Saturday, July 11, 2009

Life In the Universe: My Own Amateur Calculations (Part 1)

Time for a change of pace - namely to one of my favorite hobbies: astronomy, in particular which stars other than our own might harbor planets bearing complex lifeforms. I will define “Complex Lifeforms” as having all these features: They do or have the following:

(a) Move by their own power

(b) Have specialized organs and organ systems(i.e. organs devoted to specific functions)

(c) Sense objects or other phenomena they aren’t in direct contact with– (i.e. they use, light, sound, vibration, and other phenomena or similar means).

(d) Have either a brain/nervous system or some other means of manipulating information about their environment, (i.e., gather, process, remember, and retrieve that information)

(e) Communicate with other members of their species through some specific means or variety of means.

For now, I will stick the type of complex life dependent on liquid water. I don’t doubt alternative biochemistries can exist but at the same times we've never seen such a lifeform. Therefore, to be safe, let’s stick with what we know instead of stacking hypothesis on top of hypothesis.

The next post will not be about the planets themselves, but about the stars that the life-bearing planets will most likely orbit. In fact, understanding the basics of stars is so important to calculating the probability of complex life in any one planetary system that I find it necessary to devote the next post to stars alone.

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