Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Earth Space Science

Swedish Scientist Suggests That There Is Only One Earth (blastingnews.com) 720

MarkWhittington writes: The conventional wisdom has been among scientists is that a myriad of Earth-like planets exist in the universe, some of which have to be the abode of life, even intelligent life. However, Astrophysicist Erik Zackrisson from Uppsala University in Sweden has run a computer simulation of the universe, incorporating what we know about exoplanets thanks to the Kepler Space Telescope, the laws of physics, and the state of the early universe. The computer simulation came up with exactly one Earth, which is to say the one we live on. Every other planet in the universe does not have the conditions necessary to sustain life. Indeed, strictly speaking, Earth itself should not exist, according to the computer model, according to the story in Discover Magazine.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Swedish Scientist Suggests That There Is Only One Earth

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:42PM (#51585381)

    I read it in a book

    • by s122604 ( 1018036 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:47PM (#51585443)
      It's good to see science start reconciling itself to the real Truth

      There will be enough learned men writhing eternally in the lake of fire as it is..
      • by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:56PM (#51585535)
        Yeah! God loves you so much that he'll torture forever if you don't love him back.
        • Yeah! God loves you so much that he'll torture forever if you don't love him back.

          What am I going to do in heaven anyhow? Is there sex in heaven? And what about Widows and Widowers? Pets? Beer?

          If all I'm going to do is sit on a cloud and play a harp forever and ever, and worship a god who delights in destroying his creations, to hell with me!

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday February 25, 2016 @07:38PM (#51587843) Homepage Journal

          Thanks for hijacking this thread with an offtopic anti-theist thread that goes on forever. I'd like to discuss the fucking article if you fake nerds don't mind.

          This is something I've argued for a long time: WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THE CONDITIONS NECESSARY FOR LIFE ARE. I'm agnostic on the subject. As far as we know the universe could be teeming with life, but in our galaxy we're the only one. It's possible that, as this guys simulations show, this is the universe's only life.

          People THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SUBJECT AND EVERY FUCKING ONE OF YOUR RELIGIOUS COMMENTS ARE OFF TOPIC. This has nothing whatever to do with religion.

          Fucking high school dropouts... slashdot is turning into facebook.

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:43PM (#51585383) Homepage Journal

    If his model says that Earth should not exist, then there's something wrong with his model.

    Also, considering how life thrives even in hostile environments here on Earth, it's simply a mathematical impossibility that there are no other planets in the universe capable of supporting some kind of life.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Lispy ( 136512 )

      That's not what he's saying. He says that earths are statistically rare. That doesn't make any predictions on the amount of life in the universe that might exist on not-earth like planets/habitats...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Nope, GP had it right. He's saying his model is wrong.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:55PM (#51585519)

        It is what he's saying. If you've got a "model" then you should be able to make predictions from it and test those predictions. In this case, his model predicted "There's no way Earth could happen based on this." so we know his model is off. That can be a good thing, as it can give us more specific insights as to where our understanding of physics has its gaps, if his model is true to our laws of physics.

        Because there's not just Earth. Mars isn't "far off" from being habitable, and neither is Jupiter's Enchilada Stand. 3 spots in a single, relatively small solar system that have the geological potential to bear life are showing 3 massive errors in our understanding of the universe's development.

        • Venus is really not that far off either. It just needed a slightly different orbit. (And a molten core, I guess.)

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2016 @04:26PM (#51585847)

          He's from the Climatology School of Modeling.

        • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @06:53PM (#51587455) Homepage Journal

          Well, a lot of the language we're using to talk about this is unsatisfyingly vague. What does it mean that "the Earth should not exist"? And especially "strictly speaking"; people misuse that phrase the way they misuse "literally" -- i.e. to mean exactly the opposite of what it actually does.

          If the model strictly speaking precludes the existence of the Earth, then the model was constructed wrongly. But what if the model simply predicts that the most likely number of Earth-like planets is zero? That would not, strictly speaking, preclude the Earth existing. Presumably the next most likely number of Earths would be one, followed by two etc.

          In any case I have some experience with models of complex systems about which data is somewhat spotty -- in my case zoonotic diseases, which depend on all kinds of things which we don't have very good data about. So we run them with suppositions, which we dignify by calling "parameters". The thing about such models is that they're mainly useful in generating research questions than making predictions. We might not know exactly how quickly a virus amplifies inside a disease vector like a mosquito; if the model suggests that human transmissions go up rapidly with shorter amplification times, then that becomes a research priority. It can't tell you that if zika virus establishes itself in Miami this year that we'll get 22 cases.

