The emergence of life: could it be different?

Page 1 of 2 [ 20 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

Awesomelyglorious
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 17 Dec 2005
Gender: Male
Posts: 14,316
Location: Omnipresent

10 Nov 2009, 11:39 pm

Most scientists today accept evolutionary theory as the correct view of how life emerged. The issue that comes up is the pathways by which life can emerge. Could the evolved creatures we have today, including human beings, be different, and how different could be expected? What could a sentient alien psychology be like? Could life-forms emerge using different materials than what human beings use? Such as not being carbon based or solvents other than water? Or is earth unique, and our ways the only ways for life to meaningfully exist?

What are your thoughts, WP?

This might be of interest:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_biochemistry



Orwell
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 8 Aug 2007
Age: 29
Gender: Male
Posts: 13,765
Location: Room 101

11 Nov 2009, 1:54 am

Based on convergent evolution, it seems likely that separately developing life, if faced with similar challenges, would have many of the same adaptations. All life would have to deal with energy and nutrient acquisition, maintenance of homeostasis, reproduction, etc. Carbon-based life is likely wherever life is found, carbon is so chemically diverse that I doubt any alternatives (even silicon) would be suitable.

Sentient alien psychology... depends very strongly on the conditions that pushed the development of alien sentience. For most species on Earth, intelligence (in the tool-building, culture-transmitting sense that humans mean) has not developed because it would not be advantageous. It is naïve to assume that evolution naturally progresses towards intelligence. Aliens could quite possibly just be microbes or invertebrates with no significant intelligence. If it doesn't serve any purpose, it won't emerge.


_________________
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH


ruveyn
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 21 Sep 2008
Age: 82
Gender: Male
Posts: 31,726
Location: New Jersey

11 Nov 2009, 2:37 am

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Most scientists today accept evolutionary theory as the correct view of how life emerged. The issue that comes up is the pathways by which life can emerge. Could the evolved creatures we have today, including human beings, be different, and how different could be expected? What could a sentient alien psychology be like? Could life-forms emerge using different materials than what human beings use? Such as not being carbon based or solvents other than water? Or is earth unique, and our ways the only ways for life to meaningfully exist?

What are your thoughts, WP?

This might be of interest:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_biochemistry


Carbon is almost certain to be at the root of any kind of life. Why? Because of its ability to form different molecules. It has 4 bonds and high bonding strength. Silicone is the the nearest runner up and is less likely to make complex molecules. But it is very good for making glass-ware.

ruveyn



Jono
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 10 Jul 2008
Age: 38
Gender: Male
Posts: 5,458
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

11 Nov 2009, 11:25 am

Orwell wrote:
Based on convergent evolution, it seems likely that separately developing life, if faced with similar challenges, would have many of the same adaptations. All life would have to deal with energy and nutrient acquisition, maintenance of homeostasis, reproduction, etc. Carbon-based life is likely wherever life is found, carbon is so chemically diverse that I doubt any alternatives (even silicon) would be suitable.

Sentient alien psychology... depends very strongly on the conditions that pushed the development of alien sentience. For most species on Earth, intelligence (in the tool-building, culture-transmitting sense that humans mean) has not developed because it would not be advantageous. It is naïve to assume that evolution naturally progresses towards intelligence. Aliens could quite possibly just be microbes or invertebrates with no significant intelligence. If it doesn't serve any purpose, it won't emerge.


That depends. Intelligence can most certainly be advantageous. Intelligence actually has emerged in other species. Mostly other primates like chimpanzees, and in cetaceans like dolphins. What made us humans what we are and gave us the the ability to make tools and technology is not intelligence alone. It's a combination of things.



Orwell
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 8 Aug 2007
Age: 29
Gender: Male
Posts: 13,765
Location: Room 101

11 Nov 2009, 12:15 pm

Jono wrote:
That depends. Intelligence can most certainly be advantageous. Intelligence actually has emerged in other species. Mostly other primates like chimpanzees, and in cetaceans like dolphins. What made us humans what we are and gave us the the ability to make tools and technology is not intelligence alone. It's a combination of things.

I know this, but the species on Earth that can be said to be intelligent (in the sense that we use the term) is still a tiny, tiny minority. And transmission of culture from one generation to the next (which allowed the accumulation of tool-building knowledge among humans until we got to the highly complex systems of today) is not seen to nearly the same extent in any other species.


_________________
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH


TheOddGoat
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 19 Oct 2009
Age: 27
Gender: Male
Posts: 516

11 Nov 2009, 12:45 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Most scientists today accept evolutionary theory as the correct view of how life emerged.


