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Factors Required For Complex Life


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#1 John Paul

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 08:09 AM

The following is a list of things required in order to maintain/ sustain complex life- (outside of the required chemical processes at the cellular level). The point of the list is to show how very incredibly lucky we are. We won the cosmic lottery! Or is there a purpose for our existence? Does Occam’s Razor really favor one designed universe over multiple chance collisions & multiple lucky events? Does science really favor the chance collisions & multiple lucky events scenario?

Some of the factors included are not directly related to maintaining or sustaining complex life but offer evodence to the premise that "The same narrow circumstances that allow for our existence also offer the best overall conditions for scientific discovery." The Privilgeged Planet

Factors for complex life:

1. Liquid water
a. Enough surface water to help regulate the planet’s temperature
b. Good solvent
c. Transports minerals
d. The presence of liquid water means the planet is in the habitable zone of it’s local star (Sun)
e. The presence of liquid water defines the CHZ (Circumstellar Habitable Zone. The CHZ of our solar system lies between Venus & Mars. Some scientists have narrowed it to:
-If the Earth were 5% closer to the Sun – too hot, no liquid water
-If the Earth were 20% father away from the Sun- too cold carbon dioxide would build up

2. Carbon based
a. Great bonding affinities
b. Allows for complex macro-molecules

3. Terrestrial planet
a. Crust thin/ thick and pliable enough to allow for plate tectonics
b. Recycling of minerals
c. Plate tectonics means the crust is sitting on an active core
d. Must retain enough heat for convection, i.e. keep the core liquid
e. Convection mixes the elements & shapes the continents
f. Active iron core is required to generate a protective magnetic field
g. Magnetic field has to be strong enough to withstand the solar winds
h. Must provide protection from radiation

4. Oxygen atmosphere
a. Our oxygen/ nitrogen mix is good
b. Clear- allows for good viewing
c. Ours is <1% of planet’s diameter
d. Allows in the right kind of light for viewing

5. Stable circular orbit

6. Large Moon (see also Gonzalez, G., “Wonderful Eclipses,” Astronomy & Geophysics 40, no. 3 (1999): 3.18- 3.20) (J. Laskar et al., “Stabilization of the Earth’s Obliquity by the Moon,” Nature 361 (1993): 615-17)
a. Our Moon is ¼ the size of Earth
b. Stabilizes the Earth’s axis of rotation
c. Gives our oceans a required tidal action
d. Just so happens that our Moon is 400x smaller than the Sun, which is 400x farther away
e. Both with a very circular shape
f. Allows for perfect solar eclipses
g. Confirmed Einstein’s prediction with the 1919 solar eclipse (gravity bends light) when scientists photographed the Stars behind it. We could have only made that discovery during a total solar eclipse.
h. Light spectrum
i. Observing & studying the Sun’s chromosphere is made possible
j. Only planet in solar system that has perfect ecplipses and observers to appreciate them

7.Gas Giants
a. Protection from intruding
b. Great for observing & scientific discovery

8. Sun
a. Spectral type G2 dwarf main sequence star- approximately only 4 percent fit this category
b. If it were smaller the habitable zone would shrink and any planets in that zone would be locked into a synchronous orbit (rotation = revolution) as our Moon is with us

9. Location in the galaxy
a. We are between spiral arms
b. Perfect for viewing
c. Not a lot of activity
d. Not too close to the violent and very active center
e. More radiation near the center
- Too many Neighbors
-Not a good viewing platform from which to discover
f.Not so far away where the heavy elements are scarce

10. Fine-tuning
a. Laws of Nature
b. Laws apply here also apply anywhere
c. Constants that are independent of those laws

We just happen to be located in "the Goldilocks Zone" of both the galaxy & solar system, in a location where an intelligent designer would place observers so the design can be marveled, studied & understood.

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 08:24 AM

We just happen to be located in "the Goldilocks Zone" of both the galaxy & solar system, in a location where an intelligent designer would place observers so the design can be marveled, studied & understood.

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An intelligent designer might deliberately place observers in such a 'Goldilocks Zone', or he might just scatter 'seeds' around the universe. Those that fell 'by the wayside', or 'upon a rock', or 'among the thorns', wouldn't sprout, while those that 'fell on good ground' would -- how surprising is that? (Random chance would produce the same effect, btw).

#3 John Paul

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 01:20 PM

Calipithecus:
(Random chance would produce the same effect, btw).


Only if you want to stretch credibility and throw Occam's Razor right out of the window.

From The Privileged Planet:

Imagine you’re taken captive by some powerful aliens, like Q on Star Trek: Generations, a group of highly intelligent if utterly obnoxious beings who exist as a sort of unified community called the Q continuum. Among their many qualifications, the Q can travel back in time. In the story we’re concocting, imagine that the Q transport you back to the moment of the Big Bang. After arriving, one Q takes you to a spacious room, with a large, complicated device on one side, adorned with scores of enormous dials not unlike the dials on a Master padlock. On closer inspection, you notice that every knob is inscribed with numbered lines. And above each knob are titles like “Gravitational Force Constant”, Electromagnetic Force Constant”, Strong Nuclear Force Constant”, and “Weak Nuclear Force Constant”.

You ask Q what the machine is, and after some snide and dismissive comments about the feebleness of the human mind, he tells you that it’s a Universe-Creating Machine. According to Q, the great collective Q continuum used it to create out universe. The machine has a viewing screen that allows the Q to preview what different settings will produce before they press Start. Without going into detail about it works, Q explains that the dials must all be set precisely, or the Universe-Creating Machine will spit out a worthless piece of junk ( as shown on its preview screen), like a universe that collapses on itself within a few seconds into a single black hole or drifts along indefinitely as a lifeless hydrogenated soup.

“Well how precisely do the knobs have to be set?” you ask. With some embarrassment, Q tells you that, so far, they’ve only found one combination that actually produces a universe even mildly habitable- namely, our own. “So”, you ask, “do you mean that there are only two habitable universes, the one the Q exists in, and ours that you have created?” In a volatile mixture of anger a chagrin, he admits, “Um, no, there’s just this one.” This arouses your suspicions: “Now, what sort of bootstrapping magic allowed you to create the universe you live in?” Crushed by your keen command of logic and highly sensitive baloney detector, Q finally admits, “Well, we didn’t actually find the right combination ourselves. In fact, the machine doesn’t exactly belong to us. We merely found it, with the dials already set. The machine had done its work before we arrived. Ever since then, we’ve been looking for another set of dial combinations to create another habitable universe, but alas, so far we haven’t found one. We’re certain that other habitable universes are possible, though, so we are still looking.”

This fanciful story illustrates one of the most startling discoveries of the last century: the universe, as described by its physical laws and constants, seems to be fine-tuned for the existence of life.



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Posted 08 June 2005 - 01:43 PM

This fanciful story illustrates one of the most startling discoveries of the last century: the universe, as described by its physical laws and constants, seems to be fine-tuned for the existence of life.

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Personally, I don't find it all that startling that conditions on earth are fine-tuned for the existence of life on earth (despite the compelling argument above -- maybe Q just forgot to take the Heisenburg compensator offline before activating the Universe-Creating Machine).

It's easy enough to make assertions about what the requirements for life in general are, but not so easy to back them up. We don't even have a particularly crisp way to define the term: life, much less any way to know what its requirements would be under some broad definition.

#5 John Paul

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 02:51 PM

Calipithecus:
Personally, I don't find it all that startling that conditions on earth are fine-tuned for the existence of life on earth (despite the compelling argument above -- maybe Q just forgot to take the Heisenburg compensator offline before activating the Universe-Creating Machine).


Reality says they are fine-tuned for the existence of complex life in the universe. Increase gravity slightly and simple life forms wouldn't be ruled out by conscious observers would be.

Calipithecus:
It's easy enough to make assertions about what the requirements for life in general are, but not so easy to back them up.


The scientists who provided the list were doing research for NASA. They were hired to figure out exactly that- what are the requirements for life and then complex life. NASA wants to know what the likely-hood of running into life on other planets is. And guess what? Through research we know what it takes to sustain life and complex life. We know the two requirements are not the same.

We know that the laws that govern observed phenomena here also govern all phenomena in the known universe. The same laws that apply here apply in all gallaxies in the universe.

Calipithecus:
We don't even have a particularly crisp way to define the term: life, much less any way to know what its requirements would be under some broad definition.


What is wrong with the current definition? I would leave viruses out because they cannot exist without a host, ie life.

What is Life

#6 John Paul

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 03:00 PM

Divide all the above by the number of planets in the universe to reduce the incredulity factor.

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The scientists take that into consideration- albeit by the galaxy. They have the number of stars in the Milky Way x 20 fractions (the factors). Even if the factors were given a generous 1 in 10, that doesn't bode well when looking at 10^11 stars.

But granted, they were considering technological civilizations, ie conscious observers, not the conditions that would permit for bacteria-like organsims.

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 04:06 PM

Reality says they are fine-tuned for the existence of complex life in the universe. Increase gravity slightly and simple life forms wouldn't be ruled out by conscious observers would be.

Well, that's a reasonable enough point. Tweak any one of a number of factors which led to the development of modern humans, and you'd get something different -- and chances are it wouldn't be intelligent (ignoring the fact that this is another very difficult term to define).


What is wrong with the current definition?

The piece you linked says it pretty well:

"Another kind of life, entirely different from ours, is conceivable, yes. But the only kind we have ever seen is the one we are part of here on Earth."

Are you happy with "the only kind we've ever seen" as a definition? I'm not.


The scientists who provided the list were doing research for NASA.

That does sound impressive, but the results are only as good as the available data permits. The following quote is from the PDF titled: "Chapter 3 Habitable Planets and Life" at this NASA site:

"The extrasolar planets discovered so far seem to be gas giants like Jupiter. Earth-like worlds may also orbit other stars, but to this point our measurements lack the precision to detect a world as small as Earth."


I would leave viruses out because they cannot exist without a host, ie life.

A lot of biologists would agree. A lot would also disagree (hence the point I was making; that "life" is hard to define).

#8 chance

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 07:25 PM

The scientists take that into consideration- albeit by the galaxy. They have the number of stars in the Milky Way x 20 fractions (the factors). Even if the factors were given a generous 1 in 10, that doesn't bode well when looking at 10^11 stars.

But granted, they were considering technological civilizations, ie conscious observers, not the conditions that would permit for bacteria-like organsims.

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I am familiar with the drake formula, it not a bad way of playing with the odds.

However John Paul, the argument proposed is not a fair one because it is arguing ‘after the fact’. To explain what I mean, let me explain with an even bigger set of odds to the one you presented, try this:

What are the chances that You would be born?
Consider the reproductive lifetime of your father and mother, the number of sperm produced by your father would be an astronomical number. The chance that the one required to produce you finding the egg from your mother that produce you, would I think, be a one with several volumes of an encyclopaedia filled with zero’s to the power of millions (that a lot) :blink: And that is for only one generation!!
Yet against all the odds against hear you are !!!

Make your earth calculation look like throwing a double 6 by comparison, yes?

#9 John Paul

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 05:09 AM

chance:
I am familiar with the drake formula, it not a bad way of playing with the odds.


This is a revised Drake equation. Revised because we have new data.

chance:
However John Paul, the argument proposed is not a fair one because it is arguing ‘after the fact’.


Science is done via observation. That means science is done 'after the fact'. Did Darwin conceive of the theory of evolution before he had the evidence to comb through? Do homicide detectives start an investigation without a reason?

chance:
To explain what I mean, let me explain with an even bigger set of odds to the one you presented, try this:

What are the chances that You would be born?
Consider the reproductive lifetime of your father and mother, the number of sperm produced by your father would be an astronomical number. The chance that the one required to produce you finding the egg from your mother that produce you, would I think, be a one with several volumes of an encyclopaedia filled with zero’s to the power of millions (that a lot)  And that is for only one generation!!
Yet against all the odds against hear you are !!!


Yes I am. But chance had nothing to do with it.

chance:
Make your earth calculation look like throwing a double 6 by comparison, yes?


Not at all. Both pretty much show that chance & luck have little to do with it and there is a purpose for us being here.

#10 John Paul

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 05:17 AM

QUOTE(John Paul @ Jun 8 2005, 02:51 PM)
Reality says they are fine-tuned for the existence of complex life in the universe. Increase gravity slightly and simple life forms wouldn't be ruled out by conscious observers would be.

Calipithecus:
Well, that's a reasonable enough point. Tweak any one of a number of factors which led to the development of modern humans, and you'd get something different -- and chances are it wouldn't be intelligent (ignoring the fact that this is another very difficult term to define).


That is why the scientists used the term "technological civilizations".



QUOTE
What is wrong with the current definition?

The piece you linked says it pretty well:

"Another kind of life, entirely different from ours, is conceivable, yes. But the only kind we have ever seen is the one we are part of here on Earth."

Are you happy with "the only kind we've ever seen" as a definition? I'm not.


Considering we have a wide variety of life to observe and many niches in which they can be observed, I am happy with it.



QUOTE
The scientists who provided the list were doing research for NASA.

That does sound impressive, but the results are only as good as the available data permits. The following quote is from the PDF titled: "Chapter 3 Habitable Planets and Life" at this NASA site:

"The extrasolar planets discovered so far seem to be gas giants like Jupiter. Earth-like worlds may also orbit other stars, but to this point our measurements lack the precision to detect a world as small as Earth."


That is how science works- with available data. That is what makes it tentative. Future research wcan confirm or refute today's understanding. However we have to go with what we know and allow the evidence to lead us.



QUOTE
I would leave viruses out because they cannot exist without a host, ie life.

A lot of biologists would agree. A lot would also disagree (hence the point I was making; that "life" is hard to define).


I have had a hard time finding biologists who would agree that viruses are life because viruses are not self-sustaining.

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 09:05 AM

In fact, we really have no way of assessing how many solar systems might have planets friendly to life as we know it.

The habitable zone of the solar system for life of our kind seems to be just beyond the orbit of Venus to about the orbit of Mars. The fact that life appeared on a planet within that zone seems to be perfectly reasonable to me, although it's no more miraculous than the rest of the universe. This happens to be the way God did it.

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 09:39 AM

That is how science works- with available data. That is what makes it tentative. Future research wcan confirm or refute today's understanding. However we have to go with what we know and allow the evidence to lead us.

I completely agree.


I have had a hard time finding biologists who would agree that viruses are life because viruses are not self-sustaining.

How about philosophers?

If you put a gun to my head and forced me to choose, I probably would have to go with those who would withhold the "life" distinction from viruses. But it wouldn't be an easy choice, because I can see the other side of the argument too.

I mean, what is 'self-sustaining'? How many full-fledged organisms (equipped with the full complement of cellular machinery, including mechanisms of replication) cannot exist without a host of some kind? What exactly are the necessary and sufficient conditions which earn the distinction? What's so special about DNA? If some other class of molecule were capable of coding for amino acids, could not a system based on that qualify as 'life'? For that matter, what's so special about proteins? Why couldn't it be crystals, or buckyballs or something?

If the ancient denizens of some alien planet had built a nanobot capable of aquiring energy and raw materials from its environment, of responding in flexible ways to changes in that environment, and of autonomous, imperfect self-replication, we might not say that they had created 'life'. But millions of years after the descendants of that nanobot had driven biochemical life forms on that planet to extinction by reducing its biosphere to a grey goo, NASA scientists might detect the presence of a 'technological civilization' in that sector, forcing us to reconsider limiting our definition to what we have previously seen.

I forget what episode of Star Trek that was.

#13 John Paul

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 02:43 PM

Yehren:
In fact, we really have no way of assessing how many solar systems might have planets friendly to life as we know it.


Perhaps you should write to NASA. They seem to be spending a lot of money trying to assess that very thing. I would wager they aren't the omnly org working on it.

Yehren:
The habitable zone of the solar system for life of our kind seems to be just beyond the orbit of Venus to about the orbit of Mars.


That's being very generous, but OK.

Yehren:
The fact that life appeared on a planet within that zone seems to be perfectly reasonable to me, although it's no more miraculous than the rest of the universe.


