We Are Alone

Earth is unique. We read about these immense numbers of galaxies, stars and planets and just *know* that there are other “earths” out there. But it will become more and more evident and publicly accepted that Earth is exceedingly unique. The list continues to grow regarding factors that make it so, but here are a few.

  • Sol is singular, not a binary star system.
  • Sol’s position in the galaxy is out in an arm away from the chaos of inner galaxy turmoil.
  • Sol’s wave path as the Milkyway revolves allows it to miss much of the disruptions in the galaxy. (Local bubble)
  • Earth’s distance from Sol, Goldilocks zone, LOTS of liquid water.
  • Earth’s neighbors, Jupiter's asteroid cleaning.
  • Earth’s impact from Theia resulting in a much denser iron/nickel core.
  • Earth’s extensive magnetosphere (due to this large magnetic core).
  • Luna’s very large size and its influence on Earth’s rotational / axial stability, not to mention tides.
  • The asteroid belt delivering asteroids, comets and meteors and their H2O and elements.

Here are some chemical aspects of earth that make it unique

  • Earth’s H20 to land ratio.
  • Earth’s land distribution (large continents, not islands).
  • Earth’s high quantity of radioactive elements within the planet interior.
  • Volcanism continuously recycling minerals and elements.
  • Early life starting 3.5bya, clearing the oceans of toxins.
  • The tilt of Earth providing seasons.
  • Ozone without which DNA would be useless.
  • The transition of prokaryotic to eukaryotic life.
And here are some reasons why Man is unique on this Unique earth.
  • 2.5 billion years of hydrocarbon deposition.
  • Humanity's survival through and benefit from disease, we are robust.
  • The decimation of prior dominant classes of animals and the rise of mammals. 
  • Fire both its discovery and the existence of burnable material for boosting our nutritional uptake and our ability to manipulate elements.
  • Broad variety of available metals useful for life and industry and eventually the construction of communication capabilities.
  • The configuration of the continents that gave rise to grasses that gave rise to agriculture.
  • The existence and development of draft animals without which agriculture would not have arisen.
  • Humanity had to survive, and in general, avoid having its electricity systems (generation, grid, transformers) being devastated by CMEs (coronal mass ejections).

And no doubt many more.

We are unique.

Supporting notes:

The argument for and against ETs

The Great Filter

1) Earth has been emitting life signs spectroscopically for 3.5 billion years. If alien intelligences had been looking, they would have found this planet by now.

2) There are literally hundreds of reasons that make the Earth and its human species "special". The accumulation of which is truly astounding when you go and assemble them into a probability curve. Intelligent life therefore, given the probability factors that brought humans to this point, has a very low chance of being common in the universe.

A few of the "we are special" factors:

• Goldilocks location.

• An molten iron core planet producing a planet protecting magnetosphere.

• Volcanism.

• Liquid water.

• Oceans filtered toxin free by biotic life over 2.5 billion years.

• The generation of oxygen by this life.

• The generation of ozone that protects DNA from constant mutation.

• Continental configuration. Island states would not produce intelligent life.

• Earth tilt. Seasons contributed to the stress need to spur life into intelligence.

• 3.5 billion years of hydrocarbon concentration perfectly delivered at just the right time to drive humanity over the population threshold that sparked the industrial revolution.

• Star death required to produce higher atomic weight elements necessary for life processes.

• Although our solar system is in the process of emerging from the Local Bubble, the sun's trajectory suggests that it will probably not encounter a large, dense cloud for at least several more million years. The consequences of such an encounter for the earth's climate are unclear; however, one wonders whether it is a coincidence that Homo sapiens appeared while the sun was traversing a region of space virtually devoid of interstellar matter.

• Disease. Humanity, and higher forms of life in general, must have survived disease. Disease has killed more human life than all the wars, religions and genocides put together TIMES 10! 

The list goes on and on.

Bottom line - life is rare and we are rarer still.


Life in the universe.

A numbers game

I too have been fascinated by the possibility/probability of alter-intelligent-life in the universe. Originally I was overwhelmed by the shear numbers which, to me, made the probability a certainty. As I examine, with a critical eye, in my later years, I find that there are many aspects I had not considered which impact the chances.

In general we are talking about a numbers game. We have the estimated earth like planet number. Then we have a time to fruition game. But the points I'm adding consider additional wrinkles in the simple up front probability ratio. Again, I fully believe that the numbers are in our favor in believing that there are probably myriad intelligent life forms in the universe. I do not contest this.

My points focus on the probability that we will ever actually interact with any of them.

So far we have trillions, let's say, of planet candidates.

X % of them are; the right distance, the right size, have the right sun, have the right chemical makeup. In addition we have the factor of time. if we take 2/3's of the age of the universe, call it 10 billion years, if life takes 1 billion years to evolve we have 10 times the chances. There's a problem with this that I'll get to later.

