Hope everyone’s new year’s eve went well. I spent it with my wife in our new house, so that makes me officially “old.” At least I didn’t go to bed before midnight.
Just at, like, 12:04 am.
Anyway, Korzak (I keep spelling it Korczak for some reason, the Polish Apocalyptic Lobster) is starting off the year with a post about the Mars rovers, so I’m going to do some space stuff, too.
It appears that analysis of the Milky Way show where complex life may have or has already evolved. We’re going to have to get a little philosophical for a moment, so bear with me.
How do we define “complex life?” The argument is a parallel with another physics argument – what was the Universe before the Big Bang, when the Universe had infinite mass and infinite density? Stephen Hawking has stated that what came before the Universe isn’t relevant to our mathematical assumptions about the Universe we live in; an infinitely massive and dense particle defies all laws of universal physics and, thus, we can draw no conclusions about its nature. In a similiar vein, life that is not carbon-based, multi-molecular, and breathing a nitrox mix isn’t really on our radar. Earth may have already been contacted by alien life, but we are unable to recognize these lifeforms as intelligent and complex. We are limited by our own definition of life, which makes the next part kind of funny.
According to the article, there are about 30 billion stars in a “Habitable Zone” that can support life we recognize. Our Sun is younger than 75% of the stars in this zone, which might mean we’re the youngest and stupidest lifeforms out there right now. Our definition of “complex life” is limited by, perhaps, how non-complex (simple, that is) we are.
But, that’s neither here nor there. Let’s go to math to see how many cultures might be out there. Let’s say, of these 30 billion stars, 1% have planets on them. Of these planets, 1% are like earth. Of those like earth, let’s say 1% of those have life that we can recognize. That means there might be 300 planets out there that have recognizable life on it. Not that we can reach them, of course, since they’re so far away, but what the hell. How bad could it be?