Earth May Be a 1-in-700-Quintillion Kind of Place

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 22, 2016 5:39 pm

A Hubble image that captures a small sampling of the galaxies within the universe. (Credit: NASA/ESA)

A new study suggests that there are around 700 quintillion planets in the universe, but only one like Earth. It’s a revelation that’s both beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

Astrophysicist Erik Zackrisson from Uppsala University in Sweden arrived at this staggering figure — a 7 followed by 20 zeros  — with the aid of a computer model that simulated the universe’s evolution following the Big Bang. Zackrisson’s model combined information about known exoplanets with our understanding of the early universe and the laws of physics to recreate the past 13.8 billion years.

Zackrisson found that Earth appears to have been dealt a fairly lucky hand. In a galaxy like the Milky Way, for example, most of the planets Zackrisson’s model generated looked very different than Earth — they were larger, older and very unlikely to support life. The study can be found on the preprint server arXiv, and has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.

Rethinking Copernicus

Zackrisson’s work suggests an alternative to the commonly held assumption that planets similar to Earth must exist, based on the sheer number of planets out there. Ever since Copernicus put forth the theory that Earth is not the center of the universe, scientists have expanded the map of the cosmos and diminished our planet’s relative uniqueness. Current estimates hold that there are some 100 billion galaxies in the universe containing about 10^18 stars, or a billion trillion.

One of the most fundamental requirements for a planet to sustain life is to orbit in the “habitable zone” of a star — the “Goldilocks” region where the temperature is just right and liquid water can exist. Astronomers have, to this point, discovered around 30 exoplanets in the habitable zones of stars. Simply extrapolating that figure based on the known number of stars suggests that there should be about 50 billion such planets in the Milky Way alone. Probability seems to dictate that Earth-twins are out there somewhere.

But according to Zackrisson, most planets in the universe shouldn’t look like Earth. His model indicates that Earth’s existence presents a mild statistical anomaly in the multiplicity of planets. Most of the worlds predicted by his model exist in galaxies larger than the Milky Way and orbit stars with different compositions — an important factor in determining a planet’s characteristics. His research indicates that, from a purely statistical standpoint, Earth perhaps shouldn’t exist.

More Data Needed

Still, the model is based on what we currently understand about the universe, and if there’s one thing we have figured out so far, it’s that we still don’t know very much. 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.

“It’s certainly the case that there are a lot of uncertainties in a calculation like this. Our knowledge of all of these pieces is imperfect,” co-author Andrew Benson told Scientific American.“It was only recently that we even had enough exoplanet data to make a model of this kind possible.”

Nevertheless, the researchers are confident in the broader implications of their model: Earth is more than your garden-variety planet.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
  • Mike Richardson

    Given the sheer number of galaxies, stars, and planets, there would have to be at least a few pretty close to duplicating earth’s conditions. Even more if the multiverse theory of the cosmos is true. It never ceases to amaze me that this “rare earth” nonsense keeps cropping up, despite just how little we know about planets around other stars. Kepler and the other planet searches have just scratched the surface, and because of a variety of factors (ease of finding planets in tight orbits, or in the case of spectroscopy searches, bigger planets), have been more successful in finding planets much different from earth. If you rely on so many exclusionary criteria to determine what would constitute a successful life-bearing planet — i.e., must have a Jupiter to deflect dangerous comets, must have a large moon to avoid wobbling on the axis and causing extreme climate variations, must be a certain size, or must have a certain percentage range of water — then you state without definite proof that a world must be just like earth to be habitable. We just don’t know enough about other variables that might be conducive to the development of advanced lifeforms to rule out the commonality of such worlds. In a few decades, this discussion might be based on more evidence, and less speculation. For now, it’s just too early to say with any degree of certainty.

    • Bernardz

      No matter how many billion times billion you have if you multipile by zero it is still zero.

      • Lynn Munter

        Your math is correct as far as it goes, but where are you getting that zero from?

        • Bernardz

          the Fermi Paradox

          • Mike Richardson

            There are many possible solutions to the Fermi Paradox that do not involve earth being the only planet inhabited by intelligent life. That’s just the solution that involves the least imagination, and also seems the least probable.

          • Bernardz

            No solution works

          • Scott

            The best part of the Fermi Paradox everyone forgets about (or glosses over) are the first two out of 20 explanations.

            Maybe they aren’t there at all, or maybe the life is not intelligent. Those are the two most reasonable conclusions on why life hasn’t been found. (PS I Don’t want to argue with you. This discussion is more science fiction than science)

          • spunknik

            Seems really unlikely that there wouldn’t be other life forms out there. And if there were, I’d expect half of those forms to be more intelligent than us. But yes, it’s all conjecture…

          • Scott

            Spunknik you may very well be right. However, there are no facts or reasons why you would “feel” that way. No aliens have ever been found, and there is no proof of Aliens anywhere else. The logical, reasonable person should say “I don’t know.” However, growing up on Science Fiction my whole life I understand your desires to feel that way. I work in a Scientific field and the logic side of me says to wait and see.

          • OWilson

            There is a more pressing need for those in Academia who teach you what they want you to know, and those in politiics who want you to pony up your wallet, to appear all knowing, all seeing, and worthy of adoration (and re-election)

            That’s why they can say and do stupid things with arrogant certitude, no dissent or skepticism allowed.

            It maintains the status quo.

          • Small_Businessman

            Scott, I will add one more possibility. We’ve been broadcasting radio waves for less than 150 years. We’ve only been actively trying to contact other civilizations for maybe 20 years.
            We’re already transitioning away from high powered TV stations and the like, in favor of satellite and fiber optic communications. How many more years will we be broadcasting something other civilizations can hear? Another 50 years? This is a *very short* time in the history of our civilization – not to mention the history of the universe.
            Maybe we haven’t heard other civilizations because they either haven’t discovered radio yet, or because they’ve moved beyond it.

          • Scott

            True. However, 150 light years is quite a distance. Assuming others have been transmitting for thousands of years why haven’t we heard anybody else? (not saying you) But, people keep trying to argue with me like I have taken the position of there are no aliens. My only position is the entire concept of aliens are unproven. I believe in the provable, and I believe in faith. However, I never confuse the two.

          • Small_Businessman

            The fallacy is assuming “others have been transmitting for thousands of years”. They may have been transmitting for a couple of hundred years then moved on to something more efficient, for instance. Or they may be using satellites beamed back to their planet, and the signals would be way to weak to be heard even a few light years away. Maybe they’re using lasers and masers. They might not even have discovered radio – it’s not a requirement for intelligent life.

            People seem to assume that since we discovered radio and are transmitting radio signals that any other intelligent signal would be doing the same for thousands of years. That is not necessarily the case.

      • GJA

        Thank you Lynn. Where does the zero come from B? You have very little faith in the terafirma below your feet I suppose. I truly love conversations like this one. For me, and I have always had a deep exploratory interest in topics like this, I find it much more eerie to think we are alone. Possibly we are alone now due to the Fermi Paradox, but how truly bizarre knowing the sheer numbers of galaxies and the stars in which they are contained, that we are all that ever was or ever will be. My uneducated guess is that we as the human species are not the rulers of this mighty universe.

        • Bernardz

          A very good book that convinced me years ago that we are alone is

          The Anthropic Cosmological Principle

          the other is that there is no answer to the Fermi Paradox

          • Lynn Munter

            Not all intelligent life may be able or willing to explore space. For example, it’s hard to picture dolphins, no matter how big their brains get, developing spaceflight. Furthermore there is an awful lot of it (it’s called “space”) to explore and no particular reason dating back more than a hundred years for putative travelers to aim for our system.

            It’s also possible that the stars are filled with advanced civilizations who have deliberately decided not to interfere with young species like us, or to only do so subtly enough that interference can’t be proven.

            Or maybe interstellar space is filled with enough rocks to make it impractically dangerous to spend a lot of time at very high speeds so that your grandkids can find out the hard way if a little dot you saw through a telescope might be a livable planet.

            “No answer” is a pretty strong claim, is all I’m saying.

          • neoritter

            It’s also possible there’s a squirt Goblin living on Venus. Sorry, probably not, but it’s also possible we really are alone in the universe. There’s no factual basis for anything being said here.

          • Lynn Munter

            Of course it’s possible we’re alone. I personally doubt it’s probable, but I’m not the one making absolute declarations on the subject here.

          • Bernardz

            None of your claims hold up.

            You just need one colonizer. Let me point out; mankind started in one small part of the Earth and eventually took over all of it.

            If there are many advanced civilizations, all have to agree to hide.

            Interstellar travel of 10% of C seems plausible and its enough to cross this galaxy from here in about million years. A colonizer even on conservative estimates would need 10 million to 200 million years to colonize this galaxy everywhere.

            The only answer that makes sense is NO.

          • Lynn Munter

            You’re assuming a lot to think that just because Earth is attractive to us, it would be great for other hypothetical life forms. Most of our planet’s surface isn’t even much good for human habitation, due to being covered with water, or ice. Most species adapt pretty narrowly to a particular set of conditions and even if there are species out there expanding star to star, why would you think they’d go “everywhere”?

            In fact, if they did want to go everywhere and adapt as widely as possible to a huge range of unknown conditions, they’d be smart just to send bacteria out to colonize every world they could. 😉

          • Bernardz

            Most species, all only need is one to do it.

          • DrCanada

            That’s a compelling argument if one holds to the “millions of civilized aliens” idea. You’d think at least a few of them would evolve to be aggressive colonizers and/or explorers. I think your argument definitely is a strong case against massively abundant technological civilizations. There’s still the possibility that intelligence is “common” but technology is rare. As a biomedical researcher, my hypothesis is that life itself is common but multicellular life is exceedingly rare. Earth had bacterial life from almost as soon as it could survive- yet in an Earth full of oceans full of bacteria, it took billions of years to make a eukaryotic cell. I think THAT leap is the great one

          • tj10

            “Earth had bacterial life from almost as soon as it could survive- yet in an Earth full of oceans full of bacteria, it took billions of years to make a eukaryotic cell. I think THAT leap is the great one”

            Yes, that leap too would have been a great one, but the leap from lifeless chemicals to reproducing life would have been bigger. I personally doubt that either took place.

            Just curious, but how do you know that earth had bacterial life from almost as soon as it could survive? Is this simply what the theory says or do you have evidence of this?

            When is it thought that bacterial life evolved?
            When did the earth become full of oceans? Where did the water come from?

          • DrCanada

            There is no Fermi Paradox. Fermi said, in the discussion about the probability that there was abundant life “where are they?” As a thought experiment. According to people in the conversation he then went on to speculate many reasons why we haven’t detected then. There’s no evidence that he did not believe in intelligent alien life. That’s it for Fermi. It’s not a paradox because it’s not a situation in which two things seem incompatible. Fermi himself in that conversation postulated many ways in which there might be abundant life without us seeing them-no paradox, simply the implications of the enormous distances and times involved

          • tj10

            “Fermi himself in that conversation postulated many ways in which there might be abundant life without us seeing them-no paradox, simply the implications of the enormous distances and times involved.”

            Maybe, maybe not.

            Again the “Maybe” position entails faith in a totally naturalistic origin of life – abiogenesis and there is no evidence for such faith. At this point, you just have to believe it happened somewhere, somehow. It is nothing more than a belief.

            Materialists are believers in their worldview just as Christians are believers in their worldview. Both Christians and Materialists believe in miracles. Christians have a sufficient cause to explain their miracles whereas Materialists have to simply believe in luck. Real scientific!

          • Randy Johnson

            Speaking of that vastness of time and space, as the Donald might say, it is really really huuuuge. I find it highly unlikely that in a universe roughly three times as old as our planet no other convergence of the many special circumstances necessary for the development of an advanced civilization somewhat similar to ours occurred. It is to me reasonable to assume such a thing did occur long before the rise of what happened on this planet out in the boondocks of this galaxy, and that very old civilization has been influencing what has been going on here on our world. There is a lot of evidence for that to be found in places around our world. Now it is easy for me to imagine how the scenario has played out. With our genetic mapping and genetically modified organisms and huge data storage capacity, it seems reasonable to suppose that sometime in the not too distant future complete genome mapping and organism replication will be possible. A sort of Noah’s Ark spaceship with programmed machinery capable of traveling the interstellar distances over eons of time could have been created and launched many eons ago, and these mechanical wonders would be capable of incubating life forms indigenous to their planet of origin and those life forms would be educable by the machines on the mother ships, thusly a species would be capable of interstellar travel over eons of time and light years of distance. Why wouldn’t an alien species develop such a program as they witnessed the own star growing too old and feeble to support their life style? It is only logical. We may really be a work in progress and probably so.

          • tj10

            It seems reasonable only because you assume it happened here on earth. Others of us do not make that kind of a huge assumption. There is no evidence that it happened here – except the fact that we exist – but that begs the question. It seems far more likely that we are the product of a Creator like the Bible teaches, but in the end, whatever we might believe, it is faith all the way around. Some people will prefer to believe in imaginary aliens. Others will prefer to believe in a Creator. Each to his own. Easily imagining something is great, but what does that mean? Simply that you have a good imagination. However, your imagination may very well not necessarily have any relationship whatsoever to reality. We are now outside the realm of science, and it’s faith for all.

          • Randy Johnson

            The things I mentioned are logical derivations of possibilities based on the many things I am aware of through a long lifetime of reading and watching documentaries concerning scientific developments, and discoveries in archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, physics, history, comparative religious teachings including Christian Bible translations and comparisons and other religious texts, geology, biology, chemistry, whatever. There are things on this planet that our present level of scientific and technical development can not fully explain yet indicate the direction of research in which fuller explanations lie. Most people are intellectually lazy and accept the religious teachings faithfully without question. My choice is to study to show myself approved using the ability of my mind, however I came to possess it. If I eventually meet some sort of highly developed being responsible for my abilities in some way, I am confident that being will be appreciative of my efforts and will not spew me out of some orifice in disgust. I recognize that humanity is a work in progress given self awareness and thinking ability meant to be used and clues as to how our abilities are to be used have been left for us. I seek wisdom to know what to pray for and how to best use the talents I have been given, such as they are, if you can appreciate my Biblical alusions. I urge others to do the same, perhaps with insufficient patience.

          • tj10

            Randy, it’s a free world. Of course you can believe whatever you want, but don’t pretend your beliefs are not beliefs, but while mine are. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that only religious nuts have faith. Perhaps you think that faith has to be blind faith, something that ignores all the evidence and still believes. That is not the kind of faith God asks of us. We believe there are rational grounds for believing in a Creator, for believing in the Bible, etc. Again, you are free to disagree,
            but since you cannot prove your beliefs, they remain beliefs and as such are outside the realm of science. Now if you have a way to test them, then we could bring them back under the realm of science, but I haven’t heard of any definitive proof of your beliefs yet, so I’m labelling them as faith. If you have
            proof, I’m open to hearing what you have to say. If it is just a hypothesis, well, ….. good
            luck with your beliefs. You call your beliefs “logical derivations of possibilities”. So, now all you have to do is find out if these possibilities are real or imagined! I would submit that there is another possibility that you are ignoring – a God who created you and the universe who revealed Himself through His world, His Word, and His Son, Jesus.

          • Randy Johnson

            Where the hell did you get the idea that it’s a free world?! I think you misspoke, given the preponderance of evidence otherwise and I am extremely concerned with that evidence in this country. The present GOP domination of the Congress continually ignoring the wishes of the majority of their constituents is nothing less than a continuing erosion of our freedom. Separation of church and state is eroding, the words “well regulated militia” in our founding documents are ignored, “corporations are people” and their influence on behalf of the minority is a direct attack on freedom in motion, the disgusting state of our “justice” system, gerrymandering, corporate welfare payments, etc. are all examples of your mistake. You like sweatshops and the long drawn out fight over immigration reform, the nefarious molding of public opinion by “news” media? Surely not! You may be free to think what you want, but your freedom to act on what you think is decreasing day by day and the ALEC organization and your political representatives are steadily gaining on restriction of your freedom. They just lost in Congress an attempt to deny you knowledge of GMOs in your food after winning that denial narrowly in Oregon through massive media buys opposing that freedom before an election. FEEL THE BERN! darn it! Do you support the denial of women’s right to do as they pleases with their own bodies?

          • tj10

            Randy, when I said it’s a free world, what I meant is that you have freedom to believe what you want. We are not slaves, but have the opportunity to work hard and make a better life for ourselves – maybe more so here than in any other nation. No country is perfect of course and I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to solve the problems, but let’s start by being thankful for what we do have instead of complaining about what we don’t have.

            Randy, perhaps you would rather live in the Middle East or in N. Korea, China, or in Africa, or somewhere else?

            “I think you misspoke, given the preponderance of evidence otherwise and I am extremely concerned with that evidence in this country. The present GOP domination of the Congress continually ignoring the wishes of the majority of their constituents is nothing less than a continuing erosion of our

            Oh, you mean like the Supreme Court overturning the votes of millions of people about gay unions and declaring them to be legal marriages? Got it.

            “Separation of church and state is eroding.”

            I’m not sure about that. Only if you view separation of Church and State as freedom FROM religion. According to the true meaning
            of the phrase, it has eroded in your favor already. It no longer means what it did when Jefferson coined the term so I don’t see any right to complain here. You already have eroded it in your favor and now you want more? I actually feel like the rights of Christians are being infringed upon.

            “the words “well regulated militia” in our founding documents are ignored,”

            I’m not sure what that is supposed to mean, but I am open to some gun regulation.

            “corporations are people” and their influence on behalf of the minority is a direct attack on freedom in motion, the disgusting state of our “justice” system, gerrymandering, corporate welfare payments, etc. are all examples of
            your mistake.”

            Again, I’m not really sure what you mean here, but I do feel like our justice system is going down the tubes. I’m especially concerned about the huge ridiculous awards in lawsuits. You and I are the ones who end up paying for that because insurance for all of us goes up to protect against such stuff. And welfare payments are ballooning creating an entitled and dependent majority. No country can withstand this for a long time. We need to help people get back to work and support themselves.