In addition we have the need for a molten iron/nickel core to build a magnetosphere to protect us from high energy particles. And we have the requirement (debatable) that we need a vast, nearly free, energy source which can help drive population of our ETs to critical mass.

Remember, we need to be able to communicate with these life forms, and so they MUST have attained inter planetary communication methods (radio, x-ray, electromagnetic energy of any kind). A population critical mass is a necessary component to develop a communication method (see previous posting).

If we can't talk with them, or at least have seen or heard them talking - then we won't know that they are even there - agreed?

So the points I make are not negating the possibility they are simply creating a more realistic probability.

My reference to a problem with time above has to do with the longevity of civilizations/lifeforms. What are the odds that an intelligent species, capable of radio or laser communication, if not inter planetary or galactic travel, which was born 9 billion years ago - is still alive today? I'm not saying it's not possible, just that the probability must be taken into account when you talk about the number of developmental life periods available to create an intelligent species. I'd have to say that only the last few billion year evolution cycles are available for consideration.

In general I'd like to examine every aspect that has allowed humans to evolve to the point they are today. And apply each of those seemingly unique aspects to the intelligent life in the universe test.

I have a few more points to make that affect the probability that I'll make soon.



DNA is an all powerful master. Only a few of any electromagnetic energy leveraging species (EELS) will buck DNA's directive and suicide out. Per the "Detection Protocol," how fascist is that? "We know - but you don't. And we probably won't tell you." 

Regardless, SETI was a necessary experiment in the human condition. It's lack of success (not its fault), is telling. Face it, Earth has been giving off the "habitability" signal for a billion years. Any EELS using tech equal to or, more likely, beyond our own capability, looking in our direction - would have found us - long ago. "Ooh, there's a nice oxygen rich, goldilocks zoned, right sized, rocky, watery planet; let's send them a message."

Humanity's existence is is so fraught with nearly magical coincidences that as we tabulate the collective assembly of "how we got here" items, the odds against EELS on other planets/moons continues to rise to considerable heights. And that's just the odds against their existence, the odds against actually finding them is orders of magnitude greater.



ET and energy

Surplus energy a must for higher level ETs

My next point one should consider when postulating the existence of intelligent extra terrestrials is one of energy.

Surplus energy is a must in building a population of individuals large enough to reach a critical mass. I would consider that up until the discovery of coal and then the subsequent discovery of oil that mankind had failed to reach a critical mass. This critical mass I speak of is a collection of peoples who are dedicated to experimentation and exploration of their environment. This group is then supported by a large subclass of their peers who provide food and shelter for them. This elite group of intellectuals spend the balance of their lives in higher pursuits of understanding. But for every scientific class person ten or more worker/farmer individuals must struggle to produce enough food and shelter for themselves, their families and this thinking class person.

This critical mass refers to a minimum number of scientifically driven individuals who's ideas and discoveries could be shared and leveraged by each other to fire a spark which then ignited an unstoppable spread of discoveries. I speak of the Renaissance which would have been impossible without the  discovery and use of coal.

Coal provided the surplus energy to drive population growth until oil entered the picture. Oil's superior flexibility as an energy source then fueled an even greater explosion of thinker/worker/farmers. 

Imagine where humanity would be had coal and oil not been available as a surplus energy source?

Yes, incredible civilizations existed without these energy sources; Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mesoamerica all built vast and complex societies using nothing more than the burning of wood and the sun's warmth to drive their growth. But collapse they all did. They had no surplus energy to drive food production or to energize innovation. Although great learnings were accomplished by many of these civilizations each one failed to reach a sustainable critical mass of their scientist class. 

My point therefore is that this planet, by having gone through more than a billion years of continuous energy deposition, all in preparation for a species which could finally unlock and capitalize on this stored energy, is more unique than one might initially consider. That an extra terrestrial life form, that could become intelligent and build a critical mass population of discovery and exploration minded individuals would need a similar supply of nearly free energy with which to jump start its own exploration into the universe.

This theory does not preclude extra terrestrial intelligent life's existence but merely considers that this planet may be quite unique in it's ability to communicate in a way which would enable other life forms to find us. We may be talking to the universe, but no one else is capable of listening.


If the density of the Local Interstellar Cloud increased to 10 particles per cubic centimeter, the heliosphere would contract to a radius of about 15 AU and the heliopause would become unstable (oscillating in and out of existence). The density of interstellar hydrogen at 1 AU would increase to about 2 atoms per cubic centimeter and dramatically alter the interplanetary environment of the earth. 


