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Life in the Universe. Seven major phases in the history of the universe: particulate galactic stellar planetary chemical biological cultural evolution.

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Presentation on theme: "Life in the Universe. Seven major phases in the history of the universe: particulate galactic stellar planetary chemical biological cultural evolution."— Presentation transcript:

1 Life in the Universe

2 Seven major phases in the history of the universe: particulate galactic stellar planetary chemical biological cultural evolution.

3 A definition of life Generally speaking, scientists regard the following as characteristics of living organisms: they can react to their environment and can often heal themselves when damaged they can grow by taking in nourishment from their surroundings and processing it into energy they can reproduce, passing along some of their own characteristics to their offspring they have the capacity for genetic change and can therefore evolve from generation to generation so as to adapt to a changing environment.

4 Extraterrestrial Life There are two opposing schools of thought: Those who feel that life is a naturally occurring phenomenon and therefore is common throughout the Universe Those who feel that life on Earth is the product of a series of extremely fortunate accidents and therefore is very rare and we may be the only example.

5 Chemical Evolution Early Earth was barren, with shallow, lifeless seas washing upon grassless, treeless continents Outgassing from our planet's interior through volcanoes, fissures, and geysers produced an atmosphere rich in hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon compounds and poor in free oxygen. As Earth cooled, ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, and water formed. The stage was set for the appearance of life. Natural radioactivity, lightning, volcanism, solar ultraviolet radiation, and meteoritic impacts all provided large amounts of energy that eventually shaped the ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, and water into more complex molecules known as amino acids and nucleotide bases

6 Chemical Evolution The idea that complex molecules could have evolved naturally from simpler ingredients found on the primitive Earth has been around since the 1920s. The first experimental verification was provided in 1953 when scientists Harold Urey and Stanley Miller took a mixture of the materials thought to be present on Earth long ago—a "primordial soup" of water, methane, carbon dioxide, and ammonia—and energized it by passing an electrical discharge ("lightning") through the gas. After a few days they analyzed their mixture and found that it contained many of the same amino acids found today in all living things on Earth. About a decade later, scientists succeeded in constructing nucleotide bases in a similar manner.

7 Another Choice Some scientists have argued that Earth's primitive atmosphere might not in fact have been a particularly suitable environment for the production of complex molecules. Instead, they say, there may not have been sufficient energy available to power the chemical reactions, and the early atmosphere may not have contained enough raw material for the reactions to have become important in any case. These researchers suggest that much, if not all, of the organic material that combined to form the first living cells was produced in interstellar space and subsequently arrived on Earth in the form of interplanetary dust and meteors that did not burn up during their descent through the atmosphere. Interstellar molecular clouds are known to contain very complex molecules, and large amounts of organic material were detected on comet Halley by space probes when Halley last visited the inner solar system. Similarly complex molecules were observed on comet Hale—Bopp.

8 Biological Evolution The fossil record chronicles how life on Earth became widespread and diversified over the course of time. The study of fossil remains shows the initial appearance about 3.5 billion years ago of simple one-celled organisms such as blue-green algae. –Warm, shallow waters favour the growth of micro- organisms, particularly cyanobacteria, the simplest single- celled life form known. –Microbial mats built from cyanobacteria and other microscopic organisms are the building blocks for stromatolites, the rock-like structures whose origin puzzled geologists for centuries. –Stromatolites – literally layered rocks – are the oldest form of life on earth dating 3.5 billion years. –Stromatolites result from the interaction between microbes, other biological influences and the physical and chemical environment. These were followed about 2 billion years ago by more complex one-celled creatures, like the amoeba. Multi-cellular organisms such as sponges did not appear until about 1 billion years ago, after which there flourished a wide variety of increasingly complex organisms—insects, reptiles, mammals, and humans. Shark Bay, AU

9 Biological Evolution To put all this into historical perspective, let's imagine the entire lifetime of Earth to be 46 years rather than 4.6 billion years. Life originated at least 35 years ago, when Earth was about 10 years old. Not until about 6 years ago did abundant life flourish throughout Earth's oceans. Life came ashore about 4 years ago Plants and animals mastered the land only about 2 years ago. Dinosaurs reached their peak about 1 year ago, only to die suddenly about 4 months later. Humanlike apes changed into apelike humans only last week The latest ice ages occurred only a few days ago. Homo sapiens did not emerge until about 4 hours ago. Agriculture was invented within the last hour, The Renaissance—along with all of modern science—is just 3 minutes old!