            “You like sweatshops and the long drawn out fight over immigration reform, the nefarious molding of public opinion by “news”
            media? Surely not!”

            No, I don’t like sweatshops. I’m all for employers being fair to their employees, but employees also need to be thankful they have a job and realize the effects their demands for
            higher pay have on their own livelihood.
            There are problems with capitalism just as there are problems with Bernie’s socialism – which I view as an already tried and failed
            experiment. It is good old fashioned hard work and capitalism that has made America great. Greed however is a problem. I understand some of what Bernie says, but on the other hand, if he gets his way, we are going to see the exodus of more and more companies from the US. Then more people will lose their jobs. And bringing in refugees is not a bad thing, but again, we have to realize what it means for us. It means more welfare payments. It means less jobs available for Americans. It means less safety for Americans. As long as Americans are willing to shoulder the cost involved, I’m fine with it, but we also need to be wise in how we do it and in who we let in and also how many we let in. Our national debt is already way way out of control and that just cannot continue. So when the socialists run out of other people’s money, what are they going to do? The economy will collapse and we will be in serious trouble. Getting that under control is going to hurt! There is no way around it. But if we do not get it under control, it will hurt far more when it explodes. It’s not as simple as Mr. Bernie makes it sound.

            “You may be free to think what you want, but your freedom to act on what you think is decreasing day by day and the ALEC organization and your political representatives are steadily gaining on restriction of your
            freedom. They just lost in Congress an attempt to deny you knowledge of GMOs in
            your food after winning that denial narrowly in Oregon through massive media buys opposing that freedom before an election. FEEL THE BERN! darn it! Do you support the denial of women’s right to do as they pleases with their own bodies?”

            I don’t even know what the ALEC organization is. I do agree that my freedoms as a Christian are decreasing.

            The GMO issue is scary – I agree. We just don’t know what the effects of this will be long term. On one side, it holds great promise for world hunger as we can produce plants that produce more food, but on the other hand, we are monkeying with the Creator’s design – which may have devolved over time – but still, we do not really have the wisdom to know what future effects there will be from this stuff. We need to remember that we are not God.

            Of course I support the denial of a woman’s right to do as they please with their own body when it involves the elimination of another
            life. Since when does anyone have a right to eliminate the life of someone else? That’s a no brainer. It’s just as much a person 5 minutes before birth as it is 5 minutes after birth.

            Randy, listen, I wish you the best! I don’t think we will ever agree as we have two totally different worldviews. As a result we look at things totally differently. However, fortunately we live in a country where we are all guaranteed a right to voice our opinions/beliefs/ideas/etc. You do not have to agree with the government. You can even publicly protest against the government – unlike in many other nations. I intend to take full advantage of those rights, as should you. I have just as much a right to vote in line with my beliefs as you do to vote in line with your worldview and the beliefs/opinions you have because of it.

            God bless!

          • Randy Johnson

            We are never outside the realm of science because science is the method we have for learning the truths of the relationships between all that exists. Your intellectual laziness is a drug preventing your full appreciation of what exists and how best to use the things available to you, in my opinion, which you probably don’t care for or about.

          • tj10

            Randy, instead of attacking me, how about trying to understand what I said. Right now, we are unable to test this hypothesis so where does that leave us? No one knows the answer to the problem. Some think one thing. Others thing another. However, there is no real answer. Science cannot help us here – at least not yet. Who knows? Maybe some day in the very distant future humans will be able to travel throughout the universe and then we can see with our own eyes whether our beliefs were right or wrong. That is what I mean by being outside the realm of science – I meant outside the realm of testable science. It is not being intellectually lazy, but rather intellectually honest. Like it or not, that’s where we are right now. If you have a way of testing whether there is life in outer space, I’d sure love to see the results. Haven’t heard of any concrete discoveries yet though, so my guess is that you do not. I think it’s funny that all of a sudden, people what to question the implications of the current data that we have. Why? It doesn’t fit their worldview, so they want to withhold from making a judgment on the matter hoping for some future discovery that might validate what they believe. Is that science? Sure is news to me!

          • Randy Johnson

            Sorry you felt I was attacking you. Was it that I said you were intellectually lazy? If you are unaware of all the evidence supporting my views and unwilling to do the research to become aware of those things before you say my statement concerning intellectual laziness is wrong, then duh! You are intellectually lazy in my book. Simply because you are now unaware of these things, which are easily found online if you make the effort. Your opinios seem formed with a lack of knowledge easily rectified if you are not too lazy. Don’t expect me to spoon feed the evidence to you. Invest some effort in finding it yourself.

          • Randy Johnson

            OK tj10, how are you on God gave mankind dominion over the Earth and I think HE/SHE/WHATEVER would be plenty upset about the lousy way we are taking care of the planet? HE/whatever stocked it with a myriad of good things and we are head-over-heels wiping them out. I think we are supposed to exercise a lot of self control and we are not! If we were given free will was it just so we could destroy all the bounty we were given? I have the faith we can do a hell of a lot better than creating hell on the planet, and Erik I have no humor in me about this. I’m fine with “Judge ye not, lest ye be judged by your judgments” as long as those judging me are good judges.

          • tj10

            Wow, Randy. Where did this topic come from? Of course, God gave mankind the responsibility of taking care of the planet – within our abilities. He created trees(wood), animals, plants, beauty, metals, and all kinds of chemicals that we are free to use. In His creation, He has given us lots of examples of what is possible to make with the things that exist. We have made some mistakes and we have come up with some very ingenius inventions and uses of what we have been given. Because He upholds the universe, we have natural laws that preserve order and enable us to do science. I think God is happy when we use our God-given abilities and the God-given resources to create things.

            However, there is also the sinful side of man and so there is a tendency towards abuse of anything we are given responsibility for. TV is great, but some of the stuff that is shown is a poor, even wrong use of that technology. Sex is another wonderful gift from God, but we have taken that and trampled on it and brought much harm to ourselves as a result. The earth is another one of God’s
            wonderful gifts as well as the things in it.

            The problem becomes how to solve this. Perhaps an even bigger problem comes in trying to decide what is and is not abuse? Is killing an animal for it’s hide for clothes abuse? Is drilling for oil always/sometimes an abuse? Is building a bridge an abuse? Is mining always/sometimes an abuse? Is driving a car an abuse? etc. Here we will have lots of different opinions and the answers are not written in the Bible.

            We need to apply the principles we learn in the Bible to each
            situation. It’s not an easy decision and people will never all agree, but that doesn’t mean we should not try.

          • Randy Johnson

            The books of the Bible were written by and sorted by men and some of the things in the OLD TESTAMENT portion are bonkers! even though they may have been the best they could come up with at the time with the state of then current level of knowledge. However, with the exception of Saul of Tarsus, most of the NEW TESTAMENT is true gem material, especially the teachings attributed to Jesus of Bethlehem and Nazareth, recorded many years after His demise and passing down by word of mouth. I would bet Saul had a receding hairline inspiring that chapter eleven chauvinist diatribe. Religious teachings were and are mankind’s attempts to explain the otherwise unexplainable to the newer generations and are somewhat used as a method of retaining power within societies by often nefarious characters as well as decently motivated characters. Mankind’s use of religious teachings have been the source of both tremendous good and tremendous bad suffering and murder and war down through the ages continuing even to the present. That is why our nation’s founders insisted on a complete separation of church and state while preserving religious freedom. Presently that separation line is being crossed with bad results for freedoms, just like our nation’s founders feared. Study to show thyself approved and pray for the wisdom to know what to pray for!!

          • Randy Johnson

            It has been scientifically proven that prayer is good for people. Of course that probably requires doing it in the correct manner and place, like for instance in your closet without somebody watching and listening to you besides your GOD!

          • Randy Johnson

            This came from your faith statement. I forgot to mention that. I enjoy discussing these things with people like you who use their heads for other things besides hat racks.

          • tj10

            My faith statement? Sorry. I’m not following you here, but not important I guess.

          • Randy Johnson

            It was a reply added in response to yours in which you mentioned the word faith and opinion that there was no evidence for my alien intervention theory. Some of that evidence was mentioned in some of my posts, of which you are probably not aware. To me my theory or hypothesis as explanation of those evidence findings.

          • Randy Johnson

            was supported by the existence of those findings and how they might have come to be there for us to find. The level of knowledge required for the design of the recently discovered hidden chambers within the great pyramid is one instance. Namely, the method of piezoelectric generation from the special type of some huge stones above the King’s chamber, as it is named. together with the existence of a battery discovered long ago. Also the existence of the Piri Ries map and possibly the Ankylothera device, however the correct spelling is. The construction of that huge thing on the top of the Peruvian mountain, the reception of strange radio signals over 40 years ago by the capsule on the far side of the moon information recently released to the public from classified documents, the video shot through the window of the space station of the unexplained flight path change of the unidentified object entering Earth;s atmosphere from space shown for a while on the internet. And then, there are the things recorded in the Bible attributed to God, like Ezekial’s vision, the discovered Red Sea crossing point of Moses’ exodus and predictions of 14 years of plenty and famine suggesting possible weather intervention capability are of interest from the alternate explanation point of view. The rock pictures depicting images of beings possibly clothed as space travelers might be in more than one area of the world, the present day native American beliefs and traditions about UFO traffic observed are of interest, as is the carving of the stegasaurus like figure on the face of the ancient South American pyramid I think it was. The record of the battle in the ancient Indian text describing flying vehicles and strange weapons is another indication supporting my theory. The fossilized human and dinosaur footprints appearing together that was discovered is also interesting. The existence of the huge South American images observable only from the air is interesting also in this context and the list goes on. The recent advances in aircraft cloaking methods and GMO technology also adds to the possibility that these technologies may have been used in the past by technologically advanced people of either Earthly or Alien origin. Evidence continually becomes known either supporting my theory directly or indirectly at an advancing pace.

          • Randy Johnson

            And we now have some really sucky judges and prosecutors courtesy of our ridiculously broken justice system and the politicians who gave it to us!

        • tj10

          Based on what? We don’t even know if abiogenesis is possible on this planet let alone somewhere else in the universe. Life exists here, but whether it evolved from chemicals due like you all believe – takes a lot of faith to believe that one – is questionable.

          It’s funny. Everyone who believes in this alien stuff just glosses over the problem of the origin of life and just assumes/believes it happened.

          That’s a mighty huge assumption and is not very scientific.

        • Maia

          Humans don’t appear to be so terribly intelligent lately. What about all the strange amazing intelligences (there are many kinds, not one) of octopi and corvids and more?
          And why not imagine that life on other worlds might be strangely different than we are, and capable of thriving where we cannot?

    • Scott

      You contradict yourself in the same sentence, “”rare earth” nonsense keeps cropping up, despite just how little we know about planets around other stars.”

      How is it “nonsense” when you just admitted we know very little? Rare earth is as mathematically likely at this stage as a billion earth like worlds with all them inhabiting intelligent life? The answer could be everything and it could be nothing, right? Facts and the SCIENTIFIC METHOD will answer these questions in time.

      • Bernardz

        Even the most primitive man on man today knows that there is an advanced civilization on Earth.

        • Scott

          I’m not sure what your point is? Yes, most primitive men know there are advanced civilization on earth because those civilizations have reached out to them and proven that they are real. This proves my point.

      • Mike Richardson

        Very few things in nature are singular, and it takes a lot of intellectual twister to come up with reasons why a planet like earth would arise only once. You’re right in that we know little about the cosmos at this point — but we do know intelligent life arose once, and given similar situations, could certainly do so on many other worlds. I suppose “rare” is a relative term, though, since we could be the only technologically advanced race in this galaxy at this point in time. But there are “billions and billions” of other galaxies out there, too.

        • Scott

          You offer a straw-man retort Mike. I never said Earth was the only Earth like planet. In fact, I said their could be billions or just one. I reject that intelligent life rose here. You base one unproven fact upon another unproven fact. I have a pond near my house. My question to you is how many fish are in it? A reasonable person would say, “I don’t know.” However, your reasoning is if there are fish in any pond there must be fish in all (or some) ponds. That’s absurd. You never know if there is fish in a pond, until you study the pond. That is my only position. I don’t know, and the likelihood or unlikelihood is equally unknown. That said, I love SciFi and this is fun to talk about. If you have “faith” that it is there. Good for you. I never question a man’s faith.

          • Mike Richardson

            I’m sorry if I got off on the topic of “intelligent” or “technological” life, but it all goes to the point of what criteria we’re using to define “earthlike.” I’m a little confused over the comment that you “reject that intelligent life rose here,” though, since I thought that was fairly evident. As for the fish analogy — are fish limited to just one pond? Certainly they all had a common origin, but most ponds, unless too small or polluted, do have fish. The bigger question, and where the analogy may not work as well — is how often in this universe does life arise, how often does it find the right conditions to evolve complex forms beyond single-celled organisms, and how what conditions might drive it to develop intelligence as a survival advantage? Barring panspermia, you’re quite correct in that we aren’t quite sure what the initial conditions must be for life to originate independently. On earth, we know it happened at least once, and perhaps many times, and that it now inhabits every conceivable niche (and many that were inconceivable even a few decades ago — extremophiles have definitely shown us that). Where the conditions are very hostile on earth, that life is typically limited to simple and hardy forms, but provided that some other worlds have a range of environments similar to the more hospitable parts of earth, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to expect more complex forms of life to develop and capitalize on more varied environments over time. Maybe it is faith at this point, but I think there’s good reason for hope based on the examples of life’s resilience and variety in our particular “pond.” I’m hoping for good fishing elsewhere, too.

          • Scott

            I generally agree with all your comments. :-) Thank you for your reply.

    • neoritter

      You seem be falling quite easily into the appeal to probability fallacy.

    • chelmer

      I promise not to hold my breath.

    • tj10

      ‘Given the sheer number of galaxies, stars, and planets, there would have to be at least a few pretty close to duplicating earth’s conditions. ”

      Do you have some science to back that up or is it just your opinion – what you think should be right? So far, the “rare earth” “nonsense” as you call it is right on – based on our current knowledge. If you want to hold out for some future knowledge that might change that, fine, but you do not know. What we do know right now is that earth is extremely rare. There is no evidence to counter this.

      Do you know how many different conditions need to line up to make a habitable planet? There are lots of conditions.

      Are there any planets “not like earth” that might hold some type of life? No one knows. If you want to believe there are, no one can prove you either right or wrong. But a planet “not like earth” doesn’t disprove the “rare earth nonsense”. – since it is not like earth. capris?

      • Mike Richardson

        It’s only rare out of a sample size of about 2,000 star systems so far sampled, using methods that up until recently favored planets not like earth. So that’s not a lot to base the “rare earth” scenario on. But if you want to believe it’s rare, no one can prove you right or wrong – yet.

        • tj10

          That’s true, Mike. For believers on both sides of the isle. All we can definitively say is that earth is rare based on our current knowledge.

          And, from what we know about the earth, we know there are a lot of factors/conditions that would have to be met by other planets to fulfill them so just those things alone would seem to indicate that the earth is rare. But there is no definitive proof and I doubt there ever will be.


        • tj10

          And, if you want to believe it is common, in spite of it being unique in the sample of 2000 star systems studied so far, in spite of no evidence, and in spite of all the known conditions that have to match in order to get a planet like earth, well, go ahead and roll the dice on that idea. No one can prove you right or wrong – probably ever so your faith should be secure, although it might get challenged the more we learn about the uniqueness of the earth.

  • girdyerloins

    Sounds like substituting speculative science dogma for speculative religious dogma. And we know how well THAT dogma has performed over the millennia, now, don’t we……
    Considering that any life in this galaxy (I mention this one only because it is extremely local, though distance should be no impediment to a race of intelligent beings who’ve learned to harness gravitational waves to study what’s figuratively over the hill AND ride them like porpoises ride water waves here.) would discover its physical laws in much the same fashion as we have, and seek answers to various such questions as spring up through celestial observations-again, like us-and, no doubt, question the inanity of being a solo act, would, I submit, likewise develop the means to confirm the possible or probably existence of life elswhere. These efforts to find kin no doubt would pass through similar phases to our inquiries, to the point of sending probes to scrutinize worlds suspected of harboring life and report back with findings good and bad. If such a civilization existed which had even a hundred-year head start on us, we can count on having already been inspected since quite some time, as methane has almost always been the most reliable marker for life. And I’d bet the farm The more vegetarian dinosaurs produced heaping quantities of that gas, considering the coprolites we’ve already found.
    So what this scientist did was assure himself a job for a little while longer, setting out on a speculative trail of bread crumbs that may or may not yield fruit, although I imagine the computer modeling aspect will further refine such investigative techniques and tools, enabling us, hopefully, to come up with solutions to real-world problems. Maybe even establish real-world policy for when a visitor comes knocking.

  • Lynn Munter

    Hahahaha are you kidding me? If I’m reading this correctly, this is hysterically bad science. The article says this guy’s model mostly generated planets larger than the Earth, so Earth is statistically unlikely, but then at the end goes on to say that the model creates exoplanets based only on the ones we’ve already discovered. Everybody knows that data skews towards larger planets. This looks to me like an amazing example of circular reasoning!

    I haven’t actually clicked on or read the study, so it’s possible I’m misjudging it based solely on this article. Am I?

    • h2oplyer7

      Indeed! I think this is pretty poor science. I think it’s an example of a certain philosophy (not saying which) impacting the statistics used in the model.

    • Tester9

      Yeah, I think they pretty much acknowledge it’s crap in the last paragraph.

    • DoctorFakename

      On the contrary. This is excellent science. Consider, for example, a “scientific approach” to making cookies:

      You observed a baker add eggs, flour, sugar, and butter to a bowl, mixing, and then cooking. You determine that’s the recipe for cookies. So you try it out. Your cookies don’t come out right (Earth doesn’t appear as “possible” in your model) — so what do you determine? A. Cookies don’t exist — or B. Your recipe is missing. Maybe it’s entire ingredients or maybe it’s the measurement of those ingredients? Maybe it’s how long you cooked the cookies, at what temperature?
      If this scientist punched in his numbers right, and it doesn’t reflect the real universe, it does have the potential of helping us identify gaps in our understanding of the formation of the universe.

