New Equation Helps Estimate the Probability of Alien Life Elsewhere in the Universe
In a new paper in PNAS, Lee Cronin and Caleb Scharf put forward a new equation that could help predict the likelihood of life arising on other planets in the universe. Inspired by the Drake equation, which was put forward in the 60s to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in the galaxy, the equation developed by Cronin and Scharf incorporates factors such as the potential available chemical building blocks in a planet, and the number of building blocks required for a living system. By examining plausible values for these parameters, the likelihood of origin of life events on different planets could be estimated, giving astronomers additional guidance on where to direct their attention. One particularly interesting observation from this approach has been that the exchange of materials between planets within a solar system, as is known to have happened between Earth and Mars, could significantly accelerate the rate of origin of life events within the system through the exchange of complex materials. This insight could allow astronomers to focus on systems with multiple suitable planets as being of particular interest in the search for alien life.
Link to PNAS Paper
Link to Mail Online Article
Link to Gizmodo Article