10 1 Year Cosmic Calendar (From The Dragons of Eden - Carl Sagan) Pre-December Dates Big BangJanuary 1 Origin of Milky Way GalaxyMay 1 Origin of the solar systemSeptember 9 Formation of the EarthSeptember 14 Origin of life on Earth~ September 25 Formation of the oldest rocks known on EarthOctober 2 Date of oldest fossils (bacteria and blue-green algae)October 9 Invention of sex (by microorganisms)~ November 1 Oldest fossil photosynthetic plantsNovember 12 Eukaryotes (first cells with nuclei) flourishNovember 15

11 SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday 1 Significant oxygen atmosphere begins to develop on Earth. 2345 Extensive vulcanism and channel formation on Mars. 6 7 8 910111213 14 1516 First Worms.17 Precambrian ends. Paleozoic Era and Cambrian Period begin. Invertebrates flourish. 18 First oceanic plankton. Trilobites flourish. 19 Ordovician Period. First fish, first vertebrates. 20 Silurian Period. First vascular plants. Plants begin colonization of land. 21 Devonian Period begins. First insects. Animals begin colonization of land. 22 First amphibians. First winged insects. 23 Carboniferous Period. First trees. First reptiles. 24 Permian Period begins. First dinosaurs. 25 Paleozoic Era ends. Mesozoic Era Begins. 26 Triassic Period. First mammals. 27 Jurassic Period. First birds. 28 Cretaceous Period. First flowers. Dinosaurs become extinct. 29 Mesozoic Era ends. Cenozoic Era and Tertiary Period begin. First cetaceans. First primates. 30 First evolution of frontal lobes in the brains of primates. First hominids. Giant mammals flourish. 31 End of Pliocene Period. Quaternary (Pleistocene and Holocene) Period. First humans. December

12 Origin of Proconsul and Ramapithecus, probable ancestors of apes and men ~ 1:30 p.m. First humans ~ 10:30 p.m. Widespread use of stone tools 11:00 p.m. Domestication of fire by Peking man 11:46 p.m. Beginning of most recent glacial period 11:56 p.m. Seafarers settle Australia 11:58 p.m. Extensive cave painting in Europe 11:59 p.m. Invention of agriculture 11:59:20 p.m. Neolithic civilization; first cities 11:59:35 p.m. First dynasties in Sumer, Ebla and Egypt; development of astronomy 11:59:50 p.m. Invention of the alphabet; Akkadian Empire 11:59:51 p.m. Hammurabic legal codes in Babylon; Middle Kingdom in Egypt 11:59:52 p.m. Bronze metallurgy; Mycenaean culture; Trojan War; Olmec culture; invention of the compass 11:59:53 p.m. Iron metallurgy; First Assyrian Empire; Kingdom of Israel; founding of Carthage by Phoenicia 11:59:54 p.m. Asokan India; Ch'in Dynasty China; Periclean Athens; birth of Buddha 11:59:55 p.m. Euclidean geometry; Archimedean physics; Ptolemaic astronomy; Roman Empire; birth of Christ 11:59:56 p.m. Zero and decimals invented in Indian arithmetic; Rome falls; Birth of Islam and the Islamic Civilization 11:59:57 p.m. Mayan civilization; Sung Dynasty China; Byzantine empire; Mongol invasion; Crusades 11:59:58 p.m. Renaissance in Europe; voyages of discovery from Europe and from Ming Dynasty China; emergence of the experimental method in science 11:59:59 p.m. Widespread development of science and technology; emergence of global culture; acquisition of the means of self-destruction of the human species; first steps in spacecraft planetary exploration and the search of extraterrestrial intelligence Now: The first second of New Year's Day December 31

13 Life (as we know it) Carbon-based life that originated in a liquid water environment It appears that no environment in the solar system besides Earth is particularly well suited for sustaining life. Alternative biologies –Silicon has chemical properties somewhat similar to those of carbon and have suggested it as a possible alternative to carbon as the basis for living organisms. –Ammonia is sometimes put forward as a possible liquid medium in which life might develop.

14 Intelligent Life in the Galaxy An early approach to this statistical problem is usually known as the Drake equation, after the U.S. astronomer who pioneered this analysis: number of technological, intelligent civilizations now present in the Milky Way Galaxy =rate of star formation, averaged over the lifetime of the Galaxy xfraction of those stars having planetary systems xaverage number of planets within those planetary systems that are suitable for life xfraction of those habitable planets on which life actually arises xfraction of those life-bearing planets on which intelligence evolves xfraction of those intelligent-life planets that develop technological society xaverage lifetime of a technologically competent civilization.

15 The Drake Equation Let's examine the terms in the equation one by one and make some educated guesses about their values. Bear in mind, though, that if you ask two scientists for their best estimates of any given term, you will likely get two very different answers!

16 RATE OF STAR FORMATION Estimate the average number of stars forming each year in the Galaxy simply by noting that at least 100 billion stars now shine in the Milky Way. Dividing this number by the 10-billion- year lifetime of the Galaxy, we obtain a formation rate of 10 stars per year.

