« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#252 — Are We Alone in the Universe?

2021-06-10 | 🔗

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Neil deGrasse Tyson about our place in the universe. They discuss our current understanding of extra-solar planets, the prospect that there is complex life elsewhere in the galaxy, the Fermi problem, the possibility that all advanced civilizations self destruct, how we can detect life on exoplanets, recent media interest in UFOs, whether a direct encounter with alien life would change our world, the flat-Earth conspiracy, the public understanding of science, the problem of political partisanship, racial inequality, and other topics.

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Learning how to train your mind is the single greatest investment you can make in life. That’s why Sam Harris created the Waking Up app. From rational mindfulness practice to lessons on some of life’s most important topics, join Sam as he demystifies the practice of meditation and explores the theory behind it.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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I am speaking with Neil the Grass Thyssen. Neil probably needs no introduction he's been in the park ass before and he's been everywhere else before he is an astrophysicist who hosts his own people. Cast STAR Talk, radio as well as the any award winning National Geographic shows STAR, talk and cosmos. He is author of more than a dozen books, including astrophysics for people, in a hurry and, most recently with his co author James Travel, cosmic queries, start sky, to whom we are how we got here and where we're going. He is also the door of the hidden planetarium in New York and they. We talk about our place in the universe and we spend much of the time on the question of whether or not we are alone here. So we discuss the famous Fermi problem.
I e, whereas everybody and naturally grades into a conversation about recent events on. Earth, where a renewed interest in Ufos has captured a lot of mainstream attention. We also cover the public understanding of science, a bit the impossible existence of flat authors who still live among us and them I try to lead Neil once again into a conversation about politics and attendant moral panics, and you can judge the results of that for yourselves anyway. It's always great speak big deal, and I hope you enjoy the conversations much as I did and I bring you Niels across Thyssen,
I am back once again with kneel to Grass Thyssen Neil thanks rejoining the SAM. I mean you know, I love your show and I never think of myself being on it, so that when I'm on it is like what am I gonna talk about because all of your guests and all of your dear you're conversations are you know they anything that I do it just as a scientist and as a popular iser. You pick it up a notch and you just. injected into all the most controversial things going on in society and I'm just not that brave SAM I feel like I don't you know I should not be on your show. I just feel that way sometimes will I hope, not to confirm that hypothesis, but I will lead you to the edge of your courage and you can call me back but it's great to hear your voice and but before we go all over, place here. I wanted just touch upon your book because you have. New book out, which is cosmic queries star talks guy
to whom we are how we got here and where we're going and dad. Let us start with the area of just pure scientific interest and then we can go to point of controversy or not The hour unfolds visit is really a gorgeous book. It's has published by National Geographic, so it is really Well illustrated end reading it. I confess have not read all of it. But I've read a lot that an damn it struck me immediately that this is the best. look you would want to hand to a smart, inquisitive science interested teenager in order you anywhere from Hunter. No fourteen on up is just perfectly pitched too, a person's first book on science. It was at it at all that your intention and writing. It was interesting. You say that because what I learned from my very first book, which is many many moons ago,
I wrote a book and I said well hoping to write a book on science. I want to make sure everyone understands everything. That's in it right, and so my first book was a question in it. her book on the universe, and I wrote it in a playful way. There was a had a pen name, further, you'd, better when dear Merlin, you know, how does the universe
work and Merlin would call a conversation with Einstein was a fun playful thing and all the questions were asked by full up adults. When the book came out, I found that when adults read it and they understood everything in it, they start to themselves with. This is clearly not for me. This is for someone younger, and I sent why so people are accustomed to when they encounter adults and encounter a science what they expect, some of it to sit above their head, and so I said, ok, so my next book I have two chapters is guaranteed to be above Zurich, buddies, het and no one thought about given those two kids but cosmic queries, is a celebration of the deepest sources of curiosity that exist within us as humans and all of those cylinders, if I'm allowed to use an internal combustion engine reference, although cylinders are firing,
for all of us when we were younger right every day is or what is tat in this. Flower in a tree in Iraq in it and why Why is this? And why is that in some of those questions get very deep like how did it all get here and why are we all here and are? We alone How will it all end, and so that deeper category of question got elevated and put into this book, but the whole concept of cosmic queries stoked monthly in our Podcast Start talk STAR talk with we interview, celebrities and I were comedian whose covers so very that their their forces of levity on it show where content might have their own force of gravel
and I'd die all those in so that we have a consistent product each time, but one of the more successful variants on that shows call cosmic queries where a fan base just simply asked questions and we called the deepest subset of those and put them into into this book. So I think for me so vision of what it is to be human and be on one side of knowing something and want to cross over into another side of enlightened, and yet it serves. It serves the curiosity in us all. I think some adults they they ve lost it, and so maybe it'll fan embers- then maybe ignite aflame once again, because you know was there when you are younger? I think that's how you that's. Why? I think that's why you are feeling that way about it, because it makes you feel young again
an wide eyed, and thanks for noticing the National Geographic DNA in the book is up. It's a beautiful book and we didn't stop. Adjust science illustrations, there's art as well. Yeah yeah, carefully chosen artwork that evokes the seams or the ideas in the narrative. So yes for calling it up? Is it? Is it always an exciting time in drawn away in astrophysics or have there been periods of stagnation analogous to those in physics, hey. I get the sense that in physics, certainly we in any given generation there's an impressive feeling of, at least in theory. Sigh
of spinning your wheels and not necessarily making discernible progress, but I do see intuitively seemed like a could be different in astronomy and astrophysics, as is heard, it that's a perceptive point and let me attempt to address it whether not I fully answer it in physics. What you referring to, I think, is so. Do the the revolution, evolution of ideas right and you don't get those every day you know you get them, maybe once in a generation, and all the years in between are filling in the gaps between those ideas and those don't tend to get headlines even if their intrinsically exciting to a physicist sit in astrophysics, occasionally, ideas matter deeply, yes, but what happens more frequently? Is that weird stuff
gets discovered right or interesting, stuff, water on the moon and the creators of the moon, a black hole in the Galaxy Centre. The Galaxy photograph of the black HAWK manner the galaxy so things that exist in the universe, because universes so vast, and it has so many different kinds of objects that in all about catalogues, we probably missed something that is one in a million or even one in a billion and when that gets discovered that headlines and so no it doesn't rethink the whole field, but it is definitely fun to inventory and talk about and characterize it and try to figure it out. Now I did do one thing for while I was at the Post office at Princeton and
prison has our feature journal. The astrophysical journal all on one wall. Ok from that. This very first episode her for his very first issue. Eighty ninety five, the extra physical journal up to the present- and I thought to Myself- who let me do the this experiment, and I found the exact middle of that wall of all the journals, and I said I want to date. This is, and it was five years ago knocked up, and so so this to be so that at the half way point, and as I did this and I kept having it, what I found is that the half way interval of time was eighteen years, fluctuated between fifteen and eighteen years. So,
The total amount that was published doubled every fifteen. Now not all of it is quality. We get that. I understand that as a first pass measure of the pace of things this was highly illuminating to me and ended said that yeah I mean you went if you're living on the exponential curve every day looks like you're living in Spain times, and I remember going back I've a book on the sun, written by an astronomer named Charles Young, vacuous at Princeton. In his day I have two versions of the book. One came out like eighteen, eighties, lady teenagers and another one came out the eighteen ninetys. It was like the second edition and, like you know, five years or eight years have gone by, and you read the preface in the second edition is it our advances are so great and our understanding of the sun. We had to come out with another fundamental thinking.
