Prof David Kipping on “Why we might be alone in the Universe” Nov 18, 2022

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This is an excellent lecture on the question of life in the Universe and why we should be hesitant to make pontifical statements in this regard.

We just do not know enough in many areas to even present an hypothesis.

What are the odds of you being here to read this statement? Think of all the fantastic coincidences that must have taken place for you to be here to read this. Just the fact that your Mother and Father had to meet to produce you may have been highly improbable. Go back in time with all the pairings which had to have taken place, and eventually you arrive at some primitive RNA molecule attempting to survive and replicate 4 Billion years ago. Think of all the steps necessary to arrive today at you reading this line.

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  1. I think the chances of “intelligent” life in the universe might be very low. (It is debatable if humans are intelligent life or if dolphins are not.) The biggest evidence that intelligent life doesn’t exist within our corner of the galaxy is that they haven’t called or visited. Maybe we are just the first to evolve.

    More advanced civilizations could probably put up a beacon of some sort that would be visible for intragalactic distances or even send out probes at high sublight speeds that, over a few million years, would cover the galaxy. They might decide not to for various reasons, but a theoretical 22nd-century Earth surely could if it wanted to. I am forced to the conclusion that either we are the only advanced civilization in our corner of the galaxy, or nobody out there wants to talk.

    Civilizations might also tend to self-destruct at about our stage. They might not last long enough to be noticed.

    OTOH life “of some kind” in the universe seems likely because it started so quickly on Earth. Early life is just complex chemistry.

    Have you ever heard about the Drake Equation or the Fermi Paradox? pretty interesting stuff!

    1. Very interesting comment. When I was young long before Star Wars, I believed in a Star Wars universe, that is every star system would have one or more intelligent alien life forms. At the time, I thought that as soon as they took the issue seriously and began looking, they would start finding all these civilizations. After many years, the Great Silence has forced me in the other direction! As Dr. Kipping points out, while the Universe is vast almost beyond Human conception, the odds of an advanced civilization might even be a larger number against. We don’t know how life began because it has left no evidence (fossils) behind. And with only one data point, you can draw any picture. If we were to find alien life on Titan or Europa, that would be Earth shaking. My one belief is that a truly advanced civilization would have discovered immortality and ended all wars!
      But on the other hand, as you point out, the great filter of self-destruction might be operant. We certainly can see clearly how we here might self-destruct.
      Huge open question to be continued (hopefully)!
      Yes, I have heard of the Drake Equation/Fermi Paradox but I tend to be a skeptic. With no evidence, it’s just speculation. The JWST has recently shown that it can detect the atmospheres of exo-planets and analyze their atmospheric spectrums. This would then be able to provide strong evidence of life. To be continued………

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