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Proceedings Paper

The place of humanity in the cosmic community of intelligent beings
Author(s): Robert Jastrow
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Paper Abstract

Confirmation of the existence of life on Mars would mean that life has independently evolved on two planets in one solar system and is not a highly improbable event. This would carry the implication that the Universe teems with life -- much of it billions of years older than life on the earth. What is the chance that this life is intelligent? Some prominent evolutionists (e.g., Mayr, Simpson) consider humankind to be a fluke and the prospects for extraterrestrial intelligence to be essentially zero, but their reasoning can be criticized. If the evolution of intelligence is indeed a relatively common occurrence, where do we stand in relation to this cosmic community of intelligent beings? The history of life on the earth combined with numbers from astronomy suggests intriguing answers.

Paper Details

Date Published: 11 July 1997
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 3111, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for the Investigation of Extraterrestrial Microorganisms, (11 July 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.278776
Show Author Affiliations
Robert Jastrow, Mount Wilson Institute (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3111:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for the Investigation of Extraterrestrial Microorganisms
Richard B. Hoover, Editor(s)

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