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Old 12-10-2010, 04:51 PM #1
270KIDZ
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Probability

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Originally Posted by teamsilentassassins View Post
Basic probability law is that you have to know all the factors affecting the situation in order to have a probability.
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Originally Posted by Umami View Post
Please point me in the direction of a reference for this statement. (It's incorrect)
We are currently at a stand-still on this point so I would like to discuss it more outside of the other threads to avoid clutter. Basically this comes down to the simple premise: You must know all the factors of something happening, to make a judgement on the probability of said action.
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So I have three questions for you:

1) I have a bag. In this bag, there are 100 marbles. They may either be red or green. If I pick a marble at random, what is my chance that the marble is a green one? If I pour out the bag, how many of the marbles will be green and how many will be red?

2) I have a universe. In this universe, there are 100 quintillion planets. They may either be life-supportive or not. If I pick a planet at random, what is my chance that the planet is a life-supportive one? If I examined every planet, how many of them will be life-supportive and how many will not?

3) Is it possible to predict the chance of an event happening without knowing the probability of the event?

**Please answer the questions. Trolling will be reported (which won't really do anything because, well, this is R/P... We all know how it goes).
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:56 PM #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 270KIDZ View Post
We are currently at a stand-still on this point so I would like to discuss it more outside of the other threads to avoid clutter. Basically this comes down to the simple premise: You must know all the factors of something happening, to make a judgement on the probability of said action.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ___________________

So I have three questions for you:

1) I have a bag. In this bag, there are 100 marbles. They may either be red or green. If I pick a marble at random, what is my chance that the marble is a green one? If I pour out the bag, how many of the marbles will be green and how many will be red?

Can't say, and can't say.

2) I have a universe. In this universe, there are 100 quintillion planets. They may either be life-supportive or not. If I pick a planet at random, what is my chance that the planet is a life-supportive one? If I examined every planet, how many of them will be life-supportive and how many will not?


Can't say, and can't say.

3) Is it possible to predict the chance of an event happening without knowing the probability of the event?


Nope.

**Please answer the questions. Trolling will be reported (which won't really do anything because, well, this is R/P... We all know how it goes).
.
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Old 12-10-2010, 05:21 PM #3
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Equations do exist that predict the rate of life/intelligent life. exc, the flowing is the drake equation. The equation is by all means correct, rather the variables assumed are up for debate.

It predicts how many planets will have active civilizations on them that are capable of communicating.

Quote:
But a pessimist might equally well believe that suitable planets are rare, life seldom becomes intelligent, and intelligent civilizations do not last very long:

R* = 10/year, fp = 0.5, ne = 0.01, fl = 0.13, fi = 0.001, fc = 0.01, and L = 1000 years
N = 10 × 0.5 × 0.01 × 0.13 × 0.001 × 0.01 × 1000 = 0.000065 (we are almost surely alone in our galaxy).
This is the pessimistic estimate of intelligent life capable of communicating existing in our galaxy. Lets multiply it by 100 billion because that's how many galaxy there are. Consider an optimistic prediction puts the number at 20,000 in our own Galaxy.

.000065X 100,000,000,000=6,500,000

So you are telling me the PESSIMIST is wrong by 650,000,000%

To elaborate for you, that is 650 million percent. AND it assumes the life is intelligent, not extinct yet, and is capable of communicating.
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Old 12-10-2010, 05:29 PM #4
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False analogy. Your example does not match the situation you are applying it to.

it's not just about whether a marble is green or red. In the universe, we have support material/knowledge to lead us to believe that other planets may support life, or at the very least are capable to support life, given enough time. For your analogy to work, we would need to add a few things.

I'll try to re-create it, so it fits better.
(Don't actually pretend the rocks are planets, that's not the point of the analogy.)

We have a bag of 100 colored rocks. We reach in, and pull out 1 red rock, and 7 green ones. But say some of the green ones have red residue on them. This would probably lead one to believe there are probably more red rocks in the bag.

So I may not know the exact ratio of red to green rocks, but that is only needed to find the probability of me reaching in and pulling out EITHER a red or a green rock. BUT, if my goal is simply to know if it is more likely that I will eventually pull out a red rock, or never to, then I can make an educated guess at this, given the info I have.