          It seems to me that we're at an analogous place with models of exosolar planets. We've only been detecting them for a few years, so while it's a reasonable starting point to assume that they're representative of planets in the universe as a whole, that isn't necessarily true. Indeed it's possible we'll never be able to observe a representative sample of planets.

      • That's not what he's saying. He says that earths are statistically rare.

        And how can he possibly know that given the tiny sample size of solar systems we have seen so far compared to the number in the universe? Suppose the chance of an Earth-like world forming is one in a billion. Given the number of solar systems we have studied so far it would be entirely possible that we had not seen one so far and yet with 400 billion stars there would be 400 "Earths" in the Milky-way alone let alone in the billions of galaxies in the universe.

        Extrapolating to a universe of billions of g

        • by Agent0013 ( 828350 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @04:34PM (#51585949) Journal

          That's not what he's saying. He says that earths are statistically rare.

          And how can he possibly know that given the tiny sample size of solar systems we have seen so far compared to the number in the universe? Suppose the chance of an Earth-like world forming is one in a billion. Given the number of solar systems we have studied so far it would be entirely possible that we had not seen one so far and yet with 400 billion stars there would be 400 "Earths" in the Milky-way alone let alone in the billions of galaxies in the universe. Extrapolating to a universe of billions of galaxies each with hundreds of billions of stars using a sample size of what, a few thousand?, ten thousand?, is statistically daft...and having a model which agrees with your statistically insignificant sample does not make it any better.

          It seems worse than that to me. He isn't just using a small sample size, he is using a sample that is skewed toward large planets that are close to their parent star. How many exo-Plutos have we found? How about exo-Mercurys? I don't think we have even found a planet as small as earth yet, but I could be wrong on that. When the reports of exo-Earths have come out they have been larger than our Earth, but they call them an exo-Earth because it might be in the Goldilocks zone.

          Car analogies work so well, lets use one here. We will make a model that recreates all the cars on the road. But we will only input the semi-trucks and tour buses. I bet the model will say that sports cars are highly unlikely. I think the term is GIGO, Garbage In - Garbage Out.

          • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @04:53PM (#51586205)

            If I recall correctly, we don't yet have the capability to detect Earth sized planets. They are just barely out of our detection range. However, when we were able to detect super-Jupiter sized planets, we found a lot of them. As our detection size shrinks, the number of planets found keeps growing. If this holds up, then in when we finally get down to being able to detect Earth-sized planets, things could get interesting.

            Of course, then there are moons. Imagine a solar system like our own, but with Jupiter where we are. Jupiter wouldn't be habitable, but Europa might be. A large moon orbiting a gas giant might be able to sustain life and all we'd see from here (at the moment) is "gas giant in the habitable zone, move on."

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 )

              If I recall correctly, we don't yet have the capability to detect Earth sized planets.

              That's not true. You can walk outside any morning right now and detect Venus yourself.

      • Yeah, or he's working with an incredibly incomplete data set, which his model is based on. Considering that we know roughly the square root of jack shit about even our own corner of the galaxy, much less the rest of the universe, I think I know which side I'd put my money on.

    • it's simply a mathematical impossibility that there are no other planets in the universe capable of supporting some kind of life.

      These guys actually did the math, and they disagree. They could be wrong, of course, but you could be wronger.

    • by Notorious G ( 4223193 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:51PM (#51585475)
      This is a computer model. It's, like, science bro. You can't argue with a computer model, that's some ironclad stuff that a consensus of scientists have already ruled on. You must be in the pockets of "Big Life" or something.
      • by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:58PM (#51585549)

        And this model is infallible just like the hundreds of thousands of computer models before it. GIGO Garbage in garbage out.

