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Space Earth

Only 8% of the Universe's Habitable Worlds Have Formed So Far (sciencemag.org) 140

sciencehabit writes: According to a new study, 92% of Earth-like planets haven't been born yet. Science reports: "Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope, researchers estimated the rates of past star and planet formation in the universe, which is now about 13.8 billion years old. They then combined that information with data from previous surveys that estimated the amounts of hydrogen and helium left over from the big bang that still haven't collapsed to form stars. At the time our solar system formed about 4.6 billion years ago, only about 39% of the hydrogen and helium in our galaxy had collapsed into clouds that then evolved into stars, they say. That means that the remaining 61% is available to form future solar systems that may include Earth-like planets in their habitable zones, the researchers report online today in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. In the universe as a whole, the researchers suggest, only 8% of its original starmaking gases was locked up in stars by Earth's first birthday. The rest will, over the remaining trillions of years of the universe's lifetime, coalesce into stars whose solar systems will contain a myriad of Earth-like planets."
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Only 8% of the Universe's Habitable Worlds Have Formed So Far

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  • how about 99.999999%--yet? what's the time-line?
    • by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @09:52PM (#50777999) Homepage Journal

      There is only so much gas that will become stars, most of it will forever float in the space between galaxies. The timeline is 100Gyr-1Tyr.

  • by pollarda ( 632730 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @09:30PM (#50777925)
    This makes me wonder how many planets (as a percentage or otherwise) were around when the background temperature of the universe was in the 40-100 degrees Fahrenheit range where water would be most amenable to life. You could make an argument that period of time would contain the best conditions for life. However, if there aren't many planets (let alone with an appropriate size, temperature, and atmosphere), it makes life kinda hard.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      There wouldn't have been water because there wouldn't have been oxygen.
    • by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @09:55PM (#50778011) Homepage Journal

      At that time the Universe was mostly Hydrogen and a little Helium. It took the death of 1-2 generations of stars to make Oxygen available to planets -- so no water.

    • by macraig ( 621737 )

      ... if there aren't many planets (let alone with an appropriate size, temperature, and atmosphere), it makes life kinda hard.

      You should read Larry Niven's Smoke Ring books some time.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There's a fringe panspermia theory that life might have first arisen in that era of the universe, and that it managed to stick around in some form (really durable spores? very specific chemical precursors?) to seed life on Earth and elsewhere.

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        The radiation of the early universe would probably prevent more complex life. Also, the heavier elements enable much of our biology and technology, and early star systems had very little heavy elements.

  • 92% of this story is speculation based on a minuscule sample

  • compared to the rest of the universe were still primitive cave dwellers
    • Yes, but this means we have the opportunity to grow into one of those awesome and sophisticated "elder races" that we see all the time in science fiction. That is, assuming we can avoid killing ourselves off completely by clubbing each other over the head.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @10:00PM (#50778045) Journal

    This could help explain the Fermi Paradox: we are simply early-birds. However, this then creates a Copernican Paradox: it's unlikely that we are the earliest or latest: the chance of being on the edges of the bell curve is low (or even a roughly rectangular curve). We are more likely to be approximately in the middle.

    This could mean if there were a lot of intelligent species, they'd probably conquer each other. Thus, a middle-age universe would be a hostile place. A curve of universal intelligent population would thus be an initial spike and then a drop-off as aggressive species or machines spread and kill.

    This would make our existence at this time less "special": we are merely part of the early population boom (spike) before nasty happens and reduces the population of the universe. Doesn't bode well for the future, though.

    If the future were about humans spreading and populating the universe, we'd more likely be one of those mass spreaders (as a randomly selected intelligent being in space and time). We are not. (Hell, we may not even survive ourselves, let alone aliens.)

    Better hope Copernicus is wrong and we are in a lucky or special place or time.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Species could never conquer each other. The distances between planets are too vast. By the time you arrived at the planet, the civilization would have ceased to exist. Space is big. Really big. You might think it is a long way to the chemist, but that is just peanuts to space.

      • You're making an assumption that all intelligent species will self destruct. Based on a sample size of one species that hasn't really come close to that yet. Who knows, maybe somewhere out there a perfectly unselfish, logical species exists and has launched colony ships in our direction.

