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  Reply # 2033748 11-Jun-2018 16:41
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Rikkitic:

 

The interesting thing about viruses and prions is that as far as I know, no-one can decide if they are alive or not. 

 

 

Prions definitely aren't alive, they are simply large molecules and meet few if any of the definitions of life. They don't really do anything themselves, and rely entirely on the mechanisms of host organisms.  They are the biological equivalent of audio feedback.

 

Viruses can do a few things - they latch onto the correct receptor on a cell and can inject their core into it.  That could be called movement (sort of) and sensitivity.

 

Beyond that all they really do is corrupt the protein synthesis system of their host organism.  They are a complex chemical construct.

 

I don't viruses them as a life-form any more than I see a computer virus as a computer.

 

Some researchers think all life descended from something like a viruses.  But viruses can't survive long outside a cell and they lack the mechanisms to reproduce themselves without a cellular host. 





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  Reply # 2033998 11-Jun-2018 22:53
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I am still curious why it is 'life' that seems to be the thing that is so important to find. Is it to stick it to creationists? Or the hope to be able to utilise the lifeform on earth? Or the hope to colonize the planet? Because if it's to colonize the planet, we have plenty life here. No one seems to be able to make 'life' yet, so I guess colonisation will require transportation of live things. Then wouldn't colonising a new planet be as reprehensible as what the acclimatisation society tried to do to NZ in the early days of colonisation here?

There seems to be plenty of glassy eyed fantasy science. The purpose of endeavoring to seek 'life' intrigues me.

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  Reply # 2034043 11-Jun-2018 23:54
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It is a philosophical, scientific, religious, cosmic question of profound importance. It goes to the fundament of human identity. Are we unique? Or just an accident of chemistry? Is DNA a universal biological phenomenon? There are so many enormous questions that discovering another life form would answer. Is our type of life the only kind that can exist? Are there other possibilities? Even a humble bacterium from Mars that was clearly not terrestrial in origin would yield tremendous knowledge. And that is just the biological aspect.

 

What would it do to religious belief if we are no longer alone in the universe? Genesis would have to be rewritten in any case. Would we still have a special place in the Kingdom of Heaven? If our kind of life isn't unique, are we still made in the image of God? Religion has adapted, with some difficulty, to the understanding that the sun is not the centre of the universe, nor the earth, nor even the solar system. As knowledge has progressed, the perception of the significance of our existence has radically changed. The discovery of any life form, however humble, increases to the point of near-certainty the existence of alien intelligence somewhere in the cosmos. Suddenly we are no longer so special.

 

And that is just the religious aspect.  The philosophical one covers an even vaster territory. It raises major questions about the human condition, and what it means to be human. It includes, but is not limited to, the huge scientific bonanza that would be unleashed. If life has another origin, then it must exist throughout the Universe in an endless variety of forms. Finding another origin of life would finally give us something to compare ourselves to. It is impossible to overstate the importance of that.

 

This is only a pitiful partial answer to your question, but it is the best I can do at this moment. Finding any kind of extra-terrestrial life would be the greatest, most mind-blowing, life-changing, civilisation-upending development in the history of the human species since we learned to walk on two legs. It would change what it means to be human. Things would literally never be the same again.     

 

 





I reject your reality and substitute my own. - Adam Savage
 


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  Reply # 2034064 12-Jun-2018 07:19
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Rikkitic:

 

Finding any kind of extra-terrestrial life would be the greatest, most mind-blowing, life-changing, civilisation-upending development in the history of the human species since we learned to walk on two legs. It would change what it means to be human. Things would literally never be the same again.     

 

 

 

 

Yes it would be a big story. But, extra terrestrial life already exists if you base that on every planet that exists, except Earth. We are extra terrestrial life for everyone else. To believe that we are the only one, now that is bizarre. After 300 million years we were a molten and cooling rock. Now we have life. Life exists here in freezing temps and boiling sulpher springs. It cannot be rare. 


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  Reply # 2034084 12-Jun-2018 08:20
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1eStar: I am still curious why it is 'life' that seems to be the thing that is so important to find. Is it to stick it to creationists?