You guys have no clue what a great advances yet, of course, that's what it felt like when you're on an exponential growth curve. Everybody feels like living in special times, What are the biggest change? They get a heavy. It lay persons view of of advances in in astronomy, really to take the the observational side of things for a moment, the biggest new in my lifetime. I think I'm leaving aside very sexy things like gravitational waves is just at the fact that we crossed over from talking merely about planets in our solar system to confirming their existence elsewhere, unless we lost PLUTO quite famously, but we gained a humming planets at this point. How many extra solar planets had over over four thousand year is rising fast and certainly what what's this
if assumption now that are that our own galaxy has hundreds of billions of, ass, a man and about what? What do we do that calculation? and you in a second are we alone in the universe, but you can ask a different set of philosophical question, something that might titillate you. You can look at all of the layers of bias that are inherent in how we eat and go about answering those questions, because even in your very statement, you said well how many planets, because the life there You know in the life that I know lives on a planet, but maybe I've also lives on moons. Maybe it lives in atmosphere, maybe it lives in gas clouds, so we go through over the or the biases its carbon bias right. We are carbon based
Some of these devices, I think, are fully legitimate, but if you really want a search with his wide and net as possible, I also consider the the Goldilocks zone them so much. He has written and talked for decades from the nineteen fifties and sixtys when this concept was first formulated. Where you we know, life thrives, needs and thrives on liquid water saving. Us. the planet in us in a star system, not to close the doors of operator water. Not too far, it will freeze the water so there's this zone this belt around any star where a planet would naturally have liquid water and of union atmosphere, conditions to sustain it, of course, but you're not fighting at it.
It would happen. Naturally, if the conditions allow, and so then we learnt wait a minute. The sun is not the only source of energy in town. I Jupiter and its title stresses on its surrounding mood is a source of energy, so Wanna Jupiters, moons IO is the most volcanic active place in the entire solar system, because Jupiter is pumping it with energy, and so now we have to think if life needs the warm. the warming energy of a heap of it? It just needs an energy source. Why does it have to have a star and so each, and then we learn every model of the solar system that we construct, that of any star system when its born most of the planet's that foreigners unstable orbit and they fly out into entered into a star space. It may be
that there were more vagabond planets, then our planet's bound to their local star system. So you say it s, not a good prospect for life. However, earth still has energy sources in its core either. This is how you get volcanoes n, N, n N. All these mid see events that are pumping very hot borders into the bottom of the ocean. if you're a life form thriving on that you'd only care. If you were ever orbiting son, you could be a frozen lake bet on frozen at the eye on top, but down below you could be doing the back, broke in your warned hotter. So this notion that we want to look for planets Look for a habitable zone would Goldilocks out maybe needlessly restrictive every as we go forward. So now what I hear a heavier intuitions been pushed around with respect to the prospect that we are
alone versus the prospect seemingly equally astonishing, though the Lee saying that in the universe is teeming with life, you had jam changes in your that's the way waiting probabilities over the course of your life. He s a great way to ask that question. I would say the probabilities have as the as they ve their train only because we learned to new things, not because I had re evaluate what I was already thinking about been very open to possibilities of the universe, just given the size and the diversity of objects and the age you know practically anything you can imagine being possible. We think is gonna be possible, but there some other
really good reasons for some of the bias that we are invoking here. For example, there is a famous episode of the Original STAR Trek where they encounter a life form, that's basically made of rock and it it moves through rock like we move through air and its rock base life and an active in- reading in a lot of minerals is silicon. So it's silicon base life, and this was their attempt to do this in eighteen, sixty and- and this was so can base like as opposed to carbon baseline. While they didn't pull silicon out of their ass right white, why do people think of silk and like if you go back to the periodic table and remember why elements form columns. The columns have similar valence electrons, which me
if you're above or below another element in a table in the periodic table, you can make similar molecules with all the same other Adams. Well, let's find carbon well there. It is at the top of the chart, number twelve, what's directly below it. Silicon so every atom you can ever molecule you can make with carbon you can make with silicon why not create an entire parallel life system where silicon is the base instead of carbon? And so that's a perfectly legitimate chemical broadening of your by us as you go search, my rebuttal too, that is you don't need to do that, because first, carbon is hugely sticky, stick to it I've been multiple bonds and silicon also, but what you really went out is that carbon dependent where Actually you are in the universe, is between five and ten times as abundant. So
carbon, is ready, gonna, be added before silicon. You know figures up gotta put on its pants in the morning, and so I dont need to really think of life forms based on a isotope of business or even silicon. So I think carbon is is the way to go here just given its diversity of chemical of chemistry that it offers us, and I don't like directly answered your question and I changed any of my evaluations nuff. So the Fermi paradox is what your dancing around there and I want to clarify the Fermi paradoxical. I don't think I think most people who invoke it dont know the full weight that it carries right? So you can do the thought experiment that, with its of chemical firmly, the physicist famously equipped if their life in the universe in the galaxy, there
It ought. The galaxy oughta be teeming with life and they would have visited us by now. Where are they? so maybe they're not at all. It might be worth spelling out. Why that seem so logical images, Witherspoon at any time. You have. We went she's exactly so so that you can ask yourself how wide is the galaxy so hundred thousand like ears? Ok, so feels intractable. So let's say you never you never get to the speed of light but say we get to twenty percent the speed of light. That means you can cross the Galaxy and five hundred thousand years. Our aid, but most stars are not the diameter of the galaxy away from each other there much nearer so, for example, Alpheus insurance system from earth for light years away, twenty percent the speed of light you get there in twenty years, a k and yes, you can start up. So imagine this is one of those I forgot.