        And they'll arrive here much like the ships in Independence Day, except that they'll finish what they started in spite of Will Smith and Randy Quail.

      • by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @02:12AM (#50779063)

        Species could never conquer each other. The distances between planets are too vast. By the time you arrived at the planet, the civilization would have ceased to exist. Space is big. Really big. You might think it is a long way to the chemist, but that is just peanuts to space.

        Not necessarily. Say you undertook a planetary-scale effort and built a spacecraft capable of moving 1/100th of c, it would take 1200+ years to make the journey to, for example, a very close (12 light years) habitable planet. That's a very long time by our local political standards, but if we ever actually achieve a stable government then it's not all that long. If good AI enables us to build a stable civilization for a few hundred thousand years, there might be some meaningful interstellar travel.

        That being said, the best bet for expanding our sandbox is still terraforming a planet (or other environment, like the ocean or arctic or sky) that is already nearby.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          1000th of C isn't as hard as people make it. Heck voyager 1 is about about 1/20th of that right now. And its not continually accelerating. A continual ion boost accelerating craft could get to 1/2 of c within a few decades. Past that you start to run into increasing mass issues.

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
        Get out of the car and start pushing, you may go faster. Civilizations will either cease to exist or start to inhabit new planets.
    • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @10:36PM (#50778217)

      If they were truly intelligent species then they wouldn't be going around trying to conquer each other.

      Space is really, really, really large. Right now to even get to Mars we're looking at putting a small crew in a relatively small vehicle for six to nine months. With a lot of advances in technology and a lot of money we could probably get the trip to Mars to be like sailing across the Atlantic is today. Now imagine going to a nearby star. It would be with a colony ship and be on the order of hundreds of years. Even with massive leaps in technology it would still be decades. Sure there would be some communication but once a ship got past a certain distance you might as well consider them a completely separate population. Imagine being 20 light years apart. How could you collaborate on any projects or do any trade? Other than having a backup in case your home world is destroyed or for the sheer sense of exploration there isn't much reason to go. Plus the first few generations are going to be stuck on a ship so it's going to get very boring very quick for them. Of course that's assuming that any alien has a sense of exploration like we do. They may not have even looked up to see the stars.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @05:04AM (#50779519) Homepage

        Sure there would be some communication but once a ship got past a certain distance you might as well consider them a completely separate population. Imagine being 20 light years apart. How could you collaborate on any projects or do any trade? Other than having a backup in case your home world is destroyed or for the sheer sense of exploration there isn't much reason to go.

        With massive radio telescopes we could at least pass important scientific information, sure they'll only get to know about Higgs 20 years later and we'll only learn about their cure for cancer 20 years later so it's not collaboration but the whole could still do better than the sum of its parts. A galactic (or worse, inter-galactic) civilization with thousands or millions of years of delay cooperating in any meaningful way is a bit harder to imagine though.

        • I was thinking more general than just scientific collaboration, though that's important. Just think back a couple of hundred years and the trouble countries had managing their territories when news could take months to get from one place to another. How would a civilization co-ordinate over multiple star systems? For the most part each star system would have to be autonomous. If you had to ask a question of another system then you would be lucky if the same person would receive the answer. (I'm think m

      • Imagine being 20 light years apart. How could you collaborate on any projects or do any trade?

        Spooky action at a distance. Certainly by the time we have the technology to send a civilization 20 light years away, we'll have created ansibles [wikipedia.org].

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Of course that's assuming that any alien has a sense of exploration like we do. They may not have even looked up to see the stars.

        When the people of Krikkit figure out what's going on, we're DONE.

      • If they were truly intelligent species then they wouldn't be going around trying to conquer each other.

        Most species may be reasonably cooperative, but it takes only one or a few jerk species to ruin it for everyone else. The first "wave" may be normal species, but eventually the aggressive ones would either push their way through, or "enjoy" causing mass chaos out of habit or religion. Hitlers happen.

        And I don't think our current state of space technology is a good baseline for comparison. I imagine automa

      • "If they were truly intelligent species then they wouldn't be going around trying to conquer each other."

        That's by your definition/interpretation of being intelligent. For all you know, we are super tasty to them. Most people wouldn't hesitate harvesting fish from the ocean for a meal. What makes you think we aren't just another yummy meal to them?

