Why it is so hard to find intelligent life on other planets

Why it is so hard to find intelligent life on other planets


Recently we questioned the House Science Committee for holding more meetings on furthering space exploration on extraterrestrial life than on climate change. And we stand by this criticism, because by comparison the latter should carry a bit more weight at the moment. However as science enthusiasts, of course we acknowledge that space exploration is vital and the search for life on other planets is important. Recently a journal published in Astrobiology brings several cases forward explaining why we have yet to find intelligent life outside of our own planet.

[Image via Flickr/Natalia Rosa]

Previous theories dated decades ago raised the question of if there is life outside of our own, where are they? Some arguments concluded that yes, there may be countless stars but there are a shortage of planets that contain all the necessary preconditions for life. They theorize that life may appear often, but is usually wiped out through lack of temperature control capacity. As per IFL Science, Dr. Charley Lineweaver of the Australian National University (a coauthor on the paper) explains, “The standard at the moment is to try to find a wet rocky planet in a habitable zone, but the whole thing is based on physics and chemistry, nothing to do with biology.”

The report addresses a few popular theories answering this question of “where’s the (life)party at?” One of them explains that yes, the necessary ingredients for life may be exhibited in a planet, but the “recipe” is not quite there; meaning the ingredients are not exactly coming together in the right way.

Lineweaver and PhD student Aditya Chopra have now presented a new answer. They propose that life may emerge on planets where liquid water exists, but for most such planets the water that makes life possible is just temporary, quickly lost to either a run-away greenhouse effect or a permanent icehouse. They list Venus and Mars as potential examples, both may have once had surface water, and with it possibly life, but conditions have changed therefore so did potential for other lifeforms.

They also propose that what sets Earth apart may be attributed to the Gaia Hypothesis, suggesting that Earth is habitable because it is inhabited, and that it was lifeforms that kept the planet and its conditions at bay enabling a amiable evolution.