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Guest: Dr. Dirk Schulze-Makuch; Topics: "The Cosmic Zoo, the evolution of complex life. Advanced life vs intelligent life, astrobiology, and more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.
We welcomed Dr. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, author of "The Cosmic Zoo: Complex Life on Many Worlds" to the show. During our one segment 64 minute discussion, we learned about the Cosmic Zoo Hypothesis. This hypothesis argues "that the evolution of complex life is highly likely in any stable, sufficiently extensive environment once life originated on a planetary body." (P. 3 of his book). During the first part of program, we talked about complex life and what it means. We talked about advanced life and compared it to intelligent life and the possibility that the human species was and is special. Complex life can include animals and plant life. I asked our guest what he meant by animals and he cited dogs, dolphins, apes and others. He said advanced was not the same as intelligent which included humans as we are also technologically special. This was a very interesting and discussion for about half our program so don't miss it.
During this discussion, several email questions came in from listeners. For example, Jerry in Boston asked our guest what you do with the information if some sort of life is detected far away from Earth. Dirk referenced the possibility of finding life within 50 light years of Earth and then said with innovations such as Breakthrough and others, we might actually be able to do far more than just detect it. He said in the meantime, we look to Mars, Titan and other places that have organic complexity and possibly exotic environments. Roger in Dallas sent us a question asking if telescopes could one day see signs of advanced life. Our guest received several Mars related questions and he did address the possibilities of finding some sort of life on Mars in micro-environments and little notches here and there on Mars.
Regarding Titan, I had recently received an email from a listener saying he had created a website advocating our fairly prompt settlement of Titan as it was probably the best place ever for human space settlement. I asked our guest about space settlement on Titan. Dirk had much to say on this subject and while Titan was exotic and offers possibilities way off in the future, he did not concur with what the Titan settlement advocate told me about living on Titan. Please listen to this discussion. The person who was advocating Titan for settlement claimed he will call an Open Lines show to advocate his belief system. Our next Open Lines show is Sunday, April 22. Will he call? I'm not sure as he is outside the US so phone line quality may be an issue. Also, I was not particularly supportive of his Titan ideas, suggesting he might be living in a pure fantasy world. But just in case Titan guy does call the show, you should be up on what Dirk had to say about Titan and human space settlement. It will help you stay grounded when hearing from Titan's fantasy land promoter. In addition to talking about Titan for space settlement, our guest did say that Mars was the top place for settlement with Mon a close second. I asked about the upper atmosphere of Venus as a floating cloud city. Dirk had much to say on the Venus option so don't miss it.
BJohn sent in a two part question. For the first part of the question, he asked the guest about life originating in a single water droplet or a comet or dust grain per an online lecture he saw given by our guest. Don't miss what Dirk said but in general, the answer was yes. The second part of the question asked Dirk for his ideas on planetary protection. This opened the door for a planetary protection discussion which you do not want to miss. Dirk thought the risk was more heavily weighted in one direction, not both. Listen to see which type of contamination he was most concerned with. We also talked about increasing the regulatory requirement for planetary protection will substantially raise costs and may mean that only government actors can participate in human exploration given many private concerns could not afford the regulatory burden. While Dirk understood the argument, he said the costs might not be as bad as one thinks if everyone had to comply. Thus the larger pool of compliance the lower the per unit cost of compliance. What do you think about the risks, adding in new regulations, and the costs? Let us know by posting your comments on TSS blog for this show.
Sample Return Missions were discussed. Dirk said there was an important Mars Sample Return Conference coming in in two weeks in Berlin. This is the second such conference. Find out about it here: https://atpi.eventsair.com/QuickEventWebsitePortal/2nd-international-conference-on-mars-sample-return/home. While the conference has many sponsors, it is an ESA conference. Other related topics included the impact of Mars tourists on Mars. You will be surprised by what he said on this topic so do listen to this part of our discussion. Listener Sarah asked our guest if having a liquid water ocean was essential for advanced/intelligent life. Again, listen to all of what Dirk said on this topic, including the qualities of a methanol ocean or body of water. Another listener asked our guest specific questions about sentient life versus advanced life. As you will hear, this was part of the discussion in "The Cosmic Zoo." I asked our guest how we knew for sure that there was never an intelligent dinosaur. Do not miss what Dirk said in response to this question. Dirk was asked how sentient life living on Mars might evolve into Martian sentient life.
Before the program ended, Dirk was asked about public opinion, astrobiology and the eagerness of the public to find life off Earth. This was an interesting discussion including opinions coming out of Africa, the subject of telescopes and dreams. Don't miss it.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog. Dirk suggested we check out his Smithsonian Blog articles where he posts regularly on these subjects. See www.airspacemag.com/author/dirk-schulze-makuch. You can reach Dirk using the email address he gave out on air or through me as well as his Technical University of Berlin website.