I did my best with the analogy, so I hope you can grasp my point. But mainly, we are simply taking the stance that given the info we do know, and the domain we have, it is more likely for life of some kind to have existed/currently exist/eventually exist somewhere in the universe, for some measure of time.

Edit: TSA, you have even agreed that without any knowledge on the matter, it is technically a 50/50 chance if there is life out there or not. There either is, or there isn't. Well, add all of the things we do know relating to the subject, and the scale tips in favor of the existence of Alien life. Again, nobody is saying there definitely is, but simply that there probably is.
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Old 12-10-2010, 06:00 PM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Vizz the 2nd View Post
Equations do exist that predict the rate of life/intelligent life. exc, the flowing is the drake equation. The equation is by all means correct, rather the variables assumed are up for debate.

It predicts how many planets will have active civilizations on them that are capable of communicating.



This is the pessimistic estimate of intelligent life capable of communicating existing in our galaxy. Lets multiply it by 100 billion because that's how many galaxy there are. Consider an optimistic prediction puts the number at 20,000 in our own Galaxy.

.000065X 100,000,000,000=6,500,000

So you are telling me the PESSIMIST is wrong by 650,000,000%

To elaborate for you, that is 650 million percent. AND it assumes the life is intelligent, not extinct yet, and is capable of communicating.
Will you please stop using Drake's equation? We get it. It's a flawed system invented 50 years ago that is completely much more fiction than fact.

As T.J. Nelson states:[24]
The Drake equation consists of a large number of probabilities multiplied together. Since each factor is guaranteed to be somewhere between 0 and 1, the result is also guaranteed to be a reasonable-looking number between 0 and 1. Unfortunately, all the probabilities are completely unknown, making the result worse than useless.

Likewise, in a 2003 lecture at Caltech, Michael Crichton stated:[25]
The problem, of course, is that none of the terms can be known, and most cannot even be estimated. The only way to work the equation is to fill in with guesses. As a result, the Drake equation can have any value from "billions and billions" to zero. An expression that can mean anything means nothing. Speaking precisely, the Drake equation is literally meaningless...
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Old 12-10-2010, 06:03 PM #6
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Originally Posted by spracks21 View Post
False analogy. Your example does not match the situation you are applying it to.

it's not just about whether a marble is green or red. In the universe, we have support material/knowledge to lead us to believe that other planets may support life, or at the very least are capable to support life, given enough time. For your analogy to work, we would need to add a few things.

I'll try to re-create it, so it fits better.
(Don't actually pretend the rocks are planets, that's not the point of the analogy.)

We have a bag of 100 colored rocks. We reach in, and pull out 1 red rock, and 7 green ones. But say some of the green ones have red residue on them. This would probably lead one to believe there are probably more red rocks in the bag.

So I may not know the exact ratio of red to green rocks, but that is only needed to find the probability of me reaching in and pulling out EITHER a red or a green rock. BUT, if my goal is simply to know if it is more likely that I will eventually pull out a red rock, or never to, then I can make an educated guess at this, given the info I have.

I did my best with the analogy, so I hope you can grasp my point. But mainly, we are simply taking the stance that given the info we do know, and the domain we have, it is more likely for life of some kind to have existed/currently exist/eventually exist somewhere in the universe, for some measure of time.

Edit: TSA, you have even agreed that without any knowledge on the matter, it is technically a 50/50 chance if there is life out there or not. There either is, or there isn't. Well, add all of the things we do know relating to the subject, and the scale tips in favor of the existence of Alien life. Again, nobody is saying there definitely is, but simply that there probably is.
It was not meant to be an analogy, but specifically focus on the concept that we cannot know a probability without knowing the factors... Stop reading into things and answer the questions. This comes down to the criticism of Drake's equation. You can't pretend to know the percentage of something happening (chance of finding a marble) when you don't know the factors that affect it (how many marbles in the bag, percent of that marble being red).
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Old 12-10-2010, 06:05 PM #7
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As stated several times, you're completely misunderstanding us and reducing our arguments to an inappropriately elementary level. Since I can't use a textbook, please read the following introductions to several wikipedia articles. And remember, I never quoted you a number.

