The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Wet Blanket Award for Science in 2012 Goes To ...

My friends at Universe Today let us know that two scientists, Astrophysicist Edwin Turner from Princeton and researcher David Spiegel from the Institute for Advanced Study, report that we are overly optimistic about the possibilities of life existing outside of planet earth. They state "damply" that by using Bayesian analysis, which weighs how much a scientific conclusion is based on actual data and how much upon the scientists' assumptions that 
... current knowledge about life on other planets suggests Earth might be a cosmic aberration, where life took shape unusually fast and furious. If so, then the chances of the average terrestrial planet hosting life would be low. For more, read Nancy Atkinson's full article:
 Using this approach, the team actually doesn't have enough data from elsewhere to support a less than optimistic approach either. Me, I prefer to remain optimistic. After all, when I was a kid (back in MY day, when we had NINE planets ... [I'd tell you where I got that joke if I remembered]), there was absolutely no evidence for planets beyond our solar system and the wet blankets of that day were saying there was simply no evidence that this solar system was not a total freak and that there were probably no other planets anywhere. Well, those guys were proved wrong.

Other wet blankets state regularly (about every 100 years) that all that can ever be learned has already been learned and that after this we are just adding tiny details to the already known. That one usually gets disproved within weeks of the boring statement being made.

Back around the 1820s, the wet blankets of yore stated that the human body could not withstand speeds in excess of 20 mph. They were fretting the arrival of steam powered locomotives and warning of dire consequences for anyone with a need for speed. Of course, the crew of the International Space Station is now moving along at about 17,500 mph, completing an orbit of the earth every ninety minutes.

Based on the evidence of wet blankets past, I think we can pretty safely assume that the more optimistic view might be the better one.  

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