III. Ecosmos: A Revolutionary Fertile, Habitable, Solar-Bioplanet, Incubator Lifescape
I. Our EarthMost Distinction: A Rarest Planetary Confluence of Life in Person Favorable Conditions
Emspak, Jesse. New Insights into How the Solar System Formed. Astronomy. May, 2018. As the quote says, a science writer explains how the latest results increasingly imply that our home incubator is a uniquely conducive milieu. While myriad stellar systems are usually beset with chaos, here our large, gaseous Jupiter appears to have uniquely coursed over billions of years inward and out to form the relatively benign, orderly array that Earth presently abides in.
2018. As the quote says, a science writer explains how the latest results increasingly imply that our home incubator is a uniquely conducive milieu. While myriad stellar systems are usually beset with chaos, here our large, gaseous Jupiter appears to have uniquely coursed over billions of years inward and out to form the relatively benign, orderly array that Earth presently abides in.
Erdmann, Weronika, et al. How the Geomagnetic Field Influences Life on Earth. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres. 51/231, 2021. Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland, biophysicists cite and quantify still another global and celestial factor which could have had a significant influence on life’s evolutionary course.
Earth is a rarity the Solar System because it has an oxidizing atmosphere, moderate temperatures, and a constant geomagnetic field (GMF). The GMF also protects life against the solar wind and cosmic rays which then led to stable environmental conditions. Organisms from archaea to plants and animals may have used the GMF as a source of spatial information. This review thus covers the latest findings about these many influences. In conclusion, a conducive GMF has a positive impact on living organisms, while a weak GMF has a negative affect. (Article excerpt)
Foley, Bradford and Peter Driscoli. Whole Planet Coupling Between Climate, Mantle, and Core. arXiv: 1711.06801. Akin to solar systems being found to act in a coordinated manner, Carnegie Institute for Science geophysicists describe globally dynamic interactions between interior, surface and atmospheric phases, whence an integral bioworld acts as a unitary entity. As a result, another finely choreographed synchrony is required so as to achieve long-term evolutionary habitability.
Earth's climate, mantle, and core interact over geologic timescales. Climate influences whether plate tectonics can take place on a planet, with cool climates being favorable for plate tectonics because they enhance stresses in the lithosphere, suppress plate boundary annealing, and promote hydration and weakening of the lithosphere. Coupling between climate, mantle, and core can potentially explain the divergent evolution of Earth and Venus. As Venus lies too close to the sun for liquid water to exist, there is no long-term carbon cycle and thus an extremely hot climate. On planets within the habitable zone where liquid water is possible, a wide range of evolutionary scenarios can take place depending on initial atmospheric composition, bulk volatile content, or the timing of when plate tectonics initiates, among other factors. Many of these evolutionary trajectories would render the planet uninhabitable. (Abstract)
Forgan, Duncan, et al. Evaluating Galactic Habitability Using High-Resolution Cosmological Simulations of Galaxy Formation. International Journal of Astrobiology. Online January, 2016. Astroscientists Forgan, with Pratika Dayal, Charles Cockell, and Noam Libeskind, proceed as Earthlings to seek out effective ways to estimate the relative kinds, areas, and phases of galaxies which might be favorable for living systems to form and evolve.
Forget, Francois. On the Probability of Habitable Planets. International Journal of Astrobiology. 12/3, 2013. With the rush of Kepler satellite discoveries of a Milky Way and universe filled with solar systems and orbital objects of every kind, the prevalence, or absence, of earth-analog bioworlds has become a prime issue. An Institute Pierre Simon Laplace, Universite Paris, astrophysicist here provides a succinct technical survey. Four classes of conducive worlds are cited: Planets like this with suitable water, atmosphere, and stabilities; Earth-like but unable to hold aqueous seas; Worlds with too much water and/or geothermal activity; and Ice covered, frozen globes. A suggestive allusion as made by Paul Davies, John Gribbin and others, is that in some real way our minute, self-regulating orb just flickering into knowing consciousness may be of immense significance after all.