You're using the classical definition of probability:

Quote:
The classical definition of probability is identified[citation needed] with the works of Pierre-Simon Laplace. As stated in his Théorie analytique des probabilités,

The probability of an event is the ratio of the number of cases favorable to it, to the number of all cases possible when nothing leads us to expect that any one of these cases should occur more than any other, which renders them, for us, equally possible.

This definition is essentially a consequence of the principle of indifference. If elementary events are assigned equal probabilities, then the probability of a disjunction of elementary events is just the number of events in the disjunction divided by the total number of elementary events.

The classical definition of probability was called into question by several writers of the nineteenth century, including John Venn and George Boole. The frequentist definition of probability became widely accepted as a result of their criticism, and especially through the works of R.A. Fisher. The classical definition enjoyed a revival of sorts due to the general interest in Bayesian probability[citation needed].
And frequentist inference, which requires a past sample size greater than 1 to draw conclusions:

Quote:
Frequentist inference is one of a number of possible ways of formulating generally applicable schemes for making statistical inferences: that is, for drawing conclusions from statistical samples. An alternative name is frequentist statistics. This is the inference framework in which the well-established methodologies of statistical hypothesis testing and confidence intervals are based. The main alternative approach to statistical inference is Bayesian inference, while another is fiducial inference.

While "Bayesian inference" is sometimes held to include the approach to inference leading to optimal decisions, a more restricted view is taken here for simplicity.
Note that the primary application of frequentist inference is to statistical testing, not probability.

I'm using a Bayesian approach to probability, widely accepted (yes, even in science) as a method for assigning weight to a hypothesis. Keep in mind that Bayes' theorem has a rigorous mathematical definition:

Quote:
Bayesian probability is one of the different interpretations of the concept of probability and belongs to the category of evidential probabilities. The Bayesian interpretation of probability can be seen as an extension of logic that enables reasoning with uncertain statements. To evaluate the probability of a hypothesis, the Bayesian probabilist specifies some prior probability, which is then updated in the light of new relevant data. The Bayesian interpretation provides a standard set of procedures and formulae to perform this calculation. Bayesian probability interprets the concept of probability as "a measure of a state of knowledge",[1] in contrast to interpreting it as a frequency or a "propensity" of some phenomenon.
And subsequently, our arguments are based on the result.

Quote:
Bayesian inference is a method of statistical inference in which some kind of evidence or observations are used to calculate the probability that a hypothesis may be true, or else to update its previously-calculated probability. The term "Bayesian" comes from its use of the Bayes' theorem in the calculation process. Bayes' theorem was deduced in several special cases by Thomas Bayes, and then it was extended to the general theorem by other researchers.[1]

In practical usage, "Bayesian inference" refers to the use of a prior probability over hypotheses to determine the likelihood of a particular hypothesis given some observed evidence; that is, the likelihood that a particular hypothesis is true given some observed evidence (the so-called posterior probability of the hypothesis) comes from a combination of the inherent likelihood (or prior probability) of the hypothesis and the compatibility of the observed evidence with the hypothesis (or likelihood of the evidence, in a technical sense). Bayesian inference is opposed to frequentist inference, which makes use only of the likelihood of the evidence (in the technical sense), discounting the prior probability of the hypothesis. Most elementary undergraduate-level statistics courses teach frequentist inference rather than Bayesian inference.
I'm really honestly trying to teach you something here, not insult.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_probability
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequentist_inference
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_probability
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_inference
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:38 PM #8
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It is not possible to accurately predict the event without having all the data. Sure.

The difference is when you relate this to alien life, if the probability of a planet having life is ANYTHING (almost) greater than 0, and I'm talking insanely unimaginably low, numbers lower than the comprehension of the human mind, when you consider the number of planets that could exist, the chance of having life somewhere other than earth very high.
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:44 PM #9
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Ya, I'm done wasting my time with Umami. It's like talking to a brick wall.

