In Israel, a family physician based in Arad ponders things much more profound than simple medical matters. Dr. Yuval Rabinovich, clinical director of one of the HMO clinics in the small northern Negev city is also a writer and inventor. Rabinovich recently contributed two articles to the HaYadan scientific forum on the issue of extra-terrestrial existence. Following is the first of the two articles, translated exclusively for JewishPress.com by Dr. Rabinovich himself.
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When I was fourteen, I eagerly read Erich von Däniken’s “Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past” in which he describes encounters between humans and aliens as being influential over human history and culture. The author claims the establishment has conspired against him to hide the truth. The opening sentence is, “It took courage to write this book and it takes courage to read it”, a brilliant opening that places the reader on the author’s side.
In the book he refers to ‘Drake’s equation.’ Suppose a constant rate of new stars are in formation. Some of these stars have planets. On some of these planets there are life-enabling environments. On some of these, life indeed was formed. On some of these, intelligent life evolved. On a few of these, a technology that enables sending signals to outer space was developed. Multiply this number in the amount of time that has passed since this technology was developed and you have a large number of civilizations in space.
To this day, fans of UFO theories present Drake’s equation as a claim.
When Doctor Frank Drake postulated his equation in 1961, he merely tried to point out the factors one has to take into account. The biggest change that has taken place since Drake’s equation was published is that planets that surround stars have indeed been discovered. This does not change the fact that was undoubtedly clear to Drake himself — that we simply do not know the magnitude of any factor of the equation.
So what do we actually know?
First of all, that Earth is quite unique. It is the only planet in the solar system that has a large amount of liquid water throughout the year. Earth also has a huge moon; we know of no other planet with such a relatively big moon. We also know that our entire solar system is located at the edge of the galaxy, where density of space objects is low.
We also know according to fossil records that life on earth were extincted almost entirely at least five times. The last extinction was the one in which all dinosaurs perished. The special thing about this extinction is that we believe we know what happened; a large celestial body (meteorite) hit the earth causing a nuclear winter that darkened the earth 65 million years ago.
Big animals do not survive big extinctions. But if size is evidence of complexity and if complexity is required for an intelligent species to evolve, it is still not understandable why none has evolved until 5 million years ago, when our still-not-very-intelligent ancestors made their first steps.
And there was enough time for that. Multicellular vertebrates walked the earth at least 300 million years. The dinosaurs were by no means less complex than modern animals, and still, no species that was technological enough to change its environment has ever evolved. We know modern relatively clever animals: elephants, dogs, dolphins, chimpanzees. Not one of them has come close to developing a language that can describe abstract ideas.
It is reasonable to assume that simple life on our planet formed as soon that suitable conditions exist, although direct evidence is lacking, since organisms that do not have hard organs do not leave fossil records. Some success in creating self-replicating molecules was achieved, however, even in-vitro.