A report in today’s issue of Popular Mechanics suggests that intelligent life cannot really exist anywhere else.
It refers to a recent study from the Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute, in which scientists studied the likelihood of key times for evolution of life on Earth and conclude that it would be virtually impossible for that life to evolve the same way somewhere else.
The Fermi paradox asks how, in an infinitely big universe, can we be the only intelligent life we’ve ever encountered? Or indeed on earth itself how humans are the only species that has ever evolved advanced intelligence?
And the scientists’ answers continue to be – we are very, very, lucky indeed.
To quote Popular Mechanics
‘these scientists say that Earth’s series of Goldilocks lottery tickets are more likely to have taken far longer than they really did on Earth…
‘First, we win the lottery for surface temperature and protection from spaceborne dangers. Second, we win the lottery for the presence of building blocks of life. Third, we win the lottery for the right location for the right building blocks. That’s before anything like the most primitive single cell has even emerged.’
The research article is entitled ‘The Timing of Evolutionary Transitions Suggests Intelligent Life Is Rare’ . It is by Andrew E. Snyder-Beattie, Anders Sandberg, K. Eric Drexler, and Michael B. Bonsall and is published Online on 19 Nov 2020 at https://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2019.2149
The abstract from the research article states ‘…we demonstrate that expected evolutionary transition times likely exceed the lifetime of Earth, perhaps by many orders of magnitude. Our results corroborate the original argument suggested by Brandon Carter that intelligent life in the Universe is exceptionally rare, assuming that intelligent life elsewhere requires analogous evolutionary transitions. Arriving at the opposite conclusion would require exceptionally conservative priors, evidence for much earlier transitions, multiple instances of transitions, or an alternative model that can explain why evolutionary transitions took hundreds of millions of years without appealing to rare chance events.’