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1,235 Planets in our universe ... and counting

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Holy Diver, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. Holy Diver

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    Every exoplanet orbiting every star discovered by the Kepler telescope

    This amazing image takes all 1,235 of the candidate planets spotted by NASA's Kepler telescope, and then shows them in orbit around their stars. And all of this is still just the tiniest fraction of the entire Milky Way.

    ================================================================

    This is such a cool perspective, to think how far we have come in such a short time in exploring our universe, and the to understand the scope of what is unknown...


    1,235 planets discovered, only a fraction of our own galaxy actually searched.
  2. PatsFanInVa

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    and the Milky Way is such a tiny fraction of the universe... the cool thing is that planetary formation seems to be fairly common. So, that's one term in the equation for extraterrestrial life solved (if you're interested in that whole "are we alone" thing.)
  3. Holy Diver

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    I think the odds of Humans and life on Earth being an accident shrink each day. If you are a person who has faith, then you certainly believe in extra terrestrial life, every text from the bible to the quran speak of "those who came from the sky/heavens"

    If science thinks its probable, and religions base their texts on it, and the Vatican currently accepts it....


    who is still a skeptic? The terrorists?
  4. PatsFanInVa

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    Don't get me wrong, I don't want to meet the bastids. Hawking reminds us to think of the American Indians meeting the Europeans. Um, that can happen. Best we can do is introduce ET to cigarettes as a slow-burning revenge tactic.
  5. Holy Diver

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    better yet...introduce them to Supply Side Economics....

    but we are drifting.
  6. The Brandon Five

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    The problem is that many scientists do not think it is possible, hence the need for the multiverse theory.
  7. PatsFanInVa

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    Which scientists say extraterrestrial life is not possible?

    It seems at odds with, well, the odds.
  8. IcyPatriot

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  9. The Brandon Five

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    Not impossible. Improbable. Odds are against it.

    Is physics watching over us? : Nature News

  10. chicowalker

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    What "odds"?

    and what you cited doesn't seem to be addressing the likelihood of extraterrestrial life
  11. Harry Boy

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    To know that life exists elsewhere all one has to do is "look up" how can anyone be so numb as to think that in a universe that seems to go on forever that we, on this little planet are the only life in that universe.

    The people who don't believe that other living beings are somewhere out there are the same people that fainted when Barack Hussein Obama walked out onto a stage and blew his nose.


    :bricks:
  12. chicowalker

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    harry, you were doing so well until you tried to bring politics into it...
  13. Harry Boy

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    I'm sorry I couldn't help it.


    :bricks:
  14. PatsFanInVa

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    Actually, this has absolutely nothing to do with the probability of life on other planets in this universe.

    It has everything to do with what Susskind says is the likelihood of our universe existing at all. And I think his issue is the balance of primordial forces following the big bang not immediately resulting in either an incredibly inhospitable universe, or in the immediate collapse of whatever universe did result.

    I do agree with the opposite argument; it is very, very, very likely that the universe we observe will be exactly as it is, since we are here to observe it.

    But regardless, Susskind et al. can say our universe is improbable, but it does nothing to establish the probability or improbability within our universe of more than one life-supporting planet.

    The obvious conclusion is that no other planet will have to contend with other laws of physics, so far as we know. The planets observed in the OP's link are in no danger of never having existed, because the universe they are in collapsed into a superhot superrandom soup that never coalesced into localized clumps (like ours did,) or annihilated itself because matter and anitmatter were in a precise balance, rather than in an almost precise balance, as in our universe.

    Given the universe that we -- and whatever aliens there are -- both exist in, the OP's post establishes one term of a long equation. That is, it seems that many stars have planets orbiting them.

    That was not a known fact until we started getting an idea of the existence of exoplanets.

    They've now started finding rocky exoplanets, not just gas giants. That's term 2: it appears that rocky planets are in plentiful supply out there.

    Liquid water would be (probably) another term... we think water's a really good thing to have around if you want to make life happen. Etcetera.

    Life elsewhere is incalculably more likely with exoplanets without them, just as it is vastly more likely if we find liquid water.

    But the point is, given the size of our universe, it is just about certain that all the necessary conditions pertained -- regardless of how likely or unlikely our universe is to exist at all.

    So, this particular article on Susskind et al has no bearing here. Since we're in our universe, the question of the universe ever coming into being is pretty much solved from the get-go.

    PFnV
  15. The Brandon Five

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    I guess I was thinking that the Nature article serves as a general rebuttal of the anthropic principle.

    In my opinion you need more than 1,235 planets to have the odds in your favor to explain life on this planet, let alone others. I know that you and others think otherwise (that is, you believe the odds do favor it). Since none of us truly know the odds we are at an impasse.

    If you believe that DNA is data rather than information the idea that life can just happen makes sense. I think it is information. It represents a message. Messages do not arise from random noise.