      • Lynn Munter

        The thing is, the numbers he punched in don’t appear to represent the real universe, because, among other factors, smaller planets are harder to see from Earth, so we don’t have very many of them on our list of planets we’ve identified. But to conclude as he does that they must be “rare” is hardly supportable.

        If a bunch of Internet commentators can identify the missing ingredients to the cookie recipe at a glance, then he wasn’t thinking much about how the stuff going on in the part of the kitchen he couldn’t see might affect the recipe.

    • Habes

      You are not misjudging. If most planets are supposed to be larger and Earth shouldn’t exist, then please explain Mercury, Venus and Mars. We have four planets in our own solar system that shouldn’t exist. Occam’s razor says the simplest explanation is the model sucks.

  • Uncle Al

    but only one like Earth Other inhabited planets agree in kind. The universe celebrates pond scum, -40 °C (pore water) to 120 °C (water at depth). We seek inhabitants peering into God’s(‘) face(s) to say, “I can do better.”

    • jhewitt123

      tell me the universe is more than a device for creating pain

      • Lynn Munter

        When each successive generation can reach higher and understand more widely, building on the generations that came before? There are limits to what we can do, but we can also surpass them.

      • wangweilin

        “tell me the universe is more than a device for creating pain”

        Never heard that one before. Made me chuckle. Nothing like a cynic.

  • Joe Cogan

    Sounds to me like the authors are extrapolating from insufficient data. Which is a polite way of saying GIGO.

  • Steve

    Personally I think that Zackrisson is probably right but there is far too much angst over something that is not provable.

  • OWilson

    The popular culture being what it is, there’s casual talk of terraforming planets, riding gravity waves, the search for those aliens who are “obviously more advanced than we are”, presumably using wormholes to visit our progress and report back to their dear leaders, not to mention changing the planet’s climate in a few years.

    Humans who cling to life like moss on a roof tile, are remarkably arrogant when it comes to self introspection, and their place in the universe.

    There is no wonder, or awe of where we find ourselves, when we can describe exactly what happened, a millionth of a millionth of a second after some “big bang”.

    You crawl through the woods, and happen on a fine gold swiss watch beside a tree.

    Using math you easily extrapolate and correlate the probability of finding more given the preponderance of trees, so you can spend the rest of your life looking for another.

    But, of course, you know better than to believe that there might be a watchmaker!

    • GJA

      The watch or watch maker typically used to discredit evolution doesn’t apply here, but I like the visual and maybe makes more sense in this scenario then the evolution one. Once when thinking about the perfect watch argument, it occurred to me that even a watch has gone through an evolution. We didn’t one day wake up and have watches, computers, smartphones and so on. Starting with our learned knowledge to create certain alloys by trial and error during the Bronze age, to the concept of gears and springs and then putting them in a working configuration so that we have this timepiece. All of these things evolved over TIME.
      As for finding a watch by a tree and then spending eternity looking for watches around trees because logic should dictate that, is apples to oranges. There is no correlation to a watch and a tree, only that you found one by the other. We know for a certainty that a high percentage of other stars have planets. That what makes up Earth, our solar system and every living thing that has ever resided on Earth all come from star stuff.
      The ingredients are out there and once again Time is on the universe’s side to get it right many times over considering it’s vastness. The problem however, may be that intelligence always destroys itself or is destroyed by something else, so that we miss each other by millions of years.

      • OWilson

        Spiderism. (Look it up)

        The spider in a dark cave has figured out everything in his little world to his immediate utility and satisfaction, and will die without ever having a concept of an elephant or a TV set.

        (Your Star Trek culture has even convinced you that intelligent beings have the old Sci Fi cliche tendency to “destroy itself”, or be “destroyed”, when the whole purpose of the intelligent life force, is to successfully survive) :)

        • Lynn Munter

          Hey now, what Star Trek were you watching? I recall it being pretty optimistic about the future, overall, not at all a doomsday philosophy!

          • OWilson

            Never watched it!

            I just “extrapolated” the fact that Al Gore. quote: “watched the series more than he studied, according to his Harvard University roommate”.

            He must have got his notion that there was only 10 years (last month was Doomsday) to save the planet from somewhere.

            Extrapolations and correlations can sometimes be misleading, no? :)

          • Lynn Munter

            Ah, you must be thinking of the theme that we are capable of solving enormous problems if we apply reason, determination, and good judgement!

          • OWilson

            No actually, the other one :)

            The End is Nigh!, Give up your worldly goods, and ye shall be saved.

            “Hurry, hurry hurry!”

            “Act now, this offer won’t last!”

            Order now, before it’s too late!

          • Lynn Munter

            Oh, is that from the Bible?

            I don’t recognize Al Gore’s uncommonly sensible attitude towards the problem of global warming in your description, I’m afraid. (Or anything remotely congruous with Star Trek, for that matter!)

          • OWilson

            That’s ok!

            Here’s a clue: Al Gore=crony capitalist politician=wants your money=needs to motivate=fear mongering=dire predictions=failed predictions=no credibility.

            (Al’s family fortune came from Occidental Oil and their third world fossil fuel exploitation)

          • Lynn Munter

            He tried to get us to change our climate-damaging habits before the damage became unavoidable. Deniers first tried to claim global warming wasn’t happening, then when it became really obvious, that it was happening but nothing to do with us, and now that, I don’t even know, it’s happening and probably our fault but it’s too much trouble to try to do anything about it? Why is this so hard that people have to be dragged kicking and screaming into admitting what’s evidently going on?

            Because guess what, the window of opportunity for keeping our planet as it was is gone now.

          • OWilson

            The planet, like you and me, will never be “what it was”, Change is something you make work for you, or you die. Ever read “the Origin of Species, by that fellow, what’s his name?

            The problem with all silk stocking limousine liberals like Al, is that he got HIS through fossil fuels, and now he want’s to keep his status quo and his 17 bathrrooms, whlie he advoocates we turn our heat and AC down and flush only our No.2, after we put a brick in the toilet. :)

            He like all billionaire “socialists” gets a free pass because he says what you need desperately to hear.

            He succeeds, because there are dupes, shills, and sheep, offering themselves up to be fleeced. (and getting more than a little annoyed at those of us who don’t join them in the pen) :)

            The End is Nigh, give up your worldly possessions to (us) and ye shall be saved.

            The second oldest profession, and has nothing, absolutely NOTHING, to do with science :)

            If it wasn’t so sad, it would be the world’s biggest joke!

          • Lynn Munter

            Regardless of Al Gore’s personal integrity or ancestry, science is quite firm on the fact that our planet’s temperature is directly related to how much carbon dioxide and other crap we keep putting in the atmosphere. Now when the environment for a species changes, it can adapt, it can move, or it can die. The faster the change happens, the more likely the first two options are to fail.

            An inevitable part of becoming more technologically advanced is that it becomes easier to thoughtlessly do things with catastrophic effects on your surroundings. Humans are global now, and we haven’t got a back-up planet if we make a mess of this one. That means it’s important for us to be able to talk about things we’re doing which could permanently screw up our planet in the future. We need to be able to make well-thought-out decisions as a human community, not just as individuals, if we expect this to work.

            All that said, I have to wonder, are you an oil company shill?

          • Mike Richardson

            He actually insists he isn’t getting paid for this. Some folks just derive satisfaction from general contrarianism. That it causes problems for the rest of the world doesn’t seem to bother them at all.

          • OWilson

            Why would my meager anonymous comments global warming in an online blog “cause problems for the world?”

            That’s kinda weird, even from you :)

          • Mike Richardson

            Well, they’re meager as far as factual basis. But it’s not words that make this world worse. It’s the attitudes and actions they support, the embrace of ignorance and selfishness, that do. This response you see to scientific fact and actual concern for the environment from various right wing posters really gives some perspective on why common sense has become so uncommon.

          • OWilson

            Don’t be so sensitive :), the science is settled, “97% of your scientists” say so.

            So, you can still look forward to bad weather, “Greatest Threat To Mankind”. and if that doesn’t get you, there’s always the next doomsday money raising scenario.

            (Oh. here it comes now, “The Greatest Extinction Event IN The History of the World”, and they tell us it’s already here)

            You “common sense” folks got lots to worry about, without getting your panties in a knot by some old guy from Canada.

            Drive through some of your major cities at night for a clue :)

            Oh, and that National Debt you keep piling on top of your generations yet unborn?

            I know I repeat myself, but I don’t see any feel good attempts to do anything about it, so I’ll keep reminding those who feel they can change the weather, if not their neighborhoods :

            Peace, y’all.

          • OWilson

            Ah, Mikey has a new friend!

            (Let’s hope this one sticks around longer than the others :)

          • Mike Richardson

            Feeling you don’t get enough daily affirmation? Awww, you’re a great guy, Wilson, and getting better everyday! See, you’ve got me. :)

          • OWilson

            I’d say you have some serious problems in your country, and the weather 100 years from now, is not one of them.

            91% of your countrymen (PEW) agree with me, is all.

            97% of your countrymen (PEW) don’t really trust your government.

            So, I may offend your sense of elitist superiority, if I respectfully suggest that you clean up your own house, before you start telling everybody else what THEY should do?

            I understand you have a large illiterate voting block living in vandalized, crime infested gangbanging no go ghettos, dependent for life on government hound outs in return for their dependable votes.

            Could I suggest you might start there, before you start on me?

            Oh, and that unsustainable deficit you are kicking down the road to your future generations, because you’ll never be alive to see the bills come due?

            Thank you.

            I can see why you guys like to talk about the weather a lot :)

          • Lynn Munter

            No, actually, I don’t work for the government. Sorry you had to waste so much breath on that premise!

            “The weather a hundred years from now…” Oh, you poor sweet naive thing. Global warming has already contributed to a genocidal war in Darfur breaking out, you think that’ll be the last? Especially as coastal populations all over the world get flooded? But I forgot, as long as you personally don’t think it’ll affect you, why worry?

          • OWilson

            I just returned your simple question, but without the ad hominem :)

            That usually indicates when my time is being wasted, so I’ll give you the last word.


          • Lynn Munter

            I thought you were calling everybody who didn’t agree with you dupes, shills, and sheep, so I just wanted to offer you the least offensive option!

            But yeah, sadly this isn’t a worthwhile conversation anymore. Bye!

          • Mike Richardson

            You just didn’t watch it with the right kind of political viewpoint. Trust me, you’ll get schooled on this if you continue the conversation you’ve started. All politics, all the time, as the response you received should confirm.

      • Jeffrey A Jones

        The ingredients for a watch are much more prevalent in the proper quantities than the ingredients for a living cell. What is more complicated, a watch or a living cell. do the math on the probability of a simple protein stacking up in the perfect series of amino acids (forget you need the amino acids all in one place at one time). then extrapolate that chance event to needing hundreds of more complicated proteins all at the same time to generate the first living cell. You will need hundreds more zeros in that universe sizing number.

        • OWilson

          And that is only one part of the life equation.

          First the ingredients have to come together, but what is it exactly that gives the “life force” which causes this chemical mix to go on a selfish rampage to colonize it’s world, even sacrificing its own life in some cases to further a movement outside it’s own self interest?

          You can mix chemicals (so called star stuff) all day, but you just cannot give it that miraculous touch of life.

          To some the odds of 700 quintillion to 1 are far more “miraculous” than the postulation of intelligent design, that makes the “laws” of science, and makes sure they are never broken.

        • Lynn Munter

          What a ridiculous calculation to try to prove anything with! All you need to start off with is a self-replicating loop of RNA. If I examined and recorded the exact position of every cheerio in my bowl, I could easily then claim that the chances of getting them all in that precise arrangement were so minuscule that it could not possibly have happened by random pouring out of a box, and some other explanation of this miracle must be necessary.

          Similarly, it is not necessary that each and every amino acid be in its precise current position in order to have some kind of functioning self-replication occur. Once self-replication gets going, everything else can be fine-tuned over time.

          • OWilson

            Must be gratifying to have the mundane secret of life all figured out.

            What do you do for something actually challenging?

          • Lynn Munter

            Armchair psychology, of course. The more complex a system gets… 😉

          • Jeffrey A Jones

            Ok, what is the probability of a self replicating string of DNA forming and coming to life? Then what is the probability of that string surviving in the acid soup in which it arose? Then what is the probability that when it begins random configurations of it actually forming a positive configuration? Once it has a positive configuration what is the probability of future positive mutations and the necessary combining of these mutations? Where did the organic acid soup of amino acids come from? You must excuse me, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist!!

          • Lynn Munter

            Very low but not impossible, very high, very high, very high, and comets. Instead of relying on faith, you could choose to learn a lot about the subject! Next question?

          • Jeffrey A Jones

            Been a practicing engineer for nye-on 45 years. Have a cursory understanding of the unsupportable theories of the physics and science required to replicate life. passing the problem to ‘a self replicating DNA string’ or that the building blocks came on comets or from some other mysterious natural source are massively unconvincing. That still doesn’t address the impossibility of spontaneous generation. That is why I am very confident it didn’t happen by chance.
            So you know how to create a living self replicating DNA string in your lab? AWESOME! Will watch for it on YouTube.

          • Lynn Munter

            The problem is running a big enough lab for long enough… I’ve been reading Wikipedia’s article on Abiogenesis (I think Wikipedia usually has better information than YouTube) and it’s very good, even if it keeps reminding me how incomplete my knowledge of organic chemistry really is. If you’re smart you should really take a look at it! Recently they’ve found even more evidence that there’re building blocks all over outer space and almost certainly the early earth, too.

            Among other things, you’ll learn that most current people think RNA loops preceded DNA strands, since DNA is more stable, long-term, but a little harder to put together in the first place.

            For example, look at Spiegelman’s Monster! It wasn’t made from scratch, but it’s a kick in the pants to the idea that you need hundreds of interlocking parts for life to begin!

            (I am slightly confused by you specifying both living and self-replicating? I’m trying to picture a ‘dead’ self-replicating anything, but I don’t think it works that way?)

          • Jeffrey A Jones

            It’s the old ‘given enough time a monkey hitting random keys on a typewriter will perfectly reproduce the Encyclopedia Britannica’. The universe is several hundred orders of magnitude too small and several thousand orders of magnitude too young for ANY living element to come about randomly. That’s what the math says. And your really big, really old lab doesn’t explain how you plan to do the experiment. If you can’t reproduce the result and can’t even explain how it’s done, just that it will take a long time to do relegates the exercise to sci3nce fiction in my understanding.
            One of my favorite stories is the scientist who was feeing his oats and challenged God to a contest of creating life. God accepted and the scientist got busy collecting all his lab equipment, reagents, and such to set up his lab. God asked him what he was doing. The scientist explained assembling his lab. God replied, “That stuff is all mine. You need to start by making a hydrogen atom.” That’s where I see this problem.

          • Lynn Munter

            I see the problem. You believe the goal is a perfect replica of the Encyclopedia Brittania. This is obviously extraordinarily improbable. I’m just asking, how long will it take that monkey to type something interesting?

            Life doesn’t follow a prescribed formula to a single final product. It’s a make-it-up-as-you-go-along game. And if you add in a few rules to help things along, like dispensing monkey treats for each valid word or sentence, you’re not going to be waiting until the heat death of the universe for that gibberish to start making sense.

            Or to look like it, anyway!

            I thought the metabolism-first hypothesis was particularly interesting. At first I thought it sounded silly; what can you do with just metabolism, after all? But then it was explained further: if a molecule occurs that takes advantage of chemically “free” energy like phosphates coming out of a volcanic vent and uses that energy just to string an endless series of other molecules randomly together, it doesn’t actually have to reproduce itself. Of all molecules it produces, some of them will do interesting things and a few of them will also start using phosphate energy to string other complex molecules together, though not by looking the same as the first molecule. (Phosphate energy is still fundamental to all our cells, because it’s what ATP uses to fuel everything.) The process feeds on itself and how do you know it inevitably ends? You don’t.

            You’re not giving God’s world enough credit for doing all sorts of cool things, if you ask me.

          • Jeffrey A Jones

            I agree science fiction is about as fascinating as it gets. I LOVE SciFi stories; THEM, ALIEN, Star Wars are must watches at least once a year. Along with the Pink Panther series, The Jerk, and Blazing Saddles of course. However other than SciFi level speculation I see ZERO evidence that life had even the remotest chance of spontaneously arising. Even your simplest building blocks mentioned above are incredibly complicated; we can’t even fathom a lab experiment to replicate even the simplest form. And saying you only need a tiny part of a living element and that will grow over time to an elegant functioning organism has no analog in nature to support the theory. EVERYTHING we see in nature suffers entropy yet spontaneous life requires reversal of that law on a monumental scale. And God’s coolness is really high in my book, i.e., the Big Bang => creating the entire universe from nothing.

          • Lynn Munter

            SciFi is indeed awesome!

            Evidence of the remotest chance something was possible? What would that even consist of? Besides the obvious, “well we’re here!” Until you can provide evidence or proof that it’s impossible, continuing to speculate is the only way we’re ever going to get answers.

            I thought by simplest building blocks we were referring to stuff like amino acids and nucleotides? That stuff has all been repeatedly synthesized in labs under plausible early conditions and found naturally occurring in outer space to boot.

            No analog in nature? What about an embryo? Growing over time, becoming more complex and better functioning, that’s what life DOES. You may as effectively claim that crystal formation or sand dunes require reversing entropy.

            Let’s take another look at your thought experiment monkey for analogy. We’ve established one monkey isn’t up to the job. Well, maybe if it was pregnant… Can I have a whole breeding population of monkeys?

            Excellent. Now if only there was some selection for smarter monkeys… Wait, if the ones who succeed at making different words get fed more, that should do it. The whole population is now getting smarter with each generation.

