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NASA Space Science Technology

Is Extraterrestrial Life More Whimsical Than Plausible? 344

coondoggie writes "Princeton University researchers are throwing some cold water on the hot notion that astrobiologists and other scientists expect to one day find life on other planets. Recent discoveries of planets similar to Earth in size and proximity to the planets' respective suns have sparked scientific and public excitement about the possibility of also finding Earth-like life on those worlds, but the expectation that life — from bacteria to sentient beings — has or will develop on other planets as on Earth might be based more on optimism than scientific evidence."
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Is Extraterrestrial Life More Whimsical Than Plausible?

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  • Re:Define Life? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Burning1 ( 204959 ) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @04:51PM (#39812121) Homepage

    The physical differences between Asian, Aferican and European decendents exist because of the time it took for our species to propogate around the world, isolation, enviornmental factors, boarders, politics, and the slow speed of travel at the time.

    In the forseable future, humanity may spread to other planets via generation ships with pressures not unlike those faced by our genetic ancestors. The limited communication between colonies, limited travel opportunities, and enviornmental pressures between habited planets will probably mean that humans on distant stars will begin to take on traits that are very different than those of us who live on earth.

    It's entirely plausable, and even likely, that as humanity spreads around the stars, we will evolve into something not unlike the aliens of star trek. In the future, there just might be a green woman out there waiting for you - someone Alian, but also someone human.

  • Scientific facts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday April 26, 2012 @04:57PM (#39812221) Homepage Journal

    1) on a planet with water, life can rise up.
    2) There is a lot more water out the in the universe then we every imagined.
    3) There are billions of planet that can have liquid water.

    So the existence that life is in the universe is a fact.

    The idea that it can only happen once is a guess.

  • by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @05:05PM (#39812337) Homepage Journal

    "Life develops easily with the right requirements, we know this from quite a lot of evidence. We even recreated genesis by accident, twice, and once on purpose just recently."

    Really? Can you provide a link? I've not heard this. I've heard that we've created environments SIMILAR to early earth -- and basic proteins developed... the BUILDING BLOCKS of life. But I haven't heard anything about creating life.

    Unless you are talking about XNA research...

  • Re:WRONG FIELD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alexo ( 9335 ) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @06:10PM (#39813237) Journal

    This guy is an astrophysicist, not an astrobiologist. Don't trust a chemist to talk about physics, you don't trust a geologist about climate science, and you don't trust a astrophysicist to talk about biology.

    He could be a janitor for all I care. The only important question is: is his science sound or not.

  • by HiThere ( 15173 ) <{ten.knilhtrae} {ta} {nsxihselrahc}> on Thursday April 26, 2012 @06:13PM (#39813277)

    If "he" were "real", he'd have more problems than that. Just imagine what would cause an omnipotent intelligence to have that kind of raving paranoia.

    FWIW, I'm quite convinced that gods are real, but also that their reality is as a kind of mental sublayer roughly analogous to Jungian archetypes. Think of them as the microcoding of the minds, not only of humans, but of at least all mammals. Occasionally we externalize these mental processes, and they can be *extremely* impressive. But don't expect them to "think", merely to make assertions which are directly experienced with *very* strong emotional charge. Some of them assert that they are omnipotent, but asserting something doesn't make it true.

    P.S.: Various mystical traditions contain exercises which increase the probability that you will experience such an encounter, but it can also happen by "accident". If you do, the encounter that you experience will be in harmony with your model of the world (though it may drastically reorient it). Thus I experienced, at one time, an "entity" telling me that it would protect me, and to prove it, I should remove my hands from the steering wheel. (I was driving down the freeway at the time.) The emotional charge was such that I would have been quite willing to do so. My ingrained skepticism was such that I didn't put matters to the test. But then I had already discovered, in earlier "training", that "The gods make mistakes!". (This was quite a painful realization, so much so that even a couple of decades later recalling it brings my eyes to the edge of tears.)
    N.B.: Simple intellectualization will not prepare you for a direct encounter with a god. The encounter _WILL_ overwhelm your emotions.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"