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Why We Might Be Alone in the Universe

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Why does it appear, that humanity is the lone intelligence in the universe? The answer might be that planet Earth is more unique than we've previously assumed. The rare earth hypothesis posits exactly this - that a range of factors made Earth exceptionally unusual and uniquely able to produce intelligent life.

In upcoming episodes we’ll be exploring the anthropic principle and its two main versions - the strong and the weak anthropic principles. The strong anthropic principle tells us that the observed universe must be able to produce observers - including the contentious idea that this predicts the existence of universes beyond our own. But in today's episode we’re going to focus on the weak anthropic principle. It says that we must find ourselves in a part of the universe capable of supporting us. For example, in a planetary biosphere rather than floating in the void between the galaxies. This may seems tautological, but accounting for this observer selection bias is important to understanding why the universe looks the way it does from our perspective. And the weak anthropic principle is much more useful than that. When combined with the apparent absence of alien civilizations, it may tell us why intelligent life is incredibly rare in our universe.

Hosted by Matt O'Dowd
Written by Matt O'Dowd
Graphics by Leonardo Scholzer & Adriano Leal
Directed by: Andrew Kornhaber
Executive Producers: Eric Brown & Andrew Kornhaber

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