If it was the most important thing to find then they would have sent instruments specifically for that purpose and no other. They did not do that. The current mission is step n of a number of steps of exploration and gaining knowledge, building on the previous steps and results.

Or the hope to be able to utilise the lifeform on earth?

USS Nostromo is not scheduled for construction until the 22nd century.

Or the hope to colonize the planet? Because if it's to colonize the planet, we have plenty life here. No one seems to be able to make 'life' yet, so I guess colonisation will require transportation of live things. Then wouldn't colonising a new planet be as reprehensible as what the acclimatisation society tried to do to NZ in the early days of colonisation here?

Now is a good time to form the Martian Environment Protection Society.

There seems to be plenty of glassy eyed fantasy science. The purpose of endeavoring to seek 'life' intrigues me.

No glassy eyed science or fantasy. Silly headlines. The purpose is exploration and understanding.

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  Reply # 2034133 12-Jun-2018 09:02
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Rikkitic:

 

What would it do to religious belief if we are no longer alone in the universe? Genesis would have to be rewritten in any case. Would we still have a special place in the Kingdom of Heaven? If our kind of life isn't unique, are we still made in the image of God? Religion has adapted, with some difficulty, to the understanding that the sun is not the centre of the universe, nor the earth, nor even the solar system. As knowledge has progressed, the perception of the significance of our existence has radically changed. The discovery of any life form, however humble, increases to the point of near-certainty the existence of alien intelligence somewhere in the cosmos. Suddenly we are no longer so special.

 

 

That looks like a list of straw men.

 

Genesis would not have to be rewritten. It already includes non-human life: animals, angels, "nephilim".

 

The special place of humanity in the Bible does not depend upon being "alone in the universe". The Biblical accounts of this appear to make it God's choice. Likewise, the concept of being "made in the image of God" is not defined by being "alone in the universe". As an aside, I'm not sure why you use the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven", which has a different meaning and is only used in the book of Matthew, against the more usual "Kingdom of God".

 

The Bible doesn't make the sun the centre of the universe. It can be interpreted that way at a stretch by, for example, taking phenomological descriptions (e.g. the sun rises) and making them scientific absolutes. However, it is true that the Ptolemaic viewpoint, which was the dominant viewpoint in the Roman Empire, was adopted by the imperial church and finally abandoned last century.

 

You are overstating the case by saying "The discovery of any life form ... increases to the point of near-certainty the existence of alien intelligence somewhere in the cosmos". Just turn it around to see how silly that sounds. It is like saying that "the non-discovery of any life form increases to the point of near-certainty the non-existence of alien intelligence somewhere in the cosmos". Both are tenuous conclusions not based on the data.


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  Reply # 2034168 12-Jun-2018 09:25
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Hammerer:

 

You are overstating the case by saying "The discovery of any life form ... increases to the point of near-certainty the existence of alien intelligence somewhere in the cosmos". Just turn it around to see how silly that sounds. It is like saying that "the non-discovery of any life form increases to the point of near-certainty the non-existence of alien intelligence somewhere in the cosmos". Both are tenuous conclusions not based on the data.

 

 

I don't agree with that.  Discovery of life that evolved independently / elsewhere significantly alters probabilities in the Drake Equation (as has discovery of exoplanets over the past decade or so).

 

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

 

A near certainly still isn't a certainty, but discovering any life elsewhere would be a black swan event.

 

The problem with Mars is that it's so close that panspermia has to be a possibility, so finding evidence of life on mars won't necessarily be proof of abiogenesis happening in two separate places, unless there's irrefutable evidence that from the nature of that life, it couldn't have had a common ancestor.  That sounds hard.


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  Reply # 2034177 12-Jun-2018 09:43
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Fred99:

 

Hammerer:

 

You are overstating the case by saying "The discovery of any life form ... increases to the point of near-certainty the existence of alien intelligence somewhere in the cosmos". Just turn it around to see how silly that sounds. It is like saying that "the non-discovery of any life form increases to the point of near-certainty the non-existence of alien intelligence somewhere in the cosmos". Both are tenuous conclusions not based on the data.

