Statistical analysis reveals odds of life evolving on alien worlds

#1
https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2020/05...589899523/

RELEASE: Scientists have used a statistical method known as Bayesian inference to determine the odds of complex extraterrestrial life evolving on alien planets, according to new research published this week.

"The rapid emergence of life and the late evolution of humanity, in the context of the timeline of evolution, are certainly suggestive," David Kipping, an assistant professor of astronomy at Columbia University, said in a news release. "But in this study it's possible to actually quantify what the facts tell us."

Using statistical models, Kipping and his colleagues ran the odds of life and intelligence re-emerging should Earth's planetary history to begin anew.

The team of scientists wanted to determine the probability of intelligent life emerging on life-friendly planets. Researchers considered four distinct scenarios: life is common but intelligence is rare, life is rare but typically evolves intelligence, life is rare and intelligence is rarer, or lastly, life is common and usually evolves intelligence.

Bayesian statistical inference uses a set of founding beliefs about a system before predicting probabilities. As new information becomes available, the model can update its predictions. "The technique is akin to betting odds," Kipping said. "It encourages the repeated testing of new evidence against your position, in essence a positive feedback loop of refining your estimates of likelihood of an event."

Researchers used their Bayesian models to compare the likelihood of the four different scenarios. "In Bayesian inference, prior probability distributions always need to be selected," Kipping said. "But a key result here is that when one compares the rare-life versus common-life scenarios, the common-life scenario is always at least nine times more likely than the rare one."

This life-friendly probability distribution is based on the fact that life developed so quickly after Earth's formation. The earliest life forms emerged during the first 300 million years in Earth's history.

If alien worlds with conditions similar to Earth's are common, than life should establish itself fairly easily, according to the analysis, published monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The outlook is less certain for intelligence. The Bayesian models put the odds of life evolving intelligence at three to two -- just barely in favor of intelligence, a mere flip of the coin.

"The analysis can't provide certainties or guarantees, only statistical probabilities based on what happened here on Earth," Kipping said. "Yet encouragingly, the case for a universe teeming with life emerges as the favored bet. The search for intelligent life in worlds beyond Earth should be by no means discouraged."
Reply


Possibly Related Threads…
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  The odds of you being alive Magical Realist 2 258 Feb 25, 2018 04:39 AM
Last Post: Syne
  How a statistical paradox helps to get to the root of bias in college admissions C C 0 214 Dec 20, 2017 06:55 PM
Last Post: C C
  The odds of stopping North Korean nuclear missiles C C 6 506 Dec 5, 2017 09:11 PM
Last Post: RainbowUnicorn
  Statistical fallacies & paradoxes + The real risk of rare, dangerous events C C 0 191 May 24, 2017 04:47 AM
Last Post: C C
  "Cancer Research Is Broken" - Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, Social Science C C 0 432 Apr 23, 2016 05:48 AM
Last Post: C C
  Adaptive Data Analysis C C 0 372 Dec 15, 2015 07:05 PM
Last Post: C C
  Ignorance Paladin: Have Statistical Facts, Will Travel C C 2 626 Nov 4, 2015 06:41 PM
Last Post: Yazata
  In data analysis, just how bad has cognitive bias become? C C 0 484 Oct 11, 2015 03:37 PM
Last Post: C C
  The “Big Five” Misinterpretations of Statistical Significance C C 0 379 Oct 9, 2015 06:02 PM
Last Post: C C
  Lessons in statistical significance, uncertainty, and their role in science C C 0 368 Aug 20, 2015 11:33 PM
Last Post: C C



Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)