No Calls From ETs? They Might Be Extinct
CSIRO Parkes radio telescope searches for alien signals. Courtesy CSIRO/Wayne England.
I know it’s a tough call for the alien fans out there (and I have to confess, I DO think that there’s life out there somewhere), but a group of astrobiologists led by Dr. Aditya Chopra and Professor Charley Lineweaver (at Australian National University) has predicted that life on distant worlds isn’t being found because it’s likely to be extinct already. If what they’re saying is true, then the galaxy could be a pretty sparsely populated place indeed.
Extinction seems like a tough fate, but think about where life typically is expected to arise: newborn planets. Such places are not tranquil neighborhoods where happy little baby microbes flourish and evolve to become multi-celled life, and eventually grow up to build Starbucks franchises everywhere.
No, these infant worlds are harsh places. Really harsh. They get blasted by their stars (which themselves are young and feisty). Their atmospheres are toxic to most (if not all) forms of life. They might lose their magnetic fields, and then their atmospheres. Or, they might suffer incredible impacts that melt the surface over and over again. Whatever ...