17 FRACTION OF STARS HAVING PLANETARY SYSTEMS If the Condensation Theory is correct, planet formation is a natural result of the star-formation process Accepting the condensation theory and its consequences, and without being either too conservative or naively optimistic, we assign a value near 1 to this term— that is, we believe that essentially all stars have planetary systems

18 NUMBER OF HABITABLE PLANETS PER PLANETARY SYSTEM Temperature, more than any other single quantity, determines the feasibility of life on a given planet. –The surface temperature of a planet depends on two things: the planet's distance from its parent star and the thickness of its atmosphere. –The extent of the habitable zone is much larger around a hot star than around a cool one. For a star like the Sun (a G-type star), the zone extends from about 0.85 A.U. to 2.0 A.U. For an F-type star, the range is 1.2 to 2.8 A.U. For a faint M-type star only planets orbiting between about 0.02 and 0.06 A.U. would be habitable.

19 NUMBER OF HABITABLE PLANETS PER PLANETARY SYSTEM To estimate the number of habitable planets per planetary system, we first take inventory of how many stars of each type shine in our Galaxy and calculate the sizes of their habitable zones. Then we eliminate binary-star systems because a planet's orbit within the habitable zone of a binary would likely be unstable. Single F-, G-, and K-type stars are the best candidates. Taking all these factors into account, we assign a value of 1/10 to this term in our equation.

20 FRACTION OF HABITABLE PLANETS ON WHICH LIFE ARISES Of the billions upon billions of basic organic groupings that could possibly occur on Earth from the random combination of all sorts of simple atoms and molecules, only about 1500 actually do occur. Furthermore, these 1500 organic groups of terrestrial biology are made from only about 50 simple "building blocks" (including the amino acids and nucleotide bases mentioned earlier). This suggests that molecules critical to life may not be assembled by pure chance. If a relatively small number of chemical "evolutionary tracks" are likely to exist, then the formation of complex molecules—and hence, we assume, life—becomes much more likely, given sufficient time. We will take the optimistic view and adopt a value of 1.

21 FRACTION OF LIFE-BEARING PLANETS ON WHICH INTELLIGENCE ARISES One school of thought maintains that, given enough time, intelligence is inevitable. In this view, assuming that natural selection is a universal phenomenon, at least one organism on a planet will always rise to the level of "intelligent life." If this is correct, then the fifth term in the Drake equation equals or nearly equals 1.

22 FRACTION OF PLANETS ON WHICH INTELLIGENT LIFE DEVELOPS AND USES TECHNOLOGY We need to estimate the probability that intelligent life eventually develops technological competence. Should the rise of technology be inevitable, this term is close to 1, given long enough periods of time. If it is not inevitable—if intelligent life can somehow "avoid" developing technology—then this term could be much less than 1. The fact that only one technological society exists on Earth does not imply that the sixth term in our Drake equation must be very much less than 1. On the contrary, it is precisely because some species will probably always fill the niche of technological intelligence that we will take this term to be close to 1.

23 AVERAGE LIFETIME OF A TECHNOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION The last term on the right-hand side of the equation, the longevity of technological civilizations, is totally unknown. There is only one known example of such a civilization—humans on planet Earth. Our own civilization has presently survived in its "technological" state for only about 100 years, and how long we will be around before a natural or human-made catastrophe ends it all is impossible to tell. Combining our estimates for the other six terms (and noting that 10 x 1 x 1/10 x 1 x 1 x 1 = 1), we can say: The number of technological, intelligent civilizations now present in the Milky Way Galaxy = The average lifetime of a technologically competent civilization, in years.

24 The Final Estimate Thus, if civilizations typically survive for 1000 years, there should be 1000 of them currently in existence scattered throughout the Galaxy. If they live for a million years, on average, we would expect there to be a million advanced civilizations in the Milky Way.

25 According to the 'experts' John Baugher in his book, "On Civilized Stars", estimates 200 million advanced civilizations in our galaxy, assuming they all reached this point at the same time. Carl Sagan derives an estimate between 50 thousand and one million advanced civilizations currently existence in the Milky Way today. An even more important value is the estimated rate that advanced civilizations occur in the galaxy: EventYears Before NowAdv. Civilizations Occurring Life on Earth3.8 billion38 million Life on Land400 million4 million Rise of Dinosaurs200 million2 million Rise of Mammals60 million600 thousand Rise of Man5 million50 thousand Rise of Homo Sapiens300 thousand3 thousand

26 Where Are They? In the 1940's, around a lunch table, some physicists were discussing extraterrestrial life. Nobel Prize winner, Enrico Fermi is supposed to have then asked, "So? Where is everybody?" What Fermi was asking is if there are all these billions of planets in the universe that are capable of supporting life, and millions of intelligent species out there, then how come none has visited earth? This has come to be known as The Fermi Paradox.

