The publication investigates the possibilities of “intelligent life” appearing in the Universe, if there are planets that provide conditions and ecosystems similar to those we see on our planet.
One of the study’s main researchers, David Kipping, who is an astronomer at Columbia University, set about using a statistical method called “Bayesian analysis” to investigate all available data.
This type of analysis is “a way of describing and updating the beliefs or content of the information, when you see or get some data,” according to Will Farr, an astrophysicist at Stony Brook University, but who was not involved in the study. .
To delve deeper into the meaning, the scientist gave a concrete example: “What possibilities do I have to make a free throw at this moment, given that I have missed the last 20 times that I tried? This approach forces researchers to examine the overlays involved in each question. “
The research, called by scientists as “Kipping Paper”, recorded all the data on how long it took for life and intelligence to emerge on Earth, and then make concrete estimates.
All these data were applied to the Bayesian approach, which sought to determine whether each life-emergence process is a “fast process” or a “slow, rare and indeterminate scenario”.
The results showed that the emergence in life was slow, since it took approximately 4.21 billion years for the planet to form, after various collisions with other lost worlds, which further slowed down the process.
The data applied by Kipping for this conclusion were the following:
- Earth became habitable 4.21 billion years ago.
- After the Moon formed, it took 300 million years for the planet to cool down.
- The first records of life on the planet (microfossils), date back to 3,465 million years.
- The first hint of life occurred 745 million years after the planet became habitable.
- Humans appeared half a million years ago, considered a tiny part of the planet’s evolution.
- Intelligent life became established with the appearance of Homo Sapiens.
- As a probable factor, it is believed that we currently live in the last fifth of Earth’s habitable history.
- Astronomers estimate that in the next billion years, the Sun will become extremely bright, causing the ecosystem, plants, food chain to collapse.
- Only microbes are expected to survive this process.
After applying various analysis mechanisms, among which were rigorous scientific models, Kipping threw numbers with probabilities of the existence of intelligent life.
For this, it was explained that the process called abiogenesis, which means the appearance of “animated things” on the planet, would only have a 3: 1 probability of being generated within a context of evolution and formation of a slow planet.
Experts emphasize that it took more than 4 billion years for a race like humans to exist, while they estimate that Earth will be habitable for only another 1 billion years.
In this context, the extrapolation of these probabilities to other known systems in the Universe throws up a complex scenario to find the presence of life.
Astrophysicist Will Farr emphasized that “if we want to generalize these results about aliens, we have to do a lot of work, since the whole process would be based on speculation, so the numbers in that document would be quite subjective.”
For now, the article Kipping only analyzes when life arose and when intelligence emerged, using the parameters and data that science has regarding the development of phenomena.
As a result of the study, the experts plan to develop in the future a “mathematical model” with which it is possible to analyze the habitability, life and intelligence of some place.
On the other hand, the concept of intelligence also falls into the subjective, experts say, because the document “defines an intelligent species as one that is capable of carrying out studies such as these, as well as marine creatures that coexist in ecosystems different from ours but on the same Earth ”.
Finally, the document did not use traits to define intelligence, since parameters such as language, tool creation, reasoning ability, and construction are not only unique to humans.
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