        • I never said we were intelligent. We could be the equivalent of popcorn chicken to some alien species out there for all I know.

          Funny how I comment that intelligent species wouldn't go around conquering each other and every one jumps on me saying that I'm anthropomorphizing but the parent of my original comment said that intelligent species would go around conquering each other and not a peep.

      • If they were truly intelligent species then they wouldn't be going around trying to conquer each other.

        Really can't tell until we actually find out what it takes to travel between planets and what other intelligent life might be like. However, I think it's pretty safe to say that any life that has come into existence by evolution will be quite willing to displace other life to grow and multiply. If travel between stars turns out to be easy enough for humans to do it in a life time, I see no reason to think that we would do otherwise than trample all over any other life we find if we can. Hell, we'd probably

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But someone HAS to be on those tails. And this new study seems to indicate we most likely are on the front tail.

      The good news is... WE are that Ancient Alien Species that propagated the stars, created the hyper-space lanes, destroyed ourselves in massive inter-galactic wars and are foretold to return again someday to destroy all life in the universe.

      Humanity... we are the monsters of future history.

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        > But someone HAS to be on those tails. And this new study seems to indicate we most likely are on the front tail.

        Exactly. For every million times that a one in a million event happens, it actually does happen.

        We should fully expect that the very first intelligent civilization in the universe to make it to a level of technology where they are looking at the stars and applying statistical math.... should make the exact same assumptions, because....they make perfect sense.... absent data to the contrary.

        Th

        • Would you take that bet? Try to assume you have no emotional connection to the longer-term survival of the human race, would you take the bet that you* are simply one of the 8% early birds (versus something limits future population of ponderers)? At what odds?

          * Or some other being in the same condition/knowledge

          • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

            Which bet? If you mean some combination of the bets that we are in the first/early evolutions of life on one of the first/early potentially life bearing plants? Nope, still wouldn't.

            However, I would bet, were it possible to verify, that the first people living on the first potentially life bearing planet to bear life that they would not take that bet either.

    • Fermi's Paradox ... at it's face, makes so many errors in assumption, fallacy riddled statements, it seems... dunno why anyone'd take it seriously.
      • Because space nutters.
        (This is one of the few times the "space nutters" AC troll should come out and rant about space nutters.)

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        Because the alternative is that we are either a rare fluke, or something unknown usually limits the duration or spread of civilizations.

        Occam's Razor leads to the Fermi Paradox.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why would they conquer shit?
      By the point a civilization successfully starts colonizing the stars meeting other cultures is probably the closest thing to crack to ease the boredom, which not only gives you a motive to not be a dick but also to not let others be dicks and take away your fun.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Relax. I have it on good authority that while one of the first extra-terrestial species we will encounter is, indeed, very aggressive ("First you scream, and then you leap") - with a disturbing habit of putting sentient beings like us on their dinner table - most of them aren't terribly intelligent. Once humans ("monkey-boys") unleash their own aggressive streak, the large, humanoid-eating cats won't stand a chance...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Neither the Fermi Paradox nor Drake equation are based on science. They are both just untestable ideas.

      "We are more likely to be approximately in the middle." is a false statement.
      The universe is estimated to be around 13.8 billion years. A lot of the matter on Earth needed to sustain life as we know it cannot be formed in hydrogen clouds but needs the density/reaction of a start to form. Even a star like our own Sun isn't hot/large enough to cause a reaction that results in elements heavier than helium.
      So

      • An earlier civilization could have formed if the planet developed intelligent life earlier than ours, but that would require some shortcuts in evolution.

        Or a reduction in the number of extinction events. Imagine where the Raptors would have been had they not been wiped out by a rock.

    • it's unlikely that we are the earliest or latest: the chance of being on the edges of the bell curve is low (or even a roughly rectangular curve). We are more likely to be approximately in the middle.

      If the future were about humans spreading and populating the universe, we'd more likely be one of those mass spreaders (as a randomly selected intelligent being in space and time). We are not. (Hell, we may not even survive ourselves, let alone aliens.)

      That sounds similar to the oft-debated but clearly ridiculous doomsday argument [wikipedia.org].

