The volume of space

  1. From browsing this website I have formed an opinion that people in here don't like when someone brings up information that they heard in a movie..
    Well this is more along the lines of a question that arose from watching a movie..
    With Sandra Bullock, forgot the name..
    Dialogue went something along the lines of,
    "If we are the only life forms, than that would be a waste of space."
    Someone replied
    "What if we need all this space and galaxies just for the one chance to get intelligent life."
    Now from an everyday person point of view I believe that %80 of people would say we are not alone in this universe (intelligent life existing within a 10,000 year time frame as us).
    I don't want to turn this into an aliens; are they real or not discussion..
    But more along the lines of, would I be considered self centered and crazy if I actually believe that we do need this much space just to have the olds that life on earth to happen.. I know with the goldy lox theory and all give us a better chance than just us existing, but In end end those are just numbers and estimates and are not absolute.. So it is crazy for me to feel that we are the only thing existing intelligently in this universe existing at this time? Or are the probabilities so high, that it doesn't matter what I think and the chances are there is life someone else in this huge universe?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    From the Carl Sagan book and movie Contact:

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/282727-the-universe-is-a-pretty-big-place-if-it-s-just

    You misunderstand the people on PF. Our five year mission is to help STEM students better understand math and science. Thats why speculative science and personal theories are shut down so often as they tend to confuse others who are trying to learn about mainstream science.

    With respect to your question the best we can do right now is the Drake equation which tries to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations there might be. However these kinds of speculation lead to deadends because you can't test whether its true or not and thats the whole point of science can I test it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2014
  4. phinds

    phinds 8,082
    Gold Member

    If you stop and think about it, you'll realize that on cosmological time scales, 10,000 years is not significantly different than zero so why not just say "at the same time" ?
     
  5. marcus

    marcus 23,929
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    that could be the movie "Gravity". Bullock was in that, and I saw a quote from the movie where she said that. I did not see the movie so I don't know if the following line occurred, but suspect it did.

    The waste of space line also occurred (as Jedi Shr Fu said) in the much earlier movie Contact
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118884/quotes
    Young Ellie Arroway: Dad, do you think there's people on other planets?
    Ted Arroway: I don't know, Sparks. But I guess I'd say if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space.
    ==========
    The heroine of Contact is the grown up Ellie Arroway, played by Jodie Foster.
     
  6. marcus

    marcus 23,929
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    You can't have well defined odds unless you have a METRIC or criterion for how close you want the other planet to resemble Earth, and how close you want the other planet's life to resemble Earth life.

    And since you mentioned intelligence, you'd need a criterion for how close THEIR intelligence should be for you to admit a match. If there were DOGS on the other planet, would that count, or not?
    If there were ANTS, would that count?

    =================
    The main thing is to be clear.
    =================

    It's subjective. Everybody must decide for themselves how similar the OTHER must be in order to be considered the Other. And everybody must judge the ODDS for themselves. I have no interest in convincing you that my judgement of the odds, and my criteria, are the right ones. I can just tell you what the odds seem to me to be.

    If you want to know. Do you want to know?
     
  7. Yes I would like the scientist beliefs if there are intelligent life in this universe besides ours.. By intelligent I mean, something that can hunt, and make their own shelter. So as smart as a bird or a monkey. Not single cells, ants. Fish yes.. Dogs cats fox those kinds

    Than also the possibility of space traveling life out there...
     
  8. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    I most definitely believe there is life out there, I just don't know how intelligent it is.
     
  9. marcus

    marcus 23,929
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    I won't say I have BELIEF one way or the other because I want to reserve belief for where there is better evidence. But if I adopt your standard of intelligence, then I think there are high ODDS of other intelligent life in our galaxy (with its 100s of billions of stars). And that is just one galaxy. There are billions of galaxies.

    This is just my PERSONAL SUBJECTIVE judgement. I would not call my individual reckoning of the odds "scientific". Or representative of any community. You would have to ask many people to get a sense of group opinion.

