Extraterrestrial Life in our galaxy

I’ve written on my website about the subject of ET. Specifically, examining the view of two physicists: Frank Tipler and John Barrow. They wrote a mammoth book on the subject in the '80s called the Anthropic Principle. This text is something on the order of Betrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead’s work called Principia Mathematica. Which was a failed endeavor too I might add. The Tipler/Barrow book has a footnote reference that is about 1/4 of the text itself. It is well documented and serious reading for those inclined. But it puts forth a flawed idea.

Tipler actually goes on in a later work to try to prove the existence of God (yes the big one, the mono God) and was laughed at by the physics community in general. Though, I liked his idea, but couldn’t go along with his reasoning. Anyway back to the topic.

ET is just one idea they tackle and I strongly disagreed with it on my site. And no, I’m not going to plug my site.

What I am going to try to do is start an intelligent discussion on this subject. So, lets start:

I believe most definitely there is ET in the universe. I don’t believe that INTELLIGENT, self-aware, communicating life exists in our own galaxy. It may exist in 1 or 2 at the most star systems. And that would make it exceeding small in a galaxy of at least 400 billions stars and almost countless planets systems trapped by those stars. I believe that many, in fact a plenum of microbal life exists throughout our galaxy, but unable to reach or signal us, for obvious reasons. Or going even further down the line of what we understand to be ‘life’, viral and molecular forms that approximate life on this planet exist, in this galaxy, but not life like us. the biologists would say: well if that’s the case then why hasn’t it spread, developed and show itself in the form of planets across the Milky Way, detectable by low Earth orbit Hubble? I answer: I don’t know. Conditions of the planets perhaps, diffusive space dust, the list can be enormous why we don’t detect UNINTELLIGENT, NON-SELF-AWARE life. But for beings like us, that’s a different entirely now isn’t it?

Life that can signal others, and has a form that allows it to build devices to do this. No, no, no and no again. These two affirm that such life does exists IN THIS GALAXY, I add in emphasis.

There maybe intelligent beings of a physical in this vast galaxy, but they too are encumbered by the distant and lack of technological instrumentation to reach us across the vast distant of empty space. I point out in my article, why this must be true using the Drake equation. This equation is used by these illustrious gentemen to shows that an ET does exist in our universal neighorhood. Very strange.

As you can see the word intelligent is key here. There can be life a plenty, but intelligent, self-aware, seeking life in this galaxy, other than us and maybe some undetermined species say 200 light years away, I doubt.

As a last comment I do so love this site. I get to express opinions that my coworkers at the engineering co, for would roll their eyes about. I don’t have to argue with my daughter and her born-again Jesus husband about insipid ideas from that silly text the Bible. In short I can be myself. And not have worry like when I’m playing poker with our like-minded friends that are not philosophically inclined. Never go away good site. Never!

What do you mean when you talk about life? If we encountered something strange from another place, what definitions are we going to apply? “Life” vs. “Life on Earth” might be too different things. For example, would this other life have to have cells?

Uccisore, my operative definition is what I think biologist use. An organism with a elemental basis (such as carbon, or hydrogen or even some other element) that can replicate itself thru a definable process like DNA. The process must be deterministic and go thru a cycle. That is, have a start, grow, mature, and as is the case on this planet (and possiblly others like it) decay. It doesn’t have to be cellular, or microbial, though this is the process we are most familiar with. It is important that we don’t broaden the def’ of life too much or many processes that to my mind are non-deterministic and random could become living things: galaxies themselves, space, time.

Some physicists have broaden the above def’ to include any descrete state process. They call it Descrete State Machines, or DSM for short. DSM are entities that have measurable states that change in a determined fashion and do it thru a computational process. In this case,
many things are alive. This idea is used in reference to the AI debate, in which computers can be shown to be ‘alive’ and in the end, aware and intelligent at some point when they achieve enough storage space and memory. Though related it’s not what I am addressing here.