            But the probability that our ever-increasing and ever-cleverer monkey horde is going to eventually figure out how to break out of the room we’ve got them in is getting higher and higher now, too. They’re gonna get out into the world and start to learn all about it!

            But what will they do now? Well, there’s a lot of options, really. But I bet at least some of them are gonna want to write down what they know now. And if you have enough monkeys writing this new encyclopedia…

            Well, it still won’t be the Encyclopedia Brittania. Not exactly.

            But it’ll be just as awesome in its own right.

          • Jeffrey A Jones

            You can’t have the embryo as an analog. It is alive with a complete, incredibly complex, DNA instruction manual that guarantees its progression to a human being. I will grant you all the amino acids and organic compounds you want. All can be made in the lab. What science has failed miserably at is explaining ANY vehicle for those amino acids assembling themselves into a LIVING string. That is the uncrossable chasm scientists face. Crystal formation results in increased entropy, just a beautiful rendition. With the monkeys you again are borrowing from Creation to grant the monkeys with the capacity to breach another chasm between animal and human spirit which can’t happen. One article I read (by an evolutionary religion adherent I might add) defines intelligence as the organization of information. By his definition, ignore the chasm between being alive and dead, the DNA string is the ultimate testimony to Intelligent Design or God.

          • Lynn Munter

            “Life” results in increased entropy, just a beautiful rendition.

            Life takes in energy from the sun, processes it, reuses it, and strews disorder everywhere in its wake. It reproduces more life, too, but really it’s all just a pyramid scheme that only keeps working because the sun keeps shining.

            There’s NOTHING violating the law of entropy about it.

            Personally I see very little difference between animal and human “spirit,” whatever that refers to. It’s mostly a matter of degree of intelligence, with the additional factors that we’re better at talking to each other and manipulating tools than most other forms of life. That’s all. Every time some smug person has tried to identify “uniquely human” traits, they’ve been proven wrong.

            The claim that natural mutations and selection cannot add information to DNA has always seemed to me the silliest, most easily disproven creationist argument out there! Mutations which happen consist of insertions, deletions, substitutions, and copying. All you need for an increase in information is an extra copy of a gene, a chromosome, or a whole genome which then acquires different mutations from the original. And the more we look at the genomes of living things all over the tree of life, the more examples we find where it looks like exactly this has happened! “Gene families” of genes which are genetically coded very similarly but are just different enough to perform different tasks are everywhere. Examples of entire genomes being doubled are common in plants!

            I certainly hope that wasn’t the argument you were going for when you said organization of information. But I’m at a loss for what else you could have meant, because, well… I hate to break this to you, but our DNA strings aren’t organized. All our genes are scrambled chaotically into them in between massive amounts of DNA which might have once coded for things before it got so messed up, and might conceivably code for things again if it gets lucky, but there’s very little rhyme or reason to what order any of them are in. If a city planner was to look at it all, he’d conclude an invading horde had taken turns with, well, a mindlessly organically growing population, rather than anyone putting actual thought or oversight into where to lay out streets and public services.

            “Mindlessly organically growing population” might be a little too on the nose of a description but I couldn’t think of a better way to phrase it! 😉

          • Jeffrey A Jones

            I’ve enjoyed this exchange. Kept on a high level, they usually degrade to name calling. I think we will have to agree to disagree on this issue. Let’s come together this evening and watch Nacho Libre.

          • Lynn Munter

            It’s been a pleasure! Thanks for the thoughtful discussion. Never seen Nacho Libre, not sure if that’s unfortunate or not? Anyway, keep rolling!

          • Jeffrey A Jones

            YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN NACHO?!?!?! How can that be? Your assignment is to watch it this weekend. No excuses accepted.

          • OWilson

            Of course you have to give the monkeys a bunch of typewriters, as well as a bunch of bananas, and they’ll still be hanging from the ceiling throwing broken typewriter parts at each other.

            By that time the well intentioned know it all typing teacher will have pulled all his hair out by the roots :)

            Of course in this clerical monkey analogy you are obviously starting off with living things in an attempt to prove that they can create living things.

            If you understand Bayesian logic you will know that every day the monkey sits down to type he starts off with a clean sheet of paper, not one of the multi billions he has previously discarded, which may contain, if he could only find it, a complete sentence :)

            So he has no opportunity to build on his past simple sentence, even if he knew what it meant, anyway.

            And every letter he types in sequence, the more improbable is the outcome. The odds of a complete and continual sequence of characters required to reproduce the E.B. is infinite, and as likely as, or more impossible than, any other theory of life.

            It’s not the ingredients we are looking for, it’s the “spark”.

          • Jeffrey A Jones

            You are describing my 1963 Freshman summer school typing class to a tee!! The monkey reference is obviously to random selection mechanism that graduates from the public school system can comprehend. Your argument and all the others that I remember all start with some sort of seed of life such as a DNA string which then begins a random selection of configurations that eventuates in the slow evolution to the vast array of living organisms we see today. I won’t grant you that first seed until you tell me EXACTLY where it came from and how. Just a plausible theory would be fine. To be truly a scientific theory it would have to be repeatable in some fashion or another. But that is only half the problem. Since folks seem to be getting caught up in the psychology and behavior of the monkeys, substitute sparks, lightning strikes, other?, for the monkeys that generate the random events. if that is your mechanism, laws of probability preclude even one simple protein molecule from completing itself in our small universe, et alone development of a rudimentary DNA string into a living functioning cell. And if you impute the intelligence to the DNA string to auto-create the diversity and complex living system we now see you are drifting into a realm requiring an Intelligent Designer to set up that process.
            I just can’t bring myself to discard these basic principles that must be overcome to even begin a discussion of spontaneous generation and evolutionary creation of massive amounts of order from disorder without input from a Higher Intelligence.
            Again we have to agree to disagree.

      • Eponymous1

        Are you really suggesting that technological development is a sort of “evolution”?! Actually, development and evolution are functional polar opposites — unless you use “evolution” to simply mean “change over time.” In which case we’re all evolving from young bald helpless humans into old bald helpless humans.

        • OWilson

          The random assemblage of atoms may or may not ultimately produce something akin to a fine Swiss watch, but intelligent design can produce factories full of them.

    • Lynn Munter

      Not sure who you’ve been hearing about science from, but I see plenty of wonder and awe infusing it at every level! Science is so cool, and everything it tells us about the universe makes it even more awesome!

  • Chris

    Even if there are millions of planets just like Earth, we will never meet their inhabitants. Ever. The distances are just to vast. So much of this is moot.


      Just because we won’t set foot on another life hosting planet doesn’t make their existence moot. Telescopes a hundred years from now will be able to directly observe exoplanets within a few hundred light years of our solar system. The journey of the Pioneer probes, Voyager probes and now New Horizons have shown our curiosity is rewarded by the length at which we reach. None of this is moot, not by a long mile.

    • Keith Hagarman

      Distance and time

    • Ralph Siegler

      oh? we couldn’t communicate with planet 50 light-years away? of course we could, just a wee little lag in the message/response times

      • Randy Johnson

        Yep, I already dealt with the distance and time problem somewhere else here. And don’t forget that one day in God’s time is as a thousand years for us as we exist now, and we do not have to exist that way forever. It is a work currently in process and progress now, including but not limited to the latest progress in information storage devices using thin crystal wafers, 3-D printing of organs, genetic analysis and modification, robotics, computer teaching programs, acceleration by laser inducement, fission power production, materials development with unheard of properties, recent archaeological discoveries, and who knows what reverse engineering going on it Area 51 and other like locations possibly, and other endeavors few know about and I have not listed here.

    • Randy Johnson

      I already explained somewhere else here how the distance problem could be dealt with.

  • Sim Lash

    Liquid water “only exists” in the goldilocks zone? Wrong! Besides sunlight, gravity is another property that can allow for liquid water outside of the habitable zone.

    Life exists in various forms and certain bacteria can survive and propagate in space. To categorically state that life cannot exist outside of 1 particular area is shortsighted.

    • Jonathan Neufeld

      Thank you! Getting sick of the goldilocks zone bandwagon myself. There are places on Neptune more hospitable to life than places on Earth where life thrives. Then there’s the crown jewel of extremophiles: Deinococcus Radiodurans.

      • Maia

        Is that the one nicknamed Conan…or Mighty Mite?

  • Franko K.

    On the seventh day………

  • Erik Bosma

    Here’s a radical new concept instead of arguing forever about who is right and who is wrong: Try saying “I don’t know.” It’s liberating. We don’t know squat. Except “I think I’ll have another beer.”

    • ThewlynOh

      gotta tell ya, having a beer IS a better choice!

      shouldn’t we think it’s awfully arrogant to think we are the only evolved (i can’t say “intelligent” b/c, well, Kanye) species in the entire universe? who was it who said “well, it’s a huge waste of space”?

      i agree, sometimes “i don’t know” is an ok answer…

      • DudleyIsASillyName

        Agree with you about the beer! I would drink one right now, but I’m at work.

        What really astounds me is the shear number of studies like this that just prove that the people who wrote them don’t understand the slightest thing about evolution. If bacteria can live then life is possible.

        Plus if life is only possible on 0.0001% of planets that’s still million of planets with life on them.

        • ThewlynOh

          i was talking to a “big bang theorist” the other day (really, just a geek like me who likes science and astronomy and stuff) and he said “man, the fact that the earth was formed to sustain life is a one in a million chance!”

          i replied with “well, if you subscribe to the big bang theory of creation, and that the universe will eventually stop expanding and contract into a great black hole and then explode again in another big bang, what makes you think it didn’t happen a million times before and this time we got lucky?”

          /le siiiiiiiiiiiiigh… LoL

          • Gutz_Otoole

            The “big crunch” is what you’re referring to. Evidently you’re a geek who isn’t keeping up. Read up on dark energy.

          • Garth


          • JustASimpleGuy

            “If you’ve done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways—the Restaurant at the End of the Universe!” :-)

          • Tester9

            Maybe you should try reading something other than your own posts a-hole. You could try something new like contributing instead of spewing your BS.

          • The Penitent Man

            Yeah, and be amazed at the heights of bullshit so-called “scientists” have piled up for us. Most scientists are not really scientists at all, they’re theorists who use math to back up absurdities. Engineers are the true scientists, they actually carry out meaningful work.

          • Jesse Pollard

            It is the engineers that translate the theory into practice.

            Without the theory there are no engineers… and no “meaningful work”.

          • Randy Johnson

            Meaningful work that is usually based on the work carried out by scientists.

          • marianne

            If we didn’t have “absurd theorists”, people like the physicists who research and hypothesise on the most esoteric weirdnesses of the universe, we wouldn’t have technology that relies on understanding such weirdnesses like MRI scanners. Engineers are fantastic but they’re far less useful without theorists to give them such knowledge, which the engineers can then find ways of usefully, practically applying.

          • ThewlynOh

            i admit i might not be current – job, family, paying bills, and playing WoW & Golf will all take away from good scientific research :)

          • Maia

            Yes, but the Big Crunchers usually stop there …and don’t like to go in for uncountable cycles of expansion and contraction. If there’s more than one with its foot in the door, so to speak, it could be an infinite number lurking…

          • Jacob Suggs

            Is it not the case that current theory suggests that the universe is not going to stop expanding then start contracting? We’re headed towards heat death, I thought, not big crunch.

            Which isn’t to say that there isn’t intelligent life out there (I’m with the “don’t know, have a beer” group), but that there’s not much of a reason so far, unless I missed something, to think that the entire universe has “reset,” so to speak any number of times in the past.

          • ThewlynOh

            of course – i didn’t present it as a theory, i was just being facetious :)

          • Maia

            “:We” have changed our minds about crunching and heat-death scenarios…more than once. And it will happen again…

          • Nancy Abby Richter Honeychuck

            No I think everything will just keep expanding forever and go faster, and get colder and darker, and further apart, and lonelier, until in the darkest coldest reaches of the Big Fridge, the beer all freezes, and all the company finally leaves. By the way, what’s all this I hear about hishhash? It could very well be herhash too:-)

          • hoodaticus

            The crickets were chirping the reverse-gamblers fallacy, which is what your comment embodies.

          • Maia

            Not a bad point, ThewlynOh.

            But what’s with the crickets?

          • ThewlynOh

            the crickets were the abject silence in response to my question…i guess i asked something mind blowing (which, according to my wife, just never happens)…

          • Maia


          • SM

            So…the universe can be eternal, but not God?

          • ThewlynOh

            the discussion never crossed into anything regarding God & religion…i thought it better to meet him on his turf – science :)

          • SM


          • okiejoe

            If he is correct then a one in a million chance still means billions of “Earths” in the Universe.

        • Kevin Kent

          Life may very well be abundant in the universe, but regardless, it must be incredibly rare for an intelligence to evolve that can look to the stars and wonder “why?” Christian or atheist, Jew or gentile, it’s pretty amazing.

          • tj10

            Yea, some of us don’t believe that ever happened or ever will happen, but if it did, you are right! It sure would be rare and amazing!

          • Maia

            We have a long ways to go to live up to our scientific name (you know, the double sapiens part?) on THIS planet!

        • Lee Botton

          But what we’re really concerned about is: is it million of planets with beer on them?

          • ThewlynOh

            THAT would be a boon, but alas, i remain unconvinced…

          • Ralph Siegler

            there are also clouds of vodka in space (or as I like to call them “booze nebulas”, so even without beer planets the universe is an awesome place

        • hoodaticus

          It isn’t .0001% though. According to this, even getting an Earth with no life on it is a 0.000000000000000000007% chance.

          • Lynn Munter

            Good thing this article is so wrong then!

          • hoodaticus

            The simplest DNA synthase in the simplest bacterium has 40 amino acids. Without it, DNA cannot be copied. 40 amino acids requires 120 base pairs. The odds of that enzyme occurring by chance are less than 4 ^ -120. Those odds are about the same as two blind people randomly selecting the same atom in the universe.
            So you’re right. The odds of a life-filled earth are far worse than this article supposes.

          • Lynn Munter

            What on earth makes you suppose DNA – much less the exact specific DNA synthase you suggest- is necessary for life to start?

            The Wikipedia article RNA World should give you a much better idea of what’s plausible. (I tried to link, but that comment’s still awaiting approval.)

          • hoodaticus

            RNA doesn’t simplify the problem. If you want to fantasize about mythical god-molecules in the sky that have no empirical basis in fact, then you may as well just convert to Mormonism or something.

          • Lynn Munter

            I realize there were a lot of big words to deal with, but I assure you RNA does indeed simplify the problem. I do love fantasizing, it’s true, but the existence of… did you mean organic compounds? … in space is well documented by NASA, so fortunately the Mormons won’t have to deal with me quite yet.

            But I sense your point lies somewhere else. Let’s take a look at your assumption that the odds of life can be calculated by multiplying the individual probabilities of a long string of molecules. For starters this is silly because not all of those molecules have to be the same for the whole string to function, and secondly there’s any number of other ways the string could function even if its shape was very different. Essentially you are confusing the odds of any kind of life arising with the odds of life arising, but following the same exact path so it would be identical to our present-day arrangement.

            As an example, the odds of your father’s sperm cell being the one among billions to make it to one particular egg cell of your mother’s are pretty mind-bogglingly remote, and one could therefore argue you are lucky to be alive or even that you probably shouldn’t exist! But this is not a productive argument, because chances are, somewhere along the way, a sperm was gonna meet with an egg. The end result might not look quite the same, but would be broadly similar.

            Concluding that existence is super improbable based off of multiplying numbers like you were doing isn’t really productive.

          • Randy Johnson

            And then there is what is happening around those black smoky spewing hot holes in the bottoms of the oceans. New forms of life are arising there.

          • Randy Johnson

            You definitely not believe everything you find on Wikipedia or what comes out of politicians’ mouths either. Do your duly diligent research to winnow the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

          • Randy Johnson

            Hodgepodge hoodaticus! Show your mathematical proof! You can write anything down on a piece of paper or keyboard and someone will come along and believe it just because it was written, like a lot of the Bible for instance or the Book of Mormon or the Quran, and those readers are wont to misconstrue and misinterpret and falsely translate and mislead a lot of other poor souls.

        • Randy Johnson

          I would say that the progress of life’s development on Earth was greatly influenced by our relatively large moon orbiting in a 5 degree out of plane relatively close distance producing good sized regular oceanic tidal fluctuations affecting the distribution of the needed nutrient concentrations for life to begin flourishing in the oceanic medium close to the composition of our blood plasma. We are fortunate indeed. How many planets are out there like that with Van Allan belts shielding them from damage by high energy solar wind particles.

          • Marc DuQuesne

            The Moon was also created by a planet shattering collision that drastically altered the chemical make up of the atmosphere of the Earth.
            The Moon seems a fairly low probability event and may be a necessary condition for life to last long enough to evolve self awareness.

          • Randy Johnson

            I reckon that planet shattering collision was from the planet Venus striking a glancing blow and ending up with its weird orbital mechanics closer in to the sun.

      • SouthOhioGipper

        The only intelligently evolved species in the universe? Probably not, but almost certainly the entire galaxy.

        • JustASimpleGuy

          I don’t think that’s knowable with any degree of certainty.

          • Chris L

            Paul McCarthy says “Let it be” & have a 12 pack, some ludes & hashish.

          • Mechwarrior

            It isn’t. It’s based entirely on unsupported assumptions.

        • aram karibian

          I thought that it is not possible to derive a probability from a singularity.

          • SouthOhioGipper

            Fermi nailed it. “Where the hell is everyone?”

            Only a few possible solutions to the paradox.

        • Randy Johnson

          Explain to me the existence of the many things discovered around the world that we can not duplicate with all our present technology, the sounds recorded on Apollo 10 when it orbited the far side of the moon about 45 years ago, Ezekial’s famous vision record, etc. without the influence of alien beings. To me it seems likely that alien beings, whether angels of God or whatever, have been influencing the progress of humanity for a looong time. Another example is the things recently discovered about the construction design of the great pyramid. Even virgins giving birth is now possible.

