Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagPeter Ward

Alien Planet with Moons

Could Real Planets Be Like the Sci-Fi Ones?

The hive mind works well on Earth. Could global consciousness work on Pandora in Avatar (2009)?

Last month we looked at some really strange planets astronomers have discovered outside our solar system. Which prompts a question: Could some of the odd planets known to science fiction exist in the actual universe, given its laws? How about Tatooine from Star Wars which orbits “two scorching suns”? Part of a binary star system, the planet orbited two scorching suns, resulting in the world lacking the necessary surface water to sustain large populations. As a result, many residents of the planet instead drew water from the atmosphere via moisture farms. The planet also had little surface vegetation. It was the homeworld to the native Jawa and Tusken Raider species and of Anakin and Luke Skywalker, who would go on…

Exoplanets with moon

Could “Rogue Planets” Hold the Key to Extraterrestrial Life?

A new paper asks us to think about the possibilities of planets that have been kicked out of a predictable orbit.

A new paper asks us to think about the possibilities of planets that have been kicked out of a predictable orbit: In a new paper, Alberto Fairén from the Center of Astrobiology in Madrid, Spain, and I look into the possibility that planets wandering through interstellar space could also host life. These “rogue” planets may have been ejected out of their original solar system during the early, chaotic phase of planetary formation. There are two general types of rogue planets: gas giants like Saturn and Neptune, and rocky Earthlike planets. While the chances for life on gas giants is extremely remote, rocky migrating planets could in principle host microbial life. To do that, they would need internal heat from the…

The region 30 Doradus lies in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy.

Maybe There Are Just Very Few Aliens Out There…

The Rare Earth hypothesis offers science-based reasons that life in the universe is rare

Recently, science and science fiction writer Matt Williams has been writing a series at Universe Today on why extraterrestrial intelligences never make contact with us. Last week, we looked at the hypothesis that, to avoid the heat destruction of their advanced technology, the aliens have put themselves into a digital slumber until the universe cools down. This week, let’s look at a quite different approach, which Williams outlines in “Beyond “Fermi’s Paradox” IV: What is the Rare Earth Hypothesis?” (July 29, 2020): That is “the possibility that life-bearing planets like Earth are just very rare.” We don’t see aliens because they are very uncommon: This is what is popularly known as the “Rare Earth Hypothesis,” which argues that the emergence…