Equilíbrio puntuado e Astrobiologia

Galactic Punctuated Equilibrium: How to Undermine Carter's Anthropic Argument in Astrobiology

We investigate a new strategy which can defeat the (in)famous Carter's "anthropic" argument against extraterrestrial life and intelligence. In contrast to those already considered by Wilson, Livio, and others, the present approach is based on relaxing hidden uniformitarian assumptions, considering instead a dynamical succession of evolutionary regimes governed by both global (Galaxy-wide) and local (planet- or planetary system-limited) regulation mechanisms. This is in accordance with recent developments in both astrophysics and evolutionary biology. Notably, our increased understanding of the nature of supernovae and gamma-ray bursts, as well as of strong coupling between the Solar System and the Galaxy on one hand, and the theories of "punctuated equilibria" of Eldredge and Gould and "macroevolutionary regimes" of Jablonski, Valentine, et al. on the other, are in full accordance with the regulation- mechanism picture. The application of this particular strategy highlights the limits of application of Carter's argument, and indicates that in the real universe its applicability conditions are not satisfied. We conclude that drawing far-reaching conclusions about the scarcity of extraterrestrial intelligence and the prospects of our efforts to detect it on the basis of this argument is unwarranted.
Comments:3 figures, 26 pages
Subjects:Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Journal reference:Published in Astrobiology, 2009, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp. 491-501
Cite as:arXiv:0912.4980v1 [astro-ph.EP]


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