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  1. #16
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kowalskil View Post
    Yes, indeed. But this does not conflict with our beliefs that lows of nature, such those associated with Newton, Maxwell, Einstain, Plank, etc., are universal.
    Not at all. But based on the universality and inviolability of those rules, the circumstances that allowed complex life to evolve on this planet are exceedingly rare, and in fact may not be even closely approximated anywhere else in the universe.

    A recent book by John Gribbin argues the point: "There may be more habitable planets in the Galaxy than there are people on planet Earth. But 'habitable' doesn't mean 'inhabited'." He describes the cosmic events that made Earth special and argues that ours is almost certainly the only intelligent civilization in the Milky Way. (Alone in the Universe: Why Our Planet is Unique; description from Scientific American Dec. 2011)

    I take the same stance in my novel Verdant Pioneers.
    Last edited by Steven L Jordan; December 3rd, 2011 at 08:13 AM.

  2. #17
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven L Jordan View Post
    But based on the universality and inviolability of those rules, the circumstances that allowed complex life to evolve on this planet are exceedingly rare, and in fact may not be even closely approximated anywhere else in the universe.
    What is your reaction, then, to the experiments conducted by Mark Hanczyc in that TED talk I posted?

    I agree, the precise conditions of the Earth are very probably exceedingly rare. However, because of those physical laws, there are certainly numerous environments with a molecular liquid substrate wherein a complex process of "life-like" chemical reaction loops can operate. Given the existence of "extremophile" life on this planet, it stands to reason that the inviolability of those laws is not quite as harsh a limiting factor as we might suspect. Hanczyc shows that "life" is just a chemical reaction loop a little further along a spectrum of such complex chemical reaction loops. What is goldilocks for our loop might not be goldilocks for other loops.

  3. #18
    Repudiated Ursus s271's Avatar
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    Considering that big part of modern human science incomprehensible not only to most of humans, but also to scientists outside of their respective areas of expertise, it's highly likely that even more advanced alien science will be incomprehensible in some parts, at least for a relatively long time. As the science going deeper and deeper specialization is also grow, and it's becoming increasingly likely that whole possible areas of research will fell out of scope of human science, or science of human descendants.

  4. #19
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    What is your reaction, then, to the experiments conducted by Mark Hanczyc in that TED talk I posted?
    I haven't had the chance to watch the video; but I could ask if he had taken into account all of the aspects that influence life development, for instance, the radiation that our magnetic field conveniently screens out of our atmosphere. That one tiny little detail could effectively make life development impossible.

    At any rate, an experiment is a proof of theory; it doesn't establish whether or not the actual outcome has, in fact, happened elsewhere.

  5. #20
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Kepler 22b - the 'new Earth'

    The new planet was discovered by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope two years ago but new research has identified it as the most similar to our own yet discovered.
    Kepler 22b is about twice the size of Earth and has temperatures which average around 72 degrees (22 Celsius).
    It also contains the right atmosphere to potentially support life. However, there is a downside: it is 600 light years from Earth.
    Kepler 22b is the first so-called "super-Earth" known to lie within the "habitable" zone of a star similar to our Sun.
    Dubbed the "Goldilocks Zone", this is the band where temperatures are just right to allow the existence of surface liquid water throughout its orbit.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/s...sts-claim.html

    ---

    Absence of evidence is not evidence for a theory -- this isn't an argument of faith. The best we can say is that there is no evidence either way that life exists elsewhere. That said, it seems a more reasonable hypothesis to suggest that life could exist elsewhere since it exists here rather than to say that here is nearly unique in an infinite universe. And now we have a planet we know is at least a bit similar to our own.

    There are sure to be more.

  6. #21
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Are there? Conditions exist for every diamond pulled out of the ground to be perfectly cut and shaped for mounting onto a ring; yet how many are so perfectly formed? Though there are many diamonds in the ground, practically none are of that desired shape for jewelry.

    So it might be with planets and life, a complex balance arguably more delicate than the cut of a fine diamond: Though the conditions for life may be ideal, there is no guarantee that life will arise; there are simply too many other variables in play. And the likelihood that such life will develop to an intelligent stage like our own (as asks the OP) is even less likely, when presented with the evidence on this planet: Of the species on Earth, over 99.99% of them have developed to a stable biological state without a level of higher intelligence. Statistically-speaking, intelligent life even on Earth is very rare.

    But basically, we'll never know until we visit other planets and test these hypotheses.

  7. #22
    Once we figure out its possible to send a signal powerful enough to be heard throughout the galaxy and verify that no-one is sending such a signal, we'll actually know something.

    Of course it could be that all we'll know is that the galaxy is full of lazy *&^! who think that they may as well just listen because someone else will surely go to the trouble of sending the signal.