 

 

I don't agree with that.  Discovery of life that evolved independently / elsewhere significantly alters probabilities in the Drake Equation (as has discovery of exoplanets over the past decade or so).

 

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

 

A near certainly still isn't a certainty, but discovering any life elsewhere would be a black swan event.

 

The problem with Mars is that it's so close that panspermia has to be a possibility, so finding evidence of life on mars won't necessarily be proof of abiogenesis happening in two separate places, unless there's irrefutable evidence that from the nature of that life, it couldn't have had a common ancestor.  That sounds hard.

 

 

You say you don't agree but your next paragraph just says what I showed in my last paragraph: "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

 

The Drake Equation does not affect actual probabilities. It is a only a useful guess at what the probabilities might be in the absence of applicable data.

 

It is a too great leap in logic to believe that it is a near-certainty that any life automatically equates to intelligence.

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 2034184 12-Jun-2018 09:52
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Finding some evidence to support a hypothesis is NOT equivalent to not finding any evidence and using that to disprove a hypothesis.

 

It is like saying that "the non-discovery of any life form increases to the point of near-certainty the non-existence of alien intelligence somewhere in the cosmos"

 

No it isn't - not even close.


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  Reply # 2034204 12-Jun-2018 10:30
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The best information we have suggests that life can arise in particular conditions that occur or have occurred on earth.  But ... we don't have direct evidence that life can spontaneously arise.

 

If these theories are correct then it is likely that life will have evolved on other planets, because there are statistically likely to be other planets with those conditions, so biological molecules that from the building blocks of life are likely to occur on those planets. 

 

But we won't have absolute proof until we go and find some.  Our only current chance for finding ET life is within the solar system.  On Mars or an icy moon with water beneath the ice - like Titan or Europa.

 

Beyond our solar system ... we don't have FTL travel and it may never be possible.  Without FTL, interstellar human travel is a pipe dream.





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  Reply # 2034243 12-Jun-2018 11:01
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MikeAqua:

 

The best information we have suggests that life can arise in particular conditions that occur or have occurred on earth.  But ... we don't have direct evidence that life can spontaneously arise.

 

 

What do you mean?

 

Without direct observation of abiogenesis occuring in real time without influence of a creator in any way, creationists will always have a way out.  God could have always directed that particular cosmic ray or lightning bolt that sparked the reaction etc.

 

In total absence of evidence of any god, the evidence that we do have that life arose spontaneously on Earth is extremely compelling and is about as direct as we'll ever likely get.  Finding life elsewhere would just make the biblical god argument less believable than it already is.


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  Reply # 2034247 12-Jun-2018 11:13
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Rikkitic:

It is a philosophical, scientific, religious, cosmic question of profound importance. It goes to the fundament of human identity. Are we unique? Or just an accident of chemistry? Is DNA a universal biological phenomenon? There are so many enormous questions that discovering another life form would answer. Is our type of life the only kind that can exist? Are there other possibilities? Even a humble bacterium from Mars that was clearly not terrestrial in origin would yield tremendous knowledge. And that is just the biological aspect.


What would it do to religious belief if we are no longer alone in the universe? Genesis would have to be rewritten in any case. Would we still have a special place in the Kingdom of Heaven? If our kind of life isn't unique, are we still made in the image of God? Religion has adapted, with some difficulty, to the understanding that the sun is not the centre of the universe, nor the earth, nor even the solar system. As knowledge has progressed, the perception of the significance of our existence has radically changed. The discovery of any life form, however humble, increases to the point of near-certainty the existence of alien intelligence somewhere in the cosmos. Suddenly we are no longer so special.


And that is just the religious aspect.  The philosophical one covers an even vaster territory. It raises major questions about the human condition, and what it means to be human. It includes, but is not limited to, the huge scientific bonanza that would be unleashed. If life has another origin, then it must exist throughout the Universe in an endless variety of forms. Finding another origin of life would finally give us something to compare ourselves to. It is impossible to overstate the importance of that.