Machine that got named after you go to a planet and then it's with the robot in the robot bills. Two copies of itself and they launched two other planets: okay and so forth. We even people who are aliens so they arrived on the planet and then they say okay time to go to more planet. And now you go from one planet to to two thousand four hundred and twenty eight. The star systems it turns out you. If you did that only going to two once you land on one, you can I, too, to the emperor right so However, many years are loaded your n, you can easily completely populate the entire galaxy in an evolutionary timescale easily and so would like it. You can do it within a few
you know, tens of millions of years and by the planet. It is around for billions of years. So so, where is everybody? That's the bathroom question. and in the other, into the oven, The other element to this picture is it if a complex life is ubiquitous. You would expect certain civilizations to be millions of years. head of us in any case, because, given native of nearly fourteen billion years to start this experiment, it would just be a miracle if all complex life, where it is precisely the same point and technological evolution, so to find ourselves not surrounded by evidence of technological alien life is to suggest that it might not exist because you again, whereas everybody, the r and d right, we're very Johnny calmly,
please in this first year of the fourteen billion year old age of the universe, then you have the five four and one slash two billion year old solar system and then asked you know how old is the branch of the tree of life called primates, or I can primates where your best chance or mammals say where you best chance of quote intelligence on earth. We really can get under way until after the dinosaurs and that's basically yesterday, sixty five million years ago and earth has been around for hundreds of millions of years cracking out life. So imagine a planetary system that got a billion year head start on us know. If there's any forcing vector to towards intelligence, we would be dwarfed by any such intelligence that manifested itself in the comparison I like making and get back to firmly in just a moment. Is this comparison you always here?
about the DNA between the Chimp Bonobo, let's say and human. You know it's some pie. Ninety, ninety, nine, whatever per cent identical tat dna and the people who want to keep thinking humans are special will say, but what a difference that half a percent makes, and they they'd crowd themselves into that half a percent and celebrate all that we are that ships are not, but I'd rather pose the question a little differently and say suppose. The difference between humans and chimps is as small as a half open. Dna in the intelligence vector whatever that directorate. Suppose it is that small, would you say well? What do you mean? We have the Hubble telescope in poetry and philosophy and they stick a twig in its whole to get termites out, and I said: well maybe the difference between those is small Don't want to think that way, but imagine so now, let's imagine an alien who is
percent along that same vector beyond us that we are beyond the chip. What would we look like to them?. At no reason for me to think that we wouldn't look any different to them. That ships look to us because they're, smart chimp and stack boxes and reach a banana. That's what toddlers can do that. So what is a smart human? Do? What we can you do? Roll Stephen hawking, for it is a smart human and they'll feel chuckle and say: oh, he died, he drives a black hole theories in it it in his brain, just like little Timmy Overhear, who just came home from pre school. So in the end, that's a half a percent. So now imagine five percent ten percent and an hour's, their simplicity, expression of an idea which transcend our smartest capacity to comprehend. In the same way, you walk up to it
and say what time is it they have got to tell you tat, you know what a cup of coffee at Starbucks Gonna catch a plane you wanna go to. library. None of this makes any sense them and there are simply sentences. So I think about this all the time. Leaving me to wonder whether the search for intelligent life Seti is itself a bit of hubris, because it assumes that some other species has our intelligence and not something so far beyond us that they would take. No interest in who and what we are at one of the solutions to the hermit. Fermi paradox is that we are to the aliens what worms are to us. You don't walk down the street and a worm cross out from the moist soil use achievement. With that worm is thinking. Let me go get understand that I'm not your worm all just now,