    For more on the information theory critique of the purely naturalistic explanation see here:

    Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life - Cambridge University Press
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011
  16. chicowalker

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    1235 is a miniscule fraction of the # of planets that almost certainly exist in the universe

    The idea of "odds" in this context, though, is pretty meaningless.
  17. The Brandon Five

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    Well the 1,235 represent planets that are thought to have conditions necessary for life. The total number of planets in the universe is irrelevant.

    Odds are meaningless if the universe is infinite. We know that it is not.
  18. chicowalker

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    3 things:
    1) you mean life as we know it -- we have no idea what other forms of life may exist

    2) what the 1235 refers to: "... candidate planets spotted by NASA's Kepler telescope, and then shows them in orbit around their stars. And all of this is still just the tiniest fraction of the entire Milky Way..." -- the idea that these 1235 are the only planets existing in the universe that would meet the criteria set forth has no basis

    3) odds -- has nothing to do with infinite or now -- think about what eactly "odds" would be measuring here -- this isn't the outcome of a football game or coin toss -- if it's supposed to be analogous to a series of coin tosses, what exactly is the analogy to the coin toss itself? and finally, how are the probabilities siupposed to be deteermined?

    it's a meaningless notion thrown around for purposes of talking in generalities with casual readers about science.
  19. The Brandon Five

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    Until we find other forms, that is the scientific stance, no? Otherwise, it is science fiction.

    As would any assertion that there are more. Unless they are found, they are purely a matter of speculation or extrapolation.

    In an infinite universe you get certainties for any probability, so that regardless of the odds (we agree that they are unknown) you can be confident that they don't matter. In a finite universe you need to know what the odds are, which (as you point out) is pretty much impossible.


    I am surprised that you would say such a thing about HD and PFinV.:p
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011
  20. chicowalker

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    I don't think there is a "scientific stance." if there is one, it certainly issn't that anything we don't know is science fiction.


    Or logic. There's no reason to think that the only planets in the entire universe are those we've come across so far.

    So is it speculation? Sure -- but you seem to be denigrating that.

    I'm pretty confident our knowledge of the iniverse has only scratched the surface.
  21. PatsFanInVa

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    Where to start? B5, your link was to an entirely different argument. You do, in fact, identify that one argument against Susskind et al. arises from the antrhopic principle. You do not identify that the 2002 Nature article says that Susskind et al. are firebrands for thinking our universe so unlikely.

    So we have one admittedly very acclaimed physicist and his team saying it's so improbable that our universe would exist that it can't, but the assertion's not quantified. And that's before you go to the many worlds interpretation, which ends up with pretty much infinite possibilities to pick from. Our universe wouldn't just be possible in such an interpretation of quantum physics, it would be a certainty.

    By the way, the "candidates" identified, if I read the link right, are candidates for planethood. Since they are inferred by a gravitational wobble, the "results" are skewed toward more massive planets, which means gas giants (unless there are "rock giants" somewhere, which I don't think happens.) They're starting to be able to find something as small as our size of planet, more or less, and have turned up a few "earthlike" planets, meaning little rocky ones. The 1,235 aren't particularly good for life. But it would be better for life, we think, for planets not to be a phenomenon unique to our solar system.

    This is where I have to wade in and disagree with Chico, who seems to say that the idea of odds is meaningless in this conversation, just tossed out there so the gullible clods like myself will think one thing or another.

    Chico, let us postulate a universe that spawned one very special solar system, ours. Among all stars in all the galaxies in all the universe, only ours suffered some ancient calamity that ripped stuff off the sun, which turned into planets.

    In that universe, the type of life we would most easily recognize will not exist elsewhere, period.

    There was some chance, based on observation, that we lived in such a universe before a couple of decades ago. Now there is zero chance that we live in such a universe.

    Now, objectively speaking, there was never any chance that we lived in such a universe. But were we trying to solve an equation for the chance of life "out there," when it was not known whether there were planets "out there," we would have to factor in the chance that there were not.

    Now we know there are. That variable is now a constant.

    So, you're right -- there are either aliens out there or not. I say yes, maybe B5 says no, or perhaps no unless God says so. I can't quite tell.

    BUT, were we looking and looking for a gravitational wobble and not finding one among other stars, it would be more likely, given our incomplete knowledge of the universe, that I am wrong to think there are aliens out there.

    Another fact it's worth considering: There are a lot of places that could harbor life.

    Let's consider a "universe" consisting of our star and perhaps 5000 others. Even were we to find our 1235 planets, including the handful of rocky ones, among 5,000 stars, we would be at an immediate disadvantage (even though in reality we've found the 1,235 by looking at many many more stars.)