        • God in, Garbage out (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Richard Kirk ( 535523 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @05:51PM (#51586847)

          Drake's equation is the product of a lot of different probabilities - galactic evolution, stellar evolution, planetary evolution, planetary habitat evolution, the origins of life, the sustainability of life to survive to become something we can study. the evolution of species, the evolution of intelligence, the evolution of a stable society, and so on. Each of these factors has large error bars according to the experts in every field. The best average, which is probably meaningless, has it that there are probably hundreds of civilisations in the Milky way, though probably none with contactable distance in our lifetime. However, the only evidence we really have, from our own planet, suggests that life got going so early that the planet's surface was still part molten when it did it. This suggests that, given roughly the right conditions, life may come into being pretty quickly. It then took most of time to get to a state where complexity took off, which suggests (on a population of one, admittedly) that the initial evolution of life is less of a barrier than something like evolving a decent cell wall. It makes sense to look for life on Mars and Europa, though most people do not actually expect to find it.

          Yet, we are told there is this one scientist who has a computer model that says the number of possible earths, modelling all these various disciplines, is exactly one, and with no mention of error bars (and therefore God, and hence Baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary, checkmate atheists). I suspect journalism rather than science is happening here. However, if it is the scientist, and he really claims one person can outsmart everyone else in all these fields, then he really needs to show his working. Science is not a democracy, and one person can beat the majority. But it is pretty damn rare. And most of us do not claim to know what most of the mass of the Universe is just yet, let alone how many lifeforms it has made.

          I am not saying God does not exist. Proper science has the humility to recognise the limits of what it can measure and understand. But this is just someone standing on science and using it as their pulpit.

    • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @04:07PM (#51585617)
      "should not exist" does not mean it "cannot exist". So the model could be correct.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If his model says that Earth should not exist, then there's something wrong with his model.

      Also, considering how life thrives even in hostile environments here on Earth, it's simply a mathematical impossibility that there are no other planets in the universe capable of supporting some kind of life.

      An actual astrophysicist in a University spent time and effort to conduct a study and run a simulation and came up with a result. A slashdoter decided that he is wrong and that his result is mathematically impossible based on... hmm.. just his version of common sense.

      I am with the Slashdoter!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Grishnakh ( 216268 )

        The "astrophysicist" came up with a model which says that Earth doesn't exist.

        Obviously, his model is plainly wrong. Why should I believe his simulation results when his simulation can't even get the one data point we *do* know about right?

    • Haha, exactly - it sounds like his model is saying there are zero earths, not one. :)

    • Given how life thrives here, it must elsewhere. This conclusion does not hold. Life may or may not thrive elsewhere... but it first has to get there. We have neither seen it arise here nor move anywhere else

    • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @04:23PM (#51585817)

      a mathematical impossibility that there are no other planets in the universe capable of supporting some kind of life.

      What do you mean? It's totally feasible that there are no other life-containing planets. Mathematics say nothing by themselves... something can happen with a 1e-GooglePlex probability, or not happen with the inverse.

    • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @04:25PM (#51585833) Journal

      Michael Crichton once gave a long talk on global warming being caused by aliens. He had ... difficulties with the scientific community. Mostly this comes from stuff like the Drake Equation having dozens of different, unknown, unknowable, unpredictable, and barely-definable variables to say, "If we make a bunch of shit up to fill in here, we get infinite or zero aliens coming to visit us ever!" The same kinds of mathematical models are used for global warming and nuclear winters--claiming that so much volcanic output, so many nukes, such yield of nukes, some positioning, the anger of the Yellowstone Caldera, and so forth would lead to so much ash in the air, which, given some arbitrary behaviors of air currents, would lead to a reduction of insolation, leading to some years of freezing.

      We're looking at more of these models here. The scientists are saying, "Based on unknown, unknowable, unmeasured variables which we jammed into a very sound equation and then filled with made-up data, there are some number of life-sustaining planets out there!" They're putting in "reasonable guesses" and declaring results.

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      I played with the Drake equation once and I ended up with the value 0.8 of how many planets there is currently in the milky way with intelligent technological life.

    • by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @05:23PM (#51586567)

      Also, considering how life thrives even in hostile environments here on Earth, it's simply a mathematical impossibility that there are no other planets in the universe capable of supporting some kind of life.

      That life has adapted to hostile environments doesn't mean that life originated in those same hostile environments. It could be that the conditions for creating life are very specific to a particular set of conditions or perhaps they are as flexible as you suggest.

      Personally I find it inconceivably unlikely that the conditions necessary for life to begin would be limited to just a primordial Earth. Usually one instance in the natural world means that you will be able to find other instances when you look further.

      But I think we do need more data since as far as I know we have very limited information about what specific conditions are necessary for biological processes to begin on a lifeless world in the first place and also very limited information about what the conditions of planets outside the solar system are and have been over their histories.

