic field. No one is exactly sure how it works, but it has something to do with the turbulent motion that occurs in the Earth's liquid outer core and without it, we would be bombarded by harmful radiation from the Sun. Next there's plate tectonics. We live on a planet that is constantly recycling its crust, limiting the amount of carbon dioxide escaping into the atmosphere — a natural way of controlling the greenhouse effect. Then there's Jupiter-sized outer planets protecting the Earth from frequent large impacts. But the strangest thing of all is our big Moon. 'As the Earth rotates, it wobbles on its axis like a child's spinning top,' says Professor Monica Grady. 'What the Moon does is dampen down that wobble and that helps to prevent extreme climate fluctuations' — which would be detrimental to life. The moon's tides have also made long swaths of earth's coastline into areas of that are regularly shifted between dry and wet, providing a proving ground for early sea life to test the land for its suitability as a habitat. The 'Rare Earth Hypothesis' is one solution to the Fermi Paradox (PDF) because, if Earth is uniquely special as an abode of life, ETI will necessarily be rare or even non-existent. And in the absence of verifiable alien contact, scientific opinion will forever remain split as to whether the Universe teems with life or we are alone in the inky blackness."
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Is the Earth Special?

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  • by rainmouse ( 1784278 ) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @11:30AM (#38325912)

    I can already hear the "intelligent design" folks jumping on this topic as proof that we aren't here through random chance but were assembled by some creator.

    To be fair, sometimes I think planetary scientists can be extremely narrow minded, especially given the focus of their study has a sample size of 1.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Funny)

    by taiwanjohn ( 103839 ) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @11:36AM (#38326008)

    Damn right! We call it Terran Exceptionalism. I'm sick and tired of all these "elite" types running around apologizing for Earth all the time!

  • GDI! (Score:0, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2011 @11:43AM (#38326082)

    May I be the first to post: God did it!

    Would have been nice if he didn't create all those asteroids, cosmic rays, and other things from which the earth needs constant protection though.

  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) * on Saturday December 10, 2011 @11:52AM (#38326160) Homepage Journal


    Now I like boobs as much as the next guy. As a matter of fact what got my mind started down the track is staring at alien boobs on all of my favorite SciFi movies and I started thinking to myself "You know, those are kind of weird as far as life is concerned".

    I'll use life on our own planet as an example. Only mammals have boobs.

    Other animals do indeed feed on another, there's a lot of really unappealing vomit sharing in many types of life and poop sharing in the insect world that I think would probably be more common among the stars (Slurm for example) as it's even more common here. There are nutrient transfers that happen on our planet that are different than the insect ones I just mentioned might be out there as well as some we haven't thought of, but I keep thinking of boobs, cause I think of them all the time, and I just don't see them as something that are likely to exist on alien babes. I'm not discouraging my favorite Sci-Fi writers by any means, whatever happens keep the boobs on your alien babes, but when I think of the possibility of meeting real alien babes it saddens me when I realize evolution is unlikely to have included boobs into the equation.

  • by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @12:23PM (#38326460)

    If other life is so intelligent, why would it have anything to do with us?

    Because we are edible?

  • by Roogna ( 9643 ) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @01:00PM (#38326892)

    Heck, what's so unknown about it. There's a high probability that given enough technology, and one batshit insane looney, and it's the end of the line. We always seem to go under the theory that alien life wouldn't ever have any psychopaths, that it's somehow distinctly human to go nuts.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @01:00PM (#38326900)

    like many things, it really depends on the sauce you use.

    and some other details, too, but the sauce is pretty important.

  • Re:But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by kurzweilfreak ( 829276 ) <kurzweilfreak AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday December 10, 2011 @01:54PM (#38327526) Journal
    How is a post that is so obviously about Zeus considered "anti-Christian"?
  • by chilvence ( 1210312 ) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @03:30PM (#38328582)

    Which is of course, a pagan holiday, so distinctly not atheist.

    How about a real atheist name?


    Christian Awareness Month?

    Corporate Retail Appreciation Party?

    Contestants please :)

  • by Thing 1 ( 178996 ) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:07PM (#38328960) Journal

    Not only do I not collect stamps, I mush bash stamp collectors every chance I get whether or not it's stupid and offtopic. You're not only offtopic, you're redundant.

    Just as I suspected: philately will get you nowhere.

  • by lexsird ( 1208192 ) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @04:37PM (#38329226)

    Aliens don't stop because they are busy searching for INTELLIGENT life.

    Dear Aliens,
    Don't be racist, Thank you.
    The People of Earth.
    P.S. Do as we say, not as we do.

    Why did the human cross the road?
    Because he's still stuck on his planet and can't fly.

    A human walks into a bar with some Uropian gas termite his shoulder. The bartender before he throws them out asks, "Where did you get that disgusting thing?"
    The gas termite says "On planet Water, these dumb fucks are everywhere."

    Do you remember in High School the retarded kids and their classrooms? Did you ever go in them? Did you know the retarded kids? Don't feel bad, nobody did. You knew where they were though so God forbid you stumble anywhere near there and be mistaken for a retard. If retards spoke, you just ignored them. Well I hate to tell everyone, but Earth is the Retard Class of the Galaxy. There are plenty of Aliens out there that know damn well where we are. But do you see them coming here? They don't want any of that "retard" rubbing off on them. Oh sure, we get sightings and such, but nothing official. Do you know why? These are the Aliens that are throwing spitballs at us and calling us RETARDS and running the hell off before they end up in detention or suspended.

    "Why?" do you ask????

    Well imagine our Alien benefactors who waited breathlessly and patiently for us to come out to space and prove we are intelligent. Who do we send? A dog! Imagine that? So they do a mind probe to find out WTF it wants and it wants a bone. They consider the situation and just leave and chock us all up for being retarded.Word gets around you know. Yeah...that new planet..? It's retarded!

    So you ask me, is Earth special? I say yeah, it's special alright, it's Special Ed.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI