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Intelligent Alien Life in the Universe

TrueScotsman
Posts: 515
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10/18/2015 4:35:08 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Lately I have been doing some thinking about intelligent Alien life in the universe, and my opinion on the matter is that it is extremely unlikely that we will encounter any.

Point #1:

The universe is relatively young. As the age of the universe is only 13.8 billion years, and our planet is only 4.5 billion years old. We can surmise that it took 9.3 billion years for a planet possibly suitable for life to arise. I believe it would be highly unlikely for planets to arise until the first massive stars began to go supernova, which allowed for the distribution of heavier metals and thus planets to form. This means that only planets within our relative generation, have perhaps the potential for alien life.

Point #2:

Abiogenesis is a hotly debated topic and there yet today stands a proven theory on this matter. It is one thing for organic proteins to arise naturally independent of some kind of organism, but to have some kind of RNA molecule that can self-replicate is a little bit more difficult. We can observe right now that no where on earth (as far as we know), life isn't continually arising. This means there must have been a single point in our history in which the correct conditions allowed for this. Expanding this to all the other planets, then they would have to fit all the criteria that our planet does and then have an event like this with similar conditions.

Point #3:

Inspecting the evolutionary history of our planet shows that it took a long time even for multi-cellular life to arise. Billions of years passed, and any life in the universe likely would be bacterial in nature perhaps. There were also several major extinction events which then allowed for new evolutionary leaps to occur, such as the rise of mammals after the extinction of the Dinosaurs. This means that there are an alarming number of variables for this to happen, and the argument goes in the other way too. That these same extinction events which may be necessary for intelligent life to arise can also very quickly destroy it before it could spread anywhere else, which takes millions of years to do.

Conclusion:

Due to how young the universe is, how difficult it is to arise, and how unlikely it is that it advanced to an intelligent stage. I conclude that intelligent alien life in our universe is going to be extremely rare if not non-existent outside of our planet. I do not believe that sentient minds are something that must arise, but rather our minds in a sense are an evolutionary accident. It was not culminating to some great end, but arose due to natural selection.

More likely than finding intelligent life in the universe is the idea then that it has been wiped out, or we will be wiped out before we even encounter it.

What are your thoughts?
kp98
Posts: 729
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10/18/2015 8:43:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I think you are right that we are unlikely encounter intelligent alien life.

Although the sheer number of stars and planets suggests that life - and intelligent life - almost certainly exists elsewhere, inter-stellar distances are so vast that the chances of intelligent life occurring near enough for us to encounter it is much smaller than the absolute chance of life existing anywhere at all.

But there are reasons to think that 'life finds a way', as the saying goes. Life occurs on earth under extreme conditions that may not very far removed from conditions on some other planets and satellites in our own solar system.

With a sample size of 1 its not really sensible to say how likely life is to evolve intelligence. Indeed, given that humans are probably the most damaging species the world has had, life may be more sustainable without it. The dinosaurs lasted for 100 million years with walnut sized brains, and they could well be still here if not for some catastrophe, and no aquatic creature seems to have developed human levels of intelligence(*), so not all environments demand intelligence to arise.

So life anywhere - guaranteed. Intelligent life anywhere also guaranteed. Simple life near by I'd say is very probable, but intelligent life near by - probably not.

(*) "For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much"the wheel, New York, wars and so on"whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man"for precisely the same reasons." Douglas Adams.
SM2
Posts: 546
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10/19/2015 12:47:09 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Point 1:

Universe is 13.7 billion years old. First stars formed about 200 million years later (i.e. 13.5 billion years ago). Blue giant stars have a lifespan of about 100 million years, so the heavy elements needed for life would have been available since 13.4 billion years ago. Assume another 1 billion years for the formation of a habitable planet (12.4 billion years ago), and another 600 million years for cellular life to appear (11.8 billion years ago). Given a "lucky" course of evolution, it would take another billion years for those cells to become a space-faring civilization (10.8 billion years ago).

This is hypothetical, of course, but it's still possible that the first alien civilization emerged about 10 billion years ago.

Point 2:

Yes, abiogenesis is unlikely. However, 600 million years (the time it took us) is all you need, and it only needs to happen once. If this happened on enough planets, the universe could be full of life.

Point 3:

I agree with this one. Evolution is like a lottery, and isn't really aimed at producing intelligence (or any other trait, for that matter). A given lineage could be dealt a superb hand and produce intelligent life quickly (like in the "10 billion years ago" example), but it's more likely to be dealt a crap one and never amount to more than pond scum.

Keep in mind that we're assuming independence here - i.e. that every alien race arose separately, through abiogenesis. If life can jump from planet to planet (i.e. panspermia), then our assumption fails, and point 3 doesn't stand.

I think it's still too early to be taking xenobiology seriously. Let's wait until we actually find aliens before hypothesising about them.
TBR
Posts: 9,991
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10/19/2015 1:20:52 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/18/2015 4:35:08 PM, TrueScotsman wrote:
Lately I have been doing some thinking about intelligent Alien life in the universe, and my opinion on the matter is that it is extremely unlikely that we will encounter any.

Point #1:

The universe is relatively young. As the age of the universe is only 13.8 billion years, and our planet is only 4.5 billion years old. We can surmise that it took 9.3 billion years for a planet possibly suitable for life to arise. I believe it would be highly unlikely for planets to arise until the first massive stars began to go supernova, which allowed for the distribution of heavier metals and thus planets to form. This means that only planets within our relative generation, have perhaps the potential for alien life.

Point #2:

Abiogenesis is a hotly debated topic and there yet today stands a proven theory on this matter. It is one thing for organic proteins to arise naturally independent of some kind of organism, but to have some kind of RNA molecule that can self-replicate is a little bit more difficult. We can observe right now that no where on earth (as far as we know), life isn't continually arising. This means there must have been a single point in our history in which the correct conditions allowed for this. Expanding this to all the other planets, then they would have to fit all the criteria that our planet does and then have an event like this with similar conditions.

Point #3:

Inspecting the evolutionary history of our planet shows that it took a long time even for multi-cellular life to arise. Billions of years passed, and any life in the universe likely would be bacterial in nature perhaps. There were also several major extinction events which then allowed for new evolutionary leaps to occur, such as the rise of mammals after the extinction of the Dinosaurs. This means that there are an alarming number of variables for this to happen, and the argument goes in the other way too. That these same extinction events which may be necessary for intelligent life to arise can also very quickly destroy it before it could spread anywhere else, which takes millions of years to do.

Conclusion:

Due to how young the universe is, how difficult it is to arise, and how unlikely it is that it advanced to an intelligent stage. I conclude that intelligent alien life in our universe is going to be extremely rare if not non-existent outside of our planet. I do not believe that sentient minds are something that must arise, but rather our minds in a sense are an evolutionary accident. It was not culminating to some great end, but arose due to natural selection.

More likely than finding intelligent life in the universe is the idea then that it has been wiped out, or we will be wiped out before we even encounter it.

What are your thoughts?

It seems preposterous that there has never been life other than ours in the universe. It is equally unlikely that we will ever contact it as our human self's. We, no species, will be well evolved for space travel. As probe and carriers of our "beings" it is possible, but still unlikely.
Muffinlicious
Posts: 2
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10/19/2015 1:28:16 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
The problem with hypothesizing about how common alien intelligence is in our universe is that we have no way of knowing how similar to Earth a planet must be in order to harbor life. For all we know, we could be either the ONLY planet with the conditions for life, or one of a thousand in our galaxy.
In conclusion, until we come in contact / discover another form of life, there really isn't any way to accurately estimate the amount of life that could exist in our universe.
Mhykiel
Posts: 5,987
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10/19/2015 4:41:09 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/18/2015 4:35:08 PM, TrueScotsman wrote:
Lately I have been doing some thinking about intelligent Alien life in the universe, and my opinion on the matter is that it is extremely unlikely that we will encounter any.

Point #1:

The universe is relatively young. As the age of the universe is only 13.8 billion years, and our planet is only 4.5 billion years old. We can surmise that it took 9.3 billion years for a planet possibly suitable for life to arise. I believe it would be highly unlikely for planets to arise until the first massive stars began to go supernova, which allowed for the distribution of heavier metals and thus planets to form. This means that only planets within our relative generation, have perhaps the potential for alien life.

Point #2:

Abiogenesis is a hotly debated topic and there yet today stands a proven theory on this matter. It is one thing for organic proteins to arise naturally independent of some kind of organism, but to have some kind of RNA molecule that can self-replicate is a little bit more difficult. We can observe right now that no where on earth (as far as we know), life isn't continually arising. This means there must have been a single point in our history in which the correct conditions allowed for this. Expanding this to all the other planets, then they would have to fit all the criteria that our planet does and then have an event like this with similar conditions.

Point #3:

Inspecting the evolutionary history of our planet shows that it took a long time even for multi-cellular life to arise. Billions of years passed, and any life in the universe likely would be bacterial in nature perhaps. There were also several major extinction events which then allowed for new evolutionary leaps to occur, such as the rise of mammals after the extinction of the Dinosaurs. This means that there are an alarming number of variables for this to happen, and the argument goes in the other way too. That these same extinction events which may be necessary for intelligent life to arise can also very quickly destroy it before it could spread anywhere else, which takes millions of years to do.

Conclusion:

Due to how young the universe is, how difficult it is to arise, and how unlikely it is that it advanced to an intelligent stage. I conclude that intelligent alien life in our universe is going to be extremely rare if not non-existent outside of our planet. I do not believe that sentient minds are something that must arise, but rather our minds in a sense are an evolutionary accident. It was not culminating to some great end, but arose due to natural selection.

More likely than finding intelligent life in the universe is the idea then that it has been wiped out, or we will be wiped out before we even encounter it.

What are your thoughts?

The Bible, corroborated by other religious text, says there is intelligent life other than mankind. And that interactions have occurred between said life and mankind.

I have no doubt it will happen again on a large scale.
dee-em
Posts: 6,445
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10/19/2015 8:01:35 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/18/2015 4:35:08 PM, TrueScotsman wrote:
Lately I have been doing some thinking about intelligent Alien life in the universe, and my opinion on the matter is that it is extremely unlikely that we will encounter any.

