VII. Pedia Sapiens: A Genesis Future on Earth and in the Heavens
C. An Earthropic Principle: Novel Evidence About a Special Planet
Livio, Mario. How Special is the Solar System?. arXiv:1801.05061. The veteran Romanian, Israeli, American astrophysicist and author (search) posts a chapter to appear in Consolidation of Fine-Tuning, see Anthropic Principle for website. Livio also has a joint chapter with Martin Rees about the multiverse, noted herein. To wit, an array of unusual features such as a quiet, stable sun, orderly planetary orbits and spacings, and more do allude to a rare cocatenation. While early and speculative, there is something curious about our home Earth-Sun nexus, as a sentient species begins to wonder about it all.
Given the fact that Earth is so far the only place in the Milky Way galaxy known to harbor life, the question arises of whether the solar system is in any way special. To address this question, I compare the solar system to the many recently discovered exoplanetary systems. I identify two main features that appear to distinguish the solar system from the majority of other systems: (i) the lack of super-Earths, (ii) the absence of close-in planets. I examine models for the formation of super-Earths, as well as models for the evolution of asteroid belts, the rate of asteroid impacts on Earth, and of snow lines, all of which may have some implications for the emergence and evolution of life on a terrestrial planet. (Abstract)
Martin, David. Populations of Planets in Multiple Star Systems. arXiv:1802.08693. In a chapter for the Handbook of Exoplanets (September 2018), a Swiss National Science Foundation Fellow at the University of Chicago gathers latest findings that find orbital worlds in a vicinity of two or more suns with as fairly common, maybe up to half of galactic cases. The situation is seen as an exotic example of nature’s ubiquitous diversity. It is then generally surmised that such a chaotic solar and planetary arrangements are not favorable, indeed ruinous, for long life term habitability.
Mathews, Freya. Moral Ambiguities in the Politics of Climate Change. Nanda, Ved, ed.. Climate Change and Environmental Ethics. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2011. Two decades after her visionary The Ecological Self work about individual and cosmic self-realization (search), the Australian ecophilosopher continues to meld “anthropocentric and biocentric” options in a viable, creative synthesis. Along with the quotes, she advises a “bio-synergy,” a “relational inter-functionality” of persons and planet, little self and Big self, as each engaged in a deep process of psychic individuation.
I would like to propose two ways – both holistic, but differently so – in which “nature” under its global aspect might be conceived. The first such way in which nature might be conceived is as a self-realizing or autopoetic system, defined not in terms of the elements that contingently constitute it, but in terms of its ends as an entity in its own right, which is to say, in terms of its status as an end-for-itself, and its disposition to navigate circumstances in such a way as to preserve its own identity as a living system through time and change. (48)
McIntyre, Sarah, et al. Planetary Magnetism as a Parameter in Exoplanet Habitability. arXiv:1903.03123. Australian National University astrophysics including Charles Lineweaver proceed to add another physical, geologic factor which could influence whether a globular, orbital object might harbor living systems and an evolutionary intelligence. As the abstract says, a certain range of values are required to maintain conducive watery and airy conditions.
Evidence from the solar system suggests that, unlike Venus and Mars, the presence of a strong magnetic dipole moment on Earth has helped maintain liquid water on its surface. Therefore, planetary magnetism could have a significant effect on the long-term maintenance of atmosphere and liquid water on rocky exoplanets. We use Olson and Christensen's (2006) model to estimate magnetic dipole moments of rocky exoplanets with radii Rp ≤ 1.23 R⊕. Even when modelling maximum magnetic dipole moments, only Kepler-186 f has a magnetic dipole moment larger than the Earth's, while approximately half of rocky exoplanets detected in the circumstellar habitable zone have a negligible magnetic dipole moment. This suggests that planetary magnetism is an important factor when prioritizing observations of potentially habitable planets. (Abstract)
Milojevic, I. and S. Inayatullah. Futures Dreaming Outside and on the Margins of the Western World. Futures. 35/5, 2003. An argument that the vast genre of science fiction is largely written by white males who are preoccupied with war between binary opposites. Non-western, indigenous writers, especially women, are noted to be in search of alternative, less-combatant, holistically peaceful and creative visions.
Morbidelli, Alessandro and Sean Raymond. Challenges in Planet Formation. arXiv:1610.07202.. Universite de Nice Sophia-Antipoli, and CNRS, Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Bordeau astrophysicists provide a latest update about how object worlds might have formed. As we report this active literature, an auspicious realization is that our own solar system is a rarest case (one in a thousand herein) with a relatively benign, long lived conducive order. A philosophical reflection ought to note how incredible it is that a global sapience can look back and reconstruct how this special planet and people came to be.
Over the past two decades, large strides have been made in the field of planet formation. Yet fundamental questions remain. Here we review our state of understanding of five fundamental bottlenecks in planet formation. These are: 1) the structure and evolution of protoplanetary disks; 2) the growth of the first planetesimals; 3) orbital migration driven by interactions between proto-planets and gaseous disk; 4) the origin of the Solar System's orbital architecture; and 5) the relationship between observed super-Earths and our own terrestrial planets. (Abstract)
Morbidelli, Alessandro, et al.