Guano, rubber,


 The researchers calculated that without the moon, Jupiter's influence would make the current tilt of some 23 degrees wander chaotically between 0 and 85 degrees. That could cause huge climate swings, making it hard for life to survive, especially large, land-based organisms like us.

The result was taken by many to imply that complex life is rare in the universe, since Earth's large moon is thought to have coalesced from the debris of a freak collision between a Mars-sized planet and Earth. Less than 10 per cent of Earth-sized planets are expected to experience such a trauma, making large moons a rarity.

In their paper, the authors propose two different indices: an Earth Similarity Index (ESI) and a Planetary Habitability Index (PHI).


Furthermore, the nuclear reactors themselves could have provided an even greater boon to life by giving it the spark it needed to originate in the first place, some scientists think. Zachary Adam, now a graduate student at Montana State University in Bozeman, suggested the possibility in a 2007 paper in the journal Astrobiology, which he wrote  as a graduate student at the University of Washington.

If natural nuclear reactors might have helped life arise on this planet, it's also possible they've played a role in seeding life elsewhere.

So far, scientists' limited knowledge of the geology of extrasolar planets means they can't say how common natural nuclear reactors might be on other worlds. Adam said that some elements on early Earth that might have helped these reactors form don't seem to be as abundant on the surfaces of other planets.

For example, the moon's tidal forces on Earth, which used to be stronger than they are today due to the moon's closer proximity long ago, played a vital role in causing heavy minerals like uranium 235 to collect in dense patches on beaches, Adam said. The Earth had also differentiated into separate layers, including a crust and a mantle, which helped to separate out and concentrate the heavy radioactive elements.

These characteristics, especially crustal differentiation like that on Earth, don't seem to be as common among the other planets of the solar system, Adam said.

But not all experts are pessimistic about natural nuclear reactors on other worlds.


Plate tectonics causes earthquakes, but also releases volatile gasses, nutrients and minerals important for life. Pointing in our own solar system to Venus, which is almost Earth's size but seems to lack plate tectonics, Noack says: "Earth might be unique."

Looks pretty bleak, science fiction fans. But hold on, there is some hope still for Kepler-22b. Earth, after all, has a moon, one about one-fourth as wide as our planet. And so might Kepler-22b, or the other habitable-zone candidate planets.



"Because we don’t even know how much water Earth has, we don't know if we live on a comparatively dry or wet planet. At least we know there was enough water to jump-start and maintain plate tectonics, which relies on water as much as a car engine relies on motor oil." http://news.discovery.com/space/where-would-earth-like-planets-find-water-111230.html


This is further evidence that the Earth has been molded by more than physical processes, write the editors of journal Nature Geoscience in an editorial accompanying two new studies. The findings help explain why Earth is probably unique in the universe: because it co-evolved with the life that inhabits it.

"Without the workings of life, the Earth would not be the planet it is today," they write in an editorial published online Wednesday (Feb. 1). "Even if there are a number of planets that could support tectonics, running water and the chemical cycles that are essential for life as we know it, it seems unlikely any of them would look like Earth."

"Thus, the evolution of the first land plants could have indirectly contributed to killing of many of their compatriots in the ocean," the researchers wrote.



"It may be that you have to have an astrosphere — a heliosphere — around your star to provide protection. That may be one of the things needed for life," McComas said.



Bursts of energy known as relativistic jets spew out matter at close to the speed of light. These jets can travel across an entire galaxy, suggesting they can affect the evolution of the galaxy.




Asteroid belts similar to the one between Mars and Jupiter appear to be rare beyond our solar system, implying that complex alien life may be rare as well, a new study reports. For example, space rocks and comets likely delivered huge loads of water and organic compounds — the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it — to the early Earth. And the theory of punctuated equilibrium suggests that occasional impacts could have helped accelerate the rate of biological evolution by disrupting the status quo and opening up new niches.



A species, given deposits of energy bearing fuels (fossil fuels) must develop their technological society within a time span that is small enough not to alter the climate such that the weather overwhelms the species.

Anthropogenic aerosols also must be reduced before they decimate the Ozone layer protecting all life from ultraviolet radiation causing mutation.



"At Olduvai Gorge, where excavations helped to confirm Africa was the cradle of humanity, scientists now find the landscape once fluctuated rapidly, likely guiding early human evolution.These findings suggest that key mental developments within the human lineage may have been linked with a highly variable environment, researchers added."




Your brain degrades from cosmic ray exposure.



“If the gamma ray burst had been much closer to the Earth it would have caused significant harm to the biosphere. But even thousands of light years away, a similar event today could cause havoc with the sensitive electronic systems that advanced societies have come to depend on.”


Auroras signify magnetospheres which are a requirement for protecting a planet's surface from bombardment of cosmic and solar radiation.



