III. Ecosmos: A Revolutionary Fertile, Habitable, Solar-Bioplanet, Incubator Lifescape
I. Our EarthMost Distinction: A Rarest Confluence of Favorable Features and Close Calls
The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny beyond Earth.
New York: Doubleday,
In his latest, visionary work the CCNY polyphysicist and science expositor imagines a stellar and universal vista looking outward and ahead. Three sections, Leaving the Earth, Voyages to the Stars, and Life in the Universe, proceed from our waning, doomed world to planetary and galactic habitations near and far, no longer as homo sapiens, and onto a cosmic abidance, maybe eternal, akin to Olaf Stapledon and Isaac Asimov. While a grand ride, it quite remains in the old mindset, or lack thereof, which cannot consider or allow an independent reality of which evolutionary life, intelligence and persons are a vital creative phenomenon. Its opening pages list scientists and scholars that Kaku has spoken with over years, but its ratio of men to women runs 25 to 1.
Michio Kaku traverses the frontiers of astrophysics, artificial intelligence, and technology to offer a stunning vision of man's future in space, from settling Mars to traveling to distant galaxies. Formerly the domain of fiction, moving human civilization to the stars is increasingly becoming a scientific possibility and necessity. Whether in the near future due to climate change and the depletion of finite resources, or in the distant future due to catastrophic cosmological events, we must face the reality that humans will leave planet Earth to survive as a species. Michio Kaku reveals how nanotechnology, and biotechnology may allow us to terraform and build habitable cities on Mars. He then takes us beyond the solar system to nearby stars, which may be reached by nanoships traveling on laser beams at near the speed of light. Finally, he brings us beyond our galaxy, and even beyond our universe, to the possibility of immortality, showing us how humans may someday be able to leave our bodies entirely and laser port to new havens in space. (Publisher edits)
Kasting, James. The Goldilocks Planet? How Silicate Weathering Maintains Earth “Just Right”. Elements. 15/4, 2019. Two decades into the 21st century, the senior Penn State University geoscientist is can now reconstruct the past history of Earth's variable chemical composition so to realize that this surface condition might be most suitable for life to uniquely appear, evolve and persist
Earth's climate is buffered over long timescales by a negative feedback between atmospheric CO2 level and surface temperature. The rate of silicate weathering slows as the climate cools, causing CO2 to increase and warming the surface through the greenhouse effect. This buffering system has kept liquid water stable at Earth's surface. Most silicate weathering is thought to occur on the continents today, but seafloor weathering may have been equally important.
Kodama, Takanori, et al. Inner Edge of Habitable Zones for Earth-sized Planets with Various Surface Water Distributions. Journal Geophysical Research Planets.. Online August, 2019. University of Bordeaux, University of Tokyo, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science, and Tokyo Institute of Technology researchers find that the occasion global oceanic presence, which is vital for life to form and evolve, is actually a rare, chancy situation which often shifts to an all wet or dry regime due to many celestial forces.
Kodama, Tatsuhiko, et al. The Onset of a Globally Ice-Covered State for a Land Planet.. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. 126/12`, 2021. In this American Geophysical Union publication, we cite this December 2021 article by four astro-biochemists posted in Japan and France as a latest example of one more finely set ratio between a drier or wetter rocky orbital world. If it goes too far in either direction, severe climate states of all ice or hot greenhouse can occur. Our home Earth must then be in a fortuitous, middle area wherein life can evolve, develop and learn all of this.
The climates of terrestrial planets with a small amount of surface water, called land planets, are significantly different from planets having a large amount of surface water. Land planets have a higher runaway greenhouse threshold than aqua planets. In this study, we investigate the freezing limit for surface water variations and found that a land planet climate has dry tropics that result in less snow and fewer clouds. Freezing limits for zonally uniform surface water are consistently lower than those for meridionally distributions. Our results indicate that relative water distributions have a major effect on the onset of a global ice-covered state for Earth-like exoplanets. (Abstract excerpt)
Kokaia, Giorgi, et al. Resilient Habitability of Nearby Exoplanet Systems. arXiv:1910.07573. Lund University, Sweden astrophysicists study some 34 candidate solar systems that appear to have been influenced at some point by a giant planet. While a relative habitable phase might return, it is concluded that this result would be a rare event. We cite the paper as another example of how planetary arrays seem to be more often so vulnerable to chaotic disruption and instabilities over their duration.
