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The search for life in the universe begins with a deep question: what is life? Astrobiologists will tell you honestly that this question has no simple or generally accepted answer.

 

This has been kicked around by biologists for millenia. What a pointless question. How can we define something when we only know of one inhabited world to draw definitions from. That's like defining language when you only know one letter of the alphabet, which in any case would make writing up such a definition rather challenging.

 

Hhh.

 

H hhh hh hhhh hh h hhhh hh hhhhhhh hh

hhh hhhhh. Hhhh h hhh hhhhh h hhhhh h

hhhh..........

 

Everything is measured or described in relative terms. If you don't have any reference points you're just lost. The same problem arises with 'intelligence'. Ask a psychologist what intelligence is and he'll balk. Corner him with a broken bottle and you will get the typical reply that 'Intelligence is what intelligence tests measure'. Psychologists routinely throw up such zen-like answers to life's questions. In the article at Space.com the dilemma of pinning down life and pigeonholing it is spelled out. Fire reproduces and breathes for example. Many things are borderline. Perhaps we should just stop splitting hairs because every rule has its numerous exceptions and life undoubtedly arose from inorganic matter anyway. Where in the evolutionary scale do you take a ruler, draw a line and say 'Ok, everything above is robotic chemicals and this guy here is the ancestor of all life on earth.' How is he more deserving than the squishy proto-proto-protozoa that divided into him/her/it/whatever.

 

We have two hemispheres to our brain for good reason. The answers to some questions can't be engraved in concrete. Like abstract terms they are imagined and only serve to fill a gap in complex calculations. They require an artists subjective intuition. We will likely know life on other worlds when we see it, and if we aren't certain, then it probably won't matter much anyway.

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Interesting article. I find that you put people in a category and judge what they will say. Watch out this isn't true for every pshycologist or astrobiologist out there. I liked your ideas though.

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I find that you put people in a category and judge what they will say. Watch out this isn't true for every pshycologist or astrobiologist out there.

 

Oh well. That's life. :D

 

There is no answer to the question of intelligence. Except for Dolphins we don't have many parallels here on Earth. Even Dolphins, living in a 3 dimensional viscous environment simulating zero gravity have a great deal in common with us. We are both mammals and genetically similar. The most alien intelligence we know is the octopus. Remarkably it has developed a two lobed brain just like us Vertebrates. Yet it evolved from mindless molluscs long after our joint ancestors separated ways. Which is a good argument for Alien intelligence. Clearly it has survival value and can be expected to appear in a vibrant challenging ecosystem.....eventually. Brains are a bit slow off the starter blocks in evolutionary terms. Things like fins and teeth are much simpler and more patently useful.

 

It's the contest between hunter and hunted which predominantly drives animals towards intelligence. Foxes and Rabbits. Lions and Zebra. Man and Mammoth. Having taken such a long time for intelligence to evolve it should be equally slow to diminish when no longer absolutely necessary for survival. Like eyeless deep sea fish. Which is a good thing for us. For while competition with one another certainly helps the more intelligent get ahead in life its rarely a life or death challenge. I know families with 12 kids on welfare. Mind you, its possible that successfully taking advantage of societies generosity while others work their butts off supporting you constitutes a higher intelligence than the rest of us poor fools.

 

In nature life is savage, with the majority dying before ever reaching adulthood. Luck is tempered by fortuitous genes and in the long run(millions of years) survival of the fittest in this fashion ensures a healthy species. I'm tempted to think that humanity reached its peak millenia ago and has since been going backwards through random mutations being no impediment to survival. Everything we do today has been accomplished on the shoulders of our forefathers.

 

Call me pessimistic but I think we are headed for an evolutionary dead end if we don't start opening new frontiers. I can see it happening.

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"What is life"

This has been kicked around by biologists for millenia. What a pointless question.

A little hyperbole creeping into your post? No? Pointless - of no value' date=' useless. On the contrary, it seems to me to be an excellent starting point. Asking the question forces us to examine characteristics clearly unique to the animate world and others restricted to the inanimate, as well as those common to both. It encourages us to explore the distinctions between the two, to speculate on characteristics that might exist in different environments, or in the same environment reached by a different path.