you're, not thinking that so that one of them is that they studied earth and there is no sign of intelligible to interesting. But I haven't my favorite explanation for the Fermi paradox and I forgive me for not remember who to credit this too, but I don't take ownership of this idea. It's what ever DR is required for you to want to cook colonise planets with abandon right. You gotta planet, you of offspring and they colonise two planets and they go to planets. Whatever that drive is, has the seeds of own unravelling built within it. Because what happens when the planet start becoming scares, you are urged to do this. Risking life and limb. Debt means its deep in you. You need that planet you. Why
what that planet in so you go out and then there's somebody else trying to claim the planet, and then you have the interstellar warfare. competing over the limit and real estate, but the planets in the galaxy. He has any think yours is a verbal That is a version of the great filter argument that term I believe this original to Nick Bostra May. Thus he certainly is spoken by lie. He might have you gonna from somebody else, but I think it's boss from baby it will be the day more generic. Idea here is that we put most of the onus on technology issues at once? You get technically sophisticated enough. You have almost certainly built destructive technology and
You know whether this is specifically weapons of war or artificial intelligence, or something that you get away from you and sufficient technical prowess to colonise Galaxy becomes self terminating, but almost by definition, the measures that are too many ways to kill yourself. and to have all your incentives as a species, not aligned that guy you just use self extinguish. So I would say that was it that would be a subcategory or maybe they're, both categories of the self destruct phenomenon in high intelligent creatures, because what this specifically implicates is the same urges that that infuse Colonial Europe right so here your Spain, Portugal, England the Netherlands and they all want to conquer the world so
Surely they have their own territory, but then they encounter each other and then the entire system implode because they can't share it because in them they want to own it, and so this notion has already played out in this world. Then that was the implosion of Europe and its colonist stick ways going from the age of the rate explorers to the age of the great collapse of the colonial era. fires. So it's not a stretch to imagine this has sort of a fundamental truth without having to analyze the psychological profile of the alien is just one of these basic, simple facts that my manifest, no matter the life for what we do to back up her second into get back to Fermi. How is your sense of the term proliferation of life, or lack thereof, changed once we just
everything's, like I'm amino acids and in media rights and in the tales of comments which is set at the building blocks of life, seem fairly ubiquitous yeah and that's part of what this we'll find encouraging for those who are rooting for life elsewhere, because the I can I can a capsule eight. That statement in a simple fact. If you rank were the abundance of chemical elements in the universe. The number one element is hydrogen number to which is chemically active. The number two is helium, which is not chemically actor, but it's there. That's a big number. Two number three is oxygen. Number four is carbon Number five is nitrogen: oh my gosh sermon everything's, I'm out of the five hopped up in the
Fricking analysis. Seventh, as a ham sandwich, are contained in what we call biochemistry, and so that's why you're not like. I said if we were made of some exotic said a isotope of bismuth. You might have an argument to say: God did something special on earth, because this stuff can't the wheat is not found anywhere else, but if we, so if anything life is opportunistic, it makes very good use of what it has ended at one other fact, which is not often cited, but it has to be in the equation, is the earliest fossil evidence. It comes in a record for life comes in around three point. Eight billion years ago an earth began fork.
we five four point: six, so for the longest wild decades, people subtracted those two numbers and said I'd. Life took six hundred million years. That's still pretty fast, given that, where four and a half billion years old, ok, there's still pretty fast small compared to the life that the life expectancy of earth, but it's even better than that again a value. Judging the speed of this, because the early earth with some acted to what we call the period of heavy bombardment. There were two such periods. Heavy bombardment earth is still the polite way to say it is creating matter from the nascent solar system they d more violent way to put it is, it is being slammed constantly by comments and asteroids, because it has a strong gravity in its region, is clearing out its orbit and all that material ends up going, some and at last back on earth, and so the earth is gaining mass and by gaining Massa gifts.
