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Lecture 39. Does Life Elsewhere Seem Likely The Psychological Impact of Finding Life Elsewhere.

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... early life on Earth -exploration of our solar system (Mars, Europa) ... Intense public interest in the exploration of life on Mars and. elsewhere in the galaxy. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Lecture 39. Does Life Elsewhere Seem Likely The Psychological Impact of Finding Life Elsewhere.


1
Lecture 39. Does Life Elsewhere Seem Likely?  The
Psychological Impact of Finding Life Elsewhere.
reading Chapter 14
2
Does Life Elsewhere Seem Likely?
Heavy elements/protoplanetary disks/extrasolar
planets are abundant, and likely increasing
with time The chemical elements that comprise
life and water are pervasive in the
universe Organic compounds are also pervasive in
the universe - interstellar medium - PAHs,
amino acids, simple organics in meteorites and
comets - organic synthesis on the early
Earth Life seems to have appeared early in
Earths history
3
Does Life Elsewhere Seem Likely?
Life on Earth is robust - life in extreme
environments/life is pervasive - has survived
very nasty extinction events Life is
adaptable - Darwinian evolution has resulted in
pervasive life - filling niches - natural
selection has made that life very successful -
adept at competition for resources The vastness
of space/number of galaxies/number of stars
in the galaxies
4
The Rare Earth Thesis
  • Peter Ward and Don Brownlee at the
  • University of Washington, 2000
  • microbial life should be widespread in
  • the universe
  • -complex life such as plants and animals
  • will be extremely rare
  • -Earth is lucky
  • -complex Earth life is the result of an
  • extraordinary set of conditions and
  • random chance events
  • -microbial life appeared quickly complex
  • life recently
  • -Earth is also special
  • -in the habitable zone
  • -life-friendly atmosphere
  • -Jupiter and the Moon beneficial
  • -placid part of the galaxy

5
Again, the question Is life a natural product
of habitable planetary systems? OR Is life rare
- a rare coming together of unlikely events?
6
How To Answer These Questions?
Put this in the scientific context of hypothesis
testing. -study of early life on
Earth -exploration of our solar system (Mars,
Europa) -search for terrestrial extrasolar
planets -search for signatures of life on
extrasolar planets -search for ETL by SETI-type
searches
7
What Would Be The Psychological Impact of Finding
Life Elsewhere?
Intense public interest in the exploration of
life on Mars and elsewhere in the galaxy. We
are part of a vast cosmos. We are part of the
Earth and the solar system. Finding evidence for
life elsewhere would change our perspective on
the world and the cosmos. Copernicus, Galileo,
Kepler, and Newton changed our world view. Darwin
and Wallace also changed how we view organisms
changing through time.
8
The War of the Worlds
Radio adaptation by Orson Welles of the H.G.
Wells classic novel. Performed by Mercury
Theatre on the Air on Halloween, 1938. Presented
as a series of radio news bulletins
9
Mysterious Martian Canals
1877 Map of martian canali by astronomer Giovanni
Schiaparelli
10
Mysterious Martian Canals, cont.
Percival Lowell wealthy amateur
astronomer founder of Lowell Observatory,
Flagstaff, AZ strong proponent of canals used for
irrigation dark spots at their intersections were
oases changed with the seasons canals constructed
to channel Mars scanty water supply
11
Fundamental Questions About Life in the Solar
System
Are other planets sterile? Is it related to Earth
life? Is it an independent origin of life? Does
it use similar molecules as Earth life? How do we
look for an independent origin of life if it
is completely different?
12
Microbial Life vs. Intelligent Life
Which would have a more profound impact on our
lives? Many Americans think only discovery of
intelligent life will have a profound
effect. But most scientists think that discovery
of microbial life will be just as profound. The
origin of life is not a unique event. Hard to
predict just how people and society will react.
13
Alien Contact in Science Fiction
  • ETs could be a source of help in solving
    societys problems
  • (assumes we need outside help to solve our
    problems and
  • ET would be willing to help) or learning about
    the secrets of
  • the universe.
  • Fears about destruction or bodily harm
  • (either deliberately or accidentally)
  • Analogies with human history -
  • (contact between modern and non-technical
    societies results
  • in subsuming of the non-technical into the
    modern, with loss
  • of the non-technical culture)

14
SETI is Prepared!
  • Declaration of Principle Concerning Activities
    Following
  • the Detection of Extraterrestrial Intelligence
  • verify the most plausible explanation of the
    evidence is ETL
  • rather than natural phenomena. If it cant be
    verified, may
  • disseminate the info as an unknown phenomenon.
  • 2. before announcing it, must inform all other
    observers or research
  • organizations party to the declaration to
    confirm by
  • independent observation. Inform national
    authorities.
  • Inform observers throughout the world via Central
    Bureau for
  • Astronomical Telegrams of the International
    Astronomical Union.
  • Inform secretary general of the UN. Inform
  • Intl Telecommunication Union Intl Academy of
    Astronautics
  • Committee on Space Research Intl Institute of
    Space Law
  • Intl Astronomical Federation Commission 51 of
    the Intl
  • Commission J of Intl Radio Science
    Union Astronomical Union
  • Confirmed detection disseminated promptly,
    openly, and widely by
  • discoverer through scientific channels and the
    public media

15
SETI is Prepared!
  • All data made public to international scientific
    community
  • Evidence should be recorded and stored
    permanently in
  • a form to make it available for analysis and
    interpretation
  • Seek international agreement to protect the
    appropriate
  • electromagnetic frequencies.
  • No response to a signal will be sent until
    appropriate
  • international consultations have taken place.
  • SETI and Intl Astronomical Union will conduct a
    continuing
  • review on the procedures for detection and the
    handling
  • of data. An international committee of
    scientists will serve
  • to analyze data and provide advice on release to
    the public.
  • Maintain lists of people to contact if contact is
    made.

16
Astrobiology as a Science
Exploring how planets and moons work. Exploring
stars and galaxies to understand how the universe
works. Learn more about the fundamental nature of
life in the context of the solar system and the
universe. How did life come to exist - how did it
change with the planet? What does it mean to
be alive and what does it mean to be human?
17
Have A Wonderful Summer!
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