      Why would we be first when we're more likely to be in the middle? If we're first, we're first because we're first. Somebody had to be. If it wasn't us, we'd be in the middle not wondering about it because we'd be surrounded by neighbours, and the Glarxians would have been the ones looking up in the sky endlessly discussing the Tff'Plaxon paradox instead.

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        Well, apply Occam's Razor:

        1. We are "special" (among the very first), or

        2. We are roughly average in time and something about the future limits the population of intelligent beings (or at least self-pondering individuals).

        • Well, apply Occam's Razor:

          We can't. "We" are on the wrong side of the problem to do so, just as the hypothetical individual in the doomsday argument is.

          In the doomsday argument, that person says to themselves, "I was born in the 1st/5th/21st* century. But if the human race is going to survive billions of years, that's too unlikely - I'd be more likely to be born later. It's more likely that the human race will die out soon." This is rubbish because the person in question is inextricably a product of the very time they were born in,

          • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

            I don't get your "not themselves" argument. The average ponderer will NOT be at the edges of the curve.

            Re: "Someone has to be" - True, but it's UNLIKELY that "someone" is us. I'm not saying there's any certainty, just a probability.

            What are the chances of me picking that card?

            No, because most likely "that card" has nothing notable about it.

            whoever ended up in our "place" would be having the same thoughts.

            But there would be fewer in that spot. Your swap is invalid.

            then come to the erroneous conclusion that

            • The average ponderer will NOT be at the edges of the curve.

              No, but the ponderer at the edge the curve MUST be at the edge of the curve, otherwise he wouldn't be pondering what he's pondering. It's a circular - and therefore not very useful - definition.

              True, but it's UNLIKELY that "someone" is us

              It's as likely to be us as it is to be anyone else.

              No, because most likely "that card" has nothing notable about it.

              That's the point! There's nothing notable about us, either.

              We're here, now. It's a fait accompli. Wondering how unlikely it is gets you nowhere. It was literally bound to happen to someone, no matter what the future distribution of species (about which we don't and c

              • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

                That a lucky few will be the lucky few is not news.

                It's as likely to be us as it is to be anyone else.

                That may statistically be true, but that's a different issue. That being statistically true does not change my original statement. It's not a contradiction of it.

                That's the point! There's nothing notable about us, either.

                Incorrect. We appear to be "early" and "lonely", i.e. at an unusual position (if we assume our future and/or the universe is highly populated.)

                It was literally bound to happen to someone

                I f

                • That's the point! There's nothing notable about us, either.

                  Incorrect. We appear to be "early" and "lonely", i.e. at an unusual position (if we assume our future and/or the universe is highly populated.)

                  There's nothing unusual about us. The position may be "unusual," but some species must be in that position. Some member of that species will wonder why, and have discussions on their version of Slashdot where someone else will come along and point out that there's nothing unusual about it, and that someone must be in that position...

                  Imagine 999,999 blue hats and one white hat being distributed among a million people. The guy who gets the white hat might consider himself "lucky" but he has no reason to assum

                  • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

                    but some species must be in that position

                    Fully 100% agreed, but what's the chance of us being that "some species"? Low.

                    Regarding your hat example. Assuming nobody knows what hats others got other than it's either a white or blue hat, then if you got a blue hat, it's reasonable to assume there are more blue hats than white. Sure, the white-hat guy got it wrong using our extrapolation technique. But we are not likely to be THAT guy.

                    No it doesn't. As I've said, we weren't sprinkled into this universe from the

          • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

            Addendum

            This is rubbish because the person in question is inextricably a product of the very time they were born in

            I'm not sure what you mean by that. We are product of space AND time, both future and past. The future affects the total number of ponderers.

            Note that I wouldn't call it the "doomsday scenario" because there are scenarios that limit population that are not necessarily bad or cruel. Humanity may decide to stop reproducing and "upload" the existing individuals into software, for example. Thus, t

            • We are product of space AND time, both future and past. The future affects the total number of ponderers.

              I was fairly sure it had been pretty firmly established that causality only appears to work in one direction, although I believe it's still something of an open question as to why this should be.

              • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

                It doesn't require causality, only the assumption that we are not "special" in place and time, per all existence-pondering beings, UNLESS we have evidence we are special. We don't. (Other than knowing life cannot survive in certain conditions/areas.)

