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Understanding through Discussion


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Author Topic:   Life on other Planets?
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 2504 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


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Message 119 of 160 (594779)
12-05-2010 9:28 AM
Reply to: Message 113 by Bolder-dash
12-05-2010 8:20 AM


Help with the thinking.
Try to think of the question in terms of other examples. When the first planet outside this solar system was identified by the observed wobble on a star, it was an exciting moment for astronomers, but scientists were not surprised by the find.
Why? Firstly, because there are 8 planets orbiting this star, it was hardly surprising that other stars would have satellites; and secondly, because what they had figured out about star formation by that time also indicated that many solar systems should have formed in a similar way to this one.
Now, ask yourself whether you would expect there to be other moons in other solar systems. As there are many in this one, the answer should be "yes", but we have no means yet of confirming that.
With life, the main difference is that we have only one known example of a life system, rather than 8 (with the planets) and many (with the moons). However, when we combine the one example with the enormous scale of the known universe, it's hardly surprising that most people on this thread are giving a tentative "yes" answer to the question in your thread title. More precisely, they're saying they don't know, but they think it more likely than not.
The main question for many is not so much whether or not there would be some kind of life elsewhere, but how common it might be. For assessments on this, we can only rely on what we currently know about the relevant chemistry and the likely frequency of planets/moons of a type that might support it. The incomplete knowledge in these areas means experts will vary considerably in their estimates.
There's no point in comparing this question to beliefs about gods. It would only be analogous if we knew of the existence of one god, and were speculating on the existence of others.

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 Message 113 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-05-2010 8:20 AM Bolder-dash has not replied

  
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