  8. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by kowalskil View Post
    Absence of evidence is not the same thing that the evidence of absence.
    Very much not true. Your 18 years old and going to visit schools. At school number 1, the library is packed when you visit. At school number 2, the library is empty when you visit at the same day/time. Now, what does it mean exactly -- well that isnt clear, could be a variety of reasons -- but it surely means *something* and, if your looking to drink like a fish through college, I'd dare say you would find it compelling

    No signals is like the empty library. Could be evidence of any number of things, but its surely evidence of something. Some scenarios are consistent with an empty library, and some are not, so the fact that you observe the empty library allows you to narrow the possibilities and get a better sense of the probabilities.

    Put another way, absence of evidence *IS* some evidence of absence - not proof, but evidence.

  9. #24
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtNJ View Post
    Of course it could be that all we'll know is that the galaxy is full of lazy *&^! who think that they may as well just listen because someone else will surely go to the trouble of sending the signal.
    It could also be that there are races that, knowing the vast unlikelihood that they will meet others, don't bother to listen at all.

    OTOH, they may be willing to listen... but don't have the requisite sensory equipment to listen with. Imagine a race that communicates with pheromones, or by patterns of touch; what would they make of our binary radio signals, even if they could perceive them??

  10. #25
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven L Jordan View Post
    OTOH, they may be willing to listen... but don't have the requisite sensory equipment to listen with. Imagine a race that communicates with pheromones, or by patterns of touch; what would they make of our binary radio signals, even if they could perceive them??
    The equipment to listen with isn't really the limiting factor here.

    The inverse square law makes it tremendously unlikely that anything that we've ever sent out into space so far will ever be heard:

    http://zidbits.com/2011/07/how-far-h...ed-from-earth/

    On top of that, since the advent of radio we have increasingly moved away from blast-zone radio to targeted radio. Now we send a highly tuned laser to a receiver instead of broadcasting a high powered signal. Assuming the way we have developed radio as a technology is in anyway similar to anyone else, accidentally space-sent signals probably only are generated by any given civilization for less than a century. And even then, it's ludicrous to assume the signals we've sent are even detectable, per the popular myth of the radio shell in the beautiful but silly opening credits of Contact.

    The same holds true from any civilization out there that has no idea we're here. We'll never detect them unless their radio signals have a signal density somewhere around the power level of a small star -- for which there are no practical local reasons. We'll probably never build a radio tower that pumps out radio signals anywhere near star-power, so I doubt anyone else anywhere else ever would either. There's no practical reason to do so.

    Strangely enough, the first evidence that we're here at all is those basically-undetectable radio signals from 1890 onward, mixed in with stellar background noise. And: we forget that the planet turns rather quickly, while also whipping around a star, so the signal doesn't propagate with a geometry that in anyway reflects a sphere (more like a hurricane's Coriolis tendrils, but even less coherent than that). At best the signals coming from anyone like us anywhere in the universe are small sliced planes of dim noise that have passed through chaos. So to then expect aliens to a) notice them, then b) find the signal's origin despite all the deflection, bouncing, and curving it will go through, and finally c) aim a laser at us with a targeted communication...

    If we really want radio in space to tell other that we're here, what we really need to do is send a couple hundred nukes or so up into space and fly 'em a good way out from our sun, then blow them up in a highly controlled fashion that is unmistakably not a natural phenomenon, lasting several hours or preferably days. That, at least, would radiate somewhat omnidirectionally (though most of the signal would still get gobbled up by the sun, effectively cutting off probably 1/3rd of the spherical surface of the signal's horizon, unless we can fly it daaaaaaaaaang far from the sun before detonating), and function a little like a beacon. Then we have to wait up to 100,000 years or so for the radiation to make its way throughout the galaxy, being gobbled up by intervening gas clouds and stars, until a small fraction of it reaches some yutz sitting in front of a computer screen staring at static with headphones on his big green ears who drops a alien-pond-scum cheesie and misses the remnant of static that was coherently our signal it as it goes whizzing by at the speed of light...

    Listening equipment really isn't the issue. It's more the fact that if such a signal really is there, the chances we'll see it are somewhere beyond infinitesimal.

    But if we don't listen at all, we definitely won't hear it. So listen away, cheesie-munching nerds!

    And as to your alien's with chemical communication... they'd never get to space anyway! But I'd like to smell 'em.

  11. #26
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtNJ View Post
    Put another way, absence of evidence *IS* some evidence of absence - not proof, but evidence.
    But, you make a logical fallacy here. Both examples you provide are evidence precisely because you're making a comparison. You're taking two sets of data and making an observation, which is evidence. So you've created a situation wherein the absence of people at the library is indicative of something when compared to the other library where there were people present.

    With a single data set without comparison, it is not evidence. With a pair (or more) of data sets, you have evidence.

    A more accurate example would be that you visited one library at the same time every day and found it empty, and therefore concluded that there is never anyone at any library anywhere at anytime.

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