          • Randy Johnson

            We could even duplicate the illusion of a voice coming from a burning bush now. That Passover trick would be really useful now in the Middle East, if we could duplicate it.

          • Randy Johnson

            After the much vaunted cloud technology matures perhaps individual people’s DNA/RNA codes can be uploaded into storage facilities off-planet for transfer to one or more of the many mansion planets in Jesus’ Father’s house, maybe modified somewhat for survival in different environments not exactly like that found on Earth. Maybe the Earth is special because it was terriformed as an incubator planet for that purpose by some civilization or their programmed General Oversight Device (GOD). For whatever reason, my mind is able to come up with these possible scenarios. Look what Einstein’s mind, much superior to mine, was able to come up with a century or so ago. Great ingenuity and stupidity exist side by side in our world. An essential tenet found in the arise of several religions is that a person should do unto others as that person would have others do unto that person, and then people claiming to believe in those religions do just the opposite down through the ages. The process is like the biological evolution process for social evolution played out in a rise and fall of civilizations scenario.

          • Randy Johnson

            If enough of us don’t get with the program of desired social evolution, we will not be “saved”. FEEL THE BERN!!

        • Randy Johnson

          Your wording syntax is pretty good. “…intelligently evolved” implies the existence of intelligences involved in our evolution. Given the numerous discoveries around the world of things accomplished with technology beyond the scope of our present day capabilities, I lean toward that view. Our lack of discovery of other intelligent evolved species other than the ones here on Earth presently known of just can mean that either we have not evolved the level of intelligence necessary to discover them, they are not presently close enough for us to discover them or are shielding themselves from or discovery, which I think would be prudent, given our penchant for screwing up relationships with people even a little bit different from ourselves. If there is a GOD, He surely works in a looong term mysterious way from our standpoint. But considering the possibility or probability that one day to Him is like unto a thousand years to us, that is not surprising.

      • The Penitent Man

        What’s all this insanity about beer? Bourbon, Scotch, Rye Whisky, Rum, Gin, Vodka. That’s the spirit!

      • boats48

        Ah! Man has been drinking beer since he learned to grow barley. That’s a very long time! Scotch & distilled spirits were invented much later.

        • alqpr

          Elephants and many other species never forget the pleasures of fermented fruit. But distillation is clearly the purpose for which humans were granted intelligence.

      • Peter

        Saying that the universe would be a huge waste of space if we are the only life assumes that there is a purpose to the universe. Mr Sagan didn’t seem to understamd that the statement he made only really makes sense if there is some designing intellect behind the creation of the universe. If there is no God then lifeless space is not a waste, it just is what it is.

      • amkaen

        What does arrogance have to do with anything? Good grief! We’re either on Goldilock’s planet, or we’re not. Arrogance doesn’t enter into it, especially since there’s not a whole lot we can do about it, anyway.

    • Lakewood Ed

      Beer is the proof of God and that he loves us . . . our own little, unique planet and . . . beer.

      • The Penitent Man

        Scotchy Scotch Scotch.

        • reed1v

          Well aged scotch, if you please.

          • OWilson

            What happened to sex?

            Doesn’t anybody …. anymore? :)

          • reed1v

            Sex is sooo like yesterday.

        • Morton Bodanis

          Nope. I can drink more beer than I can (hic) scotch.

        • John K

          Well, yes, but you really can’t have Scotch until after you’ve made beer.

        • alqpr

          ok already! not just beer, but scotch too.

      • bearass

        Nice of you to reference Benjamin Franklin!

      • cmlukey

        Hmm. Habitable planet, reasonably nice weather, and alcohol…..all proof that God must exist!

        • alqpr

          ..or that we’re really really lucky to have evolved on the only planet among “quintillions” that is capable of supporting intelligent life (and providing it with beer!!!)

          • Al Ryan

            You also have to consider the odds of life existing on this planet by chance. Fred Hoyle and another scientist calculated them at 1 in 10 to the 40,000th power. It is not possible to be that lucky.

          • alqpr

            Well you could probably add another 40,000 powers of ten before getting down to the probability, in a “randomly” chosen universe, of having someone exactly like me sitting here and typing exactly this. But, guess what. You really *are* that lucky!

          • Al Ryan

            The number quoted is far greater than the number of atoms in the observable universe(10 to the 82nd power). Fred Hoyle compared the odds to a tornado whipping through a junkyard and creating a Boeing 747. The Universe is too fine tuned to be created by random chance.

          • John Faulkner

            Calculating odds is a fools errand when your sample size is 1.

          • Al Ryan

            5000 exoplanets discovered and none close to earth. Next!

          • John Faulkner

            You do understand that it is always going to be easier to find non earth-like planets then earth-like planets right? Because the ones we can see are the ones that are bigger.

          • Al Ryan

            Well aware of that. They have found planets smaller than earth.

          • John Faulkner

            yup, less often, not because they dont exist, but because they are harder to see.

          • Al Ryan

            They have still not found a solar system close to ours. The outer planets prevent comets and asteroids from destroying life on earth and if they were not a perfect orbital plane they would pull the earth out of its orbit.

          • tomilay

            How do the outer planets prevent comets from destroying life on earth?

          • Al Ryan

            The intense gravity of the outer planets captures objects that could decimate planet earth. The Shoemaker levy 9 collisions with Jupiter is a prime example.

          • tomilay

            So I have heard. But isn’t it also possible that objects can be flung into a collision course with earth by the same outer gas giants?

            If say Jupiter is on the other side of the sun, how would it affect a comet on a collision course with the earth from the opposite side?

            I guess my question is where did the notion that these outer gas giants protect the earth arise from? Is it because sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t?

          • Al Ryan

            For an object to be flung towards earth by one of the outer planets it would have to be travelling very fast and pass by the planet at the correct angle and distance. When NASA uses a planet’s gravitation to boost the speed of space probes it requires a great deal of math, The outer planets do not prevent all collisions with earth but reduces the chances of objects going into the inner solar system that would threaten life on earth. It is a little off topic but if the outer planets were not in the perfect positions and orbital planes they would pull the earth out of its orbit.

          • tomilay

            By how much are the chances of comet collisions with earth reduced thanks to Jupiter? I am thinking there is or must be a number that informs this conclusion.

          • Sarah Goodwich

            But there have to be massive outer planets because of the LaGrange points of the solar system, along with the larger volume of a accretion Mass during planetary formation.

          • Herb

            That would be probable only if approaching objects were in roughly the same plane as our solar system. Objects coming directly at earth from a direction perpendicular to our plane would not be affected by the other planets.

          • Samantha Vimes

            Also, the probability of any past event happening is 1.
            Probability can only be applied to things that aren’t yet known.

          • Sarah Goodwich

            Probability is just the degree of certainty, so if you are 100% certain that something happened then the probability is obviously one.

          • Sarah Goodwich

            So the universe really is an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters. Who knew? Praise God and pass The Works of Shakespeare.

          • John Faulkner

            It is not possible to be that lucky? There is a planet upon which creatures do live, so it must be *possible*.

          • Al Ryan

            The possibility of the universe being created and fine tuned by God is far greater than it happening by random chance.

          • John Faulkner

            Really? Got any math for that?

            That something that obeys the laws of physics will happen is, by definition, infinitely more probable then that something that does not obey the laws of physics will happen. You are just making stuff up.

          • RON

            Not if the Being spoke us lives in a Realm with no physics. God created the Heavens and earth, but he doesn’t live in a realm of cause and effect, so He had no need of being created. Those “Quantum Fluctuations” are what ? Lets see: They are a set of Laws or forces or Laws of Nature = Quantum Fluctuations

            They are:

            1. Not Pysical
            2. Act on the Physical
            3. Created the Physical from nothing
            4. Predates the Universe

            Now who does that sound like ? Well the God of the Bible of course,

            1. God is a Spirit
            2. God acts on the Physical
            3. God said, let there be light
            4. God is Eternal

          • John Faulkner

            Where did you learn that this is what happened? Was there any evidence?

            Quantum fluctuations are physical, obviously, they are fluctuations in the energy density of a field, They are just not stable enough to become particles. Particles are not created from nothing, they are the stabilized form of a quantum fluctuation.

            The rest of your logic falls at the feet of reason. A being cannot exist in a realm without physics. There is certainly no evidence for such a being, and therefore no reason for you to suggest such a thing is true. Such a being, if they existed, could not affect anything, because there is no mechanism by which magic can do work. Such a being cannot speak without a mouth.

          • RON

            No they are not, because they are not seen. “They” are God. Sure a being can exist that way, God does.

            God exists in timeless eternity

            How does God acting before time began get around the problem of God’s creation ? There are two possible interpretations of these verses. One is that God exists outside of time. Since we live in a universe of cause and effect, we naturally assume that this is the only way in which any kind of existence can function. However, the premise is false. Without the dimension of time, there is no cause and effect, and all things that could exist in such a realm would have no need of being caused, but would have always existed. Therefore, God has no need of being created, but, in fact, created the time dimension of our universe specifically for a reason – so that cause and effect would exist for us. However, since God created time, cause and effect would never apply to His existence.Beyond the Cosmos: What Recent Discoveries in Astrophysics Reveal about the Glory and Love of God

            God exists in multiple dimensions of time

            The second interpretation is that God exists in more than one dimension of time. Things that exist in one dimension of time are restricted to time’s arrow and are confined to cause and effect. However, two dimensions of time form a plane of time, which has no beginning and no end and is not restricted to any single direction. A being that exists in at least two dimensions of time can travel anywhere in time and yet never had a beginning, since a plane of time has no starting point. Either interpretation leads one to the conclusion that God has no need of having been created.

            Why can’t the universe be eternal ?

            The idea that God can be eternal leads us to the idea that maybe the universe is eternal, and, therefore, God doesn’t need to exist at all. Actually, this was the prevalent belief of atheists before the observational data of the 20th century strongly refuted the idea that the universe was eternal. This fact presented a big dilemma for atheists, since a non-eternal universe implied that it must have been caused. Maybe Genesis 1:1 was correct! Not to be dismayed by the facts, atheists have invented some metaphysical “science” that attempts to explain away the existence of God. Hence, most atheistic cosmologists believe that we see only the visible part of a much larger “multiverse” that randomly spews out universes with different physical parameters. Since there is no evidence supporting this idea (nor can there be, according to the laws of the universe), it is really just a substitute “god” for atheists. And, since this “god” is non-intelligent by definition, it requires a complex hypothesis, which would be ruled out if we use Occam’s razor, which states that one should use the simplest logical explanation for any phenomenon. Purposeful intelligent design of the universe makes much more sense, especially based upon what we know about the design of the universe.

            What does science say about time?

            When Stephen Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose extended the equations for general relativity to include space and time, the results showed that time has a beginning – at the moment of creation (i.e., the Big Bang). In fact, if you examine university websites, you will find that many professors make such a claim – that the universe had a beginning and that this beginning marked the beginning of time (see The Universe is Not Eternal, But Had A Beginning). Such assertions support the Bible’s claim that time began at the creation of the universe.

            God has no need to have been created, since He exists either outside time (where cause and effect do not operate) or within multiple dimensions of time (such that there is no beginning of God’s plane of time). Hence God is eternal, having never been created. Although it is possible that the universe itself is eternal, eliminating the need for its creation, observational evidence contradicts this hypothesis, since the universe began to exist a finite ~13.8 billion years ago. The only possible escape for the atheist is the invention of a kind of super universe, which can never be confirmed experimentally (hence it is metaphysical in nature, and not scientific).

          • Sheldon Plankton

            And who or what created God?

          • Al Ryan

            He exists outside of time and space.

          • ScaredAmoeba

            “He exists outside of time and space.”
            And he can’t do proofreading, or science. And he is peculiarly interested in the sexual behaviour of humans – really weird!

          • Al Ryan

            His creation.

          • Timothy King

            Your thinking of the GOD made in MAN’S image…We’re talking of the other one

          • tomilay

            A timeless primatologist.

          • Carbon Copy

            What created the multi-universe?

            Infinite regression works both ways.

          • RON

            Yea, I think you understood him to mean per chance, without a Creator.

          • hotchy

            Means it isn’t by luck.

          • Samantha Vimes

            Well, actually, if the other planets aren’t capable of supporting intelligence life, there’s no luck involved– we couldn’t have evolved anywhere else.

          • dineaudio

            What intelligent life on Earth? Ants? Humans aren’t intelligent. If we were intelligent we would treat our planet with much respect.

        • ubik

          And He is good.

      • martin_incol

        Amen! :)

      • Mike

        Damn.. Going to office’s fridge to get a beer lol

      • Hamilton’s Own

        Ben Franklin WAS a cool dude, wasn’t he? :)

      • Totenhawk

        Mankind Invented Ale & Beer !
        Not the Tooth fairy.

        • Lakewood Ed

          You’re the one who shows up at every party . .

        • maxresonance

          I always thought it was the “Truth Fairy”. . .

        • alqpr

          so who *did* invent the tooth fairy?

      • Mike Chittester

        Man’s first invention after fire, how else could he deal with women!

    • The Penitent Man

      We know some things. And it’s “I’ll have another dram of Scotch”.

    • Bear1000

      Well said mate.

    • Randy Johnson

      Erik, the more we discover about reality, the more we find out about what we do not know and I think you have a slothful attitude about how to use your mind. I pity you for the formative influences in your life that have led you to be the way you are and am confident you will regret your attitude as time goes on if you do not meet an untimely end brought about by the foolishness of yourself or others.

      • Erik Bosma

        And I pity you for not having a sense of humour and for not being able to control your judgementalism.

        • Randy Johnson

          Well Erick, you don’t know me very well. I have a humor side, but about serious issues like the effects of global warming I don’t. The poverty, disease, famine, political destabilization, etc. and suffering and death resulting from that warming acceleration caused by selfish human interests is no laughing matter for me. I can relax with beer and wine and joke with friends about inconsequential things, but the number of lazy apathetic people in our electorate frittering away their time and swallowing huge chunks of propaganda without serious question concerning large numbers of crucial issues really upsets me. I’d like to see more people get serious now and save their party attitudes till after we make significant progress on fixing our serious problems.

    • camacg

      “Malt does more than Milton can/To justify god’s ways to man”

      Housman pretty much nailed that one, I’d say.

    • Maia

      Except for the beer, I’m with you. Prefer Pinot Noir.
      Interesting: I see more agreement on “we don;t know squat” than I’ve seen on ANY other conclusion! :)

    • Sarah Goodwich

      I drink, therefore I am!

  • David A. Wright

    Like You Checked Out 700 Quintillion Planets ? ROTFLMFAO …Is this the Same kind of Science that says Humans Rode Dinosaurs . I Call BullShit !

  • JustASimpleGuy

    More Data Needed… That says it all.

    I think some humility is called for. Output of models is only as good as inputs + assumptions, and here we have very, very thin inputs and very, very thick assumptions.

    And to the poster who asserted we would never meet an extraterrestrial intelligence directly because the distances are just far too great, have physicists unlocked all the secrets of the universe?

    • OWilson

      Humility indeed.

      They haven’t unlocked any “secrets” of the universe. All they know is what IS. They just invent the rest.

      Their self important hubris requires them to explain it all to the unwashed masses, so they invoke big bangs, weird counter intuitive “inflations”, to make their Rube Goldberg models work.

      Oh, and inventing 95% or so of stuff, energy and mass that when asked what it is, they just say, like the shamans of old, “Oh that is just Dark Matter and Dark energy that YOU can never see, but WE have a 97% “consensus” that it is there, don’t worry about it :)

      • Proteios

        This is a good of example of Science as religion. Science is a great methodology and has helped civilization immensely. But when we use math to explain observations…then the math is used to solve other mathematical unknowns. Then we use the theoretical to “prove” unknowables, we enter the realm of science philosophy. To believe it requires faith I simply dont permit of science. Thats not what science is.

        • OWilson

          You can use mathematics to describe any phenomena A plus B = C, and you can describe the properties of any given phenomena, for example, Gravity = “the force that pulls”.

          You can even give the rate effect as a square of distance, without having any intrinsic knowledge about it whatsoever, or even why it should exist.

          For 200 years scientists fought to disprove the ether, but now the ether is back and full of virtual particles, including none other than our friend the “higgs”. :)

          • jansand

            Einstein nicely pointed out that gravity is a distortion of space by matter a long long time ago.

          • Randy Johnson

            I think Einstein’s distortion of space the attractive force between masses that reduces in strength by a factor of the square of the distance between the masses was an attempt to illustrate the phenomenon to lesser minds unable to understand it and the fact that massless waveforms of electromagnetic radiation are also subject to gravitational influence is also illustrated by spacial distortion lends credence to his illustration. The dual nature of electromagnetic radiation observed as both particles and waves, the phenomenon of electron configurations of the Bohr atomic model based on whole wave lengths of particles orbiting nuclei in oscillations, and the Higgs boson explanation as the gravitic repository of mass particle attractive influence just makes it sooo tragic that we could not have cloned Einstein to help us poor ignorant souls more to understand the reality we see. It is a pity we were unable to appreciate him more before he left us.

          • jansand

            Although Einstein is very much missed as an icon of decent and thoughtful humanity he seemed to come up against insuperable difficulties as a theorist. I am neither a scientist nor do I have sufficient grasp of his theoretical conquests to make a cogent remark about his potential as a scientist. But developments in current physics on entanglement strike me as a very wild card in theoretical physics. Something very weird is happening there.

          • Randy Johnson


        • jansand

          Science as religion may cause a bit of trouble but that’s nothing compared to religion as science.

          • Proteios

            Well said. The bible is not a physics or chemistry textbook. It should be read and understood in the context of salvation. Science textbooks are no philosophical starting points or the center of an ideology. Science is a methodology and building a belief system around it is an error.

          • jansand

            I have spent too much time discussing the problems with religion with all sorts of people who are religious and found it totally useless. I am not religious and am satisfied with what science offers.I must leave it at that.

          • jansand

            I do not see my reply to this which was an honest effort to indicate I am not religious and find science totally satisfactory.