Like all fruitful questions in science it spawns (almost as if it were alive) a further series of questions.

Pointless? I rather think not.

How can we define something when we only know of one inhabited world to draw definitions from.

That's one inhabited world that has close to four billion years of life history on it.

That's one inhabited world that has experienced several tumultuous environmental changes in those four billion years that make our current concerns for global warming look trivial. [The world of 2.2 billion years ago would have been unrecognisable to us, and deadly to virtually all the lifeforms we are familiar with.]

That's one inhabited world that has varied dramatically in its climate, physiography, geology, atmosphere, etc over just the last six hundred milion years, playing host to a bewildering variety of life forms.

That's one inhabited world that has a wide range of environments from deep within four kilometres of hot rock, to the sub-zero temperatures in the windswept Antarctic, to black smokers, to Kenyan game parks, to my living room.

That's one hell of a good starting point for defining life. Not complete, not comprehensive, but a lot more than what you have dismissively called 'one letter of the 'alphabet'.

And let us just take that analogy for a moment. One letter of an alphabet implies an alphabet, it implies a language. Language implies communication and some kind of culture, in the broadest sense. So from a single letter we can infer a great deal. So too with a 'single' occurence of life.

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I'm a student and have often wondered if life really did start from a basic one cell organism. Since I believe we came from the ice brought in by comets, who is to say how many different organisms were brought here. Could have been thousands of different species with all or part of them surviving. Maybe thats where we got so many different ones.

Forgive me if I don't make any sense, I'm still learning, but sometimes I don't believe all I read.

 

Bettina

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A little hyperbole creeping into your post? No? Pointless - of no value' date=' useless. On the contrary, it seems to me to be an excellent starting point. Asking the question forces us to examine characteristics clearly unique to the animate world and others restricted to the inanimate, as well as those common to both. It encourages us to explore the distinctions between the two, to speculate on characteristics that might exist in different environments, or in the same environment reached by a different path.

Like all fruitful questions in science it spawns (almost as if it were alive) a further series of questions.

Pointless? I rather think not.

That's one inhabited world that has close to four billion years of life history on it.

That's one inhabited world that has experienced several tumultuous environmental changes in those four billion years that make our current concerns for global warming look trivial. [The world of 2200 billion years ago would have been unrecognisable to us, and deadly to virtually all the lifeforms we are familiar with.']

That's one inhabited world that has varied dramatically in its climate, physiography, geology, atmosphere, etc over just the last six hundred milion years, playing host to a bewildering variety of life forms.

That's one inhabited world that has a wide range of environments from deep within four kilometres of hot rock, to the sub-zero temperatures in the windswept Antarctic, to black smokers, to Kenyan game parks, to my living room.

That's one hell of a good starting point for defining life. Not complete, not comprehensive, but a lot more than what you have dismissively called 'one letter of the 'alphabet'.

And let us just take that analogy for a moment. One letter of an alphabet implies an alphabet, it implies a language. Language implies communication and some kind of culture, in the broadest sense. So from a single letter we can infer a great deal. So too with a 'single' occurence of life.

 

2200 billion years eh? Did you mean 2200 million years? Because that would be within the lifetime of the universe, which is a start.

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'']2200 billion years eh? Did you mean 2200 million years? Because that would be within the lifetime of the universe, which is a start.
Thanks for the correction. I did indeed mean 2.2 billion. My passion overcame my proof-reading.
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I'm a student and have often wondered if life really did start from a basic one cell organism. Since I believe we came from the ice brought in by comets' date=' who is to say how many different organisms were brought here. Could have been thousands of different species with all or part of them surviving. Maybe thats where we got so many different ones.

Forgive me if I don't make any sense, I'm still learning, but sometimes I don't believe all I read.

Bettina[/quote']The first life was probably simpler than what we would recognise today as a single celled organism.

I also lean towards the idea that life may have come from space on comets or asteroids (a concept known as pan spermia). Fred Hoyle was a recent strong proponent of this idea. You may already have run across this link:

http://www.spaceref.com/Directory/Astrobiology_and_Life_Science/panspermia/

If this is how life began on Earth it is unlikely that it accounts for the diversity we see today. There may have been a variety of organisms, but they would all have been comparatively simple, single celled organisms. (The diversity of species today is very much due to evolution working over hundreds of millions of years on quite complex organisms that had themselves evolved from those simple cells over a couple of billion years)

Pan spermia is not a popular idea, but a percentage of serious scientists do consider it a possibility.

