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What if we ARE utterly alone in the galaxy?

 
 
Reply Sat 1 Nov, 2014 07:32 pm
Most people tend to think we are not alone in the Universe, that with all those billions of stars and even more planets and moons that there must be other intelligent life out there that we just haven't discovered yet.

But what if that's not true. Imagine for a moment that it may be just us as the galaxy's ONLY intelligent species, with other planet perhaps only ever supporting single celled organisms. I find it a daunting thought, but not impossible or even improbable.

Recently a British scientist named Brian Cox suggested that is actually the case:
Quote:
He said: "There is only one advanced technological civilization in this galaxy and there has only ever been one - and that's us," Professor Cox said. "We are unique."

"It's a dizzying thought. There are billions of planets out there, surely there must have been a second genesis?

"But we must be careful because the story of life on this planet shows that the transition from single-celled life to complex life may not have been inevitable."


And it's that last sentence that got me thinking. I've always believe that there is other life out there, and Professor Cox could agree, but he's saying that life never gets past the single cellular stage (except for us). And I simply don't have the information available to gauge the probability of multi-cellular organism arising.

What we do know for certain is that simple life (replicative molecules) formed on this planet very quickly, just as soon as the rocks had cooled enough for water to form. And I believe it probably forms almost everywhere very quickly wherever liquid water is present. We also know it took about 2 billion years after that for multi-cellular organism to arise.

I had always assumed that the rise to multi-cellularity was inevitable (or close to it), but what if that's not correct at all. I find hard to imagine any forms of intelligence which are limited to single cellularity, so if multi-cellularity is a critical precursor to the rise of intelligence, and if multi-cellularity is the rarest of flukes.... then the Universe may be just as empty as our present experience seems to indicate.

How does it make you feel, being the only intelligent species anywhere?

“Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.”
― Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

A link to the article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2809183/We-universe-Professor-Brian-Cox-says-alien-life-impossible-humanity-unique.html
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Type: Discussion • Score: 23 • Views: 10,428 • Replies: 159

 
mark noble
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Nov, 2014 09:04 pm
@rosborne979,
He's running a series atm, called 'Human Universe'.
It's rather well presented and accurate.
Mankind is not alone - There are millions of lifeforms on earth - No reason to consider ET's until they are proven to be.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Nov, 2014 09:17 pm
I am sure you know that the idea you are describing is also known as "the great filter." Ever since Copernicus, we have been forced by scientific developments more and more to take the position that we are not special. I am very skeptical of the idea that we are so fantastically lucky. There are several hundred billion stars in our galaxy and 10^22 stars in the known universe. That's a lot of chances. However, if we are the only intelligent life, it would really make it a duty to not destroy ourselves.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Nov, 2014 09:17 pm
It's his guess against all the others. It does not seem likely many planets will have species with an intellect equivalent to humanity's. I believe there will be some, but we will almost certainly never know of them.
0 Replies
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Nov, 2014 09:42 pm
@rosborne979,
Quote:
How does it make you feel, being the only intelligent species anywhere?


That's how all people on this planet traditionally thought of themselves until, oh, roughly the time of Copernicus and Galileo and Newton when our understanding of the vastness of the universe began to change and gradually develop into the currently accepted model. There may be statistical reasons and theories of probability which make our uniqueness unlikely; there is, however, no logical reason that there should be other intelligent species out there. What empirical evidence do we have for this notion? None.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Sat 1 Nov, 2014 10:40 pm
@rosborne979,


(The ending is especially appropriate to this thread).
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Nov, 2014 11:07 pm

THEN we r a lot SAFER
than (most likely) we actually r.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Nov, 2014 11:26 pm

IF we R alone in the galaxy,
then we can claim so much of it as we want, as our own real estate,
with no alien dispute.





David
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2014 01:46 am
Given the limitations imposed by interstellar distances, and leaving aside the popular fantasies of science fiction, it wouldn't really matter if there were another technological civilization out there. They would likely never visit us and we would likely never visit them. If there were one out there, and they were 50 light years away, what kind of conversation would we have with a century between statement and response?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2014 01:55 am
As for the rest of Mr. Cox's thesis, i agree that complex life forms are far less probable than has commonly been thought, but i don't see any reason to assume that the odds against it are almost insurmountable. Complex life forms may be extremely rare, but i see no reason to assume that they're nearly impossible.
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2014 03:18 am
@rosborne979,
He certainly seems to be rather sure of his blind guess, doesn't he?

