Kepler data keeps on giving

March 3, 2015

The Kepler data keeps giving us more data about potential earth-like planets in other solar systems.

This latest batch discusses planets nearly 500 light years away from our solar system.

With the galaxy (and one assumes universe) teeming with planets in the zone we recognise as habitable, the statistics of us being the only planet with life forms seems remote (and bearing in mind we know little about the possibility of life developing outside the zones we view as habitable, we shouldn’t discount the possibility of life by completely different rules to those we know).

But our own planet is the only guide we have to the evolutionary process required for life to develop. The bad news to be found here lays in the logic of the reptile being the most likely creature to develop to the top of the food chain in any ecosystem.

Dinosaurs ruled the earth for many. many millions of years. Only knocked down from their dominance by what scientists believe is a freak extinction event of an asteroid crashing into the planet and wiping them out. The likelihood of this kind of event being replicated on other planets with such lifeforms seems relatively low.

And in all those millions of years pre extinction event, no intelligent dominant reptile species evolved on earth.

Even if it did, again looking at the history of our own planet for guidance, the rate of development of humans was different in locations across the world  A relatively advanced civilization such as the Mayans was developing at the same time as Europeans were much further down the line of technology. The Mayans from my understanding were similar to civilizations like the Egyptians of 2,000 years BC. And while the Mayans were at their height, in North America and Australia the aboriginals living in both places were not too far beyond the stone age level (if my understanding of their civilisations is accurate).

So when we eventually get out into the galaxy, I suspect the odds tell us the planets with life will quite likely have reptiles. possibly of dinosaur scale, or if there are intelligent life they may well be far less advanced than us. Which probably means we need a Star Trek style Prime Directive.

There is the possibility any intelligent species could have wiped itself out (we have been pretty close ourselves with nuclear weapons). Or overtaken by robots (another interest of mine) or be much more intelligent than us and view us how we would view a Bronze age society.

So, while I am excited about Kepler finding these planets and I expect them to be teeming with life of one sort or another, I am quite sceptical about finding intelligent life.

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