In the past 15 years, astronomers have revealed that a significant fraction of the stars should harbor planets and that it is likely that terrestrial planets are abundant in our galaxy. Among these planets, how many are habitable, i.e. suitable for life and its evolution? Liquid water remains the key criterion for habitability. It can exist in the interior of a variety of planetary bodies, but it is usually assumed that liquid water at the surface interacting with rocks and light is necessary for the emergence of a life able to modify its environment and evolve. A first key issue is thus to understand the climatic conditions allowing surface liquid water assuming a suitable atmosphere. This have been studied with global mean 1D models which has defined the “classical habitable zone”, the range of orbital distances within which worlds can maintain liquid water on their surfaces. A new generation of 3D climate models based on universal equations and tested on bodies in the solar system is now available to explore with accuracy climate regimes that could locally allow liquid water. A second key issue is now to better understand the processes which control the composition and the evolution of the atmospheres of exoplanets, and in particular the geophysical feedbacks that seems to be necessary to maintain a continuously habitable climate. From that point of view, it is not impossible that the Earth’s case may be special and uncommon. (Abstract)
Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth.
New York: Norton,
The University of Rochester astrophysicist and author (search UR) provides a latest survey of the 2ist century revolutionary witness of an innately planet and solar system making cosmos, which begets living systems and a global sapience able to learn this. The unique work is an insider’s view of profligate biospheres and maybe noospheres, citing Vernadsky, Teilhard, Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, which infer a growing sense of an inherent astrobiology. But these findings lead us to realize that our Anthropocene moment is due to many rare, favorable twists and turns along the way.
From this perspective, civilizations become just another thing the Universe does, like solar flares or comets. We can use what the stars have laid out before us in our astrobiological studies to explore how any civilization on any planet can – or, in the worst case, cannot – evolve together. The advantages of this astrobiological perspective can be gained even if no other civilization ever existed. Thinking about hypothetical exo-civilizations is valuable in dealing with the challenge of the Anthropocene because it reaches us to “think like a planet.” It teaches us to frame our pathways to a long-term project of civilization in terms of the coevolution between life and the Earth. (15)
Frank, Adam and Woodruff Sullivan. A New Empirical Constraint on the Prevalence of Technological Species in the Universe. arXiv:1510.08837. The University of Rochester and University of Washington astronomers update the Drake equation (search Vakoch) by way of the latest rush of satellite exoplanet findings to boost chances that our prodigious planet is not alone. See also A Population-Based Habitable Zone Perspective by Andras Zsom at arXiv:1510.06885.
In this paper we address the cosmic frequency of technological species. Recent advances in exoplanet studies provide strong constraints on all astrophysical terms in the Drake Equation. Using these and modifying the form and intent of the Drake equation we show that we can set a firm lower bound on the probability that one or more additional technological species have evolved anywhere and at any time in the history of the observable Universe. We find that as long as the probability that a habitable zone planet develops a technological species is larger than ~10−24, then humanity is not the only time technological intelligence has evolved. This constraint has important scientific and philosophical consequences. (Abstract)
Frank, Adam and Woodruff Sullivan. Sustainability and the Astrobiological Perspective: Framing Human Futures in a Planetary Context. arXiv:1310.3851. University of Rochester and University of Washington astrophysicists embellish the vista proposed by Arnould, Baum, and Naganuma herein that it well serves to situate our precious Earth in its fertile galactic milieu. Circa 2013, a prominent addition is the discovery of myriad extrasolar planets and widening solar habitable zones. In our Anthropocene era, only a cosmic perspective can provide both the ecosphere systems purview, and the import of an intelligent, healthy bioworld to the greater creation.
We explore how questions related to developing a sustainable human civilization can be cast in terms of astrobiology. In particular we show how ongoing astrobiological studies of the coupled relationship between life, planets and their co-evolution can inform new perspectives and direct new studies in sustainability science. Using the Drake Equation as a vehicle to explore the gamut of astrobiology, we focus on its most import factor for sustainability: the mean lifetime
Fremont, Emeline, et al.. Atmospheric Escape From Three Terrestrial Planets in the L 98-59 System. arXiv:2312.00062. As studies of orbital exoworld studies become ever more sophisticated, nine astroscientists at the University of Maryland, NASA Goddard, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, University of Washington, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory are now able to quantify the presence or evaporative absence of atmospheric conditions, which then have a major effect on habitability. Once again, over long durations the situation has a stochastic aspect, such as relative location to a host star.