      Given the limits of what we know it seems reasonable to just assume there are other planets with life based on the example of Earth and accept that we need a lot more data to narrow down the likely probability.

    • The abstract or conclusions in the paper he wrote do not appear to make such a claim. That appears to be fluff added by the author of the article.

  • I refute it thus. #theoldlinesarethebest
  • Ho hum (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Computer modeler cranks out computer model that predicts that things we know to be true are not true, and then asserts the universe is wrong....

  • by fredrated ( 639554 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:45PM (#51585413) Journal

    If it didn't, would we all be dead?

  • Oh dear (Score:5, Funny)

    by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:46PM (#51585425)
    `Oh dear,' says God, `I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      `Oh dear,' says God, `I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.

      Man then goes on to prove black is white, and gets run over at the next Zebra crossing.

  • It's hard to glean much about his methodology from the linked article, but it seems that he's taken the all the known exoplanets, extrapolated from that data somehow, and came up with some really small values for a few variables in the Drake Equation. Ho hum.

  • by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:47PM (#51585437)

    The huge problem here is that his data is based on what we know about exoplanets so far. Of course his model will show most of the planets are much larger than earth. Those are the ones we're able to find so far.

    • This is the biggest issue. Our current methods are designed to find large planets in close orbits. Finding a planet like Earth would take 3-5 years as you need to capture several transits to confirm the existence of an exoplanet. Planets like Jupiter or Saturn would take decades using current methods.
    • Before we discovered exoplanets, our models didn't predict hot Jupiters circling in extremely close orbits around their stars. So we modified them to include information we now know. Yes, if we start finding small planets at reasonable distances from stars, we will include that data. Or, maybe we won't find any.
      • Obviously the smart assumption is that we will find them when we have the technology. Just because we haven't started looking for small rocky planets in the habitable zone doesn't mean there's any reason to think they only exist in our solar system.

  • by MiniMike ( 234881 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:48PM (#51585461)

    This headline-ready conclusion seems like a bit of a stretch. From TFA:

    The model creates exoplanets based only on the ones we have discovered, which is an extremely small sample size that probably doesn’t provide a representative cross-section of all of the planets in existence.

    Seems like we don't have nearly enough data to say there's only one Earth-like planet.

  • by TommyNelson ( 2795397 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:54PM (#51585513)
    ...according to the computer model.
    Says something about the model, then, doesn't it?
  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:54PM (#51585517) Homepage

    If this is accurate this is good news. One of the standard explanations for the Fermi Paradox is that Earth-like planets are very rare https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_Earth_hypothesis [wikipedia.org]. You may ask why this is good news? The reason is that something is making civilizations rare. We don't see any signs of major civilizations, either in terms of visits, radio waves, or most importantly, megastructures and large-scale engineering projects. At this point, we've looked at 100,000 nearby galaxies and essentially none of them show signs of a highly advanced civilization in terms of energy use http://www.universetoday.com/119931/100000-galaxies-and-no-obvious-signs-of-life/ [universetoday.com].

    The standard explanation for this is that there is some "Great Filter" which is making civlizations rare https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Filter [wikipedia.org]. If this is something in our past (e.g. habitable planets are rare, it is tough for life to evolve, it is hard to get those last few steps to necessary levels of intelligence, etc.) then we don't need to worry. But if it is something in our future, something that civilizations do to wipe themselves(e.g. nuclear war, bad nanotech) out then we're in trouble. We need to figure this out soon, since if there is a future Filter then it likely occurs very close to our current tech level.

    Every piece of evidence for early filters should make us breathe more easily since it makes late filters less necessary. Unfortunately in the last few years, almost all new evidence has been in the other direction: we've found lots of planets and it looks like even small, rocky planets are common. So this is a refreshing piece of news. However, I'm very skeptical of it. First, it seems to go against other similar studies suggesting that as many as 1/3rd of stars may have an Earth-like planet (see e.g. here http://www.universetoday.com/119931/100000-galaxies-and-no-obvious-signs-of-life/ [universetoday.com]) and they appear in order to be getting this result in part to be using an extremely narrow notion of what a habitable planet would look like.

