From Earth to the Universe: Life, Intelligence, and Evolution

18 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2016

See all articles by Linda Billings

Linda Billings

National Institute of Aerospace

Date Written: June 30, 2016


While the scientific discourse on astrobiology – the study of the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the universe – leans toward optimism about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, optimistic thinking is tempered by the limits of evidence and observations gathered thus far. Most astrobiologists assume that “first contact” with extraterrestrial life, if it is ever to occur, will likely be the discovery of microbial life elsewhere in our solar system. But in popular culture, “first contact” tends to be characterized as contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. This paper will touch on theory and research relating to the origins and evolution of life and intelligence on Earth and speculation about extraterrestrial life and intelligence.

Keywords: science; technology; and society; rhetoric of science; public perceptions

Suggested Citation

Billings, Linda, From Earth to the Universe: Life, Intelligence, and Evolution (June 30, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Linda Billings (Contact Author)

National Institute of Aerospace ( email )

5325 Everwood Run
Sarasota, FL 34235
United States
941-342-8423 (Phone)


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