You are absolutely right not to believe everything you read. Consider everything you are told carefully. Look for evidence. Consider the credentials of the author. The trick is to be open-minded and sceptical at the same time.

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The first life was probably simpler than what we would recognise today as a single celled organism.

I also lean towards the idea that life may have come from space on comets or asteroids (a concept known as pan spermia). Fred Hoyle was a recent strong proponent of this idea. You may already have run across this link:

http://www.spaceref.com/Directory/Astrobiology_and_Life_Science/panspermia/

If this is how life began on Earth it is unlikely that it accounts for the diversity we see today. There may have been a variety of organisms' date=' but they would all have been comparatively simple, single celled organisms. (The diversity of species today is very much due to evolution working over hundreds of millions of years on quite complex organisms that had themselves evolved from those simple cells over a couple of billion years)

[i']Pan spermia[/i] is not a popular idea, but a percentage of serious scientists do consider it a possibility.

You are absolutely right not to believe everything you read. Consider everything you are told carefully. Look for evidence. Consider the credentials of the author. The trick is to be open-minded and sceptical at the same time.

 

I understand evolution completely and I was just making a point that I think more than one species came in on that comet giving evolution a lot more to work with. I believe we were "seeded" big time.

 

Bettina

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I look at your questions Bettina, & Opholites maybe we did come from somewhere else but have you stopped to think supposing we did, another planet? a comet? or whatever; it still dosen't answer where why & how life of any form started at it's genesis, I've thought a lot on this & probably you & Opholite are correct we probably seeded extra-terrestrially & maybe that's why we're hell bent on exploring space one for survival & to find what we're all about ....us.2u

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That's correct - life being seeded on Earth explains how the Terran evolutionary branch began, but it simply shifts the explanation of how life per se started somewhere else.

 

Considering how old the signs of life are on Earth, and the remote chances of a life-bearing object hitting the planet, then adding on the travel time of that object plus the time needed for life to arise on its body of origin, I think the idea that life was seeded here by one impact (or a shower of impacts) is even less likely than life simply arising here to begin with.

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Imaginations required .

 

It is known Jupiter has some essential value to the way meteorites and other falling space objects seem to be attracted to Jupiter.

 

Mars being the next planet to us and before Jupiter , I think the involvement of the meteorite plays part in the trajectory, gravity and mass of meteorite object .

 

If the Meteorite of a certain mass was farthest to the gravity pull of Jupiter then is there a chance the gravity of Jupiter cannot create a strong enough pull to attract the large meteorite and therefore making way to different location ?

If so ,

The meteorite vias off and crashes to Mars creating a great impact to splash pieces of other meteorites which eventually found itself on Earth ,to find this impact zone and understand the relative size of the other meteorites ,we would have to find the impact zone.

 

Beneath the zone at this time before impact, contained a large quanitity of underground frozen water which at the time of impact, would have been fragmented on Mars surface .

 

When this frozen water made its way here from those fragments ,it melted on the violent terrain of Earth ,creating an equilebrium effect somewhere on Earth just so enough that ice melted to cool the heat .

 

To understand how this works ,

Look at Mt Saint Helens it is proof that glaciers can arise from surfaces which would never thought could be cold .

 

The origin of life is finding where the original source of a fragmented space debree originated from ( the one which took a chunk out of Mars 'martian' surface) .

 

I think if some lucky samples in mars were to be collected , there would be a medium - low chance of finding it as the fragments may have also made its way back into space and may also be one of many smaller pieces of rock which exist in the asteroid belt .

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In the beginning, (the chaos time) there were countless objects finding their way to all planets, not just Jupiter. It still happens today. I understand the size of Jupiter and i'ts gravity would have attracted many of them from hitting us, but at any given moment, Earth was bombarded by comets directly, bringing with it....Ice....and the very beginnings of life to a sterile planet. I believe a great amount of earths water came from that ice.