"The new definition isn't radically different from the old one. For example, in our own solar system, the boundaries of the habitable zone have shifted from between 0.95 astronomical units (AU, or the distance between Earth and the sun) and 1.67 AU, to the new range of 0.99 AU to 1.7 AU."



Habitable zone catalog



"Today, Lev  Pustil’nik and Gregory Yom Din at Tel Aviv University in Israel say the effects of space weather could be much more significant than originally thought. These guys make the case that under certain special conditions, space weather can influence terrestrial weather so severely that it can have a dramatic effects on agriculture, causing crop failures, death and starvation."



"The results reinforce a growing recognition that our solar system, with its larger, hotter star, "is quite rare," says John Johnson, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena who studies extrasolar planets. "It's quite remarkable that the vast majority of habitable planets throughout the galaxy are likely around these red dwarfs." "



DNA is an all powerful master. Only a few of any electromagnetic energy leveraging species (EELS) will buck DNA's directive and suicide out. Per the "Detection Protocol," how fascist is that? "We know - but you don't. And we probably won't tell you." 

Regardless, SETI was a necessary experiment in the human condition. It's lack of success (not its fault), is telling. Face it, Earth has been giving off the "habitability" signal for a billion years. Any EELS using tech equal to or, more likely, beyond our own capability, looking in our direction - would have found us - long ago. "Ooh, there's a nice oxygen rich, goldilocks zoned, right sized, rocky, watery planet; let's send them a message."

Humanity's existence is is so fraught with nearly magical coincidences that as we tabulate the collective assembly of "how we got here" items, the odds against EELS on other planets/moons continues to rise to considerable heights. And that's just the odds against their existence, the odds against actually finding them is orders of magnitude greater.


Chemicals for life found in space:


volcanos cooling the earth











easy access to metals, to electricity, or fire for metallurgy



(8 parts)




Vast structures built by ETIs



The moon is larger than most moons for the size of Earth

It's origination, the impact of a small planet with Earth, was a rare occurrence.

Without the Moon's size...???


Milankovitch cycles

Northern hemisphere is mostly land mass - augmenting the cooling/heating cycles.



Previous modeling work had suggested that Earth's axial tilt, or obliquity, would vary wildly over long time spans without the moon's steadying gravitational influence, creating huge climate swings that would make it tough for life to get a foothold on our planet.



Age of the Earth




Louis Derry, a geochemist from New York’s Cornell University (who was unaffiliated with the study) says this process should have sucked the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere eons ago. Too much CO2 contributes to global warming, but too little would have made the earth a much colder place, preventing life from developing. “If it weren’t for feedback mechanisms, it would only take 5-10 million years to screw things up,” Derry says. Scientists know of some feedback mechanisms that could have slowed the cooling, but these on their own don’t explain our climate’s long-held stability. Even volcanoes, which belch carbon into the air, would not be enough to offset its relentless sequestration into the deep oceans. 


 Based on the amount of sky the scientists searched, Trujillo and Sheppard estimate that about 900 bodies larger than Sedna may exist in this faraway realm, which the astronomers dub the inner Oort Cloud. (The true Oort Cloud is an icy shell around the solar system that begins perhaps 5,000 AU from the sun and contains trillions of comets.)

The total population of objects in the inner Oort Cloud, in fact, may exceed that of the Kuiper Belt and the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, researchers said.

‪"Some of these inner Oort Cloud objects could rival the size of Mars or even Earth," Sheppard said in a statement. "This is because many of the inner Oort Cloud objects are so distant that even very large ones would be too faint to detect with current technology."

Indeed, certain characteristics of the orbits of Sedna, 2012 VP113 and several of the most distant Kuiper Belt objects are consistent with the continued presence of a big and extremely faraway "perturber," researchers said. It's possible that a planet roughly 10 times more massive than Earth located hundreds of AU from the sun is shepherding these bodies into their current orbits.






Both oxygen and methane can be created independently by non-living processes, so their individual presence is of little interest. What scientists are looking for is both of them in the atmosphere of a single body. If these reactive gases are not constantly replenished by living things, they will react with each other, creating carbon dioxide and water. As a result, we should not observe them in the same atmosphere without a large, living source. 




 Now, almost everyone in the field agrees that mineral variety is essential to biogenesis, which means life and rocks have been together since the very beginning.


Nick Bostrom:



Nick Bostrom Future of Humanity Institute

Faculty of Philosophy & James Martin 21st Century School Oxford University


[Published in the MIT Technology Review, May/June issue (2008): pp. 72‐77]



Out of the ashes

It took a lot of fossil fuels to forge our industrial world. Now they're almost gone. Could we do it again without them?

by Lewis Dartnell 



Draft animals: no substantial agriculture production without draft animals.