There is a chance -- just a chance -- that if black holes rule the universe, they could have "switched on" habitable planets, such as Earth, allowing them to support complex life.
It's an unavoidable implication of the work of astrophysicist Paul Mason, who is examining the role of the super high-energy particles from black holes and exploding stars in the advent of habitable planets.
PHOTOS: Probing a Spinning Black Hole
Before life started on Earth, the planet was bathed in deadly radiation from the younger, angrier sun as well as a high tide of energetic particles -- a.k.a. cosmic rays -- being blasted around the galaxy and universe by exploding stars and giant black holes at the centers of galaxies. At some point the cosmic ray flux dropped enough so that life on Earth -- and on any Earth-like planet anywhere in the universe -- had a chance to flourish.
"It has taken the universe a while for the cosmic ray density and the frequency of bad events to decrease enough for life to handle it," Mason told Discovery News. Mason is a professor at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and presented his work on Wednesday at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Kissimmee, Fla.