Topical Collection on the Delivery of Water to Proto-Planets, Planets and Satellites.
Space Science Reviews.
Eleven editors including Sean Raymond and Helmut Lammer introduce a special issue with this title about the occurrence, locales, and quantities of life’s ultimate biochemical through galactic, solar and planetary ages. Click on the issue citation for papers such as The Importance of Water for Life by Frances Westall and Andre Brack, The Delivery of Water during Terrestrial Planet Formation by David O.Brien, et al, Water in the Earth’s Interior by Anne Peslier, et al, and Water in Extrasolar Planets and Implications for Habitability by Lena Noack, et al.
Murchie, Guy. The Seven Mysteries of Life. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1978. We restate here Guy Murchie’s thoughtful perception of bioplanet Earth as an embryonic superorganism.
Sixth is the germination of worlds, a critical event that seems to happen once to every celestial organism and, after her billions of years of slow evolution, is occurring right now to Earth, as evidenced by many fundamental changes during what we call modern times - things that, as far as we know, never happened before and can never happen again on our planet. (7)
Naganuma, Takeshi. An Astrobiological View on Sustainable Life. Sustainability. 1/4, 2009. A Hiroshima University, Graduate School of Biosphere Science, environmentalist, who could not be in a more appropriate place, imaginatively views matter, evolution and its human frontier as a vectorial vortex of thermodynamic energies. In regard, it is asked whether such knowledge from its collective humankind scale can come to a common fore to save and sustain us.
In the Japanese language, the Sun is hi, and heat (fire) is also hi (originally ho or fo); water is mi or mizu; and, life is i-no-chi meaning energy of breath. The coincidence of two hi has impressed me, and I might say that split of mi by hi nourishes chi, at least, on the Earth. Both hi, that is the Sun’s radiation and the Earth’s interior heat, contribute to life. The degrees of contributions vary according to major modes of autotrophy, i.e., photosynthesis or chemolithoautotrophy. Examples of chemolithoautotrophic communities that depend primarily on geothermal hi are found in deep-sea hydrothermal vents and deep subsurface, respectively [4,5]. The idea that non-solar splitting of water nourishes life thus derives from the studies of deep-sea and deep subsurface biospheres, and is extended to possible extra-terrestrial biospheres. The concept of planetary biospheres should accommodate a more universal notion of life than traditional ones. The “non-solar splitting of water” idea is applicable to possible astrobiological biospheres. (835-836)
Novacek, Michael. Terra. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007. Our 100-Million-Year-Old Ecosystem – And The Threats That Now Put It at Risk is the subtitle for this call to aware action by the Provost of Science at the American Museum of Natural History. If the present global environmental precariousness is seen in this expansive view of an evolutionary biosphere reaching closure via human proliferation, then our consequent remediation, or lack thereof, becomes even more significant. Novacek does not mince words and entitles a chapter A Waste of a World. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, along with Vladimir Vernadsky and Antonio Stoppani, are mentioned as originators of this vista of a radically novel, and now penultimate epoch, variously known as Holocene or Anthropocene. It occurred that two future paths might hence be taken – Terra or Terror. Are we to be engulfed in a tsunami of ignorance, violence, and consumption or could somehow the inconvenient, intentional care and furtherance of a sustainable Earth Community, become a 21st century mission of numinous essence.
Olson, Stephanie, et al. Oceanographic Constraints on Exoplanet Life. arXiv:1909.02928. With our favorable tectonic balance of land and sea as a reference, University of Chicago geophysicists including Dorian Abbot consider variable exoworld oceanic conditions with regard to the presence of living systems. This liquid, amniotic surface hydrosphere is also seen as a major factor in their relative biological detectability. See also Scaling Relations for Terrestrial Exoplanet Atmospheres from Baroclinic Criticality by this extended group at 1908.02661 for more vital properties.
Liquid water oceans are crucial to our search for life on exoplanets because water is essential for life as we know it. However, oceans are dynamic habitats and some may be better hosts for life than others. In Earth's oceanic circulation conveys nutrients such as phospourous which affects the distribution and productivity of life. Of importance is upwelling due to wind-driven divergence in surface layers, which returns nutrients that tend to accumulate at depth. We address these aspects by using ROCKE-3D, a fully coupled ocean-atmosphere GCM, to investigate ocean dynamics on a diversity of habitable planets. Efficient nutrient recycling favors greater biological activity for better biosignature detection. Our results demonstrate the importance of oceanographic phenomena for exoplanet life detection and the emerging field of exo-oceanography. (Abstract excerpt)
Ono, Yoko. My Friends. New York Times. December 28, 2003. A full page placement with these few lines of Yoko Ono’s New Year sentiments and advice for a distraught and percipitous world.