          • Scott

            I respectfully disagree, they are both the same and equaling troubling.

          • Proteios

            A bit? Perhaps you would care to quantify the true nature of this harm you refer to in each instance. I find your comment unintelligible simply by virtue of its disregard of ones own weaknesses. Science as religion is why we find ourselves in a consumer based, technology driven world. One that pollutes beyond sustainability. Yet, we blame those who disagree that there is a problem? That sounds ignorant.

          • jansand

            I completely agree that the current direction of human civilization is suicidal but to finger science as a cause strikes me as most peculiar. Science as a discipline is an investigation into the functioning elements of the universe. Religion is a rather odd collection of prejudices attempting to direct human actions to conform to unbased primitive ideas. Neither one has much to do with the ferocious commercial direction of society which seems to be undeterred in destroying life on the planet.

          • Randy Johnson

            I disagree with your overly simplified view of religion. Just because some religious practices are counterproductive does not negate the true value of others. Religions have many good aspects as well as bad ones and the bad ones result from ignorance and the sins of those justifying their actions through perversions of religious teachings. Scientific endeavors are the best methods we have of unmasking the perversions of religions and the perverts. Science is not a religion. It is cleanser of perversions from society.

          • jansand

            You are far too general in your evaluations which swallows the good with the bad with far too little evaluations of each quality. Doubtlessly religion provides a communal focus which dispenses quantities of decent interpersonal behavior and also the most frightful deceptions and ignorances and very frequently outrageous provocations to create miseries and blood curdling violences. Surely a better mix of motivations is possible in human social activities is possible.

            Science does not formulate rules of behavior. It offers understanding of the workable rules of the universe and extended powers which can be used in benevolent ways or the most frightful horrors. How these extended powers are used is outside the discipline of science.

          • Randy Johnson

            True Science includes a lot of discipline. Conjecture and misconstruance and political and religious extremism using them for nefarious purposes sure could use some of that discipline, especially now.

          • Randy Johnson

            But it is not ignorant if it is true, which it is.

    • ThewlynOh

      i have to admit, i sort of HOPE there are other intelligent species in the universe (i’ve got to think the odds are decent), since otherwise what a helluva waste :)

      • JustASimpleGuy

        I suppose we’ll know when we know. :-)

    • tj10

      Exactly and that is why so many scientific “theories” about the past or about unobservable untestable things must be held very tentatively. Now if we could test this like in real science, if we could go and count the planets and actually verify this hypothesis, that would be one thing, but we can’t.

      However, it is based on the information that we currently have. So, until we get better information, this seems to be the current view of reality. I recognize that for some, this is an unwelcome result because it doesn’t fit nicely with their worldview. So all of a sudden they get all tentative. If they were consistent about their tentatively, that would be one thing, but it seems to me like most of cosmology is quite tentative and unverifiable.

  • Eric Johnson

    Another important, but overlooked point, is that Erik Zackrisson’s model uses information based on current exoplanet data. That data is dominated by gas giants, tight planet orbits and super-earths. We don’t yet have the ability to detect smaller worlds orbiting farther out. In other words, the data lacks information on Earth-like worlds because we can’t detect them yet. Therefor, it is not surprising that his model only kicks out super-Earths and gas giants in inhospitable orbits. It’s all his model knows!

    • Lynn Munter

      Yes, thank you! Exactly what I was trying to get at in my comment!

  • megapotamus

    Bioviability is a range, not a precise click.

  • Fjgiie Gray

    Yes, somewhere out there, there probably are 125,000 planets with intelligent life. That would put the closest one about 500 million light years away from Earth. What are we going to do next? Go there or just talk to them at 500 million years between conversations.

    We will never meet aliens that are as smort as we are. (NEVER) which only means – not in the next half a billion years.

    • Scott

      Three noble bell price winners claimed man will never fly. It was in the same year the Wright brothers flew. 66 years later man walked on the moon. Challenging, maybe. Impossible, unlikely.

      • OWilson

        Then science stopped.

        Now we get rides to the Space Station by making nice with Russians, we are still sending 70s Radio Shack remote cars to Mars, and our billion dollar experiments are in detecting wimps, or creating particles that we could just a easily postulate in our incomplete and unsatisfactory flawed “Standard Models”

        They will continue on that track until their ever more expensive models will become as big as the universe itself, or more likely they will run out of other people’s money :)

        There are now scientific “consensus” that we know what happened one millionth of a millionth of a second after some big bang,

        There is no more wonder, awe, skepticism, (and nothing useful, all the good stuff is being done in genetic and pharma private labs) because the status quo and the research grants to find what even the experimenters themselves admit “might not even be there”, must be maintained.

  • Ray_Van_Dune

    Let’s be clear about what the Fermi Paradox is about. It is about EVIDENCE, or the lack thereof:

    1. EVIDENCE of advanced ET civilizations should be all around us, because if EVEN ONE such civilization came into existence in the billions of years planets have existed in the Milky Way (and even before earth existed), such a civilization could have developed interstellar travel and colonized the entire galaxy thousands of times over, even under the most conservative assumptions about speed of travel, etc. It only takes ONE.

    2. NO such EVIDENCE exists. Emphasis on NO because it only takes ONE piece of evidence – for example, ONE out of the hundreds of thousands of UFO reports to be “true” to make the paradox go “poof”. Conversely, it also requires that EVERY single such report be “false” in order to preserve the paradox.

    Now, a paradox IS a paradox because something in our thinking is flawed. Thus at least one of the statements above ARE NOT TRUE Which one is it?

    And remember the “Law of Enormous Numbers”: When enormous numbers are involved, it means that anything that CAN happen, no matter how improbably, WILL happen.

    • Scott

      Actually the definition (loosely) is something that cannot possibly be true, but nerveless is (Counter-intuitive). Not that it is flawed. It’s a “paradox” to most because they assume Evolution is a fact, and they already believe the Aliens are there.

      I agree with you. There is zero evidence. end of story.

    • Drew

      Personally, I think the great filter is the jump to eukaryotic cells.

      But a solution to Fermi’s Paradox could be that sufficiently advanced civilizations reach a point of transcendence (like in “Childhood’s End”.

  • alboalt

    I’m a big supporter of the Rare Earth hypothesis. It took so much chance and luck to get us here that we’re probably the only happy accident of intelligence in the universe.

    • Scott

      In 2016 you are right and I agree with you. However, I would love to see where we are in 500 years and 10,000 years. Most of life’s mystery’s I think will be solved.

  • Mallet Head

    If ‘other life in the universe’ is taken to include microbes, up to small animals, then there may well be other life in this solar system. Kinda a big deal, but not really in the sense of most people have come to expect it. Also it’s not a big deal if what you mean by life is an intelligent civilization. Intelligent enough to make artifacts large enough to be noticed. The type of life to be found is almost the function of distance. So much so that after a relatively short distance finding the later type becomes absurdly unlikely. In regards to this type the question “Do you think there is other life in the Universe” is meaningless, borders on stupid. If it can’t be detected what difference does it make. Maybe the question should be Is there detectible life in the Universe.

  • RileyK10

    What a lame article. The author makes a bold statement in the title, then spends the last two paragraphs discrediting his own thesis. The drive for Internet “content” seems to have hit a pot hole.

    A more reasonable conclusion based on the data is that of the 300 billion stars in our galaxy, about 20% could host a habitable planet (most g-type and some k-type stars), of which about half have planets (based on observational data and throwing out most multi-star systems, stars in tight clusters, etc), of which about 20% have metal contents conducive to earth like planet formation, of which perhaps 1% have a planet happen to fall in the habitable zone. That’s 60 million earth like planets in our galaxy, hundreds of billions in the universe, assuming only a small portion of galaxies are sufficiently metal rich for terrestrial planet formation.

  • Douglas J. Bender

    God created the Earth to be inhabited. It is unique, and special, in the Universe.

    • Lynn Munter

      Yep. Just like no two people are exactly alike, no other world is likely to have the same exact coastlines, tectonic plate boundaries, and variety of species that we do!

      • Douglas J. Bender

        It’s way more serious than that. Just like the article indicates. But thanks for playing.

        • Lynn Munter

          Oh dear, you must have missed my actual response to the article yesterday. It’s somewhere in this comment section!

    • Randy Johnson

      Of coarse you are probably right, but other unique planets are probably out there with their own unique forms of life with their own unique genetic codes evolved over billions of years. They are probably relatively rare, but they are probably there in different stages of development. Some of those life forms probably evolved billions of our years before us and probably visited and influenced our development here on this planet. They may even have been responsible for our moon’s existence to start off our eventual existence.

  • Glenn Beaton

    Three pretty good reasons to think we are alone:

    (1) Life happened here on earth only once in 4.5 billion years (or at least only once for which there’s any fossil record). We know this because all life is the same at the molecular level.

    (2) As Fermi put it, “Where is everybody?” There are no aliens here, and we can’t find their radio transmissions elsewhere even after looking for decades.

    (3) Our best scientists cannot create life in a laboratory. And we’re supposed to think it happens all the time and all over the place by accident?

    Those three points are not conclusive. But they go far to rebut the notion that there is life elsewhere just because there are lots of elsewhere’s.

    • Drew

      Actually we don’t know #1. Life appeared relatively soon after the Earth formed.

      The great filter is far more likely to be the jump to eukaryotic cells.

  • ttaerum

    It’s definitely a fascinating read observing the almost religious ferver by which some argue for and against the notion of “the rare earth”. I consider it to be a remarkable privilege to be a part of the universe looking back at itself. We know the universe is both self-organizing and self-destructive and life requires, not just a brief moment in history where life exists as it does now, but an evolution over billions of years. For life as we know it the dice must be thrown billions of times over billions of years.

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    With odds like that on an earthlike planet, playing Powerball is not so insane after all?

  • Debbie

    “…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…“It’s certainly the case that there are a lot of uncertainties in a calculation like this…” “

    No kidding! What is the maximum range at which current planet detection technology can even detect an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a sun-like star? What minuscule portion of the galaxy has been searched?

  • Spork

    Ffs, this Goldie Locks zone stuff is bs. Srsrly. Anywhere there is water warm enough for life there is life. All one has to do is look at every section of Earth, look at the environment in each zone and find another planet with the same zone type. There is life that lives without oxygen and without organic matter around and eats just rocks.

    This bs about “oh my studies indicate they need 70 degree weather, oxygen and taco bell locations nearby inorder for life to exist” is just that: bs.

    • OWilson

      You can see why the expensive and otherwise mind boggling schemes to fine tune our planet’s temperature to within a degree or two is sheer political nonsense.

      • Mike Richardson

        No, preventing it from ranging several degrees above what will sustain the ice at our poles and avoid flooding the much of the inhabited real estate of the planet is science. The opposition supported by the fossil fuel industry, and short-term profit based on use of these fuels, is political nonsense. But the Wilsons of the cosmos might win this argument on a majority of planets, shortening the duration of technological civilizations, and helping explain the Fermi Paradox. You do provide insight, sometimes. 😉

        • OWilson

          Yep, ice, flooding, fossil fuel industry, profit, all the buzzwords are there.

          You are to be commended, you usually take up far more valuable space to get all the left wing talking point in :)

          • Mike Richardson

            Not really talking points, so much as the truth. But not everyone needs to overflow the well of rhetoric to get a point across, you know. :)

    • Lynn Munter

      Your statement at least has the advantage of being provable or disprovable without venturing outside our solar system. It’ll be exciting to see whether what’s in the oceans of moons like Europa and Enceladus supports your confidence!

  • Keln

    Another point often overlooked is that there may also be a “goldilocks zone” in a galaxy, goldilocks galaxies, and goldilocks zones where those galaxies must be in the universe itself. To have a similar planet to Earth, you have to have similar materials to begin with, which come from supernovae remnants in a part of a galaxy with just the right densities (the outer bands too “thin”, closer to the core too dense). Then to keep an atmosphere and other conditions for life, further from the core of a galaxy is better, as well as nowhere near any dangerous objects like pulsars or quasars.
    So you can’t merely say there are x number of galaxies and they have on average y number of stars which have on average z number of planets in goldilocks zones. Earth-like planets would have to exist around stars in very specific places, and I wouldn’t be suprised to find out that this is an incredibly limiting factor to the possible existence of other life.

    • presbypoet

      To confirm this most galaxies are in clusters. They crash into each other. When that happens stars in stable orbits have a good chance of having their new orbit pass close to the dangerous centers of either their galaxy or the one colliding. It is likely that our galaxy being far from other large galaxies, and never having had a major crash in 13 billion years (as shown by our star’s stable orbit) is a rare event. Also, I just read that many galaxies stop producing stars after an early burst, so our sun created 9 billion years after the big bang would be a further unusual event. Also since it takes time for stars to create “metals”, early stars would not have the materials to develop planets.

      Also, just finished reading a book on how unusual it was that multi-cellular life developed. Nick Lane in “The Vital Question” explains how the development of eukaryotic cells was not a simple thing, but one that seems to have happened only once. All plants, animals, algae and fungi evolved from a single source This was 3 billion years after single celled organisms developed. Another rare event .

      So there are some major mysteries still to solve. Why is the universe designed for life? Is our location in a very favored location in said universe a planned event? Science assumes we are not in a unique location, but it seems we are.

      • Randy Johnson

        Andromeda galaxy is on a crash course with ours presbypoet. Heads up!

    • Randy Johnson

      That was extremely insightful Keln.

      • Keln


  • DancesWithSquirrels

    Still better odds than Powerball

  • Bob Enyart

    This reminds me of the CMB Axis of Evil, wherein, according to Lawrence Krauss, et al., it looks like the whole universe is situated relative to the Earth’s orbit. And another problem. Google: big bang predictions. The #1 article (out of a million) documents the actual history of the theory’s predictions and it’s the opposite of the widespread canonical telling. Just sayin’ :)

  • Terenc Blakely

    One thing that isn’t considered in a lot of habitable planet discussions is the importance of a large moon to higher life forms. If the Earth didn’t have it’s moon, it’s axis would wobble greatly creating extremes in weather and greatly fluctuating ice sheets. The likelihood of intelligent life evolving on a perfect Earth double sans a large moon is almost nil.

    No go figure the likelihood of an Earth double having a large moon. That’s why a lot of scientists are now looking for large habitable moons around Jupiter class planets.

  • rgrif50ish

    If the “multiverse” truly exists, then there must surely be an infinite number of universes that are stuffed full of life everywhere and an infinite number of universes where there is no life anywhere and an infinite number of universes where only one planet develops life. How nice to have a theory that can explain any scenario!

  • David

    And the odds of a single cell developing from nothing are even greater than 1-in-700-Quintillion. Shows how foolish evolution believers are.

    • Lynn Munter

      Fortunately no evolution believer I know would ever claim a single cell developed from “nothing,” so we can get much better odds than that strawman of yours!

    • Asmithdev

      Ignoring your ignorance to the entire evolution process, you just proved yourself that your religious beliefs are wrong.

      So you see no problem with calling out the lunacy of a cell developing from nothing but you don’t see any problems with believing that an entire god that can create planets developed from nothing.

      See the problem? You’re just moving the goal post to something magical to try to fit your small minded view.

  • Jacke

    I have never believed this nonsense about life in other parts of the universe.
    I think it’s nothing but a waste of money we could use to better life on our planet.
    Maes is a money pit that will never happen.

    • Drew

      I doubt there is lntelligent life out there. But you are dead wrong about it being a “waste of money” to research it.

      • Jacke

        I could be wrong but it’s really a waste on money that could be used to make our planet a better place to live for everyone.

  • John Stewart

    This guy has Stockholm Syndrome

  • Mongo

    Of course it and others like it are unique. They’re Divinely Engineered.

  • CrazyHungarian

    I’ve often been told that Nature hates the number 1, in other words, Nature doesn’t ever produce only one of something. Even if it’s one in 700 quintillion.

    • Ian Wardell

      Nature hates the number 2

  • Shiek Yerbooti

    Huge waste of space, and that’s just earth I’m talking bout’

    Life is out there, somewhere, count on it.

    • Eddie Principal

      Probably, but until it is found it is just a theory. Last time I checked that is how science works

  • Albort2

    A great read on the statistical impossibility of life developing anywhere in the universe is Stanislaw Lem’s The World As Cataclysm in his book One Human Minute. Definitely look it up if you are interested in this subject.

  • CrazyHungarian

    Whatever happened to the Drake equation? It estimated that there should be between 20 and 100,000 other civilizations in our galaxy alone. Multiply that by the billions of galaxies and the likelihood of only being one place with life is many billions against one.

    • Eponymous1

      You could prove virtually anything with an amorphous premise based on such a wide open-ended conjecture like “It estimated that there should be…”

  • Michael Allen

    Anthropocentrism disguised as “science”…arrogant humans think their planet (and themselves with it) are superbly unique.

    • wangweilin

      That’s happens when you human unless you hate being human.

      • Michael Allen

        The ihypothetical mplication is a non sequitur. ..I can accept the aforementioned proposition (my own ) without harboring hatred for my own species. That’s almost obvious enough to be a truism. Truism are safe…but they don’t augment out knowledge beyond its current state.

        • wangweilin

          To view your species as ‘arrogant’ may not be hate, but certainly it’s not an affectionate viewpoint. I didn’t see any augmentation of knowledge in your original post so seems we are on equal footing.

          • Michael Allen

            Perhaps. But I am inclined to annoyance when the anti-anthropocentrism stick is wielded by the greatest anthropocentrists :)

  • bxdanny

    >> 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.

    And that’s not by chance. Larger planets are easier to detect, so our detection methods are inherently biased against Earth-like planets. That’s why I won’t put much reliance on this study’s conclusion.

  • Jeff Honeyager

    I’m not terrified, I’m thankful.

  • tj10

    This is not surprising at all when you consider all the different factors that have to coincide to make a planet like earth possible. No one expected this result(except maybe some theists), but it fits very nicely with the Designer paradigm. You have to have an anti-design bias to not see design in the earth and the solar system. No proof of course and I doubt there ever will be, but the data fits very nicely in a Design paradigm – better in that paradigm than in the Materialist worldview paradigm.