Gains even more gravity. It becomes even better at it and over that time, earth's surface is sufficiently pelted that the temperatures prevent the formation of complex molecules because under high temperatures, the bonds, the molecular bonds break and every time you try to experiment with it gets broken apart. So it's not conducive to the experimentations of life. So if you start the the clock, wait until the period heavy bombardment is over. That's like four billion years ago, but four point six scenario start the clock. Now earth has some chance of cooling down and making complex molecules and starting with the birth of biochemistry and there, it is earth, went from organic molecules to self replicating life within between one and two hundred million years in the early universe and an early earth, and that's stupefying. So if it did it that fact
using native ingredients on on on our planet, just warm like anybody. Other planet then No one who studied this problem is walking around saying we're alone in the universe other. There is the additional improbability whatever it is getting from life single cell- and I guess multi cellular to technologically advanced- civilization and make you can argue that we have barely accomplished it and there really no sign of, but for us there is no sign of natural selection producing anything like civilization without us. So again they leave. Well, we were sampling this in a very narrow time window and who knows what the net a million years might bring, but I guess elements to sharpen up here- the Fermi intuition here, if you had a bad sign, a probability to one of two outcomes.
I want to state of affairs one we're alone with respect to complex life or technological sentient civilization, build in life. You saw there might be microbes elsewhere in the galaxy, but there's nothing like us pining for four other star systems, verse is the galaxy was or is teeming with advanced life? and weed and for whatever reason we don't see it, which seems less astonishing to you are less unlikely. yeah, I don't think about it, way, you worded it, but let me it's because I entirely agree with what part of your premise so look at beavers,
Our beavers are mammals, the large brain like relative to other branches on the tree of life, and they fully exploit the resources and their environment. How does a tree? I'm gonna use that tree too damn this river and I'm gonna make an underground. Then this is we any different from that. We use trees first, we use grass to make cuts theirs. Elbow then we use trees, that's pretty convenient them found, metal o, make us less use that ok and then we learn had a power to make our voice. Let's do that and then we learned chemistry. Let's do that. So, yes, it takes thresholds of intelligence. To exploiting their environment even more, but the simple act of it- waiting an environment is not unique to being human than your first point again.
The Romans were no less smart than anyone who followed them right, smart in terms of the what their brain could figure out, but they didn't have alien communication technologies. Then a radio telescope they didn't go into space. So imagine Jim, the roman empire and aliens are waiting for a return signal back through space and and no return. and signals. There's knows we are still trying to do May, with their roman numerals thou, now with the problem yeah they needed the Arabic Neural Ratlin YAP people forget that Roma numerals do not have a zero. You can represent zero Roma numerals and that's why de the calendar, the christian calendar, we're going calendar and the Julian Council
is no years arrow and went from one b c to a d want because they know I could read their head around it, so yeah their respective his heart with broken. I think they would a figure something out. I think they're. There is more in the fullness of time you know that I take your point and we we should be high, both by how much change can occur over vast timescales. Ramey. Look it up. You look at the rest of what's on earth with us now and it's hard to imagine anything all went into the kind of species that could do more than we are managing to do, but we're just look at a synchronous lines of evolution, and give it the aliens and years. Basically, everything is is potentially available and millions short compared with billions billion. Is one thousand times LAW
then a million- and here we were some kind of this size or smaller shrew. Words kind of road and running underfoot, trying to avoid becoming orders for T Rex and that's how it would have stayed if the dinosaurs didn't just get unlucky and an asteroid takes them our prize open The niche, an echo niche that allows mammals to evolve into something more ambitious than a rodent. Meanwhile, roads are still among us, so what I want to impress upon people within an otherwise so wrapped their head around it that we went road is to humans and sixty five million years and as a vanishingly small fraction of a billion years and has been around for four billion years. So now, here's the tricky part if you'd lineup digital thought, experiment, if you just lay
Earth Timeline out honour on the wall left to right, beginning to end at any review? Blindfold yourself, like you know, in the new challenges and then you walk up to you not away, you are an open. The tale most of the places on a timeline you pinot earth only have single cell life. Complex life was relatively late. Last half a billion Euro and then what we call intelligent life and big bring mammals even smaller than that. The point is, if it ever. If earth is any indication if it ever gets to that, then it fast. So imagine a got to that sooner or the other side footprint footing. That is imagine the asteroid. Never came. It still be dinosaurs. Here too, You know how I know that, because dinosaurs were around as a community for three. Hundred million years before the dinosaur before the asteroid. So what another sixty five on top!