    We can't see EVERY planet yet. Last I read about this, we can't even see another Earth if we stare right at it... but we'd see a Jupiter or even a Neptune. We could even see something three times or so the mass of earth, going from memory.

    So if we could SEE 1,235 planets, just by looking at 5,000 available stars, we might even conclude there were 5,000 solar systems to pick from.

    Yet it seems that planet formation is commonplace, and there is no reason to believe that it is less commonplace in other regions of space than our own very local stellar neighborhood.

    Since life arising depends on a number of variables lining up just right, I would rather have 100 sextilian possible host stars to choose from, rather than
    5,000. That's a lot more chances for those variables to line up, no?

    So yes, the life is either there or not. But we are looking for it and ain't found it yet, so it seems we've got a very macro version of shroedinger's cat on our hands.

    Perhaps it's more meaninful to talk about the chance that one or another speculation/interpretation is correct.

    But I'm not certain I understand an argument that it does not affect those odds for planet formation to be commonplace. Seems to me it does. Dumb it down for me, will ya?

    Thanks,

    PFnV
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011
  22. PatsFanInVa

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    By the way, is it more likely that life will exist in an orbit where liquid water can exist, than in an orbit where it can't?

    All the life we know about depends on liquid water. It's apparently a very convenient thing for carbon-based life to have around.

    Does that mean that you can't have silicon-based life? No, it just means we don't know about any yet. We do know about carbon-based life, and we do know that it's dependent, to our knowledge, on access to water.

    So sure, whatever is, is, and whatever isn't, isn't. Stipulated. Now, given our knowns and unknowns, is it more or less likely to be true that the objective state is X or that it is Y?

    The idea that odds have no place in a conversation about unknowns, again, seems a bit strange to me. It's like saying that odds have nothing to do with playing poker, because the cards are in a certain order in the deck, there are a certain number of players, and if we know in retrospect every behavior every player is determined to take, and we know the order of the cards in the deck, it is obvious what the objective answer is, and the hand we would draw.

    That's what we're talking about in terms of flips of the coin: the likelihood that one or another conclusion is correct. If there is one exoplanet in the universe, I have one chance to be right. I need a very very good roll of the dice for life to come about on that planet, and a very weak argument that there must be life out there somewhere. If I have 100 sextillian stars to choose from, and it's likely that a large percentage of them have planets orbiting them, I have a lot of flips of the coin to come up with, well, for starters, a goldilocks zone planet. My argument for ET life is therefore stronger.

    By the way, from what I can tell, we found one in the right zone, out of 1235. Maybe by now there are 2 or 3, whatever.

    If there's no bias for or against that distance, that means about 1/1000th of stars with planets (give or take) have one in the goldilocks zone (SO FAR.) Small sample size, after all. We might look through another 100,000 planets before this result repeats, or we might find another 20 goldilocks planets out of the next 100 we find... we might have just had very bad luck in finding that first one.

    PFnV
  23. chicowalker

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    That's not what I was implying. In fact, my conclusion is similar to what you seem to be saying.

    I've heard people refer to the odds of life coming into existence as being so small as to be essentially zero. Now, if they're saying that the chance that a life form is going to spontaneously generate right now, next to me on my desk, I would agree. That seems to be impossible, practically speaking -- about as close to zero as possible.

    That said, my issue with this argument is two-fold: (i) there's no way to assess what this "probability" is and (ii) like I asked Brandon (I think?) whAT IS that supposed to mean? Is the analogy to a coin flip, to take the most commonly referred to incident with probabilities, each nanosecond in each point in the universe? Since there's no discrete incident to measure, I'd like to know what somebody is referring to when they say the chances are almost zero. Because while I don't expect new life to pop up next to my lap top, when you take all the moments in the history of time, at all the places in the universe, those tiny odds turn into what would seem to be a near certainty.

    edit: just read your next post, should have read it first. You and I do have the same conclusions and for the same reasons.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011
  24. The Brandon Five

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    It certainly isn't science. Science requires observation.


    I'm not denigrating it, I'm saying it is not scientific fact. Sorry, for those insisting on a naturalistic explanation for the universe and life you are only allowed to use naturalistic phenomena to support your view.

    The universe and many other things (like what Bill Belichick is thinking...the modern equivalent of Einstein's desire to know God's thoughts).
  25. PatsFanInVa

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    Chico - way more succinct than my blathering. Megadittos, as the congiscenti say, about the odds of life popping up on my desk (other than the life that's already swarming all over it.) Popping up in a well and truly dead space seems a neat trick, and it takes a lot of opportunities for it to happen. As you say, the nice thing is that there are a sh1tload of opportunities.

    B5 - that would be Norman Einstein, I take it?
  26. The Brandon Five

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    Naw, this guy!

