Growing up with sci-fi films and TV shows has really given us all an unrealistic idea of what the future (ie. the present) was going to be like. I genuinely thought we would have found alien life by now. Or they would’ve found us. But no.
Why is that, though? We’ve got crazy powerful telescopes and communication devices, as well as space travel being really advanced. Surely, by now we should’ve discovered… something?!
Well, a new paper seems to think that the reason behind it is that all is – and this sucks – that there isn’t any.
Aditya Chopra and Charles H. Lineweaver, both academics who work at the Planetary Science Institute, The Australian National University, have got a new theory that they call ‘The Gaian Bottleneck’. The premise behind it being that yes, the percentage of planets needed to create a habitable atmosphere are high, however they simply don’t remain that way for long enough.
The paper says: “In the Gaian bottleneck model, the maintenance of planetary habitability is a property more associated with an unusually rapid evolution of biological regulation of surface volatiles than with the luminosity and distance to the host star.
“Such a Gaian bottleneck suggests that (i) extinction is the cosmic default for most life that has ever emerged on the surfaces of wet rocky planets in the Universe and (ii) rocky planets need to be inhabited to remain habitable.”
The Independent put this all in words that you and I find it easy to understand… “the reason we haven’t found any aliens yet is that quite simply while the percentage of life-sustaining environments could be high enough, they’re not around long enough for them to evolve from the pools of primordial life.”