Is Earth Rare

The requirements just listed are minimal and, for example, say nothing about movement, specific senses, or even consciousness (more specific attributes such as these narrow and refine the definition of life). We know that life on the earth ranges from tiny viruses (which hardly seem alive at all when inactive), to simple one-celled organisms, to the whole range of more complex plant and animal life, to ourselves.

Life at its most basic seems to require very little: the presence of a few chemical elements, the absence of certain harmful substances, and the availability of tolerable environmental conditions. While some scientists believe that the existence of these basic requirements on the earth is a sort of cosmic fluke—a rare, perhaps unique, lottery jackpot win—most assume that the earth, while special to us, is mediocre. The belief that there is nothing uncommon, let alone unique, about the conditions on the earth that support life is sometimes called the assumption of mediocrity.

As far as anyone can tell, the earth does not possess any special elements or conditions that aren't easily available elsewhere in the Galaxy and the universe. Not only, then, is there nothing to have prevented life from evolving elsewhere in the universe, but with hundreds of billions of stars in a single galaxy, there is every reason to believe that life has indeed sprung forth elsewhere. There are even recent suggestions that life may have originated on Mars, and have been brought to the earth on the back of asteroids. Researchers have been able to generate structures that might be the precursors to cell walls in conditions that simulate the harsh environments of interstellar space.

Star Words

The assumption of mediocrity basically states that we are not so special. The conditions that have allowed life to arise and evolve on the earth likely exist many other places in the Galaxy and universe.

Star Words

The assumption of mediocrity basically states that we are not so special. The conditions that have allowed life to arise and evolve on the earth likely exist many other places in the Galaxy and universe.

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