                • I think, regretably, I'm going to have make a conscious decision to bow out of this discussion soon simply because I'm not getting anything else done. But it's been interesting. I'll read any further replies with interest, but I may not make another of my own (and I will be forcing myself not to spend any more time thinking about the problem!).

                  I still feel that, somehow, the summed experiences of all species that will ever live simply cancel out and it all sums to nothing, leaving the argument with no actua

                  • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

                    But if I know nothing about the possible length of the line, and I consider all other possible line lengths and their probabilities, I get the feeling it just all cancels out

                    Again, run a little simulation with different line sizes. Most will get it approximately right using the halving rule.

                    because I wasn't just randomly planted in a line. In reality I'm actually the product of all the people and events in front of me in the line.

                    But you didn't control any of them. You're just along for the ride. Essential

            • I misread before, please ignore previous comment.

              I'm not sure what you mean by that. We are product of space AND time, both future and past. The future affects the total number of ponderers.

              But it can't affect the ponderings of the "lonelies," or the fact they must have existed at some time. Whether or not the population will continue to increase, there will always have been someone in each and every one of those "early" positions.

              And the argument can be proposed by anyone, at any position, making it meaningless.

              "Why are there only 500 people on the planet with me? We'll probably die out soon."
              "Why are there only 7,000,000,000 people on the plan

              • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

                Why are you using the word "only"? That's kind of loading the question up.

                Note how there are FAR more people asking the question in the 7B part of the example. Yes, the 500 askers got the wrong answer. It's a statistical question, not an absolute one; some will indeed get the answer wrong. That's not a "problem".

                If you looked at slices from the entire curve from beginning to end, the majority got the answer generally right using the "doomsday argument" assumption (although I don't like the word "doomsday"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This could help explain the Fermi Paradox: we are simply early-birds. However, this then creates a Copernican Paradox: it's unlikely that we are the earliest or latest: the chance of being on the edges of the bell curve is low (or even a roughly rectangular curve). We are more likely to be approximately in the middle.

      This could mean if there were a lot of intelligent species, they'd probably conquer each other. Thus, a middle-age universe would be a hostile place. A curve of universal intelligent population would thus be an initial spike and then a drop-off as aggressive species or machines spread and kill.

      This would make our existence at this time less "special": we are merely part of the early population boom (spike) before nasty happens and reduces the population of the universe. Doesn't bode well for the future, though.

      If the future were about humans spreading and populating the universe, we'd more likely be one of those mass spreaders (as a randomly selected intelligent being in space and time). We are not. (Hell, we may not even survive ourselves, let alone aliens.)

      Better hope Copernicus is wrong and we are in a lucky or special place or time.

      You can get all that from a sample size of ONE?!?!?

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        You can get all that from a sample size of ONE?!?!?

        Yip! One can make probabilistic assumptions using a sample size of only one.

        Statistics 102.

        The hard part is making sure we are not ignoring some key factor or assumption, not so much the math.

    • It doesn't explain it at all. Even 8% should yield billions of intelligent civilizations.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Given the near infinite vastness of space, Billions of civilisations could be out there right now that we will NEVER observe.

        The very concept of applying "probability" to something we can only see 1% of is so stupid, I can't even...

        • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
          The Milky Way is only about 100k ly across. A single space able civilization could spread throughout the entire galaxy in only several million years using technology that we currently have access to. A few thousand years from now, spreading over a galaxy will be child's play. Not coming into contact with another space alien life form pretty much means an extinction event happens often enough to kill off such civilizations or we're one of the first in our galaxy.
  • Kidding! This is actually Planet Timeshare! NOW INVEST FUCKERS!

    And your first clear date will be a between 2 and 3PM local equatorial time on the third Monday of the month, approximately half a billion years from now...