    The way I personally see it, hundreds of nearby stars have been found with planets, some resembling earth and some not, in various crude ways like size, range of temperature…. estimated gravity….possible atmosphere.

    As a rough guess I would estimate that we have examined less than one ten millionth of the stars in our galaxy.
    That in our neighborhood of, say, ten thousand stars, whatever statistics we find here would be multiplied ten million fold for the galaxy as a whole. If, for example, we eventually find 10 earth-size habitable-zone planets in our vicinity then we can infer the likely existence of 100 million such planets in just this galaxy.

    Or say we set higher standards and only find ONE potentially earth-like in our neighborhood, then one may expect 10 million such in the galaxy at large.

    It's a problem in statistics, and depends on the standards you set. The current exoplanet search programs accumulate the kind of statistics one would need to study to make better estimates than I can.

    Then on top of that one has to decide how likely one thinks it is for single cell life to get started and begin to evolve, on a planet where conditions are favorable. My personal feeling (having a bit of undergraduate chemistry to go on) is that there is nothing unusual or remarkable about the appearance of life, given favorable conditions.

    Beyond single cell life I can't reckon the odds very well. I just don't know enough about the evolution of higher life-forms.

    But you probably get the drift of how I'm thinking---there might be pond-scum and goo on a million planets in our galaxy alone---so it kind of hard to imagine there wouldn't be a handful or so that made it as far as squirrels.

    Sorry it took so long to write my response---supper and some chores intervened,so only had a few minutes at a time.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2014
  10. I like this question. Even though it's more of a philisophical question, it is one of the most important science questions. "Are we alone?" My answer is "no, you are not crazy." The probability of there being life out there is high (sentient or not) since we have found hundreds of earth-like planets orbiting stars like our own. That is pretty much all I can say without getting too phylisophical.
     
  11. Chronos

    Chronos 9,757
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    Assuming the speed of light is inviolable and the fuel required for 'conventional' interstellar travel is insanely impractical [i.e., physics as we know it], there could be any number of 'intelligent' creatures in the universe that are hopelessly trapped within their own solar systems.
     
  12. phinds

    phinds 8,082
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    Shoot, after watching FOX news I wonder that about life HERE.
     
  13. bapowell

    bapowell 1,806
    Science Advisor

    Well, "life" is a given. Fox should rattle your belief about *intelligent* life.
     
  14. Life, no doubt. Intelligent life?, maybe if you look broadly. :wink:



    Damo
     
  15. phinds

    phinds 8,082
    Gold Member

    Uh, not really. The broads on FOX are even worse than the guys. My favorite description of FOX and Friends Sunday is "an idiot sandwich --- a moron sandwiched between two doofuses"
     
  16. Actually all they/we need to do is build a warp drive (which NASA is now actually building a prototype) that uses artificial gravity to bend spacetime. By bending spacetime you can appear to be going faster than light but actually be still while space is warping around you (space is moving not you). So it is very possible for them to get here. But it would require an immense amount of power to stop the warp without crushing ourselves. They are still working on that.
     
  17. phinds

    phinds 8,082
    Gold Member

    Sure. That all we need. Don't hold your breath.
     
  18. Chronos

    Chronos 9,757
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    The odds of NASA building a warp drive are about the same as me winning the lottery, and I don't buy lottery tickets. Which warp drive did you have in mind? Last time I checked NASA did not have any funds dedicated to warp drive technology.
     
  19. Same here.

    And some more personal subjective thoughts:
    I have strong doubts about how common life is (since we only have evidence of life on one astronomical body). Two parameters which come to my mind are 1) the probability of primordial life to arise and 2) the probability of primordial life surviving long enough to significantly evolve. I have no idea how to think about these parameters...
     
  20. Last edited: Jul 8, 2014
  21. If the people on Fox news were the dumbest people I had to deal with, then I'd be in heaven. The dumbest person on Fox news is a genius compared to a lot of the people I have to deal with in real life.
     
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