I agree with the guesses of the many others that life probably is not confined only to this planet...but I acknowledge it may be that life IS unique to this planet.

In any case, even if the galaxy teems with life...there is the possibility that no evolving life ever gets much beyond where we are right now. Perhaps ALL evolving life gets where we are...where we have evolved technologically to the point where we can destroy all life on this planet but have not evolved philosophically to the point where we DEFINITELY WILL NOT.

And perhaps all evolving life eventually destroys itself and all other life on its home planet.


0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2014 03:35 am
@rosborne979,
'What if we're it???' .....

That would in fact be the strongest possibility IF evolution were anything other than a bunch of brain-dead ideological bullshit. The laws of probability would gigantically mitigate against a space-faring civilization ever having evolved more than once.

In real life however, we know that evolution IS a bunch of brain-dead ideological bullshit and that people still defending it are basically just a bunch of academic dead wood as you can easily observe on forums like this one.

In real life, our living world is governed by a gigantically complex information system and there is no reason to believe that such an info system would be limited to our own planet.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2014 04:00 am
Mr. Cox's speculation is not "blind guessing." He is speculating based on the state of the knowledge of biology that we presently have available to us. Nor is there any evidence for a "gigantically complex information system." That must be Gunga Dim's name for god in his intelligent design fantasy.

Cox is not saying that the earth is the only place where there is life. He is speculating on the probability of higher order life, and the probability of sentient, self-aware life attaining technological sophistication. I suspect that he is making some unwarranted assumptions, but there is no way for me or for him to know. It is apparent from the article (which really provides scant information) that he is speculating on the probability of the series of "accidents" which have lead to our self-aware, sentient and technological culture. In response to the naïve and silly Fermi paradox, some people have speculated that we are the first technological species, and others that we are the last. Which leads to the speculation that technological species may be sufficiently uncommon that there never are more than one or two, or a few, in any galaxy at any one time. Our SETI efforts are laughable. We are looking at such a tiny, tiny fraction of the sky that there's no basis for making assumption based on the "silence." Furthermore, as has been pointed out more than once in the last decade, the radio and imcrowave radiation of a technological species is going to be indistinguishable from the background radiation, unless it happened to be beamed directly at us, a very, very low order of probability.

But, from the article, Cox is not basing his speculation of SETI efforts, but rather on the probability of biological events such as those which lead to humanity. We really are working with far too little information about what motivates his speculation. Without a fuller explanation of his reasoning, we're really in no position to reasonably judge his thesis.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  2  
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2014 04:09 am
I am spectacularly not interested in if we are the only ones. If we are not I hope the other ones are not looking for us and that we dont find them. I have my wife kids and friends as well as pets, I dont need no stinking aliens.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2014 04:16 am
@hawkeye10,
Thay 'd probably regard us
as Ponce de Leon arriving in a Florida swamp encountering mosquitos.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2014 04:38 am
Quote:
He said: "There is only one advanced technological civilization in this galaxy and there has only ever been one - and that's us," Professor Cox said. "We are unique."


That is without a doubt...A BLIND GUESS.

Anyone who considers that to be anything but a blind guess...either cannot read or cannot reason.


Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2014 04:51 am
@Frank Apisa,
Ah-hahahahahahahaha . . .

Oh yeah, Frank's an expert on reasoning abilities. So you're sufficiently informed about the basis of his speculation to make your judgment? Or you just going on the basis of what a journalist has written?
OmSigDAVID
 
  2  
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2014 04:54 am

Gee . . . I wonder if Setanta is picking a fight . . . .
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2014 04:56 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

Ah-hahahahahahahaha . . .

Oh yeah, Frank's an expert on reasoning abilities. So you're sufficiently informed about the basis of his speculation to make your judgment? Or you just going on the basis of what a journalist has written?


Setanta...how can it be anything more than a blind guess.

Here is what is reported that he says:

Quote:
"There is only one advanced technological civilization in this galaxy and there has only ever been one - and that's us," Professor Cox said. "We are unique."



How can that be anything but a blind guess???
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Nov, 2014 04:58 am
@Frank Apisa,
That sounds like a reasonable question. . . .
 

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