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I Told You It Was A Silly Example...

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Posted by Luciano Medina/">Luciano Medina on September 10, 1998 15:38:55 UTC

Yes, I didn't pretend to make an analogy between seeking a fabulous animal on Earth and looking for extraterrestrial spaceships. I just wanted to describe what kind of answers I receive from UFO believers when I use logic arguments against their believings.

And concerning the issue of instinct vs. science to speculate about life in other worlds, it's interesting what you said:

: Now let us assume that for life to exist, : conditions similar to those on Earth must : apply. For this to be true... : : The proportion of the distance between : the planet and the sun, and the heat the : sun gives off must be approximately equal : to that of the earth and the sun. : There must exist chemicals on the planet : that will support the production of water, : and nutrients. : There must exist plenty amaeno (sp?) : acids on the planet. : : Now that might seem highly improbable. : But consider how many stars there are in : the universe, how many of them are : "healthy", even counting for the amount of : stars with planets in orbit, were still : talking about a lot of stars, which makes : the possibility for life quite likely, and : therefore the existence of life quite likely.

That's exactly what I was talking about! The estimation of how many stars may have planets, and how many planets may have a temperature where certain chemical reactions may happen, etc., etc., is what Carl Sagan calculated in the equation I mentioned. He really researched a lot and used everthing we know about chemistry and astronomy, and after a long time he had a result. You (and most people, including myself sometimes with different topics), don't wait so much before arriving to a conclusion. In your case, it was "...which makes the possibility for life quite likely, and therefore the existence of life quite likely." I say that it's better not to go so fast, and to use mathematics as long as possible because probability is a very tricky thing. Something that seems quite possible at first view, can be highly improbable when you calculate it, and viceversa.

Nevertheless, your conclussion is right (extraterrestrial life in our galaxy is quite possible) because you're well informed and if you didn't read Sagan you read someone who wrote about his researchs (otherwise you wouldn't mention all those things about chemicals, water and aminoacids).

But I want to repeat it again: it was very difficult for scientists to reach to that conclussion. For us it's easy now to say it's true, because it's already calculated, but if you really want to convince a scientist you have to give numbers and be very specific with everything. You can't just say "...we are talking about a lot of stars, wich makes the possibility for life quiet likely...". You jumped a lot of steps there! Science doesn't work that way, it goes much slower that instinct in the pursuit of truth, but has more chances to success. There are millions of examples in the history of science where men had a wrong view of natural laws because they forgot a small detail, or didn't consider an unlikely possibility.

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