Koksal, Elif, et al. Spontaneous Formation of Prebiotic Compartment Colonies on Hadean Earth and Pre-Noachian Mars. ChemSystemsChem. 4/3, 2022. This new Chemistry Europe publication is dedicated to the Systems Chemistry endeavor, which has not been recently had its own journal. Here a six person team from the University of Oslo, Vienna and Copenhagen because it reports how early planetary crustal environs possess intrinsic conditions which favor the formation of autonomous protocellular aggregates. These bounded capsules can then facilitate non-enymatic DNA reactions. As such studies advance into the 2020s they reveal further evidence of an innate ecosmic fertility.
Kopparapu,, Ravi, et al. Characterizing Exoplanet Habitability. Meadows, Victoria, et al, eds. Planetary Astrobiology. Tempe: University of Arizona Press, 2020. As stellar, galactic, and universal frontiers open to satellite, atmospheric, spectroscopy, geologic, computational and other surveys, RK, Goddard Space Center, Eric Wolf, University of Colorado, and Victoria Meadows, University of Washington discuss how to proceed with a cosmic neighbor census. But as explorations go forth they are finding vicarious contingencies which winnow habitations by way of a long series of conducive conditions that must be met. A large Factors Affecting Habitability graphic depicts some 50 issues such as sun type, spectral energy, solar orbits, metallicity, UV rays, watery basins, a mediating moon and so on. As this section records, it ought to soon dawn upon us that a population of only one fittest Earthropic optimum may exist. See also How to Characterize Habitable Worlds and Signs of Life by Lisa Kaltenegger in the Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics (55/433, 2017).
Habitability is a measure of an environment's potential to support life, which means liquid water on its surface. This condition depends on a complex set of interactions between planetary, stellar, planetary system and even galactic features and processes. We describe the latest way to test which exoplanets are likely to be terrestrial, and how to define the habitable zone under different assumptions. We are now entering an exciting era of exoplanet atmospheric studies, with more powerful observing capabilities planned for the near and far future. Understanding the processes that affect the habitability of a planet will guide us in discovering habitable, and potentially inhabited, planets. (Abstract excerpt)
Kouvenhoven, M. B. N, et al. Planetary Systems in Star Clusters. arXiv:1609.00898. After two decades of scientific realizations of a radically different cosmos that fills itself with planetary objects of all manner of types, sizes and stellar locales, a team of astrophysicists with joint Chinese and Dutch postings add another observation of how our own sun system is uniquely special. Most stars, as also galaxies, actually tend to collect and bunch together, so that planets in these jumbled environs are not in circular orbits but “scatter and disperse” widely.
Thousands of confirmed and candidate exoplanets have been identified in recent years. Consequently, theoretical research on the formation and dynamical evolution of planetary systems has seen a boost, and the processes of planet-planet scattering, secular evolution, and interaction between planets and gas/debris disks have been well-studied. Almost all of this work has focused on the formation and evolution of isolated planetary systems, and neglect the effect of external influences, such as the gravitational interaction with neighbouring stars. Most stars, however, form in clustered environments that either quickly disperse, or evolve into open clusters. Under these conditions, young planetary systems experience frequent close encounters with other stars, at least during the first 1-10 Myr, which affects planets orbiting at any period range, as well as their debris structures. (Abstract)
Krakauer, David and Caitlin McShea, eds. InterPlanetary Transmissions: Proceedings of the Santa Fe Institute’s First InterPlanetary Festiva. Santa Fe: SFI Press, 2019. The chapters such as Intelligent Systems, Autonomous Ecosystems, Origins of Life in Space, and Living in Space are transcripts of group discussions with luminaries such as Jessica Flack, Geoffrey West, Caleb Scharf, Jennifer Dunne, Neal Stepheson, and many more diverse voices.