If you’re implying that our definitions of what life is must be changed and extended and thus we’ll find life outside world, I must take issue. But perhaps I’m reading into your succinct ? too much. Expand on what you are driving at.

400 billion stars is quite a lot. Why only one or two?

If they’re more advanced than us, then they’re almost certainly millions if not billions of years more advanced, and would make our technology seem utterly insignificant.

You have no reason to doubt. We already know of many planets within 200 light years, and we will certainly discover earth-like exosolar planets within decades.

400 billion stars yes, but intelligent life on planets orbiting those stars (or some of those stars) in any appreciable numbers, no. Why? Because the development of intelligent, self-aware life has a probability that is small.
Just because there a large number of stars and by association, planets orbiting them, doesn’t imply that the galaxy is chock-full of intelligent life-forms. The only way scientists of various disciplines have of projecting the probability life that is intelligent and self-aware ‘out there’ is by looking at how it developed on Earth AND how long it took. They guys know it took a long time here. Now think of planets in other star systems. A host things could prevent happening: comet collisions, parent star explosions, planetary geology devastations, and list goes on. It is not easy for life to form in the 1st place, but to have the time and good fortune to continue is rare.

You seem to be forgetting that it hundreds of millions of time just to form cellular life on this planet. There is a large of number of impediments to life once form, going beyond being just a molecular process. I’m not saying that other forms of intelligent can’t develop under conditions similar ours on Earth, just that those conditions rare and thus life developing to our state of being is rare. Yet, there may be much ‘unconscious’ the term is used in a special sense not meaning ‘knocked-out’, I’m sure you understand…
ooops gotta go Jeopardy’s on…get your other comments later…

You comment concerning ‘their’ not being interested ‘us’ seems to imply you think civilizations beyond ours technologically would consider us not worth communicating with. I find this a strange stance.

Analogically, look at how we are deeply concerned with ant colonies, and insect activities, though they stand in a relation similar what you imagined we do with advance alien civilizations. There is good reason for our interest in life forms we consider inferior to us. Their processes and organization have often lead to breakthroughs in our science. Why should an advance alien civilization not feel the same? I recently watched a documentary about a botanist that studies plant life around the world, and he has found some plants have a genetic structure that produces chemical protect ion against many malignant infections from viral organisms that invade them. He was able synthesize one and it has been found to be useful in curing human diseases. Compare that to why aliens from a more ‘advanced’ world than ourselves might want to contact and know us.

Out of 400 billion solar systems, there are very likely millions of planets that at least have surface temperatures within the survival zone for life. Out of those millions of habitable zones, there’s likely at least millions of planets with stars as old or older than or sun, giving enough time for advanced civilizations to rise.

Nothing that Ol’ earth didn’t suffer through (except for supernovas, which usually don’t happen before there’s been ample time for complex life to form).

Most stars are billions of years old.

That’s not what I said:

But you’re right- if they exist, they probably already know of us, and would have good reason not to bother contacting us or even care that we exist.

A scarce few among them might have some anthropological interest in humanity, but your analogy is inaccurate since a millions or billions year old civilization would have progressed far beyond our level of science. If they are comparable (notwithstanding the age difference) to our civilization, then they would have long since analyzed and optimized every possible use of all the organic matter in their galactic region, and would probably be at the stage of harnessing the power of (or creating) suns, interstellar/ intergalactic (interuniverse?) travel, perhaps even creating their own universes. Our universe may well be an artificial one, created in an alien lab (the presence of “fine-tuned” physics and various inexplicable singularities makes this idea somewhat sensible).


Ditto, most of your replies are full of further assumptions let me quote:

“A scarce few among them might have some anthropological interest in humanity, but your analogy is inaccurate since a millions or billions year old civilization would have progressed far beyond our level of science. If they are comparable (notwithstanding the age difference) to our civilization, then they would have long since analyzed and optimized every possible use of all the organic matter in their galactic region, and would probably be at the stage of harnessing the power of (or creating) suns, interstellar/ intergalactic (interuniverse?) travel, perhaps even creating their own universes. Our universe may well be an artificial one, created in an alien lab (the presence of “fine-tuned” physics and various inexplicable singularities makes this idea somewhat sensible).”