    [​IMG]
  27. patsfan13

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    If life is widespread it would speak against random chance in the development of life. Looking at even the smallest bacteria the number of dependencies are enormous. Hoyle was the first to try to calculate the probability of life forming spontaneously. His work has been seized upon by the intelligent design people and creationist (2 very different groups.


    Yockey dismisses the intel design people, he has a background in physic and information theory

    http://www.hubertpyockey.com/hpyblog/about/

    A site discussing Hoyle's estimate and how it has been interpreted/misinterpreted by others. Nice overview.

    Fred Hoyle's Boeing-story in the Evolution-Creation literature

    Book review of a book on the 'impossibility of life arising spontaneously:

    A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization (Dean Overman).


    Another overview of probabilities:

    Journal of Cosmology


    So perhaps the very improbable happened and life formed in our galaxy and is seedrd throughout this galaxy, what are the probabilities that the same events would happen in multiple galaxies? There are lots of galaxies but a finite number.
  28. PatsFanInVa

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    Here's what's confusing to me when smart guys start talking about the probabilities of the right combination of molecules fitting like a jigsaw puzzle to form a single-celled organism: It's fine that its a probability of 10 -65 against. Now: how many candidate molecule sets were available on Earth? (Though the idea that early conditions were too severe to permit the development of life has some merit, one has to ask why those conditions were not so severe as to destroy life that had developed elsewhere, as the "life from space" guy says. Oh yeah, and that life had to suffer the vacuum and cold of space before getting here....)

    I read one estimate on the order of 10 ^46 molecules in the ocean. That's when it gets dicy. Obviously to get a 50/50 shot of the Big Event happening (valued at 10 ^-65) you'll probably want molecules combining more or less constantly because you want something like 10 ^19 opportunities for the "big event" to have a 50/50 shot of happening by chance on earth.

    This is treating molecules equally of course, which is silly. You need plenty of water molecules in a living organism, but also sugars and proteins that have no business combining the way they did (hence the 10^-65 figure I suppose.) So let's stipulate to that.

    But the complaint in the article is that the earth had about 400 million years to make that 19-order-of-magnitude leap. (what's that, 4 x 10 ^8 years?)
    There are 31,536,000 seconds in the year, using 365 exact 24 hour days (a little more but why sweat it.) so that's 3 x 10^7. Taking a second as our basic unit of time we'd need to get our little combination to take place, and taking molecules on earth to be the unit that's trying to make the Big Event happen, you get a 1.2 x 10^15 opportunity. How much does a molecule move in a given second? How many actual "opportunities" are represented in that second? How do we measure what's an "opportunity" in the original 10 ^-65 estimate? What are the measures we should be using for the "primordial soup" stuff (rather than the volume of water in the oceans?)

    This is where I freely acknowledge that the science guys are the ones who can give us more of a real answer. But if you have a number of 10 ^-65 against, and you can only get to 10 ^-61 against on planet, well that's where your numerous planets come in. You'll need 10,000 planets with liquid water (unless that was not even a pre-condition in the 10 ^-65 estimate, which I doubt,) to get to a 50% chance.

    That's why it's nice to know that planets seem to be plentiful, and that planets with liquid water might have included 3 in our own solar system at one time or another (unless you include the weirdo *possible* lake of liquid water under a mile of ice on a moon of a gas giant.) It also looks like we're starting to see them pop up in the "goldilocks zone..."

    But I digress. The point is that the probabilities, once they're non-zero, become closed issues very quickly by the event occuring in our own galaxy not only on our planet, but on one virtually next-door (which I assume most of these are.) The non-zero event, whether it's a 1 in 100 or 1 in 1000, can be replicated hundreds of millions, billions, of tens of billions of times, when you have 400 billion stars to work with, just in our galaxy.

    That's a lot of chances in each galaxy, once again, for life to evolve.

    Now granted, the paper only asserted it could not have happened here -- it must have happened elsewhere and been transferred here.

    But by the same logic, life couldn't have evolved there either. Unless it did.

    PFnV
  29. chicowalker

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    I didn't claim it was science, but while science requires some observation, that doesn't preclude speculation of what we can't observe based on what we have observed.

    The lack of observation will keep scientists from claiming something as fact, however.


    Where did I claim it was scientific fact?


    Perhaps -- I consider the universe to be everything there is, but I'm also aware that could be wrong.
  30. patsfan13

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    Well since we are here it is axiomatic that life can exist. Since the probabilities as random occurrences of life starting are so low the probability of life existing in more than 1 galaxy is essentially zero.

    As Yockey shows we will never know how we went from chemical process to genomes that are alive and able to reproduce. The number of events needed to produce the simplest bacteria are astronomical. If life originates in more than a couple of locations that speaks against random chance. Then Overton's theory takes on more weight.

    Of course if one believes in a creator (ie an intelligent universe) them the intelligent design becomes the model one looks to.

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