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What are the odds of intelligent life emerging ?

Posted on Tuesday, 19 May, 2020 | Comment icon 167 comments

Is intelligent life a fluke, or is it inevitable ? Image Credit: CC0 Pixabay
A new study has calculated the most likely odds of life, as well as intelligence, emerging on other worlds.
The question of whether we are alone in the universe remains one of the biggest philosophical conundrums of our time. While it seems almost inconceivable that our civilization is alone in the cosmos, the fact still remains that we have yet to see any evidence to the contrary.

But just how likely is it that intelligent life may have emerged on other planets ?

To find out, David Kipping - an assistant professor in Columbia's Department of Astronomy - used a statistical technique known as Bayesian inference to calculate the odds of the emergence of life by looking back at the evolution of life (as well as intelligent life) on our own planet.

He then determined how likely these were to reoccur if Earth's history was to repeat over and over.

"We find higher than 3:1 odds that life would re-emerge based on the timing of when microfossils appear in the geological record," he told Mail Online.
"If we use more disputed evidence for life's even earlier start, the odds rise to higher than 9:1. For me that's quite suggestive that life should be out there in the cosmos."

"My paper finds 3:2 odds in favour of rare intelligence, so that's a 40 per cent probability of intelligence re-emerging."

Kipping was keen to emphasize however that these figures should not be taken as gospel.

"The analysis can't provide certainties or guarantees, only statistical probabilities based on what happened here on Earth," he said.

"Yet encouragingly, the case for a universe teeming with life emerges as the favored bet. The search for intelligent life in worlds beyond Earth should be by no means discouraged."

Source: | Comments (167)

Tags: Extraterrestrial

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #158 Posted by XenoFish on 1 June, 2020, 23:53
True. Sitting comfortable in a chair works too.
Comment icon #159 Posted by astrobeing on 2 June, 2020, 0:01
One look at the universe tells me it's definitely not designed to create life.
Comment icon #160 Posted by DieChecker on 4 June, 2020, 8:03
I saw someone say that Goldie Locks planets are super rare. But they've found one orbiting Alpha Centari Proxima B. And though it is bathed in radiation, a thick atmosphere, or a layer of water can protect against that. It would be amusing if the ETs ever did present themselves, and were like, "You think you did this on your own?". And showed us the 100,000 years of paperwork they filed as they fine tuned us toward "civilization". 
Comment icon #161 Posted by psyche101 on 4 June, 2020, 8:34
Mars and Venus are Goldilocks planets too.
Comment icon #162 Posted by DieChecker on 4 June, 2020, 15:24
And Mars might have at one point hosted life. And with terraforming using microbes, might in the future.
Comment icon #163 Posted by Harte on 4 June, 2020, 18:21
I guess you mean the Anthropic Principle here, which is a philosophical, not scientific, statement. Basically, it states that the universe we observe has to contain someone to observe it if it is to be observed. Postulating the existence of multiple universes makes it easier to swallow. That is, if 10,000 universes exist, the only ones that can be scientifically examined are those containing life capable of scientifically examining their universe. Looked at this way, the "principle" makes a lot of sense, but doesn't lead to any explanations (that's why it's philosophical.) Harte
Comment icon #164 Posted by astrobeing on 4 June, 2020, 22:58
If true, it shows how fragile life is. It possible that if life does form on a planet it's mostly likely that it will die from changing conditions.
Comment icon #165 Posted by Dustyrose33 on 4 June, 2020, 23:28
I fall asleep nearly every if I meditate lying down.
Comment icon #166 Posted by Captain Risky on 4 June, 2020, 23:35
I find YouTube meditation with ear phones helps keep me awake. 
Comment icon #167 Posted by 19_Kilo on 5 June, 2020, 1:11
I do my best meditation while running. Almost impossible to fall asleep. It's more of a Zen thing, of what fairly recent Western meditation practitioners call "The Flow." You might look into walking meditation. It uses the same principles. Plus, if you meditate while running or walking, you're getting the adrenal and endorphin rush going on too, which enhances the whole experience. 

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