    • by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @04:05PM (#51585605)
      The Fermi paradox is easily solved by noticing that the universe is very big, and very empty, and that the limits of technology do not allow sufficiently easy travel.
      • This does not work. We can see very far. That explanation would only work if the sole problem was a lack of visitors to our star system. But as I discussed in my comment, we don't see any radio waves nor do we see any signs of megastructures or other large-scale use of the large amount of available energy. The universe looks completely natural. Incidentally, it is also worth noting that the distance explanation doesn't seem to work very well either.

        The galaxy for example is about 100,000 light years acro

        • I don't think the lack of megastructures is any indication of a lack of intelligent life. There's no reason to build dyson spheres etc. if you can keep your population levels under control. The idea of a Kardashev Type 2/3 civilization is almost laughable - a society advanced enough to build a dyson sphere but backward enough to reproduce to the point where a dyson sphere may be helpful.

          • Dyson spheres are not the only type of megastructure, and you don't need them just for population. The primary use of most megastructure proposals is to get a lot of solar energy. No matter what you want to do, you want energy. Want to do heavy-duty computations? That takes energy. Want to find out more abut the structure of the universe with big particle accelerators? That takes energy. Want to send a very high speed probe to another region of the universe? That takes energy.
        • But as I discussed in my comment, we don't see any radio waves

          Which means very little. Go to the nearest star and aim a large receiving dish at Earth. You won't hear a thing, unless by accident someone on Earth points a focused transmitter at you, at the exact right time.

          That means that if one is going only 1 percent of light speed (which does seem doable given what we know of the laws of physics)

          At that speed it may take several thousand years to reach another habitable planet. With a million things that could wrong, I can see people voting against the idea of embarking on such a crazy adventure. And even assuming a bunch of people make it to another planet, they have to survive there, and re

          • There are millions of focussed transmitters on earth, though most of them point toward a handful of spots in the equatorial plane, they are above and below the equator on earth and east or west of the satellites so the trasmissions should fan out.

            They're also mainly on land not on the oceans, so perhaps it would be possible to detect patterns of higher and lower transmissions as the earth spins even if it's not possible to make sense of any specific transmission

            • Drake and Equations (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Tenebrousedge ( 1226584 ) <tenebrousedge@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday February 25, 2016 @06:02PM (#51586955)

              Actually, according to Dr. Drake, the inventor of the Drake Equation, founder of SETI, Earth is becoming less visible all the time. [telegraph.co.uk] The satellites you talk about aren't pointed out into space, they are pointed towards Earth. We have also switched from analog to digital transmissions, so essentially everything we're transmitting at this point is indistinguishable from noise. [bidstrup.com] Broadcasting large amounts of energy into the universe in analog is not something that we can expect other civilizations to do for a very long time, if our own civilization is any guide. Not only that, but the Sun also produces a fair amount of radio-frequency radiation, so there's a pretty high noise floor. Even when we're trying to talk to Mars, [astrosurf.com] the SNR is miserable.

              The odds against detecting extraterrestrial transmissions, or extraterrestrials detecting us, are so insurmountably vast as to defy description. I think that Dr. Drake should accept the logical conclusions of his statements and end the SETI project. We have met the Great Filter and he is us.

        • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @05:11PM (#51586415)

          But as I discussed in my comment, we don't see any radio waves nor do we see any signs of megastructures or other large-scale use of the large amount of available energy.

          Let's say there's an alien civilization out there with technological progress. First of all, they would have to be advanced enough to use radio waves. An "Earth at the 1600's" would be invisible to us. However, they would also need to not have progressed past blanket radio wave bursts. As we communicate more and more via wires or direct satellite communications, less of our chatter will be audible to space. Let's say that the alien race proceeds about how we do. They would have about a 300 span (being generous) from "first visible via radio waves" to "went silent."

          This 300 year span would need to occur while we were able to look for them. If the last of their radio waves passed us in the 1200's, we wouldn't have detected them. It would also have to occur in a portion of the sky we were looking at. They would also need to be close enough for the radio wave strength to be detectable. If they are five galaxies over, we'd be hard pressed to detect the signal even if they aimed it right for us.

          Let's say we were lucky enough to be looking in the right spot at the right time and they were the right distance away. Would we recognize a signal? The signal would be in an alien language, using an alien encoding algorithm, perhaps compressed using an alien compression routine. It wouldn't be a video in English encoded using MP4 and zipped using gzip. Given all the alien-ness of the signal, there's a strong possibility that we could discount it as mere noise and move on.

