Night Owl Mk. II

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Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

(R) Something to think about--There are order of (hence forth oof) 10^1 planets for our star, X oof 10^11 stars in our galaxy, X oof 10^11 galaxies in the known universe. This gives probably oof maybe 10^23 possible planets. Seems like some if not many should have life---right? Even though we disagree on the simplicity of life and creation of living organisms.
(MB) Right. The fact that life does exist here (through whatever method one chooses to believe) strongly suggests that life must exist elsewhere given the vast number of other potential worlds. If life arose here by natural methods, those methods must certainly have been replicated elsewhere. If life was created here by divine intervention, it is difficult to fathom what purpose the rest of the vast universe serves unless the entity responsible for Man repeated his efforts elsewhere.

(R) Now consider, of the oof 10 planets we know of (the nine planets in our solar system) only 10^-1 have water, leaving probability of 10^22 likely hood. Only 10^-1 are such a distance from star to have temperature suitable for life, leaving 10^21 prob. Continue this line of reasoning which is used to make the statement that there must be other planetary life and you find that we need only 23 unique conditions to reduce the likely hood of interstellar life to a verysmall probability.
(MB) Basically, what you've done here is to paraphrase the Drake equation. This equation attempts to approximate the number of intelligent, communicating civilizations that exist in the galaxy. A conservative solution predicts the existence of around 4000 such civilizations in our galaxy alone at the present time. If they are spread around relative equally in the most likely locations in our galaxy, the nearest would be within about 100 light years distance from us -- close enough for us to receive signals from them, but still far enough to make actual travel between us unlikely (at least in the numbers claimed by UFOlogists).

(R) Another idea I use to get students to think concerning UFO's. The nearest star is Proxima Centauri 4.3 Light Years distant. One LY is oof 10^12 miles and if we could travel 100,000 MPH which is about 4X faster than our fastest rockets, it would still take around 30,000 years to reach the nearest star! Think of the logistics. Recycling, breeding, training, and all the rest. Even at speeds of 1/100 the speed of light(an electron in a particle acclerator) , we still obtain 00f 400 years. Given this, I don't think we have been visited by UFO's.
(MB) My point exactly. Even if they were capable of reaching us, there would be little reason for them to make any concerted effort to do so. The presence of our civilization would have been unknown to anybody else until the time when we gained the ability to broadcast radio signals. Since we've only had that ability for barely over 60 years now, since the turn-around time (i.e., the time required for our signal to get to them, for them to receive it, identify it, locate us and send out a maximum-speed ship to visit us) must be less than half that time, and since the aforementioned estimate of the number and distribution of galactic civilizations predicts that the nearest one could still be about 100 light years away, we can only conclude that it is rather unlikely for us to have been visited by extraterrestrials. I'd love to be shown to be wrong on this conclusion, though!

(R) So this time no disagreement, just some thoughts concerning UFO's and ext ter life. But, I surely saw something once that I can't explain. One night my wife and I were out in a long open field, we both saw three lights(no sound) of the nature of mercury vapor lights coming toward us. Couldn't tell if they were large and far away or small and closer. They came straight till they got right above us , again distance impossible, and made a 90 degree turn and zoomed out of sight. This sharp turn I think would have been impossible for an airplane. What were they?
(MB) Impossible to say for sure. Almost certainly, though, there is a terrestrial explanation. The properties of unfamiliar lights at night are among the most difficult things for the human eye to judge. One possibility could be that you saw a meteor which broke up during its fiery passage through the atmosphere and then exploded. That would have sent pieces of varying sizes in all sorts of directions. Pieces that were still large enough to be visible and which were projected at a 90 degree angle before quickly burning out could have produced the effect you saw. I've witnessed several spectacular fireballs during major meteor showers and you may have seen something similar.

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