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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Oct > Oct 21

Re: Exoplanets and Exosystems [was: Is Ufology

From: Claude Mauge <claudemauge.nul>
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2007 10:26:18 -0600
Archived: Sun, 21 Oct 2007 17:12:00 -0400
Subject: Re: Exoplanets and Exosystems [was: Is Ufology

>From: Jim Deardorff <deardorj.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2007 20:51:32 -0700
>Subject: Re: Is Ufology 'Anti-Science'?

>>From: Claude Mauge <claudemauge.nul>
>>To: UFO UpDate <ufoupdates.nul>
>>Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2007 19:13:06 +0200 (CEST)
>>Subject: Re: Is Ufology 'Anti-Science'?

>>the origin and evolution of life. And second, because the many
>>discovered exoplanets are "wrong" planets at the "wrong" place.
>>In the '70s and the '80s, several scientific papers had "proved"
>>by simulations that there were probably in the universe many
>>planetary systems basically as ours, that is with "little"
>>planets between the star and much bigger planets outside: as the
>>Mediocrity Principle asserts, the solar system was thus a
>>mundane system. But the known exoplanets are mostly giant ones
>>very close to their sun, and therefore the solar system is not
>>as mundane as it was thought. ....

>From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2007 10:26:18 -0600
>Subject: Re: Is Ufology 'Anti-Science'?

>This is a common misconception. As is clear from examination of
>the exoplanet studies, and as stated by the researchers
>themselves, the preponderance of close-range giant planets is a
>selection effect of the most common technique used to find them,
>namely, detecting the gravitational wobble induced in the parent
>star. There is no evidence to suggest that our own planetary
>system is somehow unusual.

>From: Lan Fleming <lfleming5.nul>
>To: UFOUpdates <ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2007 13:29:15 -0500
>Subject: Re: Is Ufology 'Anti-Science'?

>planet only a few times larger than Earth. I think its only a
>matter of time before astronomers discover Earth-sized rocky
>planets at distances far enough from their stars for surface
>temperatures in the range that could support life. There is
>still no reason as yet to suppose that our solar system is
>anything special.

Thanks to Jim Deardorff, Lan Fleming and Michael Tarbell for
their comments, which basically offer the same argument, that is
the detection of exoplanets is dependent on the observational
methods we have and thus that the already detected planets or
systems are not necessarily the standard for all exoplanets. I
fully agree with this observation.

My argument was however slightly different, by confronting
recent discoveries (however in a rapid and incomplete version)
to the statistical models of the '70s and the '80s: scientists
had then been able to make models which fitted rather fairly the
global structure of the solar system, which did mean that our
system could be really perceived as mundane.

But the theorists were later surprised by the numerous
exo-Jupiters very close to their stars, something they had not
expected (at least, as far as I know; I'm not a specialist on
these matters). As they thought that giant planets cannot form
so close to their sun, they had thus to build migration
scenarios for explaining their actual position. In such a
spirit, the solar system is perhaps a not so rare configuration,
but it is not as mundane as it would be if any exosystems were
as ours. To use Lan's word, "special", perhaps not, but in any
case not the model for all other systems. Conclusion: we must
wait for more complete data.

>However, a better argument can be made that the Earth is special
>because its moon is unusually large in relation to its parent
>planet, a situation thought to be the result of a chance
>collision between Earth and a proto-planet in the early years of
>the solar system. The "rare-earthers" think that this is
>responsible for the evolution of advanced life forms on Earth
>because the moon is large enough to stabilize the Earth's
>rotational axis, preventing drastic climate changes of the sort
>that can occur on Mars, which has a much larger axial wobble
>than Earth. Since the moon's size is probably uncommon for
>Earth-like planets, that would also make advanced life uncommon
>- assuming the evolution of advanced life really requires a
>planet with a stable rotational axis. Whether that's actually
>true is another question.

Yes. I noted this hypothesis in the point 5.3.1 about the
Principle of Mediocrity in my post "A Skeptical View Of UFOs" of
September 20, as well as the possibility that planets inhabited
by advanced intelligent beings are necessarily on the borders of
galaxies. Theorists have also claimed that giant planets must be
present outside the inhabitable zone in order to eliminate the
danger of many asteroids (this hypothesis has been disputed
recently); that a strong "planetomagnetism" is necessary for
trapping the most part of the dangerous charged particles
emitted by the sun (seems very possible); and so on. Once again:
we don't really know what is necessary and what is contingent to
the case of Earth. Thus, time is needed to see better.

I have no competence for judging of its real value (the book is
questioned by some), but Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee's Rare
Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe offers
interesting views on such matters (it is well possible it had
been discussed earlier on this List).



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