Are We Alone?
As many of you know, the scientific method consists of several basic processes:
- Observe/Characterize – Gathering data
- Hypothesize – Formulate a theory
- Prediction – Reasoning and logical deductions based on the theory
- Experiment – Test Hypothesis and analyze data
- Conclusion – Interpret data and draw conclusions about Hypothesis
As a species we’ve only been able to observe our own solar system, starting with Earth, and expanding out to the other planets and moons, with respect to environments that are hospitable to life as we know it. We seem to be mid-stream with respect to forming a hypothesis regarding the existence of life in other star systems within our galaxy and in other galaxies. We certainly can’t claim to have been able to formulate a reasonably informed hypothesis or do any experimentation yet. This article discusses some very new techniques that will have to be refined and used for several more years before enough observable data will be available. The Kepler Mission will greatly enhance the data set.
Any attempt at hypothesizing now has to be limited to our observable data set. I’ve always found it puzzling that so many scientists seem to think that the occurrence of life is a rare, even random event. I’m convinced, in fact, that this bias is a remnant of deluded, religious-based geocentric thinking, and even seems tinged with the current creationism and anti-evolution nonsense that is being not-so-cleverly disguised as rational thought.
Having been fortunate enough to have never been influenced by any of these serious impediments I’ve always worked with a different preliminary hypothesis, based on my current observations and characterizations:
- Hypothesis 1: Life is part of the natural life cycle of a star. Or, I should say, the generational life cycle of a localized group of stars, since heavier elements form and are released through the death of stars.
- Hypothesis 2: Basic galactic processes move through cycles that result in more and more complex combinations of heavier and heavier elements and more and more sophisticated energy relationships.
Without delving into a discussion of the fundamental laws of physics, unified theories of everything, philosphy or voodoo, delusional beliefs in all-seeing gods, it seems to this observer that Hypothesis 2 is an essential quality of the observable universe, the law of entropy notwithstanding.
- * star birth starting with hydrogen with it’s various associated energy relationships
- = fusion –>helium –>carbon, nitrogen, heavier elements up to iron
- * supernova star death with it’s various associated energy relationships
- = elements heavier than iron –>embryonic star materials
- = new star birth –>planet birth with it’s various associated energy relationships
- = geology, H2O oceans, evolution, organic chemistry –>life
- * complex life forms with their various associated energy relationships
- = multi-cellular organisms –>primitive nervous systems –>complex nervous systems
- * human brain (or alien counterparts) with it’s various associated energy relationships
- = thought –>scientific method –>hypotheses regarding life on other planets
Again, I am the first to admit that this is a preliminary hypothesis, based on a very limited amout of observation and characterization.
- Prediction 1: Life as we know it, is common, routine, ubiquitous, and is constrained only by the frequency of occurrence of planets in the goldilocks zone with liquid water. I would predict that life as we know it will occur more times than not given the pre-requisite water and temperature conditions.
- Prediction 2: Based on Hypothesis 2, life can occur without liquid water, outside of the Earth-like temperature ranges, and be based on elements other than Carbon.
I would expect that, should we survive as a species, we’ll eventually come to realize how naive and presumptuous we were when we kept asking the question “Are we Alone in the Universe?” lol