Is there intelligence in space?

Is there intelligence in space?

While the possibility for life is hugely likely, given the immense time and enormous quantity of planets, the evolution of intelligence is another matter. That requires even greater overcoming of limitations. Intelligence requires sophisticated cells. The development of such sophistication is an immensely unlikely event on a par with that of the formation and incorporation of DNA.

On this planet the incorporation of DNA took place early on when the Earth had cooled and conditions were right. The formation of Eukaryotic cells (sophisticated cells that would support complex multi-celled life) requires two incredible occurrences. Firstly they have to incorporate or evolve cellular powerhouses to provide energy. On Earth this happened when bacteria (that were mitochondria-like) became symbiotically incorporated into cells. Secondly they have to have incorporated chlorophyll-rich chloroplasts to break down water to release oxygen and produce food.

The plants incorporated chlorophyll rich bacteria symbiotically. In so doing they changed the atmosphere of the planet and the oxygen enabled life to become more complex.

These two limiting factors are incredibly difficult leaps.

Not only do planets have to be in the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ and have given rise to life that incorporates DNA (or its equivalent) but it would also have to evolve through these two other immensely difficult bottle-necks in order to achieve the complexity necessary for intelligence.

The consensus is that this will only occur on an incredibly small number of occasions.

Fortunately – with the zillions of planets out there and the colossal periods of time involved even the most unlikely events will occur. That is what is so incredibly awesome.

All things are possible given enough time and an almost infinite system.

There are probably billions of planets on which life will have occurred and there are likely to be hundreds of thousands of planets out there supporting intelligent life!

Which is more scary? Having a universe with other intelligent life or that we are the only ones?

If there is intelligence out there! How do we contact it?

18 thoughts on “Is there intelligence in space?

  1. Opher, Tubularsock is surprised with this question. The ONLY question that can be “proven” by observation and experience is that THERE IS NOT INTELLIGENT LIFE ON EARTH!

    And now with all the space junk we have created around our earth we are known to the rest of the universe as the GARBAGE PLANET.

    Our only chance is to “look within” but all our efforts are based on outward centered thinking.

    Tubularsock expects to return to his own planet soon and will attempt to explain to my people a “tweet” which encompasses the lowest form of communication in the planetary system.

    But don’t worry ……. earth is on a rapid downward spiral and earth as we know it will be transformed into negative space from where it seemly came.

    Until then ……… space on, bro!

  2. I don’t “believe” that there is intelligent life on other worlds;
    I don’t “believe” that there is either;
    I do “believe” that we don’t know; and
    I do “believe” that we need to keep searching.

    1. That sounds like a very sensible approach.
      If there is intelligent life somewhere out in those zillions of galaxies it’s probably too far away to ever contact us.

      1. As you implied in your interesting post, you should not consider the huge number of stars in our galaxy without also taking into account the immensity of time.

        It is ok to “believe” that the large number of stars simply translates inevitably to a large number of advanced civilisations.

        However, if that large number of civilisations is spread across (say) the last 10 billion years of stellar evolution in the galaxy, then the average number of such civilisations existing at any particular time may well be extremely small, depending on how optimistic or pessimistic you are that an advanced civilisation may last.

        In that regard I am a pessimist, (which may not go down well with the multitudes who have spent their lives voraciously devouring futuristic science fiction movies).

        The only thing I know for certain is that over the last fifty years we have dramatically ramped up the sophistication of our Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and have so far come up with – nothing at all.

        That is all the more reason to keep searching.


      2. Greybeard – I fully understand your pessimism. I think that if intelligent life was common (or close in proximity) we would have discovered it by now. That suggests to me that it is either rare, or nonexistent, or separated by great distance. As you suggest – it may well be in the past. Intelligent civilisations may well have come and gone a number of times during the 13.7 billion years of the universes existence – or indeed the 5 billion years of our own planet’s life.
        I also share your enthusiasm for continuing to search for such life. I believe that discovering such life would have a profound effect on us.
        As it is, there is the possibility that we could be the only intelligent life in the universe – indeed the only life. Therefore I think it is imperative that we take great care to preserve what we have and ensure that this life-raft is cared for as well as we can possibly manage.

      3. I fully agree with you.

        We live on a very fortunate planet where a lot of very fortunate random events resulted in the very fortunate conditions and a very fortunate pathway for human evolution and our existence at this time.

        I don’t want us to be the only advanced life in the galaxy but I would not rule it out.

      4. Which means that if life is so very precious we should value it more and respect it more – not something we seem to be doing.

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