This is only a pitiful partial answer to your question, but it is the best I can do at this moment. Finding any kind of extra-terrestrial life would be the greatest, most mind-blowing, life-changing, civilisation-upending development in the history of the human species since we learned to walk on two legs. It would change what it means to be human. Things would literally never be the same again.     


 



At the risk of going too far off topic, I am not sure what genesis and god would be nullified by find life on mars.

Genesis is a narrated story of where the middle eastern people comes from. The Tanakh and the Quran are extremely similar. That in no way contradicts whether there should be existence of Europeans, Vikings, Asians, Africans, Martians or Aliens.

Secondly, AFAIK, no one has (or can?) prove or disprove that there isn't a form that is able to control the physics of the universe or created a simulation of the universe as we know it. All the math points to the fact that there needs to be at least 10 dimensions for our physics to work. But can only see 4 of them, so where and what is in the other 6?

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  Reply # 2034250 12-Jun-2018 11:16
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Fred99:

 

Finding some evidence to support a hypothesis is NOT equivalent to not finding any evidence and using that to disprove a hypothesis.

 

It is like saying that "the non-discovery of any life form increases to the point of near-certainty the non-existence of alien intelligence somewhere in the cosmos"

 

No it isn't - not even close.

 

 

Aha, now I understand you. Maybe I shouldn't have used that approach. I was only criticising the overstatement of certainty in the context of lack of data. As I said "Both are tenuous conclusions not based on the data." There is no evidence that this is true except that we have life on earth that is intelligent. It is conjecture to say that any alien life will also prove alien intelligent life.

 

It is much easier to see the assertion of certainty doesn't hold up in the negative as that is normally the case because, by definition, there is no evidence. I wasn't trying to say that the two statements were "equivalent", i.e. that A therefore B is the same as not A therefore not B. I was simply saying that lack of evidence precludes such strong assertions.


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  Reply # 2034253 12-Jun-2018 11:18
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Fred99:

MikeAqua:


The best information we have suggests that life can arise in particular conditions that occur or have occurred on earth.  But ... we don't have direct evidence that life can spontaneously arise.



What do you mean?


Without direct observation of abiogenesis occuring in real time without influence of a creator in any way, creationists will always have a way out.  God could have always directed that particular cosmic ray or lightning bolt that sparked the reaction etc.


In total absence of evidence of any god, the evidence that we do have that life arose spontaneously on Earth is extremely compelling and is about as direct as we'll ever likely get.  Finding life elsewhere would just make the biblical god argument less believable than it already is.



You cannot make people believe what they choose to believe. 1/4 of Americans believed fake news and voted Trump. Anti vax people believe vaccines are made by big pharma to gain advantage and causes bad things. Evidence means nothing to those who don't believe, and people will believe what they want to believe. Finding life on mars have no bearing on those who believe that the Bible is not a science book, and no bearing on those who believe that every word in the Bible is fact.

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  Reply # 2034259 12-Jun-2018 11:31
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Batman:
Fred99:

 

MikeAqua:

 

 

 

The best information we have suggests that life can arise in particular conditions that occur or have occurred on earth.  But ... we don't have direct evidence that life can spontaneously arise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you mean?

 

 

 

Without direct observation of abiogenesis occuring in real time without influence of a creator in any way, creationists will always have a way out.  God could have always directed that particular cosmic ray or lightning bolt that sparked the reaction etc.

 

 

 

In total absence of evidence of any god, the evidence that we do have that life arose spontaneously on Earth is extremely compelling and is about as direct as we'll ever likely get.  Finding life elsewhere would just make the biblical god argument less believable than it already is.

 



You cannot make people believe what they choose to believe. 1/4 of Americans believed fake news and voted Trump. Anti vax people believe vaccines are made by big pharma to gain advantage and causes bad things. Evidence means nothing to those who don't believe, and people will believe what they want to believe. Finding life on mars have no bearing on those who believe that the Bible is not a science book, and no bearing on those who believe that every word in the Bible is fact.

 

Thats fine, those that use scientific facts and not religion, will be happy to take the science on board


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