27 Fermi realized that any civilization with a rocket technology could rapidly colonize the entire Galaxy. Within a few million years, every star system could be colonized. A few million years may sound long, but in fact it's quite short compared with the age of the Galaxy, which is roughly ten thousand million years. Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev proposed a useful scheme to classify advanced civilizations: – A Type I civilization is similar to our own, one that uses the energy resources of a planet. –A Type II civilization would use the energy resources of a star, such as a "Dyson Sphere". –A Type III civilization would employ the energy resources of an entire galaxy. A Type III civilization would be easy to detect, even at vast distances. Where Are They?

28 Bracewell-Von Neumann Probes It should be possible for an advanced civilization to construct self- reproducing, autonomous robots to colonize the Galaxy. The idea of self-reproducing automaton was proposed by mathematician John von Neumann in the 1950's. The idea is that a device could: –perform tasks in the real world –make copies of itself (like bacteria). A Bracewell-von Neumann probe is simply a self-reproducing automaton with an intelligent program and plans to build more of itself. Growth of the number of probes would occur exponentially and the Galaxy could be explored in 4 million years. While this time span seems long compared to the age of human civilization, remember the Galaxy is over 10 billion years old and any past extraterrestrial civilization could have explored the Galaxy 250 times over.

29 How long would it take? Colonization takes into account the rate at which stops are required and the amount of time each stop PropulsionMaximum VelocityWorst Case Transit Fission0.6 c2.66 million years Fusion0.15 c1 million year Laser0.98 c160 thousand years Antimatter0.999 c160 thousand years Ramjetarbitrarily close to c160 thousand years PropulsionTime Required to Colonize the Galaxy Fission3.8 million years Fusion2.14 million years Laser1.3 million years Antimatter1.3 million years Ramjet1.3 million years

30 Possible solutions to The Fermi Paradox They Are Here –They Were Here and They Left Evidence UFO's, Ancient Astronauts, Alien Artifacts –They Are Us Humans are the descendents of ancient alien civilizations. Problem: where are the original aliens? –Interdict Scenario The aliens are here, and they are keeping isolated or there is an interdiction treaty to prevent contact They Exist But Have Not Yet Communicated –They Have Not Had Time To Reach Us –They Are Signaling, But We Do Not Know How To Listen –They Have No Desire To Communicate –Catastrophes They Do Not Exist

31 MEETING OUR NEIGHBORS Our civilization has already launched some interstellar probes, although they have no specific stellar destination. A plaque was mounted onboard the Pioneer 10 spacecraft launched in the mid-1970s and now well beyond the orbit of Pluto, on its way out of the solar system. Similar information was also included aboard the Voyager probes launched in 1978. Although these spacecraft would be incapable of reporting back to Earth the news that they had encountered an alien culture, scientists hope that the civilization on the other end would be able to unravel most of its contents using the universal language of mathematics. The important features of the plaque include a scale drawing of the spacecraft, a man, and a woman; a diagram of the hydrogen atom undergoing a change in energy (top left); a starburst pattern representing various pulsars and the frequencies of their radio waves that can be used to estimate when the craft was launched (middle left); and a depiction of the solar system, showing that the spacecraft departed the third planet from the Sun and passed the fifth planet on its way into outer space (bottom). All the drawings have computer- (binary) coded markings from which actual sizes, distances, and times can be derived.

32 MEETING OUR NEIGHBORS Pioneer 10 will continue to coast silently as a ghost ship into interstellar space, heading generally for the red star Aldebaran, which forms the eye of the constellation Taurus (The Bull). Aldebaran is about 68 light- years away. It will take Pioneer 10 more than two million years to reach it.

33 RADIO COMMUNICATION SETI –www.setiathome.org NameparsecsAge (Gyr) Spectral Type Notes Beta Cvn8.374.05G0 VSolar Analog HD1030712.645.91G2 VSolar Analog astrometric binary HD21141513.613.3G3 VCCDM 3” 18 Sco14.034.8G5 VCCDM: 26” Solar Twin 51 Peg15.366.34G2.5 VSolar Analog Giant Planet CCDM – Catalog of Components of Double and Multiple Systems This table of possible Habitable Stars was put together by Margaret Turnbull (U. of Arizona) and Jill Tarter (SETI) “Target Selection for SETI. II Tycho-2 dwarfs, old open clusters and the nearest 100 stars”, Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 129, 423-426, 2003 December.

34 Exobiology or Xenobiology How would the environment shape the being? –Physical Structure –Optical –Other Senses


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