How long has the universe been habitable?

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Dom Duggan

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How long has the universe been habitable?
« on: 02/08/2010 13:30:02 »
Dom Duggan asked the Naked Scientists:
Great show!.

In the 25/7 Naked Astronomy podcast, Dr Clark postulated that "the universe has been "habitable for 10 million years".

Surely this is in conflict with the fossil record on Earth that "shows evidence of microbial life 3 billion years old". Have we lost a few powers of 10 somewhere?

Keep up the good work


What do you think?
« Last Edit: 02/08/2010 13:30:02 by _system »


Offline LeeE

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How long has the universe been habitable?
« Reply #1 on: 04/08/2010 18:52:59 »
The Earth has only been around for about 4 billion years but the universe has been around for nearly 14 billion years.  Our entire solar system was formed from the debris of an earlier exploding star that must have necessarily formed more than 4 billion years ago.  So, as there must have been stars around more than four billion years ago then it's quite likely that some of them had life supporting planets and formed long before our solar system existed.  Perhaps as long as 10 billion years ago, in fact.
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Offline flr

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How long has the universe been habitable?
« Reply #2 on: 10/08/2010 03:08:28 »
"universe ... habitable for 10 million years".

However, I do not believe that it was habitable 10 billions years ago.


Offline Tintin_Triton

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How long has the universe been habitable?
« Reply #3 on: 10/08/2010 03:20:39 »
We cannot exactly tell when life started in the Universe, for we cannot tell where it started!

Thus, by what Dr. Clark said, that before 10 million years, if you happened to be transported at the time by a still accidentally undiscovered Time machine, you woh't be able to cope with changes to the climate of that time.
Practically before our evolution, conditions on the earth (which is the only planet we know that has life) weren't good enough for primates to exist.

So the sentence should have been "the Universe was habitable to Humans only 10 million years ago".
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Offline Soul Surfer

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How long has the universe been habitable?
« Reply #4 on: 10/08/2010 11:21:09 »
I have listened to the podcast and the postulation was that the universe there had been enough carbon in the universe for 10 BILLION years for planets could form on which life could have a reasonable chance to evolve  but the word was not very clear and could have been misinterpreted as million.  The reason for this timing is that all the carbon in our universe is manufactured inside stars which later explode as novae and supernovae and there needs to be enough carbon available in planets for carbon based life to form.
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