Social Question

wondersluug's avatar

So... how about extraterrestrial life?

Asked by wondersluug (99points) November 15th, 2009

So, NASA found water on the moon the other day. Pretty cool. Water bears (Tardigrades) can live in the vacuum of space without dying and there’s water and atmospheric bodies all over just our solar system (Europa, Ganymede, Venus, Titan, etc.)

Given that there are probably an uncountable number of solar systems out there (at least a googleplex), how likely do you think extraterrestrial life is?

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26 Answers

oratio's avatar

I can’t say how likely it is, but I can say that I find it unlikely there is no other life than us.

poofandmook's avatar

I buy extraterrestrial life, but I don’t think I buy the aliens-in-flying-saucers type thing. I don’t think there is a superior being out there, is what I’m saying. I’m choosing to believe that humans are as advanced mentally as it gets.

wondersluug's avatar

See, I take issue with that poofandmook, and here’s why: Class M star, Earthlike (I mean rocky with a core) planets aren’t all that rare. In fact I think the most special thing about us is the Milky Way; spiral galaxies are rare – comparatively.

So if we’re not unique (and the more we know of space, the more it’s looking that way to me) and the Earth’s only been a lump floating around the sun for 4 billion years, and we’ve gone from primordial soup to the highly complex beings we are in that amount of time and the universe is 20 billion years old, then that means that something out there, possibly some form of life, has been advancing for 4–5 times as long as we have.

Also, I think it’s very likely that we are not the only universe in existence and since we have no way of measuring outside our universe, we really don’t know how old this one is comparatively (if there is a comparison).

I don’t buy the aliens flying in saucers type thing either. I think the only reason it’s saucers is because hubcaps make cheap effects. ;-)

OutOfTheBlue's avatar

There are alien’s, and when you think about it we are Aliens, as for there being a more advanced being, i am not one to say no, space is WAY to big to say for sure, but are we alone? Hell no!!

Christian95's avatar

we are E.T
the “the life-stuff” wasn’t more than sure here from the start probaly it was bring here by a comet.We just had the proper condition to trigger evolution.
So if the universe is very big and if it has 10 millions planets like Earth it’s almost impossible to say that those condition can’t be on another planet.

Courtybean's avatar

I’m sure there is but MAN the thought of it creeps me out like nothing else on earth (please mind the pun!) Hypothetically if I had to had an encounter with an alien or ghost I would pick the ghost any day!!

oratio's avatar

@Courtybean Then luckily for you, extra terrestrial life more likely comes in the form of microbes, than superhuman alien bipeds.

CMaz's avatar

I see it as I found Petroleum.
So I guess there must be a car around here somewhere?

Courtybean's avatar

@oratio that is FANTASTIC news! I’ve changed my answer now! lol.

IBERnineD's avatar

All I have to say is that it is a very egotistical mindset to believe that we are the only planet in the entire universe that has living beings/creatures/what have you, on it.

gailcalled's avatar

@wondersluug: it is fun to speculate but do get your facts straight about spiral galaxies.

“The most common type of galaxy is called a “spiral galaxy.” Not surprisingly, spiral galaxies look like spirals, with long arms winding toward a bright bulge at the center. .
About 77% of the observed galaxies in the universe are spiral galaxies. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is a typical spiral galaxy.”

Earth is not special because it is in an arm of a spiral galaxy; the combination of size, distance from sun, tyoe of star that sun is, and some mysterious circumstances in the dim past allowed life as we recognize it to form here.

avvooooooo's avatar

The idea that we’re the only life in the entire universe is the worst kind of egotism I’ve ever heard of. There is life out there somewhere. The odds are that with as many planets that exist, somewhere out there some kind of life has formed. It might not be anything like us, but the odds are tiny that something, somewhere isn’t kicking around out there. It doesn’t have to be an Earth-like planet if there’s a different kind of life different basic makeup, different things necessary for life, Earth-like planets are simply the most likely to have life that is in some way similar to that found here oxygen breathers and so on.

So yes. There’s life somewhere out there. Whether its intelligent or anything like us, who knows. But there is life out there somewhere.

Shuttle128's avatar

@gailcalled It is rather fortunate that we aren’t at the heart of our galaxy. All that radiation might not be reflected by Earth’s magnetic field.

gailcalled's avatar

@Shuttle128: The concatenation of events is really miraculous, isn’t it? More radiation is leaking through due to the ozone hole, I think.

