No Man’s Land in the Cosmos

There’s plenty of real estate for extraterrestrial life, right?

Well, maybe not. An article recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters argues that much of the universe could be off-limits to complex biology.

The reason isn’t a lack of worlds. Scientists analyzing data from the Kepler spacecraft bumped the tally of exoplanets to 1,000 this week, with thousands more awaiting accreditation. Most of them will get it.

There’s a simple take-home message from that: The cosmos is packed with planets. A rough estimate of the number afloat in our galaxy is a trillion, and a crude stab at the count of worlds that might be similar to Earth is 10-100 billion.

Big numbers all. Consequently, it’s a fair and frequent conclusion that worlds with life could be as plentiful as commuter-lane cheats.

But two astrophysicists, Tsvi Piran and Raul Jimenez, the former from Israel and the latter from Spain, think that environmental catastrophe on a massive scale may greatly constrict just how many planets will ever beget multicellular life. They say that most of the universe will be devoid of any critters bigger than a paramecium.

The catastrophe in question is called a gamma ray —> Read More Here


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