“The mystery of why we haven’t yet found signs of aliens may have less to do with the likelihood of the origin of life or intelligence and have more to do with the rarity of the rapid emergence of biological regulation of feedback cycles on planetary surfaces”
Dr. Aditya Chopra explaining the Gaian Bottleneck in her joint paper in the journal Astrobiology
One of the unsolved mysteries of the universe is in my opinion, the greatest question of all: why have we not yet been contacted by aliens?
After all, we’re still discovering thousands of planets like Kepler-186f in the Constellation Cygnus using the Kepler Space Telescope (Deer, 2014, April 18) now back online via the K2 mission in 2014 and is continuing (Feltman, 2016, January 8) it planet hunting mission. So far it’s discovered 1,930 confirmed exoplanets and 4,696 which are yet to be confirmed.
The new K2 mission solves the problem of one of the three reaction wheels being broken by using sunlight as a virtual third reaction wheels, keeping the Kepler Space Telescope stable but needing re-adjustment every 80 days.
Still, the Kepler Space Telescope keeps on discovering more exoplanets, finding as many as 234 new exoplanet candidates discovered by Kepler in 2014, which were announced at the annual meeting (Stone, 2016, January 5) of the American Astronomical Society on January 5th 2016.
I’ll soon be joined by other space based telescopes (Deer, 2014, June 25) such as the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018, the 39.3-metre E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope) which is tentatively planned to be built in Cerro Armazones in Chile’s Atacama Desert for 2024 and the 20 meter ATLAST (Advanced Technologies Large Aperture Space Telescope) in 2030.
So with so many possible habitable worlds, the question begs; where are all the aliens?
The Gaian Bottleneck Hypothesis – Extinction is assured in the future
This arguement, referred to as the Fermi Paradox, is best illustrated in this pair of videos.
Well according to astrobiologists from the Australian National University, Aditya Chopra and Charley Lineweaver (Starr, 2016, January 22), most life, would become extinct before it has a chance to evolve into something great thanks to a modified Great Filter Theory that they’ve dubbed the Gaian Bottleneck Hypothesis.
Their work, published in the journal Astrobiology, is titled The Case for a Gaian Bottleneck: The Biology of Habitability and is worth downloading.
In fact, the Gaian Bottleneck goes on to predict that only their fossil remains along with microbial life. This falls in line with NASA expectation of life on the Jovian ice moon Europa because water geysers were reported (Morgan and Morelle, 2013, December 12) on the surface in 2013, indicating underwater oceans with life near to underwater vents.
There may be hydrothermal vents spewing heat deep beneath surface in this subterranean the ocean (Dickerson, 2016, January 7), making life possible in the same way it exists around thermal vents near undersea volcanoes on Earth.
Co-author Charley Lineweaver work supports this idea, as more complex life, which takes billions of years, may have just been filtered out, quote: “One intriguing prediction of the Gaian Bottleneck model is that the vast majority of fossils in the universe will be from extinct microbial life, not from multicellular species such as dinosaurs or humanoids that take billions of years to evolve”.
So why is this the case?
Gaian Bottleneck Hypothesis – ELE are a regular occurrence
This as the planets, even if they were located in the so-called Goldilocks Zone (Deer, 2015, July 30) around a suitable star, eventually became unsustainable for life.
Thus single celled life never got a chance to evolve into more complex multicellular organisms. Such fragile life, couldn’t adapt to rapid changes e.g. comets or meteors crashing onto the planet, upsetting the air and ecosystems and thus became extinct.
Venus and Mars may have been in such a situation 4 billion years ago. However, the chain of events that would have produced life-sustaining oxygen, such as cyanobacteria photosynthesizing or UV light decomposing Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to Oxygen (O2) and Carbon (C) (Deer, 2014, October 4), may not have occurred.
Oxygen is needed to support life as we know it to be. Thus, unable to pass this filter, life on Venus and Mar died, choking in an excess of toxic gases or a lack of an atmosphere respectively.
According to Lead author Aditya Chopra, this regulation of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and other Greenhouses gases led to the death of any early signs of life, quote: “The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens. Early life is fragile, so we believe it rarely evolves quickly enough to survive. Most early planetary environments are unstable. To produce a habitable planet, life forms need to regulate greenhouse gases such as water and carbon dioxide to keep surface temperatures stable”.
The Gaian Bottleneck Hypothesis suggests ELE (Extinction Level Events) are the norm, not the exception. Earth may soon be next, as albeit we’re passed many previous filters, many great ones await us and we might not survive them as a species.
Here’s the link:
- Deer, L. (2014, April 18). @NASA discovers earth-like exoplanet Kepler-186f in the Constellation Cygnus – 500 light years is awfully far distance to buy beachfront property. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/04/nasa-discovers-earth-like-exoplanet.html
- Deer, L. (2014, June 25). ATLAST, James Webb Telescope and E-ELT – Bigger Space and Ground-based Telescopes for the Planet Hunters. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/06/atlast-james-webb-telescope-and-e-elt.html
- Deer, L. (2014, October 4). University of California Team decompose Carbon Dioxide to Oxygen using a UV Laser – How Gas Pyrolysis can create lighter Spacesuits and Life on other Planets. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/10/university-of-california-team-decompose.html
- Deer, L. (2015, July 30). @NASA discovers Kepler-452b in the Constellation Cygnus – Why the Fermi Paradox means To Kepler-452 from Earth with Love a bad idea. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2015/07/NASA-discovers-Kepler-452b-Constellation-Cygnus-super-Earth.html
- Dickerson, K. (2016, January 7). This frigid world is our best hope of finding alien life. Retrieved from http://www.techinsider.io/nasa-europa-mission-extraterrestrial-life-2016-1
- Feltman, R. (2016, January 8). This broken space telescope keeps spotting new planets. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/01/08/nasas-kepler-telescope-has-discovered-hundreds-of-new-planets-after-breaking/
- Morgan, J., Morelle, R. (2013, December 12). Jupiter’s icy moon Europa ‘spouts water’. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-25349395
- Starr, M. (2016, January 22). Why haven’t we found aliens yet? Maybe they’re all dead. Retrieved from http://www.cnet.com/au/news/why-havent-we-found-aliens-yet-maybe-theyre-all-dead/
- Stone, M. (2016, January 5). Kepler Has Uncovered a Trove of New Planets in Our Cosmic Backyard. Retrieved from http://gizmodo.com/kepler-has-uncovered-a-trove-of-new-planets-in-our-cosm-1751190170