The point being, of course, that complex life couldn't exist any where else but in these zones. That is the point- that the Earth is special. Their research refutes Carl Sagan's premise that the Earth is not special, ir it refutes the priciple of mediocrity- sometimes called "the Copernican principle."

Yehren:
This happens to be the way God did it.


God or not it appears some entity wanted conscious observers and put us in a great location to do just that.

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 07:31 PM

Yehren observes:
In fact, we really have no way of assessing how many solar systems might have planets friendly to life as we know it.

Perhaps you should write to NASA. They seem to be spending a lot of money trying to assess that very thing. I would wager they aren't the omnly org working on it.


Maybe so. But "working on it" is not sufficient. We have no way of saying for sure. We are as of yet unable to determine how many Earthlike planets there are.

Yehren:
The habitable zone of the solar system for life of our kind seems to be just beyond the orbit of Venus to about the orbit of Mars.

That's being very generous, but OK.


Inverse square law.

Yehren observes:
The fact that life appeared on a planet within that zone seems to be perfectly reasonable to me, although it's no more miraculous than the rest of the universe.


The point being, of course, that complex life couldn't exist any where else but in these zones.


At least complex life we know about. Again, we have only one example, so we don't know what other kinds there could be. But it's not remarkable that our particular kind of life developed where conditions were favorable for it.

That is the point- that the Earth is special. Their research refutes Carl Sagan's premise that the Earth is not special, ir it refutes the priciple of mediocrity- sometimes called "the Copernican principle."


All planets seem to be "special." Ours just happens to be in the zone where life of our sort is possible.

Yehren on the formation of life by nature:
This happens to be the way God did it.

God or not it appears some entity wanted conscious observers and put us in a great location to do just that.


I have some religious reasons to believe so. But I can find no scientific evidence. Fortunately, religion can go where science can't.

#15 John Paul

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 05:09 AM

Yehren observes:
In fact, we really have no way of assessing how many solar systems might have planets friendly to life as we know it.


QUOTE
Perhaps you should write to NASA. They seem to be spending a lot of money trying to assess that very thing. I would wager they aren't the omnly org working on it.


[quote]Yehren:
Maybe so. But "working on it" is not sufficient. We have no way of saying for sure. We are as of yet unable to determine how many Earthlike planets there are.[/quote]

How would you know what is sufficient? Do you have a better method than the NASA scientists?

Yehren:
The habitable zone of the solar system for life of our kind seems to be just beyond the orbit of Venus to about the orbit of Mars.


QUOTE
That's being very generous, but OK.


[quote]Yehren:
Inverse square law.[/quote]

So? The surface temperature on Venus is greater than that on Mecury. So much for that law.

Yehren observes:
The fact that life appeared on a planet within that zone seems to be perfectly reasonable to me, although it's no more miraculous than the rest of the universe.


QUOTE
The point being, of course, that complex life couldn't exist any where else but in these zones.


[quote]Yehren:
At least complex life we know about. Again, we have only one example, so we don't know what other kinds there could be. But it's not remarkable that our particular kind of life developed where conditions were favorable for it.[/QUOTE}

We have many examples of complex life to observe. We know the same laws that apply here on Earth apply any place in the universe. We know that life will be carbon-based. And complex life wouldn't have developed absent of of any of the factors listed above.


QUOTE
That is the point- that the Earth is special. Their research refutes Carl Sagan's premise that the Earth is not special, ir it refutes the priciple of mediocrity- sometimes called "the Copernican principle."
[//b]

[QUOTE}Yehtren:
All planets seem to be "special." Ours just happens to be in the zone where life of our sort is possible.[/quote]

Not special enough to be a home or to have native organisms.

[b]Yehren on the formation of life by nature:
This happens to be the way God did it.


QUOTE
God or not it appears some entity wanted conscious observers and put us in a great location to do just that.


[quote]Yehren:
I have some religious reasons to believe so.[/quote]

I do not.

[quote]Yehren:
But I can find no scientific evidence. Fortunately, religion can go where science can't.[/quote].

Just because you can't find any means what to the rest of us who have?

"Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." Albert Einstein.

#16 Mariner Fan

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Posted 13 June 2005 - 01:26 PM

How would you know what is sufficient? Do you have a better method than the NASA scientists?


