Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 85: Jan-Feb 1993

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











Why Intelligent Life Needs Giant Planets

The two giant planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are 318 and 95 times more massive than the earth, respectively. Being so weighty they strongly perturb the orbits of comets, deflecting many away from the inner solar system, where we reside. Calculations by G. Wetherill, at the Carnegie Institution, reveal that if Jupiter and Saturn were only 15 times the mass of the earth, the earth would have been devastated every 100,000 years by giant comets, instead of about every 100,000,000 years, as indicated by the geological record. Under such intense bombardment, it would probably have been difficult for advanced life forms to develop. (Croswell, Ken; "Why Intelligent Life Needs Giant Planets," New Scientist, p. 18, October 24, 1992.)

Comment. Reasonable as the foregoing assertion sounds, we do not really know what stimulates the development of new life forms. Actually, the fossil record reveals that some biological "radiations" occurred soon after great geological upheavals. That the Jupiter-Saturn "shield" was and is not completely effective is indicated by the heavy debris traffic mentioned above.

From Science Frontiers #85, JAN-FEB 1993. 1993-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987