A critically important process affecting the climate evolution and potential habitability of an exoplanet is atmospheric escape, in which high-energy radiation from a star drives the escape of hydrogen atoms and other light elements. L 98-59 is a benchmark system for studying this occasion, such as water loss and oxygen loss. Our results constrain the atmospheric evolution of these small rocky planets, and they provide context for current and future observations of the L 98-59 system to generalize our understanding of multi-terrestrial planet systems. (Excerpt)
Gardner, Andy and Joseph Conlon. Cosmological Natural Selection and the Purpose of the Universe. Complexity. Online May, 2013. To ponder, isn’t it fantastic that we brave creatures upon a conducive mote can yet, suddenly, collaboratively, expand our imaginations to roam the celestial reaches to ask whatever, whom are we, and maybe touch why? As the quotes convey, an Oxford University zoologist and a biophysicist consider, from their fields, some evolutionary reasons in support Lee Smolin’s (search 1999) title CNS theory. It is written in a usual arcane, abstract style, but offers a perceptive inkling and promise of an intended involvement of learned human volition and co-creativity of a truly universal significance.
The cosmological natural selection (CNS) hypothesis holds that the fundamental constants of nature have been fine-tuned by an evolutionary process in which universes produce daughter universes via the formation of black holes. Here, we formulate the CNS hypothesis using standard mathematical tools of evolutionary biology. Specifically, we capture the dynamics of CNS using Price’s equation, and we capture the adaptive purpose of the universe using an optimization program. We establish mathematical correspondences between the dynamics and optimization formalisms, confirming that CNS acts according to a formal design objective, with successive generations of universes appearing designed to produce black holes. (Abstract)
Georgakarakos, Nikolaos, et al. Giant Planets: Good Neighbors for Habitable Worlds?. arXiv:1804.02183. NYU Abu Dhabi and CalTech JPL astrophysicists add to growing perceptions that as large gaseous worlds vicariously course through solar systems, sometimes inward and back, they have a major impact upon their relative, long-term habitability by Earth-size bioworlds. See also the Astronomy article by Jesse Emspak herein for another view.
The presence of giant planets influences potentially habitable worlds in numerous ways. Massive celestial neighbors can facilitate the formation of planetary cores and modify the influx of asteroids and comets towards Earth-analogs later on. Furthermore, giant planets can indirectly change the climate of terrestrial worlds by gravitationally altering their orbits. Investigating 147 well characterized exoplanetary systems known to date that host a main sequence star and a giant planet we show that the presence of 'giant neighbors' can reduce a terrestrial planet's chances to remain habitable, even if both planets have stable orbits.. (Abstract excerpt)
Alone in the Milky Way.
In a topical issue on The Science of Being Human, the veteran British science writer and author of the Alone in the Universe (2011) presents a succinct update with the same message as this new section. The case for extraterrestrial civilizations has long been based on the vast, statistical estimate of a 100 billion stars in a galaxy. Into the 21st century, it became known that solar systems with life-bearing orbital bodies are the common rule. But a wealth of astronomic findings about variable suns, radiation flows, planetary forms, motions, locales, chemistries, surfaces, atmospheres, meteors, moons, and more, has given rise to an unexpected realization. Our worldwide technological society able to learn this may be the result of a rarest cosmic and evolutionary concatenation of many critical steps. Here we read of Earth’s good position within a galactic habitable zone, favorable levels of metallic elements, many fortuitous timings, how early life passed dire tests, the chancy success of Homo sapiens, and more. If of a mind to ask and see, an awesome discovery of ultimate import appears in our midst. And akin to Michael Tomasello in this issue, Gribbin closes by saying that we peoples ought to peaceably and strive for a sustainable futurity.