Yes, sending probes to all of the stars in the galaxy and have them report back on the characteristics of each star system. That would be a sufficient test to see whether or not planets like the Earth are common place or exceedingly rare.

If Earth like planets were found in 1 in every 10,000 star systems would you consider the Earth to be "special" or "fine tuned"?

#17 chance

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Posted 13 June 2005 - 01:38 PM

This is a revised Drake equation. Revised because we have new data.

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No problem with that, but essentially it is a formula using estimates to give scenarios to ‘what if’ situations.

Science is done via observation. That means science is done 'after the fact'. Did Darwin conceive of the theory of evolution before he had the evidence to comb through? Do homicide detectives start an investigation without a reason?

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You are confusing ‘after the fact’ with respect to a method of observing and recording with calculating the odds, not the same thing at all. I am specifically talking about an after the fact in a statistical perspective, that is why the question is not a fair one.

Yes I am. But chance had nothing to do with it.

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Are you proposing the universe and life are predestined? In which case what is the point of producing something in the order of 400 million (or is that billion) sperm in ones lifetime for a male and 300 eggs for the female? If your life were predestined what are we to make of the possibilities that never were?

Not at all. Both pretty much show that chance & luck have little to do with it and there is a purpose for us being here.

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You bring ‘purpose’ to the argument without showing any way to determine if there is a way to be sure, because by changing the way the question in posed we can come up with the opposite of a purposeful universe.

#18 John Paul

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Posted 13 June 2005 - 08:11 PM

Yes, sending probes to all of the stars in the galaxy and have them report back on the characteristics of each star system.  That would be a sufficient test to see whether or not planets like the Earth are common place or exceedingly rare.

If Earth like planets were found in 1 in every 10,000 star systems would you consider the Earth to be "special" or "fine tuned"?

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Sending probes to all the stars is not practical. Besides we wouldn't get the data back in our lifetime. Also even IF we did such a thing, that wouldn't be a test, it would be an observation.


Some stuff we do know:

Stars:

Total number estimated in the Milky Way- 100 billion
Over 80% are low-mass red dwarfs (most likely lack a habitable zone)
1-2% are massive short-lived blue giants
Only about 4% of the stars are early G-type, main-sequence stars like our Sun
50% of those are in binary systems
Then we have to consider what % of those are in the Galactic Habitable Zone

Earth-like planets:

We now know that our solar system is not typical
We do know other planets exist
At least 4% of Sun-like stars have giant planets at least as massive as Jupiter.

We could be it as far as this galaxy goes.

#19 John Paul

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Posted 01 July 2005 - 05:43 AM

Guillermo Gonzalez, co-author of The Privileged Planet responds to critics:

An Open Letter to My Open-Minded Colleagues

Frankly, I think openness to the evidence of nature is an essential part of the scientific spirit. And ID asks questions that, at the very least, should be open to debate. For instance, what if purposive activity was the cause of the fine-tuning of the physical constants? Is there any way we could tell? As a scientist, I want to be free to ask that question and free to search for evidence that would provide an answer one way or the other to that question. I consider the correlation between habitability and measurability such evidence. And anyone familiar with The Privileged Planet knows that we make the inference from scientific evidence, not from first principles derived from Scripture or some mystical experience. Scholarly discussions about evidence of purpose in nature are not limited to seminaries. Physicists, philosophers, and astronomers are also interested in this question.


I have always maintained that science is our search for the truth, ie the reality, to our existence via our never-ending quest for knowledge. Those who wish to pidgeon-hole the evidence are not only doing an injustice to science but to all of mankind (& womenkind too).

#20 John Paul

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 06:36 AM

chance:
You bring ‘purpose’ to the argument without showing any way to determine if there is a way to be sure, because by changing the way the question in posed we can come up with the opposite of a purposeful universe.


Know for sure? LoL! There isn't any way to "know for sure" anything about the past that wasn't directly observed & documented. However we can & have made an reasonable inference based on what we do know"

"The same narrow circumstances that allow for our existence also offer the best over-all conditions for scientific discovery."

IOW, as Gonzalez puts it "Habitability = measure-ability".




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