The three hundred days still be here. So what this tells us is what we think of it. Talent clearly is not important for survival. Otherwise roaches would have really big brains right. So maybe the big mistake here he's thinking that intelligence is an inevitable consequence of evolution when all they would have taken was one broken branch. But then that could have taken up all the mammals from the vertebrae chain and then we would not have anything like we think of today, as intelligent creatures yeah, but if you run this experiment, millions upon millions of times stronger, you go as long as we have on the assault on something that weren't you by in no way unique and been species of earth and if multi cellular alive is ubiquitous,
in the galaxy her in the universe ages need is have those hundreds of billions ultimately trillions of similar experiments to run then it's very difficult to imagine that you have fun at minimum tens of millions of cases of advanced technological life You get to win the argument in the end you say, but what are the chance of that happening, one in a million. Ok one in a million and a hundred billion stars systems so run the numbers known as thinkin, we're alone out there. Is actually the opinion in the field of if you, if you pulled people ape at a conference of physicists and astrophysicist and astronomers,
You think of a large majority would say that an advanced life has he pick witnessing universe. I think the only sensible way to do it is to just we have an exact a sample of one. So let's start with that and ask what fraction of the total timeline of Earth has earth had what we would call intelligent life? Big brained life now and what fraction of that period as it had intelligent ways of the drink equation I what fraction of that period as intelligent life with technology? So if you do that, then that gives you a set of fractions that you can layer onto the entire stellar population of the galaxy and even using highly conservative estimates. You do not come up with us being the only life form around and, like I said, if you look at the actual map of the galaxy, where we have found these four thousand Exo planets it's this tiny little
local rattling strives to be close enough to get good data to know whether it has another planet around it. Any citys of cash is what leads to that analogy that comes from the city Institute with Jill Tartarin and sets just back where they say if you say well, how can have we found life? We found life, yet that's like taking a cup in empty that a glass and scooping it into the ocean and pulling it out and say the ocean has no whales from this tiny sample of the vast ocean that you know you have yet to search. But what do you think they'll limit is on get in a truly optical. Look at an actual planet enable any these large telescopes at you describing your book coming online. How closer we too seen anything of of interest in another solar system? Yet that's a great question, so
You can ask: let's ask it another way if you're on the moon? How well can you see sort of cities on earth? Not very well those images you see on the screen, savers, where you have this space station orbiting the other pumped up the brightness of those. So they can stand out as beautifully as they do, but if you gonna go quarter million miles away from them in and stand on, the moon become much less visible and that's our nearest neighbour in space and allow me to quantify this impetus. who'll room globe and I'm always sad cause, there's always color coded, and so you think of earth as a place divided by cunt. He's not unified by land and water in an atmosphere that just me getting sentimentally cosmic on it, but you can ass well what altitude above that club? Would you find the international space station half the people it s there come away about a foot from its about. I know it's. Three eighth of an inch above the surface
I know where the moon be what we're so jaded by how often we see the earth, the moon drawn a textbook people tend to put the moon, maybe your foot or to away nor the moon is thirty feet away We would Mars B. a mile away. Space is vast, so took to directly image a planet. We ask that could be done HORIZON, but to image it in a way. We're we're gonna, see roads and cities. I don't think that's unrealistic, but I haven't. I say that but smiling I know what we're already up. Do you want to see life forms waving back at you? What I want to see these any evidence in the atmosphere that anybody's alive on the on the planet, surface area- and these me these are- we call them collectively, biomarkers, I! So if you so, I didn't know this. I had to figure this out.