 

Where did this life come from? Well, there are systems much older than ours, and the breakup of those systems could have seeded the younger one's like ours. In time, we will be the seed bearers of others. Where did life first start? We will never know for sure until we can prove if it can be started with a chemical or electrical nature.

 

Just my thinking of course....and what a great place this is....

Bettina

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In time, we will be the seed bearers of others.

 

hmmm, just wanna ask on that part. you say this is your thoughts, so ok, but how do we (humans) seed another race?

 

are you saying that we will go off and start a civilisation on another planet? as possible as that is - does that count as 'seeding' a new - well - you said "we will be the seed" the "seed" of what???

 

a new civilisation? in that case when whites went to america that was a new civilisation.

 

a new specie? sure we might evolve but does that really count as "seeding"?

 

what are we going to "seed"?

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hmmm' date=' just wanna ask on that part. you say this is your thoughts, so ok, but how do we (humans) seed another race?

 

are you saying that we will go off and start a civilisation on another planet? as possible as that is - does that count as 'seeding' a new - well - you said "we will be the seed" the "seed" of what???

 

a new civilisation? in that case when whites went to america that was a new civilisation.

 

a new specie? sure we might evolve but does that really count as "seeding"?

 

what are we going to "seed"?[/quote']

 

Hehe....I should have said we "may" be seeds.

In time, our sun will swell, then collapse, then literaly burn out. Our Earth will be burned to a cinder, but before that time (millions of years) comes, we would have colonized the outer planets/moons of our system. Those won't burn, because they are too far away but will instead freeze as our sun finally dies. The DNA locked into that frozen place will remain. At that point, it will depend on whether our sun supernovas or not. If it does, it will blast our remaining planets to shreds along with our "seeds" which may in turn rain down on some other new world.

 

I believe the building blocks for life are everywhere in the cosmos. I know I came from there.

 

I'm only 16, (me in the photo) but I have a wild imagination and sometimes I drive my science teacher to his books. ;)

 

Bettina

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I guessed it was you in the photo!

 

well, i can see your idea - its interesting, however, it still doesnt answer the question of where we ORIGINALY originated from. so maybe we were blown of some random planet and ended up here and by pure chance it was habitable - it is an interesting theory, who knows? what i'd ask is how we got to that original random place... and then how we got there, i mean, it cant go on forever! we must have started somewhere. (nice idea though)

 

also another thing with it is that DNA is just a chemical, i dont think it would be enough to make a whole specie. a few cells wouldnt really help either - as its the combination of several million cells which are NEEDED for a human to be a human - after that its just growth which isnt needed in the same way that vital organs are!

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I guessed it was you in the photo!

 

well' date=' i can see your idea - its interesting, however, it still doesnt answer the question of where we ORIGINALY originated from. so maybe we were blown of some random planet and ended up here and by pure chance it was habitable - it is an interesting theory, who knows? what i'd ask is how we got to that original random place... and then how we got there, i mean, it cant go on forever! we must have started somewhere. ([i']nice idea though[/i])

 

also another thing with it is that DNA is just a chemical, i dont think it would be enough to make a whole specie. a few cells wouldnt really help either - as its the combination of several million cells which are NEEDED for a human to be a human - after that its just growth which isnt needed in the same way that vital organs are!

 

I chose DNA because that's all I know right now, and it's hard to explain, but who is to say what actually is the main ingredient for life on another world. We can only see down so far. For example, I learned that years ago they thought the atom was the smallest thing known. Now they say it's quarks (for now anyway..)

 

I fully believe in infinity in all directions. Someday the quark will split open and a whole bunch of other stuff will come out. So, what is the smallest particle, energy, or chemical that could produce life. Whatever it is, that would be "us" the "seeds" crashing into a habitable world. It may not be life as we know it either but would depend on that habitat.

 

I have a lot to learn.....but one thing I've learned about quantum mechanics is that my visions are just as good as the other guys. :)

 

Bettina ;)

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In the beginning' date=' (the chaos time) there were countless objects finding their way to all planets, not just Jupiter. It still happens today. I understand the size of Jupiter and i'ts gravity would have attracted many of them from hitting us, but at any given moment, Earth was bombarded by comets directly, bringing with it....Ice....and the very beginnings of life to a sterile planet. I believe a great amount of earths water came from that ice.