This volume is a record of the proceedings of the first InterPlanetary Festival, held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in June of 2018 by the Santa Fe Institute. An annual free public event, the InterPlanetary Festival combines an exploration of complexity science, which SFI has pioneered, and technological innovation with a summer festival full of music, film, art, food, drinks, and more. The first project of its kind to combine celebration with experimentation, and conversation with analysis, the InterPlanetary Project seeks to be nothing less than a whole-planet project—beyond borders, beyond politics, beyond economics—to activate the collective intelligence of our first planet: Earth.
Lammer, Helmet, et al. The Role of Nitrogen as a GeoBiosignature for the Detection and Characterization of Earth-like Habitats. arXiv:1904.11716. A seven member group mainly from the Austrian Academy of Sciences Space Research Institute cites that the appropriate presence of this globally atmospheric and chemical element ought to be seen as another important factor for life’s emergent evolution.
Since the Archean, nitrogen has been a major atmospheric constituent in Earth's atmosphere. It is an essential element in the building blocks of life, therefore the geobiological nitrogen cycle is a fundamental factor in the long term evolution of both Earth and Earth-like exoplanets. We discuss the development of the Earth's N2 atmosphere since the planet's formation and its relation with the geobiological cycle. Then we suggest atmospheric evolution scenarios and their possible interaction with life forms for a stagnant-lid anoxic world, a tectonically active anoxic world, and an oxidized tectonically active world. Since life forms are the most efficient means for recycling deposited nitrogen back into the atmosphere nowadays, they sustain its surface partial pressure at high levels. (Abstract excerpt)
Lineweaver, Charles and Molly Townes O’Brien. The Cosmic Context of the Millennium Development Goals: Maximum Entropy and Sustainability. Thomas Faunce, ed. Nanotechnology Toward the Sustainocene. Singapore: Pan Stanford Publishing, 2015. An Australian National University astronomer and law professor expansively situate our crucial imperative to achieve a better populace and planet within a widest temporal and spatial evolutionary locus. In this whole scenario, a global transition to organic viability would contribute to the arrow and advance of informed, personified order over disorderly dissipations.
Life forms are a subset of the organized structures in the universe known as far-from equilibrium dissipative systems (FarFEDS). FarFEDS are dissipative structures that, while maintaining their structure, convert low-entropy energy to high-entropy energy. They include galaxies, stars, convection cells, typhoons, fires, humans, and bacteria. All FarFEDS (and thus all life forms) extract free energy from the environment and turn it into waste heat faster than random processes such as diffusion would be able to do. (41-42)
Lingam, Manasvi. Implications of Abiotic Oxygen Buildup for Earth-like Complex Life. arXiv:2002.03248. A Florida Institute of Technology astrophysicist (search) surveys the importance for a bioworld to achieve a favorable atmospheric O2 level in the low 20% range for life to be able to develop and evolve. This small window between starved and burnt up need be reached in a timely way (Lineweaver) and persist over relatively long periods. This atmospheric quality would then be a vital biosignature. See also Ward, Lewis, et al. Follow the Oxygen: Comparative Histories of Planetary Oxygenation and Opportunities for Aerobic Life by Lewis Ward, et al in Astrobiology (19/6, 2019). In regard, still another vital, finely tuned check point to successfully pass through is highlighted.
One of the chief paradoxes of molecular oxygen (O2) is that it is an essential requirement for multicellular eukaryotes on Earth while simultaneously posing a threat to their survival via the formation of reactive oxygen species. In this paper, the constraints imposed by O2 on Earth-like complex life are applied to whether worlds with abiotic O2 inventories can harbor such organisms. By consideration of the O2 sources and sinks of Earth-like planets, it is proposed that worlds with X-ray and extreme ultraviolet fluxes might not host complex lifeforms because the photolysis of water molecules may cause high O2 buildup. (Abstract excerpt)