  • Leslie Schwartz

    This article is like putting your mind in a small shoe box and attempting to understand the entire universe that is so large it is literally beyond our comprehension.
    Life on earth itself is the proof that there is life elsewhere and that the same principles of evolution that have occurred here must have occurred elsewhere. Otherwise we are not talking about science but about religion and the idea that life on earth is a special creation, a one off done by god, and not by the forces of nature that are in operation everywhere in the universe.
    Imagine that life in the universe only happens in some small percentage of planets with the earth itself figuring into that fraction, the sheer number of planets means life elsewhere is a certainty.
    And BTW life, the evolution of the inanimate evolving into life begins in space, and the chemical predecessors of life in space are abundant.
    Also, BTW we have observed directly 0 other planets beyond our solar system but science has concluded that among the planets we have inferred by indirect observation hundreds of them have conditions that could harbor life.

    • Fed Up

      “Life on earth itself is the proof that there is life elsewhere…”

      This statement makes no sense. Proof? Show us all the proof, please.

      • Leslie Schwartz

        Its simple, life on earth got here due to forces in existence all over the universe. Not by means of a special one – off by god creation. That is the proof. The same forces which have created life on earth are universal, present everywhere in a universe that is so large that the number of planets with life is also so large it is beyond our comprehension. Life on earth IS the proof that life must exist elsewhere as well.

        • Fed Up

          Opinion is never a substitute for evidence. Case dismissed. Next!

          • Virat

            Absence of evidence is not evidence that something does not exist.

            For eg: if you are a alien stranded in the middle of a desert on earth and you see no life for several days, you could probably conclude that there is no life on earth. Which would make the alien pretty stupid if it did that because 1. he has not been around the earth. 2. If earth had a million organic beings , possibility is that it (stranded alien) won’t encounter them in its lifetime.

            Presence of evidence is a certainty of its existence – Yes.

            But demanding proof of the actual existence of something in order to believe in the possibility of its existence is just silly. Considering that the hypothetical alien would have a much greater probability of finding life than we would.

        • Eddie Principal

          Sorry Leslie, that is your opinion. Just because you like a “theory” it does not make it scientific proof.

          • Virat

            if you think earth is the only life supporting rock in universe at any point in time, then statistically speaking – you are – well not right.
            Plus you don’t even want to talk about what is beyond the universe. Didn’t the singularity exist somewhere??

          • Leslie Schwartz

            Not an opinion at all, its scientific fact.

            The chemical precursors of life are found everywhere in the universe by spectroscopy everywhere astronomers point their telescopes. The same process by which scientist have determined that hundreds of planets have been discovered with the capacity to support life. Google it. Its science, its a fact.

            Further, since you obviously have trouble thinking this thru I will use an analogy to help you.

            If you find an apple (life on earth) you know by reason and logic that there is an apple tree (a process by which life is created) and you know that if there is one apple and an apple tree, there are more apples (life elsewhere) somewhere even if you haven’t found them yet.

            Life is abundant in the universe.

            By the way Fermi’s Paradox is based on a false presumption that we have not encountered ET life yet. We have, and they have found their way to our planet many times, for which there is abundant scientific evidence.

            Eddie, you obviously have a small mind, you can’t tell science from opinion and are happy with your state of ignorance and additionally you aren’t much of a debater.

            That is your problem, not mine.

        • wangweilin

          The basis of science is replicating results. As of now the only evidence of life in the universe is life on earth. A ‘one off’ result that can’t be replicated by experiment or observation does not prove a theory or validate a conclusion.

          Otherwise it’s just a philosophical discussion.

          • Leslie Schwartz

            The basis of science is to acquire evidence in methods that are replicatable and to understand what that evidence means. Hence thru the use of spectroscopy we know a great deal about the chemical make up of distant objects, their temperatures, mass, etc. This is how scientist know that some of the near 1000 planets they have now cataloged are capable of sustaining life. This is how they know what the early stages of chemical evolution is, and how it starts in space and that these chemical precursors of life are found everywhere in the universe they point their telescopes and other instruments. You do not have to go to another planet to know that gravity is a force in operation on that planet just as it is on our earth. The same is true for the other forces of nature that are in operation all over the universe, The forces which gave rise to life on earth are the same forces that are in operation on an uncountable number of other worlds where life has also arisen. And yes when forces in operation are universal, which is a scientific fact, then the results are universal. Life on earth is the result of universal forces that are in operation all over the universe. Therefore it is impossible that life has not arisen elsewhere.

          • wangweilin

            Alcohol is found in universe too, but I doubt there is beer. Your certainty of life elsewhere in the universe based on minor chemical reactions is a leap and without concrete evidence is not science.

          • Leslie Schwartz

            The basis of science is to acquire evidence in methods that are replicatable and to understand what that evidence means. Hence thru the use of spectroscopy we know a great deal about the chemical make up of distant objects, their temperatures, mass, etc. This is how scientist know that some of the near 1000 planets they have now cataloged are capable of sustaining life. This is how they know what the early stages of chemical evolution is, and how it starts in space and that these chemical precursors of life are found everywhere in the universe they point their telescopes and other instruments. You do not have to go to another planet to know that gravity is a force in operation on that planet just as it is on our earth. The same is true for the other forces of nature that are in operation all over the universe, The forces which gave rise to life on earth are the same forces that are in operation on an uncountable number of other worlds where life has also arisen. And yes when forces in operation are universal, which is a scientific fact, then the results are universal. Life on earth is the result of universal forces that are in operation all over the universe. Therefore it is impossible that life has not arisen elsewhere.

      • Randy Johnson

        The proof is the known characteristics of interaction of the chemical elements and the existence of the evolutionary processes with the tremendous size, variability and age of the universe ascertained by scientific endeavor thus far. The inevitability is grossly probable because of these things.

    • Virat

      Life on earth itself is the proof that there is life elsewhere –
      Perfect. That was my assumption too when growing up. if we exist it would be so stupid and arrogant to think that no one else could.

      • wangweilin

        The basis of science is replicating results. As of now the only evidence of life in the universe is life on earth. A ‘one off’ result that can’t be replicated by experiment or observation does not prove a theory or validate a conclusion.

        • Randy Johnson

          So explain what our space station residents recorded looking out their window recently and the signals they recorded 40 some years ago when orbiting on the far side of the moon wangweilin. Where there is smoke there is usually combustion. Explain how the numerous things constructed many generations ago found in locations around the planet not possible with our present level of technology exist. While it is true that Earthly civilizations far in advance of our own may have existed and explain the existence of things like the Peri Reis map and the recently discovered things about the construction of the Great Pyramid as well as the other things I mentioned, I think the existence of alien visitors influencing human developments in antiquity is just as probable. The History Channel is a great source of information leading to further research by inquiring minds, although the channel also presents an appreciable amount of hokum too. They do have a lot of broadcast time to fill, after all.

          • Randy Johnson

            Hillary promised to get to the bottom of this Area 51 stuff if elected president, if you can trust her, as I and many don’t, but I would not hold my breath waiting on her to do it if I were you. Certainly a Republican would never share any information they found out, if they even tried. All they are interested in is maintaining their power to enrich themselves at the expense of the lower classes. We are their cattle and sheep. FEEL the BERN!!

  • Brian_Goettl

    This only confirms the central point in the book: The Case for a Creator. The chance that earth exists merely as a result of random happenstance is about the same as the chance that a fully functioning 747 could be formed by a tornado going through a junk yard. Scientific evidence suggests that there is a Creator, because the universe and all that it contains (including you, as you read this comment) is to complex to have come into existence by chance.

    • Ian

      Actually, there is a far, far greater chance of a 747 being created out of tornado than of life being formed from random happenstance (basically, zero chance), but to then make the leap to ‘Creator’ is naive and/or wishful thinking. Here’s the only thing that can be stated with certainty: “I don’t know.” Anything else is speculation or opinion.

      • OWilson

        You are correct but the human problem with that fact is it will not get folks hired, elected, tenured, or motivated to give up their hard earned bread, to some snake oil hoax :)

        • Randy Johnson

          And yet many of our electorate continue to support those snake oil hoaxers with vigor. Many of them can be found at Hillary and GOP political rallies.

    • Randy Johnson

      A lot can come into existence over billions of years of time, like a planet with the characteristics of ours now. It was a LOT different a few billion years ago and did not even exist as a planet a few billion years before that when exploding stars formed its initial ingredients.

  • Judefour

    “Zackrisson found that Earth appears to have been dealt a fairly lucky hand.” What sort of nonsensical fantasy is this!? Only a stubborn refusal (fueled by an obstinate prejudice) to acknowledge the divine Creator could formulate such erroneous conclusions. Seriously; “a fairly lucky hand” with a 1 in 70 quintillion likelihood? Nobody believes this foolishness except the willfully deceived.

  • L Garou

    I’ll take that bet!

  • Commie Kisser

    1-in-700-Quintillion out of infinity is actually quite small. There are plenty of “earths” out there.

  • Roy

    So, the religious belief that we are alone, in a vast universe, created solely for humanity, and that aliens don’t exist, lines up with a mathematical model?

  • timoric

    I find this stuff fascinating. I take with a grain of salt the confident predictions of astronomers though because we actually know so little about our own neighborhood so how can we predict much of anything. But keep them coming. Nasa thinks in the next 15 we will know if there is life out there that we can detect. Can’t wait to see the new Webb space telescope get launched.

  • Dunning Kruger

    I’m assuming that computer models of things like, say, the multi-billion-year history of the entire universe are somewhat simplified and may give results that are not actually representative of reality. On the other hand, a computer model predicting the climate of an entire planet for the next 100 years or so, THAT is a cinch and should never be questioned.

    • Randy Johnson

      Ruling out of coarse large scale planetary bombardment that could happen at any time, as well as volcanic eruptions, huge tsunamis and the non-demise of the present American Republican party.

      • Dunning Kruger

        I imagine it’s hard to model the apocalypse. What affect will sea rise have on zombies anyway?

  • sara

    Now add to that the probability of being born, on this planet at this time.

  • bearass

    We think that we are so smart but all we have to show for it is a bunch of theories and a planet we insist on destroying. Not really all that smart, Are we?

  • MLCross

    My Official United Federation of Planets Passport is useless???

  • Ivan the Great

    The Sun God exist..

  • Mack Bonham

    You theories are the worst kind of popular tripe, your methods are sloppy and your conclusions highly questionable. You are a poor scientist.

  • stevewfromford

    If right then it confirms that there is a 700 quintillion to one chance that God created little old us!

  • Pronounce

    This is terrible news for Mormons.

  • Virat

    Did he factor in time in to the equation? Over time there will be several earth like planets. Forget earth. If there is a earth with ‘intelligent’ beings (who have the potential ability to understand how they themselves ‘work’), there can also be other possible conscious beings, maybe they don’t need earth like planets or even a planet to exist. They may not be carbon based life forms. Our intelligence manifests itself in the form of our actions via hands, tools etc.. their intelligence may manifest in other ways with different ‘visible (to us)’ results. visible but not identified yet.
    there is nothing to disprove the theory that universe is a spec in another world or that there are multiple universes in your bellybutton lint..

  • Haggie

    In the odds of winning were one in seven quintillion, you could still sell lottery tickets.

  • Yagotta Kidding

    The known exoplanets are those that are big enough and close enough to their sun to make them detectable. Obviously those are not earth-like.

  • Jaymz Edwards

    what a load of rubbish…..we’re not that important and not that special…..wake up… the universe is doubtless full of all sorts of life….99 percent probably more civilised than us….

    • wangweilin

      “…doubtless full of all sorts of life…”

      Said with confidence and with no evidence. Why even bother with science when declarations without evidence will do?

  • Afshin Nejat

    The bright side is that this evil situation is quite rare.

  • Ron Mann

    It’s not terrifying if you are a Christian! I “know” how the universe was formed! Now scientists need to figure out the “how” part.

  • reed1v

    Silly navel contemplations. The universe is literally awash in giant water vapor clouds, the concept of life should not be bound just to a carbon-oxygen system, and ten years ago folks were debating the existence of other planet beyond our solar system. Ignorance should not be used to calculate reality.

  • mellamokb

    From a purely statistical point of view, nobody should ever win the lottery. and yet… This type of reasoning is worse than the pseudo-scientific bull that ID proponents try to trot out against evolution. 10^whatever probability of DNA occuring, etc, etc. The sheer number of variables and unknowns in the process of planetory formation and evolution over billions of years is astronomical (pun intended!). There’s no way you can boil that much down and expect to have anything remotely accurate or useful to say.

    • OWilson

      From a purely statistical point of view, you have to factor in not only the probability of winning a universal lottery, but the statistical probability of finding a lottery to begin with :)

  • Wizzer

    Goldilocks to the nth power. Intelligent design anyone?

  • Bobby Leo

    What this means to me is…we are all here by chance …very lucky…enjoy your time here on this planet cause for the next 5 billion years and on…you will be dead…just like you were for the last 5 billion…

    • OWilson

      You can get a little more than your share though, by advocating political policies that leave an unpaid unsustainable debt load on the poor suckers that follow you.

      “Get it all NOW, you’ll be dead before the bill comes due”.

  • BPatMann

    Carl Sagan is rolling over in his grave.

  • Crowbar

    All this excitement and speculation (see below) reminds me of when the Drake “Equation”was first published 50-odd years ago. Lots of passionate late night dorm discussion but, in the end, just as meaningless as this model.

  • Dirk Emde

    “I don’t know” is extremely hard for some people to say.

  • Maia

    “if there’s one thing we have figured out so far, it’s that we still don’t know very much.” What a rare refreshment to the ear!

  • seansd

    Older planets started out younger, a lot younger

  • Snottzoid

    The person who thought he could simulate the universe in a computer is either delusional or too big for his britches. And to think that politicians and the general public accept what these scientists say as irrefutable fact. Sickening. Depressing.

    • Lynn Munter

      Well. Not these guys, they’re too easily refuted.

      Better scientists get listened to more. That’s why it’s so important that nobody turn off their critical thinking skills. People refusing to use their brains properly is indeed very distressing.

      • Ian Wardell

        Some scientists have critical thinking skills? Who?

        • Lynn Munter

          Oh, dear. May I suggest you look up Bill Nye, to start off with?

          In my comment I was actually saying all of us should strive to think more scientifically. If you are unaware of scientists who think critically, there’s really a lot out there for you to learn!

          Try to view this as an exciting opportunity in life!

          • EyesShiningAngrily

            I was being flippant. But scientists don’t think any more critically than the rest of us. Indeed arguably less so. They spout forth all sorts of asinine stupidities.

          • Lynn Munter

            I would indeed argue that. I see a much greater proportion of asinine stupidities out of the general population.


          • Randy Johnson

            Wow! What a stupid thing to say!

      • Randy Johnson

        Oh, how right you are!

  • EM Haich

    yeah, unfortunately the discover blog made a bit of a hash of what the article is actually about and what it said. Let me quote from the abstract, “Due to the hierarchical formation of galaxies and lookback-time effects, the average terrestrial planet on our past light cone has an age of just 1.7 ± 0.2 Gyr and is sitting in a galaxy with a stellar mass a factor of ≈ 2 lower than that of the Milky Way. These results are discussed in the context of cosmic habitability, the Copernican principle and the prospects of searches for extraterrestrial intelligence at cosmological distances.”

    Ok, so whether the article is correct or not on the science (I have no idea) a reading of said article makes it clear that they are referring to the planets that we can ‘see’ within our past light cone.

    This is reiterated on page 1 “and by pre- senting our census of TPs in the observable Universe in terms of galaxies on our past light cone (the case rele- vant for high-redshift SETI) rather than for the galaxies in the present-day Hubble volume.”

    So their estimate does not relate directly to how unusual Earth is within the Universe, but rather how unusual it may be as compared to other planets within our direct field of view as practiced by one particular brand of SETI sky sweeps. Which is a much narrower statement. Indeed most of the differences between the calculations done in this paper and previous work boil down to assumptions like that. Still valid, since the paper is targeting what we might ‘see’ using typical SETI approaches, but not estimate of the true total habitable TP in the Universe as a whole. This is discussed at length on page 5.
    And indeed on page 6 is the clear statement,

    “Adopting this strategy and removing super- Earths from the TP inventory would then give an estimate of ∼ 2 × 10^18 habitable planets around FGK stars in the observable Universe.”

    So really this paper is saying that the nature of our particular vantage point of Earth (in space and time) renders a particular filter which means that it will be very difficult for us to see habitable TPs, not that they don’t (haven’t) existed.

  • Fallbrook

    If you’re terrified there might not be aliens out there, just imagine how terrified you might be when they come to harvest our planet for resources!

  • ericlipps

    A “mild statistical anomaly” is a long way from “unique.” And any model is only as good as the assumptions and the data fed into it. If either the assumptions are wrong or the data are insufficient, faulty conclusions may be drawn.

    I don’t know about the assumptions used, but it’s a sure thing the data are insufficient. After all, only 25 years ago we had no solid evidence for any planets outside our solar system . . . and yet, there they are.

  • give_me_a_break

    There is a very good book, called “Rare Earth”, that complements this conclusion. It’s clearly offensive to many/most. The idea that earth/ourselves might be unique it offends the self loathing of the progressive west. Dont’ worry, your suffering will end, those who hate themselves less will replace you

    • Randy Johnson


  • bwana

    “One of the most fundamental requirements for a planet to sustain life is to orbit in the “habitable zone” of a star — the “Goldilocks” region where the temperature is just right and liquid water can exist.”

    Probably an invalid assumption right off the bat!

  • wangweilin

    Anything is ‘possible’ if your assumption is ‘anything is possible.’

  • Marcus

    I’d hate to believe that Earth is the only planet in the universe with sentient life because if we’re the best the universe could come up with, it’s a pretty sad universe.

