Life, Yes; Intelligence, No

Microbes are probably common. There could be microbes under the ice on Europa, if there are hot springs down there. Ditto with a small moon of Saturn's that has geysers. Microbes could well be a natural consequence of the facts of organic chemistry, and the ubiquity of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus.

Multicellular life is a much bigger ask.

Humans are much more than the above. We speak languages. We think abstractly. We invented math, science, and technology. We know how to make other species do our bidding, i.e., we domesticate them. These capabilities could be exceedingly rare, and possible only because our earthly home is unusually benign.

Hence while microbes may be ubiquitous in our universe, we humans could be unique in the Milky Way.
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2 Responses Oct 17, 2011

I also have to admit, I think there is life beyond Earth, but in our universe, no 'intelligent' extra-terrestrial life. It's why I'm dubious with a lot of the science-fiction films. They're intelligent like a human would be, but not (hence the 'sapience' or sapience quotient). Animals are intelligent too, but that's a different kind of intelligent. To imply that other life can be more advanced and therefore more intelligent than human beings is also to imply that they are sentient. <br />
I don't believe that, if there is anything/one out there, they're not watching us—we do enough of that with cctv and cameras and youtube as it is. <br />
Maybe I'm just a cynic...or maybe I've seen too many movies. But we always go back to technologically advanced Artificially intelligent (A.I anyone?) things...for all we know, we're the intelligent life and somewhere out there, on a planet in another universe, evolution is just beginning for them...oh well, that's my rant done with! :P

At times I doubt there is intelligent life here on earth. (Sorry, I couldn't resist saying that.) If we use ourselves compared to animals then yes, we are very intelligent, but we cannot create a universe so compared to that, we are not. And in other universes, we have no knowledge of what they are capable of. Perhaps there is another species out there watching our progress since our beginning and perhaps studying how we progress. We just don't know so we do have to be happy for our species and what we've accomplished in such a short time, compared to the life of our universe that is. And then again, I could be completely out to lunch, I'm just sharing thoughts I have.

No, I don't think you are overestimating all we have become at all. As they say, "We've come along way Baby." and I'm sure we'll go even further. Many years ago, mid 80's I think, I was talking with my Grandfather who was in his 80's at the time, and what he said really hit home, he said, "When I started at the Gerber Baby Food Factory, it was lit by single light bulbs strung across on one wire. I've seen wars and I've seen air flight as well as a man go to the moon. It is amazing." I really don't know that man will ever see that much advancement in a 100 yr span again. It is amazing all that man has accomplished in a very short time. I'm sorry if you mis-interpreted me and I agree with you.