  • First, it isn't clear where the author of the article gets the "trillions of years" lifespan of the universe. Most of hypotheses I've read so far put the heat death at less than a few tens of billions of years, some as early as five billion years. The cited article does not make this claim, although it does make the 92% habitable planets yet to be born claim. So I guess the implication is there would be extremely rapid star and planetary formation in the next few billion years. A kind of last big hurrah bef

    • by kellymcdonald78 ( 2654789 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @11:26PM (#50778405)
      You may want to reread up on the Heat Death of the Universe. Our Sun won't even be cold in 5 billion years, never mind the rest of universe. Existing red dwarf stars may last a 100 billion years. Most models put the Stelliferous Era (era of stars) as extending 10s of trillions to 100s of trillions of years into the future. True Heat Death is 10E100 or 10E1000 years out depending on the model, but there won't be any stars or planets (protons will have decayed). Although the Big Rip may occur in as little as 20 Billion years
    • Umm, maybe you're thinking of the death of the Earth as our sun expands into a red giant? That is projected to happen in a few billion years, with a few billion more spent in its "death throes". That would put it at about the right time frame. That's a purely local problem though. Meanwhile red dwarf stars are projected to have FAR longer lifespans, by at least an order of magnitude or two. And so long as there's stars you can't have heat death of the universe.

  • You cannot have "a myriad" of anything. Myriad is synonymous with "countless". So just like you wouldn't have a countless of earth-like planets, you wouldn't have a myriad of earth-like planets. You can have myriad earth-like planets, however.
    • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @11:42PM (#50778463)

      If you're going to be a Grammar Nazi, at least do it right. Myriad technically refers to the quantity 10,000, in which case "a myriad planets" is just as legitimate as "a dozen eggs". It's also used colloquially to mean "a very large amount" or even, yes, "uncountable". In English It was originally only used in the plural form (many myriads of Xs) but was later adopted in the single form (a myriad of Ys), and later still (18th century) without need for prepositions (myriad wonders)

      Basically it's a very old word whose usage is historically very poorly defined. You'd be better off focussing your angst on words with more definite "proper" usages.

  • Depressing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AndyKron ( 937105 ) on Wednesday October 21, 2015 @11:23PM (#50778387)
    So 61% of all the pain, struggle, and deprivation in the Universe hasn't even happened yet. Depressing.
  • Is this necessarily a problem? Has anyone looked at the project plan?

  • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

    100% of us will be dead by the time they do form. Nice to know, but forgive me if I don't care.

  • Please stop using the term "solar systems" it is wrong most of the time it is used!! Tim S.
  • nonsense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @09:03AM (#50780263) Journal

    This is an astonishingly arrogant "deduction" considering that:

    - as recently as 1988 identifications of exoplanets were considered dubious (many were later confirmed by subsequent observation). In fact, even the concept that there were other planets out there was still in some debate in the 1990s

    - our detection technologies, while highly advanced from where they were, are still astonishingly rudimentary, largely only by deduction (not direct observation) and likely only finding a *tiny* subset of the bell-curve of planetary bodies out there; in fact, it's unlikely that ANY planets in our solar system would be detectable by observers located at the very closest stars using our current tech.

    All we can say for sure is that:

    - our system took about 5 billion years to get where it is today, developmentally.

    - our system developed from a nebula, perhaps either the remnant of, or subject to the shockwave of, a nova/supernova. Given that such structures had to develop (but age much faster than our star), we can add another 1 billion years to that process to come to a total age of our system of 6 bn yrs for the full process, incl "pre-solar" development

    - our universe is about 13.8 billion years old, with stellar formation around 1 billion years ...call it 2 billion, just to be conservative.

    - If stars were forming at 2 bn yrs, and our system is about 6bn yrs, that means there could have been planetary formation and systems like ours developing for 5 BILLION years before today.

    - Since our system is an entirely average sun, in an entirely average stellar neighborhood, it's probable that our experience is entirely typical.

    To deduce then that only 8% of potential planets have formed is nonsense.

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
      The first two generations of stars we HUGE and died quickly, destroying any planets near them. That's the whole issue. Our planet is part of the first generation of planets that would last long enough for intelligent life to evolve.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Re: "The first two generations of stars we[re] HUGE..."

        I read that in Donald Trump's voice...

    • by sarku ( 2047704 )
      I agree that it's nonsense and that it's an arrogant deduction. But I think that the age of the universe is something that science has been too sure about. Science keeps discovering more and more that makes the universe, time, and space bigger and bigger and bigger. The staggering size of the universe as it's known now was unimaginable 100 years ago. Soon I believe we will be seeing further than the current 14 billion year "limit" with more powerful telescopes--notably the James Webb, but there will sur

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