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Friday, January 4, 2013

The Life of a Planet

Posted by on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Our Milky Way galaxy is home to at least 100 billion alien planets, and possibly many more, a new study suggests.

"It's a staggering number, if you think about it," lead author Jonathan Swift, of Caltech in Pasadena, said in a statement. "Basically there's one of these planets per star."

With all of this in mind, let's turn to a passage in Thomas Gold's influential The Deep, Hot Biosphere:

The surface life on the Earth, based on photosynthesis for its overall energy supply, may be just one strange branch of life, an adaptation specific to a planet that happened to have such favorable circumstances on its surface as would occur only very rarely: a favorable atmosphere, a suitable distance from an illuminating star, a mix of water and rock surface, etc. The deep, chemically supplied life, however, may be very common in the universe. Astronomical considerations make it seem probable that planetary-sized, cold bodies have formed in many locations from the materials of molecular clouds, even in the absence of a central star, and such objects may be widespread and common in our and in other galaxies. It is therefore a possibility that they mostly support this or similar forms of life....

It is interesting to think of life as a kind of behavior that's possible for rocky planets in certain conditions, certain zones, certain times. What is needed is water, lots of matter, and a source of energy (internally or externally), and a planet can add to its other behaviors, the behavior of life. Sometimes (but not often) this life reaches the surface of the planet.
  • ISS


Comments (8) RSS

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I wonder if alien worlds also have labor disputes in space...…
Posted by Large Hardon Colluder on January 4, 2013 at 9:07 AM · Report this
I think it's a little early to say anything life-related is rare or unusual in the universe.
Posted by digitalwitch on January 4, 2013 at 9:51 AM · Report this
Personally speaking, I've been in contact with several alien (as in off-world) species, but they have all been spider races and, recognizing our naturally aversionn to spiders --- they have questioned me as to why humans are forever stomping on them --- they refuse to initiate contact with us earthlings.

Personally speaking, I believe that may be a good thing......
Posted by sgt_doom on January 4, 2013 at 10:21 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 4
When you start talking hundreds of billions, then the chances of suitability with similar circumstance increases. But think about time/space and it's implications of life traveling on meteors and asteroids. Wouldn't that possibly mean that life, too, was born at the big bang. That a basic strand of DNA was created somewhere between very hot and very cold. The way life is here. That's the way I see it. Life was a part of the original package and it's woven into the fabric of the universe.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on January 4, 2013 at 10:34 AM · Report this

Dang it! I knew those Iain Banks' books on The Culture were right on target!!!
Posted by sgt_doom on January 4, 2013 at 10:37 AM · Report this
@4, Excellent points, although I would sincerely hate to see the possibility of even more Dick Cheneys and Karl Roves.....
Posted by sgt_doom on January 4, 2013 at 10:38 AM · Report this
Unregistered User 7
Jonathan Swift also just had an album release:
Posted by Unregistered User on January 4, 2013 at 11:08 AM · Report this
Free Lunch 8
Carl Sagan made the same observation 12 years earlier than Gold in his book Cosmos.
Posted by Free Lunch on January 4, 2013 at 8:30 PM · Report this

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