Read the Beforeitsnews.com story here. Advertise at Before It's News here.
Profile image
By Alton Parrish (Reporter)
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Now:
Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:
Total:

New Study Estimates the Odds of Life and Intelligence Emerging Beyond Our Planet

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.


Columbia astronomer uses Bayesian statistics to shed light on how extraterrestrial life might evolve in alien worlds.

Humans have been wondering whether we are alone in the universe since antiquity.

We know from the geological record that life started relatively quickly, as soon our planet’s environment was stable enough to support it. We also know that the first multicellular organism, which evolved to produce today’s technological civilization, took far longer to emerge, approximately 4 billion years.

dark blue sky, man stands on top of mound with light beaming ahead
Credit:   Shutterstock/Amanda Carden
But despite knowing when life first appeared on Earth, scientists still do not understand how life occurred, which has important implications for the likelihood of finding life elsewhere in the universe.

In a new paper published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences today, David Kipping, an assistant professor in Columbia’s Department of Astronomy, shows how an analysis using a statistical technique called Bayesian inference could shed light on how complex extraterrestrial life might evolve in alien worlds.

“The rapid emergence of life and the late evolution of humanity, in the context of the timeline of evolution, are certainly suggestive,” Kipping said. “But in this study it’s possible to actually quantify what the facts tell us.”

To conduct his analysis, Kipping used the chronology of the earliest evidence for life and the evolution of humanity. He asked how often we would expect life and intelligence to re-emerge if Earth’s history were to repeat, re-running the clock over and over again.

Kipping framed the problem in terms of four possible answers: Life is common and often develops intelligence, life is rare but often develops intelligence, life is common and rarely develops intelligence and, finally, life is rare and rarely develops intelligence.

“The analysis can only provide statistical probabilities, but the case for a universe teeming with life emerges as the favored bet.”

This method of Bayesian statistical inference—used to update the probability for a hypothesis as evidence or new information becomes available—states prior beliefs about the system being modeled, which are then combined with data to cast probabilities of outcomes.

“The technique is akin to betting odds,” Kipping said. “It encourages the repeated testing of new evidence against your position, in essence a positive feedback loop of refining your estimates of likelihood of an event.”

From these four hypotheses, Kipping used Bayesian mathematical formulas to weigh the models against one another. “In Bayesian inference, prior probability distributions always need to be selected,” Kipping said. “But a key result here is that when one compares the rare-life versus common-life scenarios, the common-life scenario is always at least nine times more likely than the rare one.”

The analysis is based on evidence that life emerged within 300 million years of the formation of the Earth’s oceans as found in carbon-13-depleted zircon deposits, a very fast start in the context of Earth’s lifetime. Kipping emphasizes that the ratio is at least 9:1 or higher, depending on the true value of how often intelligence develops.

Kipping’s conclusion is that if planets with similar conditions and evolutionary timelines to Earth are common, then the analysis suggests that life should have little problem spontaneously emerging on other planets. And what are the odds that these extraterrestrial lives could be complex, differentiated and intelligent? Here, Kipping’s inquiry is less assured, finding just 3:2 odds that intelligence is rare.

This result stems from humanity’s relatively late appearance in Earth’s habitable window, suggesting that its development was neither an easy nor ensured process. “If we played Earth’s history again, the emergence of intelligence is actually somewhat unlikely,” he said.

Kipping points out that the odds in the study aren’t overwhelming, being quite close to 50:50, and the findings should be treated as no more than a gentle nudge toward a hypothesis.

“The analysis can’t provide certainties or guarantees, only statistical probabilities based on what happened here on Earth,” Kipping said. “Yet encouragingly, the case for a universe teeming with life emerges as the favored bet. The search for intelligent life in worlds beyond Earth should be by no means discouraged.”

 

Contacts and sources:
Carla Cantor
Columbia University

Publication: An objective Bayesian analysis of life’s early start and our late arrival.
David Kipping.  PNAS, 2020 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1921655117



Source:
Before It’s News® is a community of individuals who report on what’s going on around them, from all around the world.

Anyone can join.
Anyone can contribute.
Anyone can become informed about their world.

"United We Stand" Click Here To Create Your Personal Citizen Journalist Account Today, Be Sure To Invite Your Friends.

Please Help Support BeforeitsNews by trying our Natural Health Products below!


Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at https://mitocopper.com

Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at https://www.herbanomic.com


Get our Free Ebook, "Suppressed Health Secrets"  with  Natural Cures THEY don't want you to know!

HuMineral Humic and Fulvic Liquid - Nature's most important supplement! Vivid Dreams again!

Ultimate Clinical Potency Curcumin - Natural pain relief, reduce inflammation and so much more.

MitoCopper - Bioavailable Copper destroys pathogens and gives you more energy. (See Blood Video)
Oxy Powder - Natural Colon Cleanser!  Cleans out toxic buildup with oxygen! 
Organic Hemp Extract (CBD) - Full Spectrum high CBD (3300mg) hemp extract eases stiff joints, relieves stress and more!
Nascent Iodine - Promotes detoxification, mental focus and thyroid health.
Smart Meter Cover -  Reduces Smart Meter radiation by 96%!  (See Video)

Immusist Beverage Concentrate - Proprietary blend, formulated to reduce inflammation while hydrating and oxygenating the cells.

Report abuse
Loading...
Loading...

Comments

Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Total 2 comments
  • b4

    huh!!!!!???????? what are the odds of finding intelligence on THIS planet….zero?

  • Zeropointenergy

    The Moon is a Computer with hundreds of E.T.S reporting to someone else and come here everyday for interstellar Trade and ask for free Human dna people are reporting it on Cell Phones everyday!

MOST RECENT
Load more ...

SignUp

Login

Newsletter

Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.