 

Where did this life come from? Well, there are systems much older than ours, and the breakup of those systems could have seeded the younger one's like ours. In time, we will be the seed bearers of others. Where did life first start? We will never know for sure until we can prove if it can be started with a chemical or electrical nature. [/quote']

Go back further.

 

Follow this comet, fragment or whatever it is back to its point of origin.

 

Now imagine how long it would take to get to this system from that one, even without taking into account the miniscule chances of it actually getting here and not going to any of (literally) countless other destinations. We're talking millions, if not billions, of years at "tumbelling rock" speed.

 

Now add on the time taken for life to arise on the body of origin - again, millions, if not billions, of years.

 

In all likelihood, the entire sequence has to start before the universe began.

 

 

It's far more likely that Terran life either began here, or was seeded during the bombardment of a planet like Mars, or the destruction of the so-called "Missing Planet".

 

But, as I said, if we assume life began first off Earth and found its way here, we still don't know how life began - only where it didn't.

 

But we're a little off-topic.

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I think a spark of electricity , just like the way we produce a clone by sending electrical current between the cell & dna fusing them together .

 

The rapid cooling process which an unknown amount of frozen water was in proportion to the grounds surface & air temperature would have caused moisture to build up an atmosphere forming 100% humidity.

 

We know when weather becomes very humid it develops clouds and most possibly storm clouds , so to understand why the humidity which eventually formed storm clouds is understanding the surface temperature of Earths and it's atmosphere at night and at day then looking at the reaction of impact and the causes & effects to how it affected change in all aspects of current formation.

 

The temperature would have to be completely balanced in order for the water quickly evaporate due to dense heat ,so I maybe thinking of a small area on Earth which at night was colder than the rest .

 

If water had melted on Earth then obvious signs of rapid cooling would involve the Earth to form some tectonic phenomona ,like trenchs, shelves etc .

 

If I understood geology,environmental sciences etc then I would have something interesting to say.

 

Now another theory ...

 

Or perhaps water here has always existed and the Earth was already a frozen planet and the meteorite wasn't a frozen chunk of ice but an asteroid.

 

The asteroid developed a very strong resistance to heat which made way through the atmosphere (by then atmosphere would have been very tough) landing and cracking the frozen Earth on impact causing Ice to melt turning into steam which accumulated moisture ,creating humidity and then storm clouds .

 

The storm clouds are my best shot at explaining how life began as it is has been said before that electrical storms can bond and form new varieties of unknown phenomena.

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Now imagine how long it would take to get to this system from that one, even without taking into account the miniscule chances of it actually getting here and not going to any of (literally) countless other destinations. We're talking millions, if not billions, of years at "tumbelling rock" speed.

 

Now add on the time taken for life to arise on the body of origin - again, millions, if not billions, of years.

 

Other "seed" planets may have been bombarded but would not create the same effects as to the one that Earth gave .

 

Maybe the Sun back then wasn't properly formed so that enough energy & light was given to Earth causing a greater chance of Earths densely hot temperature to cool more rapidly at night but remained dry rather than humid to not form any electrical atmospheric charge .

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I viewed a very interesting topic here in the u.k. on channel 4 last night titled "What we still don't know" this was a program about searching for life intelligent or otherwise in outer space,however what I did find quite surprising was that they studied meteorites or comets & actually found forms of D.N.A. I don't know the exact condtruction of it,but I think I would have to agree with the narrator of the program that it would be extremely unlikely we are the only life form out-there, also he stated for years upon years we've been trying to communicate but hoped they would come to us & if they are out there they could be doing the same as us so basically we've been too indolent by not going forward & "seeking" the next program continues next sunday at 20.00 hrs intersesting stuff ....us.2u

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I forgot to mention also while viewing last nights "What we still don't know" The human brain was compared to that of a dolphin the evolution pattern differed but yet after years of advancement both brains proved intelligence & self awareness yet their evolvement couldn't have been more different I believe what they are saying here is life, intelligence, & evoloution are no accident but seem to follow a kind of pattern as space doe's itself; but they believed; form & or shape of life might be so very different to our own then again it may not be... but D.N.A. is not restricted to Earth they proved it's out-there (Wow!)...us.2u

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