General Question

Hobbes's avatar

How likely is it that Earth is the only planet in the Universe that supports life?

Asked by Hobbes (7368points) January 6th, 2011
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

32 Answers

rangerr's avatar

The universe is huge… so not very likely.

lapilofu's avatar

The technical answer (without speculation) is that we don’t know enough right now to answer that question.

See: Drake equation
See also: xkcd on the Drake equation

(Although that only is about communicating life. I suppose the probability of bacterial life is necessarily somewhat higher.)

DrasticDreamer's avatar

It’s impossible to know for sure, but I personally think it’s highly unlikely.

ucme's avatar

Bordering on the impossible, in this typers opinion.

PhiNotPi's avatar

~0% chance. Given the size of the universe, there are probably hundreds of thousands of galaxies. Each galaxy contains hundreds of thousands of stars. Even though it is very rare that a star has the right type of planets in the right place, there are so many stars that it is highly improbable that this is the only planet to have life. Statisticly, however, it is theoretically possible. The only way to know for sure is to find life.

lapilofu's avatar

Actually in reading the wikipedia article on the Drake Equation more thoroughly, it seems to estimate that approximately 2 planets per solar system will be able to support life and that 100% of them will actually develop it. However, it does add that these estimates are problematic… “The value of n_e is based on our own solar system, and assumes that two planets had the possibility of having life. This not only has problems with anthropic bias, but also is inconsistent with a f_l of one unless we do find life on Mars.”

mrlaconic's avatar

Let me show you The Size of Our World

And thats just what we can see with our telescopes.

Not Likely that we are alone.

Austinlad's avatar

My view… impossible ours is the only life-bearing planet.

marinelife's avatar

I think it is highly unlikely that we are the only planet with life.

6rant6's avatar

I think it’s possible that ours is the only planet that has life that looks like what WE call life.

That being said, it’s entirely possible that what they would call life would look to us like Captain Crunch or Cheerios. Because I’m sure lots of planets have breakfast.

Axemusica's avatar

The odds that there is life else where in the universe are better than the odds of winning the lottery. People win the lottery all the time.

Think about it.

Vortico's avatar

The probability is between 0.025 and 0.975 with 95% confidence.

coffeenut's avatar

I think it’s as likely as the bag of garbage by the door getting up and walking to the garbage bin by itself….

6rant6's avatar

@coffeenut “I think it’s as likely as the bag of garbage by the door getting up and walking to the garbage bin by itself”

I am so waiting for that.

Axemusica's avatar

“There are probably more than 170 billion (1.7 × 1011) galaxies in the observable universe.[7][8] Most galaxies are 1,000 to 100,000[9] parsecs in diameter and are usually separated by distances on the order of millions of parsecs (or megaparsecs).”Wikipedia

Odds of winning the lottery

You be the judge.

PARAprakrti's avatar

The problem is, the scientists don’t know what they are looking for. They only have a very relative set of examples that they base their search on. Their endeavor is like dr. frog trying to speculate on the Atlantic ocean based on knowledge of his tiny pond.

Coloma's avatar

I think it is a distinct possibility.

I HOPE it’s true!

I can think of nothing cooler than to meet our ‘neighbors’ in space. ;-)

Zyx's avatar

This isn’t even a question in my opinion. The question is what percent of planets support life and where they’re concentrated. My bet is at least 25% of all planets have life. Life isn’t that rare. Intelligence however is pretty unlikely.

earthduzt's avatar

ok this image is taken by HST using deep field lensing, this is actually a piece of space about the size of a dime and there are hundreds of thousands maybe even millions of galaxies just in this little section. Within each one of these galaxies is billions upon billions of stars. So I highly doubt we are the only life forms in the entire Universe.

As far as intelligent life you can actually try and calculate it using the drake equation and come up with a theoretical percentage of how many species of intelligent life on other planets.

The Drake equation states that:
N = R* × fp × ne × fl × fi × fc × L, where:

N is the number of civilizations in our galaxy, with which we might hope to be able to communicate;

R* is the rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp is the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne is the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point
fi is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc is the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L is the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.

N Fp ne Fl Fi Fc L
400billion X ¼ X 2 X ½ X 1/10 X 1/10 X 1/100 millionth = N ~ 10 civilized planets

this is all theoretical not fact

6rant6's avatar

@earthduzt You should make it clear your numbers pertain to our galaxy not the universe. The ost recent estimate of stars i nthe universe is 300 septillion stars – many more of them of them red drarves than in our little corner, older stars where life would have had longer to evolve.

But just to extrapolate linearly from our galaxy, that would make 10 become 700,000,000,000,000,000

Give or take. So there’s a little slack to play with.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I really don’t think we can know this one for sure. Personally, I think it’s somewhat likely.

Axemusica's avatar

We don’t @Simone_De_Beauvoir. It’s all Speculation, but one things for sure, the odds favor their being Beings elsewhere. I see it as only logical.

earthduzt's avatar

@6rant6 you’re right I should have made that clear

SavoirFaire's avatar

Given that plenty of scientists insist that there is (or was) life on Mars—even if only microbial life—it seems extremely likely that there is (or was) life somewhere else in the universe. Whether or not there is intelligent life anywhere else is a harder question, but I see no reason to think we are so amazingly special in this regard. But I also see no reason to think that another intelligent species has had any more luck than we have with space travel.

6rant6's avatar

@Axemusica And I misstated the number of stars. It’s 300 sextillion not septillion. A thousand pardons.

Axemusica's avatar

Dunno why you’re apologizing to me @6rant6, lol. I wrote a blog years ago on this exact subject. I’m still using the same argument as I did back then, lol.

kess's avatar

Life is already established outside of time, and is only within time to achieve it’s purposes.
This is our realization here on earth.

The things that are has already been and will occur again….

So there are innumerable earth like experiences occurring,

The grand ideas of boarding a space craft and traveling to other distant galaxies is merely an exercise of ignorance.

To understand this things one must first realize their existence without Time.

Arbornaut's avatar

We don’t even know whats living on the bottom of our deepest oceans, let alone the possibility of whats going on “out there”. Id say its unlikely.

Axemusica's avatar

The number of species currently living on the planet is estimated to be between 5 million and 30 million, because most of the species are microorganisms and tiny invertebrates. 1.75 million species have been discovered and given names. Insects are said to be in numbers of over half the described number of species and ¾’s of the known animal species.

Just thought I’d let that marinade for a moment.

Coloma's avatar

I have the RH negative blood factor.
According to some theories those of us with this un-reproducable blood type are the product of a human, reptilian type alien encounter, somewhere in the Basque regions of Spain where the highest percentage of RH negative blood types are found.

And what about all the old religious paintings that depict star ships and astronauts in their backgrounds?

Just google UFO’s in old religious art.

Intriguing anyway. ;-)

jasper1890's avatar

’‘life’’ may be so different on other galaxies that we may not even know if we have seen it or not.

Barbs666's avatar

The universe is too large for there not be planets that harbour life elsewhere no matter what form it takes. It maybe like nothing we have seen but it will still be life.

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