          Just because we haven't detected a signal (and recognized it as one) doesn't mean intelligent alien life doesn't exist out there somewhere.

          As far as megastructures go, space is huge (insert Hitchhiker's Guide quote here) and we're just now approaching being able to detect Earth-sized objects. Why does the lack of "We found a super-Jupiter sized thing that's not a planet" announcements mean that there can't possibly be five hundred alien mega-structures the size of our moon in the Andromeda galaxy.

        • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @05:28PM (#51586631)

          All this speculation is pretty silly IMO, because you're trying to draw conclusions about possible civilizations far more advanced than ours, using a ridiculously small and limited amount of data from a civilization that hasn't even really left its own planet yet, except for a few primitive robotic probes within its system and one manned mission to its nearby moon for rock collecting. We haven't even visited our nearest neighboring system.

          We have no idea how many habitable planets are out there, because we can't even detect them. All the exoplanets we've seen have been big and very close to their stars, because that's what our limited technology allows us to see. We would not be able to see an Earth in orbit around Alpha Centauri, much less a much farther star. 20 years ago, we didn't even know definitively about any exoplanets at all, but when we developed the capability of seeing "hot Jupiters" suddenly we started seeing hundreds of them. Most likely, there's an enormous number of Earth-sized planets out there, we just can't see them yet.

          The search for radio waves is dumb. We don't even use high-powered radio waves any more, we only did for a very brief time, and radio is very hard to detect over large distances due to the Inverse Square Law. The whole SETI search seems to be based on the silly idea that ETs are out there, working their asses off to build the biggest radio transmitters they possibly can and then devoting all their energy to powering them, just so they can point these transmitters at us to send us a signal. We don't do that, so why do we assume anyone else is going to?

          The megastructure thing is pretty silly too: a Dyson sphere (or better yet, a Dyson swarm which is much more realistic) wouldn't be easily detectable by us because it'd be blocking all the star's light, and would only be detectable by IR radiation. Are we even actively looking for such things? And would we be able to detect them?

          Honestly, even if there were a Star Trek TNG-level civilization out there in the Delta Quadrant, we wouldn't be able to see it. It's too far away, and we wouldn't be able to detect their technology. There's a lack of signs of civilizations because we do not have the capability of seeing them, and we haven't put that much effort into looking, and certainly not into leaving our star system to check out neighboring systems. It's a lot like living on an island and concluding there's no other civilization out there because you haven't seen any come visit you, when you haven't even bothered building a boat and looking for yourself.

    • I never believed the Fermi paradox was interesting. It seems clear that traveling between stars may be prohibitively difficult even for "advanced" civilizations. To me that alone would explain it. Add to that some of the filters, for example that evolution tends to create short sighted, greedy, and competitive species good at accidental mass suicide, and you're done.
      • If one thinks that civilizations tend to destroy themselves then that means we should be very worried. That's the Filter essentially. If that's the case, the question then becomes can we use that information to avoid doing that ourselves?
        • We've had several dozens civilizations here on Earth that all died out. Ours is past the peak as well.
          • If that's at all the case, then we should be taking steps to either a) prepare for that eventuality or b) try to avert it. Essentially you aren't dismissing the Fermi Paradox at all, you are concluding that the explanation is a nigh-unstoppable Filter. That's a possible explanation, and I don't know about you, but if that's the case I'm going to favor putting in every last bit of effort we can to maybe avoid the situation. It is better to strive and to struggle than to just give up.
          • by swb ( 14022 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @05:18PM (#51586511)

            How many have truly died out, though?

            Rome is a great example -- you can argue that the Western Empire fell in 476, or you could argue that by 476 Roman culture had been so influential for so long that the end of an official government empire wasn't really the end of the civilization -- people didn't suddenly drop every last bit of Roman cultural traits. Latin was still spoken, Roman buildings, cities and roads were still used and so on.

            To this day, we call one of senior legislative bodies the Senate in a building that borrows a lot of architectural elements from Rome.

            Did Roman civilization end, or did it just evolve into what we now refer to as Western Civilization?

    • But if it is something in our future, something that civilizations do to wipe themselves(e.g. nuclear war, bad nanotech) out then we're in trouble.

      The vast majority of civilizations wipe themselves out though nuclear war. The ones that avoid that wipe themselves out by elevating reality TV personalities to positions of leadership.