Why if they are millions or billions of older are they then more advanced? Time doesn’t imply advancement civil organization. You’re assuming that. And you go further to assume that long-lived civilizations will have become somehow advanced enough to ‘outdo’ us in every respect. Civilizations can conceivably exist in a primitive state for countless periods of time. And your last allusion reminds me of Stanislaw Lem book the The Cyberiad in which he imagines an artificial world in which the inhabitants are unaware they are playthings for a larger more ‘advanced’ species. Sci-fi for sure. but I’m addressing this from a real science viewpoint. Just because the potential conditions for life such as ours exists doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. Remember the release of oxygen in the large water source (oceans) was chance event that most likely started life on this planet. Many a planet could have this in this galaxy and never evince life w/o another chance event. Sorry I don’t see life as probable (possible yes mind you) in more than 2 at most cases even if there are 400 to 500 stars and millions of planetary systems circling some of them.

With all the billions of universes out there, its ignorant to think intelligent life doesn’t exist outside our universe.

Nobody knows how many universes there are but there are some theories supporting it. I find more logic in the ones that do such as anthropic reasoning and the cosmic bubble theory. Not really educated on the subject.

Most of the replies I’ve received since posting the original comment are getting far from what I addressed. So, let me restate it.

  1. I’m not talking about life, intelligent or otherwise in multiple universes. I’m not talking about life even outside our own galaxy. To address that issue would be monumental and even less determinate.

  2. I was actually attacking two physicists that claim NO INTELLIGENT LIFE save ourselves exist in THIS GALAXY.

  3. I am disagreeing with them, though I do agree that the number of intelligences outside ourselves in the galaxy is probably small. The Drake Equation is one elementary attempt to statistically estimate this. I stress estimate not predict it. It (thequation I mean) estimates the number of planets that might have life, that is intelligent. Depending on the component probabilities of the Drake, N, the number of planets with intelligence can be very small. Of course there are philosophic problems with words like ‘intelligent’ and what it means. That aside, I think it’s a good start at approaching the ETI question.

BTW, one poster asked, if extraterrestial life has been proven via math logic. My answer is no. At least I’ve not found anything that could even approach making such a prove. Not deductively or hypothetically.

Most people under-estimate the kind of technology that’s probably involved here.

If you’ve got spacial warp technology and accelorated cloning, it doesn’t take too long to set up underground mines and factories all inside of allot of supposedly uninhabitable planets.

You’ve got astrological records of “asteroids” that change directions multiple times instead of following an unguided linear trajectory, and moving allot faster than a normal asteroid moves, too. Seriously.

Robleh, I pretty much agree with your points. Intelligent life seems statistically low, but to claim there can definitely be no intelligent life inside our galaxy seems wrong. The most anyone can do is guess. Perhaps some guesses are more educated then others, but ultimately, its uncertain. I’m more entitled to agree with your educated guess, as that seems more in-line with the limited information we have, but even then, its still a stab in the dark.

Thanks Wirius. If it’s not too ‘pushy’ I’d like to send a you a link to the portion of my website where I review Barrow and Tipler’s argument against any INTELLIGENT alien life in our galaxy. Note I stressed intelligent.

I am very aware that people sometimes use this forum to toot their own horns in the form of website links to their pages and if you’re not interested in reading my article, believe me, I won’t be offended. Just thought some of what I chronicle in this article might be of interest. I make a projection based on the Drake Equation and hopefully show it illustrates the paucity of intelligent life being in this galaxy. Also, I address the categorical logic flaw these physicists are making. This error seems to completely have missed them, though they should know better.

Let me know.