Paul Davies ~ one of the scientists involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) ~ says nothing in the laws of chemistry or physics indicate life is a cosmic imperative. Instead, he says we should consider the possibility that life on Earth is a fluke, a completely improbable event.
Davies runs Arizona State University’s Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, and chairs the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup, which has developed a plan for the day we do find life elsewhere. In his new book, The Eerie Silence, Davies provides an overview of various efforts to contact aliens, and he also notes how recent discoveries have led to the widespread belief that life must be common in the universe.
According to PhysOrg.com:
Hundreds of planets have been detected orbiting distant stars, and while these planets are more like Jupiter than Earth, that’s mostly due to our detection methods. Less massive planets will likely be found by newer telescopes, and the fact that we have already found so many worlds bodes well for the potential number of habitable planets in the galaxy. In addition, life has been discovered in some of the most extreme environments on Earth, including the deep subsurface where sunlight cannot penetrate. This suggests that life is possible in all sorts of unusual places, including planets we once would have considered inhospitable to life.
“If life started more than once on Earth, we could be virtually certain that the universe is teeming with it,” Davies writes. “Unless there is something very peculiar about our planet, it is inconceivable that life would have begun twice on one Earth-like planet but hardly ever on the rest.”
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