Point #1:

The universe is relatively young. As the age of the universe is only 13.8 billion years, and our planet is only 4.5 billion years old. We can surmise that it took 9.3 billion years for a planet possibly suitable for life to arise.

No, you are jumping to conclusions. It took one planet that long but that is only a sample size of 1. You can't extrapolate too much from that.

I believe it would be highly unlikely for planets to arise until the first massive stars began to go supernova, which allowed for the distribution of heavier metals and thus planets to form. This means that only planets within our relative generation, have perhaps the potential for alien life.

The first part is true but the second part is doubtful. There have been at least four generations of longer lived stars since the Big Bang. That means that the material for rocky planets has been around a while now, at least a few billion years before the Earth formed.

Point #2:

Abiogenesis is a hotly debated topic and there yet today stands a proven theory on this matter.

Not theory. There are several hypotheses.

It is one thing for organic proteins to arise naturally independent of some kind of organism, but to have some kind of RNA molecule that can self-replicate is a little bit more difficult. We can observe right now that no where on earth (as far as we know), life isn't continually arising.

Are you sure? How would we know? Any self-replicators that formed would be swamped by the 'noise' of existing complex life. They wouldn't stand a chance against life that had been evolving for billions of years.

This means there must have been a single point in our history in which the correct conditions allowed for this.

Simply not true, or at least an assumption which is unwarranted.

Expanding this to all the other planets, then they would have to fit all the criteria that our planet does and then have an event like this with similar conditions.

Point #3:

Inspecting the evolutionary history of our planet shows that it took a long time even for multi-cellular life to arise.

That's true but single-celled life arose surprisingly quickly. And photosynthesis followed fairly soon after. Who is to say that the longer wait for multi-cellular life as it happened on Earth is typical or atypical?

Billions of years passed, and any life in the universe likely would be bacterial in nature perhaps. There were also several major extinction events which then allowed for new evolutionary leaps to occur, such as the rise of mammals after the extinction of the Dinosaurs. This means that there are an alarming number of variables for this to happen, and the argument goes in the other way too. That these same extinction events which may be necessary for intelligent life to arise can also very quickly destroy it before it could spread anywhere else, which takes millions of years to do.

Yes, most likely.

Conclusion:

Due to how young the universe is, how difficult it is to arise, and how unlikely it is that it advanced to an intelligent stage. I conclude that intelligent alien life in our universe is going to be extremely rare if not non-existent outside of our planet. I do not believe that sentient minds are something that must arise, but rather our minds in a sense are an evolutionary accident. It was not culminating to some great end, but arose due to natural selection.

More likely than finding intelligent life in the universe is the idea then that it has been wiped out, or we will be wiped out before we even encounter it.

What are your thoughts?
Akhenaten
Posts: 854
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10/19/2015 8:16:01 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Because our galaxy is made of spin energy, I would hypothesize that if you try to exit our galaxy your ship may vaporize into aether.
dee-em
Posts: 6,445
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10/22/2015 4:08:09 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
According to recent calculations, only a small percentage of the Earth-like planets which will form in the life of the universe have formed to date:

http://news.sciencemag.org...

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.

It seems that maybe what we have to do is simply hang on waiting for opportunities for (intelligent) life to arise in all those future worlds. It's a big ask, of course.
j50wells
Posts: 345
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10/25/2015 8:57:43 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I agree with you scientifically. You have a lot of good points. However, let's examine this logically. Logically, in the coming centuries and millennium, we will be the intelligent life exploring the other planets. We will be the ET's. If String Theory is correct, and we can figure out how to manipulate extra dimensions,(some theoretical scientists say it is likely but that we have not been able to figure out how to do it exactly), we can transport people to other solar systems very quickly.
Because of Evolution it is not a logical stretch to consider the fact that some solar systems in the universe are much older than ours, and that life on the planets of those solar systems are 1-2 billion years ahead of us. Knowing what we know right now, how much more will we know in 2 billion years? And how much more does Evolutionary life know out in universe since it is 2,3, or 4 billion years ahead of us.

But, there is more proof for ET's. We have word of mouth admissions. Many of these admissions have come from high ranking generals in the military. Many police-men have admitted that UFO's are real, and that they have chased them, and been shot at by them. Some of their investigations involve people who have been abducted. Big-time politicians have admitted that ET's are real. In fact, the USA is one of the few nations left in the world that continues to try to cover up the fact of UFO's and ET's. Russia, China, Germany, England, and Brazil are just a small handful of nations who have admitted that we are visited by UFO's and ET's.
So this leads us to the next question. How honest and true are scientists in America? Obviously they aren't being truthful, since everyone on planet Earth, except America, has admitted that we are not alone. Could it be that politicians are manipulating the scientific community by threatening their jobs if they admit that ET's are real?
But don't worry, the media in America has it all figured out. If they just keep telling us that UFO believers are just wearing tin-foil hats, it will all go away, and we can get back to lying to ourselves and stop asking questions about who we are and what's out there in the universe.