Complex life may be more rare in the universe than we thought

Image of the sun

Quanta has a pretty interesting article up today: A Solution to the Faint-Sun Paradox Reveals a Narrow Window for Life. Our understanding of the physics of the sun indicate that it should have been only 70% as bright as it is today. But if so, early Earth should have been a snowball not really capable … Continue reading Complex life may be more rare in the universe than we thought

The return of heretical thought?

A nuclear explosion

A couple of weeks ago I highlighted Robin Hanson's ideas about alien civilizations. A big part of Hanson's reasoning involved the Fermi paradox, the question that, if alien civilizations are common, there where is everyone? It seems like Earth should have been colonized long ago. Hanson focused on the number of difficult evolutionary filters life … Continue reading The return of heretical thought?

Three conditions are necessary for SETI to succeed

Tom Hartsfield has a post up at Real Clear Science criticizing both the Drake equation and SETI: If you like science fiction, you're probably familiar with the Drake equation. This famous one-line formula solves for the number of intelligent alien civilizations within our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Supporters of the … Continue reading Three conditions are necessary for SETI to succeed

Eavesdropping on E.T. and the possibility of interstellar travel

Gabriel Popkin as an article at Inside Science about a study that looks at the possibility of intercepting communications between other alien civilizations.  The idea is that communicating across interstellar distances is best done with lasers. So far, the optical search for extraterrestrial intelligence has focused mainly on the hope of receiving—and recognizing—an intentional, laser-encoded … Continue reading Eavesdropping on E.T. and the possibility of interstellar travel

How should we communicate with aliens? Should we communicate?

Seth Shostak has a post up at HuffPost asking what we should say if we ever find ourselves in conversation with aliens.  Apparently this was the topic of a recent conference at the SETI institute. Before commenting on Shostak's main thesis, I think he makes an assertion that deserves scrutiny. A decade of research by … Continue reading How should we communicate with aliens? Should we communicate?

If evolution started over, how similar would its results be?

Zach Zorich has an interesting piece at Nautilus asking if the world began again, would life as we know it exist? In less than five milliseconds, a Hydromantes salamander can launch its tongue—including the muscles, cartilage, and part of its skeleton—out of its mouth to snag a hapless insect mid-flight. Among amphibians, it is the quick draw … Continue reading If evolution started over, how similar would its results be?

We might find extraterrestrial life soon, but intelligent life?

Forbes has an article up noting that many scientists, including Seth Shostak, are now saying that we could find intelligent extraterrestrial life in the next twenty years.  I definitely think we might find extraterrestrial life in that time frame, but I'm pretty skeptical that it will be intelligent. I've written about this before, but the … Continue reading We might find extraterrestrial life soon, but intelligent life?