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Originally Posted by DayoftheGreek View Post
The difference is when you relate this to alien life, if the probability of a planet having life is ANYTHING (almost) greater than 0, and I'm talking insanely unimaginably low, numbers lower than the comprehension of the human mind, when you consider the number of planets that could exist, the chance of having life somewhere other than earth very high.
Ya there is an unimaginably high number of planets and an unimaginably low chance of life... If there are 10 quintillion (some number someone used earlier) planets out there and there is a 1/ 10 quintillion chance of a planet holding life, then we would have 1 planet with life. Yes there are unimaginably high amount of planets. But that is irrelevant if the chance of life is unimaginably low... Not sure why this is so hard.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:19 PM #10
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Ya, I'm done wasting my time with Umami. It's like talking to a brick wall.
I'm speechless. Fine, here are my answers.

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Originally Posted by 270KIDZ View Post
So I have three questions for you:

1) I have a bag. In this bag, there are 100 marbles. They may either be red or green. If I pick a marble at random, what is my chance that the marble is a green one? If I pour out the bag, how many of the marbles will be green and how many will be red?

Between 0 and 100 will be red, and 100-the number of reds will be green. Unless the guy who sold you the bag of marbles mentioned something about a red marble shortage while you were buying the bag. In which case, I would say the chances are skewed towards having more green than red marbles. BTW the classic example is red and blue, not green.

2) I have a universe. In this universe, there are 100 quintillion planets. They may either be life-supportive or not. If I pick a planet at random, what is my chance that the planet is a life-supportive one? If I examined every planet, how many of them will be life-supportive and how many will not?

You haven't presented all the data, so the question is incomplete. At any rate, I wouldn't be as brash as to quote a specific number.

3) Is it possible to predict the chance of an event happening without knowing the probability of the event?

Depends on how much you know about the event. You can't give a certain prediction, but with information pertaining to the event you can make an informed hypothesis.

**Please answer the questions. Trolling will be reported (which won't really do anything because, well, this is R/P... We all know how it goes).
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:22 PM #11
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I'm speechless. Fine, here are my answers.
Just stop
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:26 PM #12
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Just stop
Why do you think my answers are wrong?
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:44 PM #13
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derp derp hes a troll derp derp derp...

Here is a better analogy. There is a bag with 10 quintillion marbles in it, you pull out 8 of them and one is red and 7 are green. Of the green ones some might have a hint of red but you really can't tell for sure.

Based on your understanding of the marble bag, you sample of 8 is likely pretty standard to the other hand fulls of marbles you might pull out.

You dump out the 10 quintillion marbles, based on the evidence provided, what is the chance NONE of them are red?

Here is a hint, its .000000000000125

If you are going to bet your money on that number, you're a bad gambler.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:52 PM #14
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Here is a better analogy. There is a bag with 10 quintillion marbles in it, you pull out 8 of them and one is red and 7 are green. Of the green ones some might have a hint of red but you really can't tell for sure.

Based on your understanding of the marble bag, you sample of 8 is likely pretty standard to the other hand fulls of marbles you might pull out.

You dump out the 10 quintillion marbles, based on the evidence provided, what is the chance NONE of them are red?

Here is a hint, its .000000000000125

If you are going to bet your money on that number, you're a bad gambler.
Was that a joke? I hope so. Between this and your drake's equation, I have to assume that you're kidding.

Dont forget you just calculated that the chance of life is not only 650,000,000% but also 99.000000000000875% in the same thread... Now that's solid mathmatics...
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:03 PM #15
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Why do you think my answers are wrong?
You aren't wrong. You just continue to say that you aren't making facts just a hypothesis based on our current understanding, but thats not what has been said. People have continued to call the probability of aliens being 1) infinity high 2) nearly certain 3) ignorant to believe otherwise, and then you run in and say that no one has been saying that... You aren't wrong about anything, you just aren't reading the conversations.

And maybe YOU didn't say that but people continue to say it, and to be honest I am probably lumping you in with a group of people.

---For the final time:

Yes there are a ton of planets. No that is not evidence that there "must be life". The increasing number of planets that we find every day makes it more and more likely that there is life. We don't have a CLUE how small the chance of life may be. Not a clue. There may be 100 quintillion planets but the chance may be 1/100 quintillion. We don't know what factors affect how life is CREATED so we can't even speculate the chance of it being made.

