January 25th, 2021

Tough Love

I continue to consider the possibility that the reason that we haven't heard from aliens (yet) is that intelligent life is even rarer than most formulas would predict, largely due to the lack of suitable planets for intelligent life to even think about developing on. My most recent thought on the subject is that it may be that you can't develop intelligent life unless the planet it's developing on is actively engaged in trying to wipe you out and failing at it.

You want a planet that is geologically active enough to produce volcanos, plate tectonics, and Van Allen belts. But what if the line between "happily geologically active" and "prone to extinction events" is way too close together for comfort? See, for example, the Deccan Traps. How much bigger would that event have to have been to make the planet completely uninhabitable?

Mother Earth has occasionally been a very tough mother. Happily, not so tough as to have wiped out all life on the planet. Planets that are just tough enough may be more uncommon than we think.

(I continue to optimistically assume that we can avoid wiping ourselves out. Your mileage may vary.)