Rare earth: why complex life is uncommon in the universe by Peter Douglas Ward, Donald Brownlee

By Peter Douglas Ward, Donald Brownlee

The sweeping range of complicated existence on the earth, Ward and Brownlee argue, advanced out of a rare set of actual stipulations and likelihood occasions that will be tremendous demanding to duplicate––though no longer most unlikely. Many planets in the course of the vastness of the Universe will be teeming with microbial existence, yet development past this degree is particularly infrequent. each person with an curiosity within the attainable quantity of lifestyles within the Universe and the character of life's evolution on our personal planet could be desirous about infrequent Earth. "...likely to reason a revolution in thinking..." the recent York instances "...[the publication] has hit the area of astrobiologists like a killer asteroid..." Newsday (New York) "...a sobering and useful perspective..." technology "...a startling new hypothesis..." Library magazine "...Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee provide a strong argument..." The Economist "...provocative, major, and sweeping..." Northwest technology & expertise "...a stellar instance of transparent writing..." American Scientist

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Imagine trying to survive a night in the Yukon when the temperature is 100°F below zero. You have a large campfire, but if you sleep too close to it you catch on fire, and if you are too far back you freeze. Astronomers held the first discussions of the habitable zone in the 1960s. The range of the habitable zone was considered to be bounded by two effects: low temperature at the outer edge and high temperature at the inner edge. Our closest neighbors in space provide sobering examples of what happens to planets close to, but not within, the HZ.

Inside the planet, however, warmth would still be generated from a radioactive interior. In that case, a deep subsurface biosphere would be able to survive. Although ejected planets might not be hospitable to life, the outlook is much more favorable for large moons orbiting ejected planets. If somehow a Jupiter with its four large moons could be ejected into interstellar space, it might provide a very interesting habitat not only for the continuation of microbial life but for its possible evolution as well.

The maximum depth at which extremophiles have been found to live is constantly being revised. 5 kilometers. The basic requirements of the inhabitants of this “deep biosphere” are water; pores, in the source, of sufficient size to allow the presence of the deep microbes; and nutrients. Because the extremophiles are adapted for pressure they are virtually unaffected by the high pressures encountered at these great depths. The nutrients used by these deep-living extremophiles come from the rocks they live in.

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