There is nothing left to be said. Until we learn how life is created, we can't know the criteria a planet needs to create life. Without knowing the criteria a planet needs to create life, we can't know the chance of a planet being able to create life. Without knowing the chance of a planet being able to create life, it is IMPOSSIBLE to speculate at the chance of one of our x amount of planets having life.
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:23 PM #16
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Was that a joke? I hope so. Between this and your drake's equation, I have to assume that you're kidding.

Dont forget you just calculated that the chance of life is not only 650,000,000% but also 99.000000000000875% in the same thread... Now that's solid mathmatics...
Negative, Sgt. I calculated the pessimist would have to be wrong by 650,000,000% if there is only one planet with civilized life in the universe. Perhaps a percentage was the wrong way to express this. Perhaps it is wrong by a digit or two. The point is it dose not matter.

The 2nd number is my own guess. Its 99.999999999999875% though, or something like that.

What I am trying to say though, is whatever *LOGICAL* assumptions you make about the chance of life occurring on a particular planet the chances of me being right are massive and the chances of you being right are very, very, very, low.

We don't know how life is created, but we do know a something about it, based on that something we conclude that 10 quintillion planets is enough for more than one to have life most likely.
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:01 PM #17
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Was that a joke? I hope so. Between this and your drake's equation, I have to assume that you're kidding.
I don't know why you're so quick to dismiss the drake equation. Michael Crichton (as decent although fallacy-ridden as his books were) was a science fiction author. As for T.J. Nelson, the only thing I could find about him was his review of "The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom" - where he tears the book and its attempt at reconciliation of the bible with evolution apart btw.

From the same wikipedia article where you got your quotes:

R* = the rate of star creation in our galaxy
According to NASA, the milky way creates 7 new stars per year

fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
The European Space Agency puts a lower bound on this at 40%

ne = the average number of planets (satellites may perhaps sometimes be just as good candidates) that can potentially support life per star that has planets
This is placed at 10% based on the number of stars that exist in systems with heavy elements and away from supernovae.

fl = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life
A statistical analysis of the length of time it took for life to form on earth puts this at >13% for planets older than a billion years on a 95% confidence interval.

So all these legitimate scientists have put lower bounds on much of Drake's equation, and your take from the article was that a random guy and an aging science fiction author said that nothing can be said about any of the terms.

This information alone should suggest that we DO have evidence that points to the possible existence of extraterrestrial life, and as I've said for me personally (**belief**) it's nearly certain because to me there is no apparent reason why life should be unique to our increasingly run-of-the mill planet. (Note: Its our only planet for now, and we have nowhere else we are capable of going, so we should be treating it with more respect.)

But again, you are correct, we cannot (and I did not) say anything definitively. While skimming the wikipedia article on Drake's equation, I stumbled across something. It turns out the very statement you dislike - "it has to be true, based on the number of planets alone" was pondered by the Italian Navigator himself - "If they existed, they would be here." Personally, I'm of the opinion that life likely exists, but we'll likely not have direct contact with it because of scale, and the limits imposed by the Physics of the universe. But only time will be able to tell that story, I'm not going to launch into a discussion about faster-than-light travel.

Edit: You're right, I do read other posts but tend to ignore them if I'm debating with someone. It takes me long enough as it is to address one person, let alone 5.
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Last edited by Umami : 12-10-2010 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:17 PM #18
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Originally Posted by drakes equation
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
We don't have a CLUE what a planet needs to "SUPPORT LIFE", so it is IMPOSSIBLE to give a percentage as to the planets per star that can "support life."
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:52 PM #19
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Originally Posted by 270KIDZ View Post
We don't have a CLUE what a planet needs to "SUPPORT LIFE", so it is IMPOSSIBLE to give a percentage as to the planets per star that can "support life."
I recommended reading through this whole page. It shouldn't take longer than 15 minutes, and may change your mind on this. Probably not, but I found it very educational on our current knowledge of the criteria for planetary habitability. We know much more than, "we need water, and an atmosphere."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_habitability
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