Intelligent Life Elsewhere in the Universe?

Do you believe there may be intelligent life on other planets?  Is it likely that the conditions necessary to support the evolution of intelligent life elsewhere are comparatively rare?

A few decades ago, an astrophysicist named Brandon Carter developed an idea called the “anthropic argument,” which held that chances are very slim that conditions conducive to life on a star (or distant sun) would coincide with similarly favorable conditions for intelligent life on the planets orbiting them.     

But astrobiologist Milan Cirkovic takes issue with the anthropic argument, arguing that the timescales of suns and planets are not independent, noting that factors in the astrophysical environment of stars, such as supernovae, gama ray bursts and comets, may influence the development of life on the planets. 

Check out this summary of Cirkovic’s argument in this MSNBC article by Clara Moskowitz.  

If you’d like to read more on the search for extraterrestrial life, check out some of these recent titles from Greensboro Public Library:  Confessions of an Alien Hunter:  A Scientist’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by Seth Shostak; You are the First Kid on Mars by Patrick O’Brien (juvenile); Mars and the Search for Life by Elaine Scott (juvenile); The Living Cosmos: Our Search for Life in the Universe by Chris Impey; The Rock from Mars:  A Detective Story on Two Planets by Kathy Sawyer; Life as We Do Not Know It:  The NASA Search for (and Synthesis of) Alien Life by Peter Ward; Are We Alone?:  Scientists Search for Life in Space by Gloria Skurzynski (juvenile); Epic of Evolution:  Seven Ages of the Cosmos by Eric Chaisson; Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith; Faint Echoes, Distant Stars:  The Science and Politics of Finding Life Beyond Earth by Ben Bova; and Looking for Life in the Universe:  The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by Ellen Jackson (juvenile).


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