    • wangweilin

      I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

  • Michael Allen

    Black holes are everywhere. So are hydrogen atoms, light, electrona…stars, silicates, carbonates,…he’ll methane is pretty ubiquitous.’s not like every galaxy in the universe has its own version of reality…or at least that’s the key premise of scientific understanding…i.e. uniformity and consistency….well my mathematicAL refutation of this paper is very simple: show me something else that is not human bUT yet has the se order of magnitude probability as the prediction indicated? Why trust any human knowledge or decree when it’s source is almost statistically non existent? Reductio….absurd.

  • mizuno10K

    With 50 billion Earth-like planets in our Milky Way alone… there are ~5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (50,000,000,000 X 100,000,000,000) Earth-like planets in the known universe… i could somewhat comprehend this incomprehensible figure in lieu of Earth being one and only.

  • Fred762

    My Bible lays this out easily. The only ONE who was there told us about how HE did it and why and when. Good read.

  • Breandán Heiliger

    Earth is not the center of the universe… However, it is the most special in the universe.

    I’ll take it! :)

  • David Lang

    We know with certainty that as of now, Terra is 1 : 2000. We inhabit one of the two thousand planets discovered so far. To increase the ratio to the extent presented here strikes me as absurd.

  • Jeff

    ‘…and very unlikely to support life…’ That is ridiculous unless the phrase ‘as we know it’ is added after the word ‘life.’ Can all those smart scientists be SO Earth-centric as to take for granted that the only life that can exist in the universe is like the life we have on Earth???

  • Dan Lipford

    Without defining “life” or admitting that we can only conjecture about the existence of life (whatever it is) “as we know it” existing elsewhere, Zackrisson’s work is the intellectual equivalent of drooling down the front of one’s shirt.

    • Randy Johnson

      Yet what an interesting discussion has been sparked.

      • Dan Lipford

        Without defining “life,” we’re discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin without having the vaguest idea of the size of the pin’s head or the size of the average angel’s foot.

        Interesting, but as likely to be productive as were the workers at the Tower of Babel.

  • bheron

    How about this… life adapts to the planet it exists on if there is any chance it can develop. It doesn’t have to be like earth. I agree with @erikbosma:disqus. Just say “I don’t know…” much better, huh? :)


    Human kind will die out soon. What will remain is Artificial Intelligence we help to create .

  • DarkHorseSki

    Considering just how difficult it is for us to detect Earth sized planets around other stars right now, I’d take this recent math exploration with several grains of salt.

  • nantucketbob

    People assume that if there are habitable planets in abundance, then there will be hominids like ourselves walking about on them. I doubt that.

    I have suspected the Drake Equation, estimating the number of habitable planets, to be in error. At least as far as eukaryotic life is concerned, I suspect our planet could be unique. That hominids exist elsewhere is exceedingly improbable. My conclusions are based on the chain of coincidences that seemed to have brought about eukaryotes and hominids. Just one, for example, was critical: the existence of our moon and earth’s 23 degree tilt. Without both, life as we know it would be very different. The list goes on and on. The debate gets complex so I will sign off.

  • Sal befor

    I believe the sole purpose for creating this Universe was mankind. Humans are the most superior of all the creations of GOD. I believe its like a chain.. He created other animals,plants,food, places for humans to eat,ride,go,see and praise the creator.The stars and the atoms, are For man to think and wonder. The stars and galaxies and all physics including time, are a busy box for humans.

  • Steve Baker

    The problem is: “Just how earthlike does it have to be?” – if it needs to have the same number of continents, in roughly the same places – then, yeah – probably Earth is indeed completely unique. But if it just has to have a temperature that’s good for liquid water and gravity between 0.1 and 2g’s to be counted as “earthlike” – then maybe there are trillions of them. The cutoff is usually something like “Could life exist here?” or perhaps “Could humans live there?” (very different criteria of course). For the first one, we have literally no idea whether life based around exotic chemistry even needs liquid water…so it’s hard to rule out any planets as “unsuitable for life”. Certainly you could count Mars as “earthlike” under that sort of criterion – which would conclusively prove these guys to be wrong. If you go with the “could humans live here?” criteria – then we might find it impossible to live in places where even other some other large mammals might make it OK. So without understanding the ‘tightness’ of their criteria for what is “earthlike” – it’s impossible to say whether they’re right or not.

    • Randy Johnson

      The orbital and revolving characteristics of the planet Venus makes me think it is not from around here and the possible source of the collision with early Earth responsible for the formation of our unusual moon.

  • Robert Lyle

    “Earth May Be a 1-in-700-Quintillion Kind of Place”& “More Data Needed”

    Pretty much sums up this article. Fun/Scary to think about, but without any evidence pointing us in the direction that we’re the anomaly of anomalies, there’s no point to weigh in on it significantly without DATA.

    Until we get our grubby mitts on the Historical Milky Way Galactic Stellar DB (thanks aliens for all the hard work), or painstakingly create our own, we have no “Earthly” idea what to expect besides referring to our existing exoplanet and stellar data.

    Also, we’re still thinking inside a box with the idea of a Goldilocks zone. A fine way to compare to our solar system, but wait, what about moons around Gas giants like Jupiter? we still don’t know, guys and gals.

    Any ideas (scientific or no) focused on for long about how unique we are in the Universe, is a clear sign of our human arrogance and our natural attractions to false assumptions under the guise of logical curiosity. Let’s steer away from this thinking until we have some solid fact to take us to that point. The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence, if you will.

    Or, scare yourself silly that we’re all alone and Earth is just “early” to the life party in our Galaxy. Just imagine I’m an advanced, science minded being (bipedal for the win!) from another solar system in our Galaxy reading this article, it would make me chuckle to myself, if I cared about intelligent life on Earth…

  • jim2011

    Numbers only work if one assumes that optimum conditions for biogenesis can’t be transient. We already have several extremophiles here who have long ago lost any need for a “Goldilocks” ecology.

  • 4thaugust1932

    Humans should stay away from Mars; They’ve spoiled Earth;

  • famouswolf

    LOL They are basing this on present technology, even with which we have confirmed there are solar systems? We didn’t even know that a few short years ago. With such a low field of data, any such conclusion is nothing worth thinking about. They don’t know, and there is no point in such speculation. It looks to me very likely there are lots of earth like planets, buts that’s just me…I read a lot of the old sci fi like Heinlein, Anderson and so on. The only way to be sure will be to go see. Until then…discussion and especially conclusions like this are just mental masturbation.

  • Bruce McD.

    This is just nonsense: my home planet was very much like this one.

    • Randy Johnson

      This one has changed quite a bit over the last few billion years.

  • Daniel Barger

    One factor that is frequently not allowed for is our moon. Are moons the norm for planets? Are they only the norm for larger
    planets and gas giants. If earth size/type planets in other solar systems do have moons do they have only one or mutiples….and how big are they. Our moon may be unique. It’s size and relative distance helped keep earth stable. Seasons and weather were more stable. Other planets without a sizeable moon may see dramatic swings in environments making life difficult of not impossible. It is possible that out of all the planets in the universe earth is one of the very few that is in the ‘goldilocks zone’, has abundant water and has a moon to stabilize it’s orbit and rotation.
    Thus earth may very well be a one in a quintillion.

  • nick

    regardless of how many potential planets there are life starts on molecular level which adds a whole lot of zero’s to probablility

  • StarRiders

    If the universe is infinite, or if there are an infinite number of universes, then anything that is possible will happen. In an infinite universe, there is another earth-like planet teeming with intelligent life, to the extent that we can be considered intelligent. There would be an Earth that runs roughly through the same history as our own. There would be another Earth with an identical history. In fact, there would be an infinite number of Earths with an identical history to our own, right down to every last detail. Yes, there are in infinite number of “me’s” typing this message, even as there are infinite number of “you’s” thinking what nonsense.

  • Antodav

    There are more planets out there like Earth, and countless civilizations that are at our level of technological advancement or far higher. How quaint and foolish the idea that humans are alone in the universe will seem to our descendants 500 years from now, when humans are part of a larger galactic community. They will think of us the way that we think of people in the Middle Ages, believing that the Earth was flat and at the center of the universe.

    • OWilson

      Ah, a universal United Nations.

      How thrilling :)

  • Luis Osio

    Just as the Bible states, a world as unique as its Redeemer, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • in fine fettle

    This article reminds me of themes I’ve heard before about the difference between the scientific method and the process of science. It also reminds me of the classic science fiction question about whether robots (computers etc.) can ever replace human reasoning/emotions/souls.

    Here, the computer number cruncher led basically to the conclusion, “we don’t know.” Even more interestingly, another “sort of” conclusion that came from the number crunching experiment was “we should not even be here according to our ‘scientific theories.'” To state the obvious, working on a level that abstract is useless and just gets a lot of people talking about beer. All the good scientists thought that science was largely about imagination. Here’s an article that says a couple of things on that topic.

    blogs. discovermagazine. com/badastronomy/2009/04/06/science-is-imagination/#.Vtsfi5wrLIV

  • Luis Osio

    And when you realize the improbability refers to the most basic physical conditions only, then try adding life on two counts: millions of perfect living species, and the equilibrium, the perfect balance between all of them. Ecosystems which demand subordinating scientific blabbing to humble adoration of God. Hurrah for Genesis!

    • Randy Johnson

      We are ourselves ecosystems with thousands of species or maybe just hundreds but a lot, and home to trillions of microscopic life forms containing 45 to 85 per cent of the DNA we carry around. Some of them are hideous, but probably attractive to each other to some degree, the sexually reproducing microbug ones.

  • Donald Sensing

    And current research shows that 90 percent of galaxies cannot support life at all because of radiation intensities.

  • Fern Galooth

    Why is ‘earthlike’ a requirement for life ? There is only one cat in the Universe exactly like the one sleeping in my lap. There may also be an infinite number of Universes in which case there would be an infinite number of Earths exactly like the one my cat is napping in – down to the quark level.

  • PeanutButterJam

    For the most part, the only exoplanets we have discovered are gas giants with the occasional super rocky mass. Feed that to a computer and of course Earth will look like an anomaly.

    We are not yet far enough along to detect exoplanets comparable to us. If Venus (say) were an exoplanet, it would still be unknown.

  • ubik

    It’s all in Genesis. Find the truth there.

  • Randy Johnson

    I’m agnostic too. It seems ridiculous for me to continue having faith in the existence of a being of such powerful magnitude to be able to create the universe we see and with the relative speck of dust that is the planet Earth with the wholly alone distinguishing characteristic of life as we know it and it is the highest imaginable degree of hubris to believe that we are so special that this being capable as He is could possibly believe we are so special as to deserve any more than His passing interest and amusement. That is orders of magnitude beyond believing the Earth is flat and the sun revolves around it. However, I have no trouble believing in the POSSIBILITY that beings of very advanced civilizations, possibly hailing from other planets, have in the past set themselves up as Gods for the gullible human beings, and that human beings have tried to emulate their methods from time to time. Those are possibilities I can get my head around, so to speak.

  • Pedro Morales

    the real question is not how or why God created the universe but why and how did God come into existence?

  • Frodo44444

    Our definition of the goldilocks zone is grossly incomplete. Most models do not allow for hot stars and planets with distant orbits, or cold stars with planets with close orbits. The reasoning is that neither would last long enough for life to develop, and that is a very big stretch.

  • AB Atwater

    I am just reading this, now. Agreed; I don’t know! That is the frustrating, upsetting aspect of it all. The universe is so vast; our galaxy alone has expanse enough to host many regions where multiple zones of allegedly habitable worlds should exist. Yet….nothing? WHAT?!? Why not? What are we missing? Where are we not looking? Is it that we should not be looking? Some ominous, foreboding warning? We just want to know that we are not alone, how this all started, where this all really came from……

  • joseph2237

    Excellent article. Our recent history teaches us that we seem destine to find the remains of ancient civilizations that thrived and vanished. This may also be our destiny in space looking for other life forms I truly hope not. But for those who haven’t heard, TS Eliot said “We shall not cease from exploration. And in the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”. It is not hard there fore to envision a future time when our explores come home and see the tiny planet and appreciate how truly precious it is.

  • Iftikhar Qayum

    Anyone here a strong believer in statistics and chance theories..?

  • Jason

    Having the earth is just scratching the surface what everyone forgets is human consciousness is the big one and wisdom and knowledge of understanding it. These numbers now become so large that it’s in plain site what’s driving everything. Nothing exists without it through us all and giving definition becomes what the defining factor about our creator. That which gives us the wisdom too understand it all. What are the numbers of having this in the equation not sure if these numbers even exist. Thousandth of a trillionth.

  • joseph2237

    I agree, there is no real evidence that there are other worlds, just math assumptions. Barring the any concrete evidence of UFO there seems to be no one out there and the “out there” has increased by a factor of ten because of the realization from Hubble Deep Field that the number of galaxies now stand at 20 trillion. Earth existence is due to hundreds of happy accidents like having a moon the right size and distance from us, or the collision of another smaller planet that ultimately shape the Earth size and position in the solar system. We can’t even say where all the water came from. All we can do is hope another world is out there but the odds are really starting to stack up against it.

    • Maia

      No, Id say the more galaxies the better the chances we are not the only planet harboring complex life-forms…. (notice I did not say “intelligent” because there are too many assumptions around that word.) Since life on this planet developed so soon after the first possible moment, I’d say however that happened, it’s a pretty robust process and likely to have happened (in perhaps other versions) elsewhere. All we have is “no proof”, which is not the same as “no life”, and least of all “we are alone”.

      • joseph2237

        No matter, the universe is a very dangerous and deadly place and our isolation is certainly intentional. Recent agreement has raised the number of galaxies to 200 trillion but we haven’t found any life in the first two trillion. Granted we haven’t been looking very long but the longer we look the greater the advantage moves to my opinion.

  • Amos Shapir

    Zackrisson may be right that there is no other planet *exactly* like Earth; but there could be quite a few which are pretty close (and a few have already been discovered), which may support some sort of life.

    It’s like the difference between calculating the probability of the event “someone is going to guess the numbers 2, 5, 11, 23, 27, and 34 in the Cleveland lottery on 5/11/2022” — which may bee 700 quintillion to 1 (I didn’t do the math); and the event “someone is going to win a 6-number lottery within the next 5 years” — which is most likely 1.

  • Bureau of Censorship

    To allude to a scientist in a life documentary, life–even complex life–may be abundant in the universe, but you’ve got to think that the ability to look up to the stars and wonder “why?” is extraordinarily rare.

  • Gary Epstein

    I am not religious certainly, but because of that alone do not contend there is not something special about Earth and our Sun. Surely if life began from just some organic broth, there is no way in 4.5 billion years, humanity could be here. It pushes us to some outrageous conclusions, held today by some IT people, we are a program somehow derived from a quantum intelligence we can never understand.

  • Megan Choi

    Pick a number between 1 & 700 quintillion…got it? Now, the chances of you picking the number you picked are exactly 1 in 700 quintillion…amazing! How did you do it? How did you know to pick the number you picked with the odds so stacked against you?

  • James Stratton

    I think it rather arrogant to believe that We are the Only Living Human Beings in an Entire Universe of Stars and Orbiting Planets. I Believe there are 6 Other Earth Like Planets similar to Our own within Our own Milky Way Galaxy and that We need to focus on that first. Reaching Outside the Galaxy is absurd with Present day Technology as We have only now come in to a better understanding of the Processes of Life. Thank You…

  • Sarah Goodwich

    I doubt that this figure is even that high. It’s more likely that it is 1 in 700 septillion. The reason for this is the current point of cosmic evolution, with the universe being only twice as old at the time of year earth was formed, as the Earth’s current age. Before that, stars were far too unstable to support the evolution of Life over so many billions of years, and so the unusual nature of the earth must be factored into the relatively early age of the current universe.

  • goblin072 .

    The guy that made that model is a moron. Kepler misses 99+ percent of the planets. Meaning there are 1000x more than we think there are based on kepler. Basically every star has planets. It is the norm not the exception. This person is just another nut trying to prove earth is special one of a kind. Its not and we are not alone in the universe. Deal with it.

    and if the universe is infinite then he is wrong again. That would mean there is not only another earth but the EXACT same earth with same people since infinite combinations exist.

  • Joseph Harrison

    If you want to bake an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent beer.

  • Viviana A. Simons

    Hm, this is real interesting and a lot of people would point to some sort of Higher being to our unlikely existence and I guess that is so, but… like… we always point to spirituality to explain what we don’t know, so hold your horses I guess?

  • Billy Jackson

    “A fairly lucky hand.” Ya think. And scientists think the big bang engineered life, some how. If not ,from where?

  • david harper

    I’ve been either an atheist or an agnostic my entire life (not sure which) but at the age of 66 after reading quite a lot about how extraordinary and profoundly unlikely planet earth is, I have been rethinking my beliefs about a supreme being. It’s actually possible, statistically, that an entire universe is required to exist in order for one planet earth to “happen”. Not only in terms of physical properties, but in terms of time, as well. Just one example; if an asteroid had not wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, man would probably never have evolved. The age of the mammals was made possible by that event. And it goes on and on. The existence of the ozone layer,which protects us from deady energy from space is another example. The age of our solar system solar system, age,size,and type of our sun, all are required for our planet to have conditions for the evolution of man. Even the solar systems position, in the milky way galaxy, is now known to be a requirement. It all seems to me so implausible and unlikely to me that I’m having difficulty imagining how,and more importantly, why this planet would “happen” as a result of chance.I’m not a religious person at all. I don’t believe in any man-made god like catholicism, even though I was brought up catholic. I left the church and it’s teachings a long time ago. But I think I now understand why Albert Einstein came to a belief in God toward the end of his life.

  • ben johnston

    It doesn´t even take faith to see that we live on created planet, perfectly placed. I mean come on, logic and common sense are the only things you need here. An astrophysicist said earth shouldn´t even be here. Now just add that to the already overwhelming proofs of creation and BOOM!!! there ya go. Mystery solved! Praise Jesus! LOL! But seriously, Praise Jesus!


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