    • Not widely discussed, but is a logical answer to the Fermi Paradox.

      http://brighterbrains.org/arti... [brighterbrains.org]

      TL;DR: We vanish in a puff of logic.

  • The great thing with simulations, is that with the right set of input data you can theoretically proving anything. Heck, maybe the Earth is flat after all? Of course, the quality of the input data and the nature of the simulation should always be up for as much scientific debate as the results.

    We are looking at the massive universe from one small view point and assuming that we can learn everything we can from this view point. I believe that is a very narrow view point and arrogant one at that. There is so

  • Useless model? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @03:57PM (#51585543) Homepage

    Earth itself should not exist, according to the computer model

    If your model doesn't account for reality, is your model deficient? I'd say yes.

    Many things are improbable, but in a vast universe, improbable becomes fairly likely.

    So, if he can't account for the Earth we have, the estimation of other ones like it is pretty useless.

    • Many things are improbable, but in a vast universe, improbable becomes fairly likely.

      ^ This...

      I am VERY unlikely to win the PowerBall lotto... unless I buy a billion tickets, then I'm VERY likely to win it...

      Earth is likely rare, when you look at only 50 to 100 light years around us.

      Earth is likely NOT rare, when you look at the whole galaxy.

  • Of course there is only one Earth, given the extreme odds of Earth developing, what would the added chances be that another planet like ours would develop, AND they would call it Earth, seems kind of slim to me...

    Would the Universal Motion Arts Association allow for there to be 2 Earths(tm) without legal action and then send in the Vogons to destroy the infringing planet.

    On another track, maybe there is only one earth per universe/dimension ?

  • by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @04:08PM (#51585633)

    When one refers to a "1 in a million chance" they are not implying that they actually tried something 1 million times and it only worked once. They are implying that *if* they would have tried something 1 million times it would have only worked once. So if you win the lottery jackpot, your winning ticket was still "1 in 300 million" regardless of how many other tickets you bought or how many exist.

    The title of the article is "Earth may be a 1-in-700 quintillion kind of place", but the article cites the 700-quintillion number as the total number of planets, and then goes on to say that according to the scientist's calculations, the earth should probably not exist (i.e. the odds of an earth like planet are even lower than 1 in 700-quintillion). So what are the odds that earth should exist? Who knows, it's not even mentioned.

    This would be like if I reported on some guy winning the powerball and said "This guy bought 100 lottery tickets and one of the tickets won the jackpot. That was an amazingly improbable event that happened, making the ticket a "1 in a hundred kind of ticket.""

    I have no idea if the statistical analysis done by this scientists is good or bad. But all I ask is that it is presented in a way that is coherent.

  • At least there is no need to worry about aliens coming to take over our planet that sits nicely in the habitable zone.

    Bad news: We'll probably kill ourselves before we get the chance to do the same to another planet
  • by alvieboy ( 61292 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @04:16PM (#51585725) Homepage

    He is correct, Earth does not exist.

    Or did you forget it was destroyed by the Vogons ? The supposed highway is just a bit delayed, that's why you don't see it. Takes some time in cosmological units.

  • If according to this computer model, Earth shouldn't even exist, then the computer model is fundamentally and critically flawed.

    Is it just cause it's "astrophysics" and therefore automatically worth of attention, even when it's useless?

  • my own computer model says that the probability of Sweden actually existing is 1 in 700 Quintillion.

  • They meant to say the Swedish Chef not the Swedish scientist.

    For those who don't know, here he is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • However, Astrophysicist Erik Zackrisson from Uppsala University in Sweden has run a computer simulation of the universe

    You what?

  • if you assume certain 'starting state' and 'laws' you get certain results if you work them out. if you assume other 'states' and 'laws' you get other results.
    even more fundamentally we assume we can fully 'know' and 'conceptualize' what makes up a 'state' and what 'laws' are in order to build models. this can be false.
    -
    we have only vague idea about dark energy and dark matter which (allegedly) make up over 95% of universe, and half of the other matter not known too.
    quantum mechanics and general relativity c

  • by bigdavex ( 155746 ) on Thursday February 25, 2016 @04:39PM (#51586033)

    Anthropic Principle [wikipedia.org]
    We tend not to observe universes in which life is impossible.

If you are smart enough to know that you're not smart enough to be an Engineer, then you're in Business.

Working...