these my own, who they gleamed as I got older and wiser and learned, and so you grow up, and you see these science fiction stories and Tick STAR Trek again, for example, You know they never dawned spacesuits, you ever wonder about heck Never never. I walked out on all transplanted no space. I also wonder about the suits they weren't, but a man. That's the sixties. You are too young ok, I remember so. I get to pull rank on you with my age, so so they never spaces. Why? Because they have sensors and they say captain is an oxygen nitrogen atmosphere. Ok, let's go down as though, if you searched enough you just simply find oxygen, nitrogen atmospheres. What I didn't know the time- and I think they knew either- is that we all Lee have oxygen because we have life
The only reason, and only because we have life life has constantly making oxygen kazaks in chemical is highly reactive. So if you start out with a planet that has been born, with oxygen it'll go away, it is gonna ray. with all manner of things, and it will go to the euro in very little time. So the fact that we have an active fraction, twenty twenty one percent air of oxygen- tells you something is constantly making it at. That's the photo synthesis and plant life. So if you find a planet That has a stable supply of oxygen. Oh my gosh put that to the top of the list and there are other unstable molecules like methane. Although there other ways you can make nothing, but the people who are in the business of studying the chemistry that They ve got a laundry list of chemical of molecules that will be the product of all kinds of life. that we know goes on here on earth and one of them was
You may remember the news stories. They fell fast theme in the atmosphere Venus which not so hot scalding hot. On the surface you come up. A little is a little cooler fast, no one- can figure out how you make phosphate other them I then natural chemistry of life itself, that got it. That may have eyes made. It's been question for the reason since then, but so we have this cottage industry of people studying the atmosphere of actual planet. Now that we have the catalogues of extra planet ready for our perusal and I think that's where the answers are gonna come and what- and one last point about that is a joke- that if you find a planet that has hydrogen carbons in their atmosphere, but also smog insert in and other things debit. A sure sign of the No intelligent life has he asked polluting it
Air I'm gonna marry the atmosphere is the thickness of atmosphere is to earth as the skin of an apple these into unhappily. So we think of this as this huge ocean above us when, but it's not an is actually quite fragile. So this connects rather nicely to recent news stories about time. The aliens in our midst- and am I got imagine you were hit with all manner communication of human origin about this behind the scenes, but because it could, even even I was and this is this- is not my wheel house, but so with had were recording this in them. Just. into the second week of June, as we ve had recent disclosures in the press that the Pentagon and the off the Office of Naval intelligence, primarily
thrown up their hands and have admitted that we are in the presence of technology that they can't explain and they ve put forward some classified evidence, apparently that is supposed to be better than the stuff has leaked out and that the media has seized upon. This had been really prominent stories that were. not at all skeptical and not marshalling any of the the legacy of of skeptical debunk aims of this kind of material. in their reporting, and so we have sixty minutes and the Washington Post in the new Yorker, the New York Times and age really moralist everyone in sight. Given a very fair and one might even say, credulous hearing to these reports to my eyes is, does not really clear. What's going on all citizens someone else's podcast on an Lex treatments, pod
ass. It then I had received a sort of an advanced communication. He advanced with respect to the calendar, not with the details that this was coming and We urge to prepare my brain to receive these sir startling disclosures, so that I could help shape a public conversation about this new consensus, which purported to be again seems to me that the shoe really never quite dropped, and I wanna get your opinion on this. But when I was asked to anticipate was that the people who are best placed to assess the oven, The people have the the radar evidence, the Navy pilots who have the dash can video- analysed who have poured over these data for now, several decades they have formed a consent.
Says that there's no way what their scene is a mere artifact of glitches in our tax ology than it does now? admit of any truly skeptical interpretation. No, we are in the presence of technology that is so advanced that it could not be of human. origin, and we don't know what to make of that fact. I guess what first question before we get your full download. Neil Did anyone contact you and ask you to prepare Europe? Your head for what was coming? The I've been viewed at least a dozen times in the last ten days. Most recently a few hours ago were the daytime any of you If you'd like to continue listening to this conversation, you'll need to subscribe. Sam Aristotle work once you do
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Transcript generated on 2021-07-28.