TheCreative's avatar

I strongly believe that we are not the only ones in this gigantic space. Usually people who deny it are scared. People don’t like what they don’t understand and most of the time they’re afraid of it.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I think there is! something. too many people have seen unexplainable things.

oratio's avatar

One might have some objection to it from a religious view point as well, even though the Vatican has declared both evolution the be a fact and that it doesn’t rule out extraterrestrial life. On Mars even.
As all of the universe is equally old, and that the same laws of physics seems to apply in all parts of it, one can assume that there is a myriad of similar solar systems. As OP says, if we look at our solar system alone there are several bodies with atmosphere and water. Even though it seems – so far – that they can’t develop and sustain life, it shows that those conditions are not unusual. It’s not necessarily so, but we can assume that it is quite common out there as well.

But even though it’s likely there is life elsewhere in the universe other than here, it seems less likely that two planets develop sentient beings with space travel technology at the same time, and in the same neighborhood of the universe; or galaxy even.

We could maybe humbly think about that human kind has been in existence for a couple of seconds of the clock of life on Earth. If an advanced civilization with space travel capacities and the capabilities to visit earth developed close to our solar system, it is far more likely they visited the dinosaurs than this slice of time of our existence. That’s many millions of years ago.

We haven’t either had technology long enough to be discovered by an advance civilization to make ourselves noticeable, and if we would receive signals from another civilization out there, it is likely they don’t exist anymore, due to the time it takes for it to travel space. Just as we know that the phenomena we see in our telescopes no longer exists. We can’t see what’s out there, only what has been.

But then again, there are much we don’t know about physics, space and existence itself. There seems to be exceptions to many things we think we know for certain, and we prove ourselves wrong now and then. That even we exist is a remarkable thing. It could however be, that the universe is teeming with life.

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

Evelyn has told me about some of the odder life forms out there, including the story I like where her image appears in a tortilla on a planet where the inhabitants have yet to invent Mexican food.

She also mentioned once in passing about the Jeez Louise, the name of a small species of cute winged fairies with sweet dispositions that live on Sodee Um Sackhaarinn, a planet of semi-infertile life forms and mildly poisonous plant life.

So yeah, its out there, and it is far stranger than we imagine.

Drawkward's avatar

Could be, but I’m not betting on anything bigger than fossilized bacterium.

DrBill's avatar

It is an absolute.

wondersluug's avatar


Sorry. I went to your “facts” page and I don’t know where he got his facts, but NASA disagrees with you. go to:

The most common type of galaxy are elliptical galaxies. I teach at an observatory and I’ve never read anything different – neither has anyone else who works there.

gailcalled's avatar

@wondersluug: Interesting. The Sloane Digital Sky Survey is endorsed, among others, by NASA. SDSS is using red shifts to map in detail what looks like a large segment of the sky

“Simply put, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey is the most ambitious astronomical survey ever undertaken. The survey will map one-quarter of the entire sky in detail, determining the positions and absolute brightnesses of hundreds of millions of celestial objects. It will also measure the distances to more than a million galaxies and quasars.”

You may well be right about the number of elliptical and irregular galaxies. but you cited “Ask an Astrophysicist” and his answer was dated January 30, 2002.

He says, “Perhaps what some of the references were referring to the numbers of known galaxies. Since sprial galaxies tend to be brighter than ellipticals, more of them have been named and cataloged. But in a given region of the sky astronomers see more ellipticals, so they infer that ellipticals are more common everywhere.”

This doesn’t seem like hard data to me, but I don’t sit and count smudges on plates any more the way I used to, also at an observatory. I am sure your info is much more current. Where are you teaching? (I did research at that place in Cambridge, MA, connected with the Smithsonian.)

wondersluug's avatar

The Ashcroft Observatory.

It’s not like scientists can’t disagree, but I found the “do get your facts straight” to be a bit snobbish.

poofandmook's avatar

@wondersluug: Let me enjoy my world void of Romulans, please :) lol

gailcalled's avatar

@wondersluug: You are right. I was being patronizing. But wait until you see some of the fantasies that are bruited about here and claimed as fact. Type 2012, AI, alien life, Mars, and the like in the Fluther search engine.

How is the seeing in S. Utah?

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