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

Then biological evolution, most of the time they aren't looked at together.

Abiogenesis could lead to some non-life that reproduces. Like a freak variant of virus (which aren't really alive because they don't have a metabolism... there is arguing over this but its cool to think of them as zombies) that rearranges non-living matter into copies of itself.... Like a naturally occurring grey goo scenario!



TallyMan
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator

User avatar

Joined: 30 Mar 2008
Gender: Male
Posts: 41,833

11 Nov 2009, 1:06 pm

TheOddGoat wrote:
rearranges non-living matter into copies of itself.... Like a naturally occurring grey goo scenario!


Reminds me of prion proteins responsible for mad cow disease. They gradually convert nearby proteins into prions themselves gradually destroying the brain. Since they aren't alive they can't be killed, they are also very resistant to heat and are believed to have been passed from patient to patient on scalpels during operations despite being autoclaved in between ops. I think it is now standard procedure to throw away such instruments if they have been used on brain / nerve tissue.


_________________
I've left WP indefinitely.


Jono
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 10 Jul 2008
Age: 38
Gender: Male
Posts: 5,458
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

11 Nov 2009, 1:39 pm

Orwell wrote:
Jono wrote:
That depends. Intelligence can most certainly be advantageous. Intelligence actually has emerged in other species. Mostly other primates like chimpanzees, and in cetaceans like dolphins. What made us humans what we are and gave us the the ability to make tools and technology is not intelligence alone. It's a combination of things.

I know this, but the species on Earth that can be said to be intelligent (in the sense that we use the term) is still a tiny, tiny minority. And transmission of culture from one generation to the next (which allowed the accumulation of tool-building knowledge among humans until we got to the highly complex systems of today) is not seen to nearly the same extent in any other species.


The transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next wasn't even that great for modern homo sapiens initially. It only really became sophisticated with the invention of writing. Before that things could be easily forgotten within a few generations, with the exception of passing on a few specific skills.



Awesomelyglorious
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 17 Dec 2005
Gender: Male
Posts: 14,316
Location: Omnipresent

11 Nov 2009, 4:23 pm

TheOddGoat wrote:
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Most scientists today accept evolutionary theory as the correct view of how life emerged.


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

Then biological evolution, most of the time they aren't looked at together.

I think from context, it is clear that I am talking about speciation, and particular life-forms.



Coadunate
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 13 Aug 2008
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 679
Location: S. California

11 Nov 2009, 6:30 pm

Someone posted a picture here on WP a short while ago. I don’t remember where it is but it was of a picture taken by Hubble. It was like looking at the darkest part of the sky with a eight foot straw. The picture was able to see ten thousand galaxies. With each galaxy containing millions of stars and that’s only what we can see with today’s technology. Can you imagine how much more we will be able to see many years from now? Can you imagine the possibilities that exist in the universe? To answer the question The emergence of life: could it be different? Let’s break it down. Instead of calling it life let us just call it a pattern. How many permutations would it take to get a pattern to duplicate itself? With all the endless possibilities and time it seems that life can be considered to be anywhere and made of anything, and with duplication the pattern buys itself even more time to mutate even further. In fact just looking at fractals it seems that the whole universe is alive.



techstepgenr8tion
SomeRandomGuy
SomeRandomGuy

User avatar

Joined: 6 Feb 2005
Age: 39
Gender: Male
Posts: 20,431
Location: The 27th Path of Peh.

11 Nov 2009, 7:08 pm

Coadunate wrote:
Can you imagine the possibilities that exist in the universe? To answer the question The emergence of life: could it be different? Let’s break it down. Instead of calling it life let us just call it a pattern. How many permutations would it take to get a pattern to duplicate itself? With all the endless possibilities and time it seems that life can be considered to be anywhere and made of anything, and with duplication the pattern buys itself even more time to mutate even further. In fact just looking at fractals it seems that the whole universe is alive.


To even find alien life of any sort in our universe would have wild implications - maybe not necessarily religious, but perhaps that everything we think we know about chemistry at that level or even our very idea of originating here is all wrong. Our biggest problem in figuring out origin of the first single celled organism is that pure chance wouldn't have a prayer, even the molar mass of the universe times planks constant times seconds since the big bang generates a number that's something like 41,900 zeros short. Also, any natural energy or chemical law that creates anything by process is naturally antithetical to the creation of information (rather it creates dependent patterns). If there is other life in the universe - either we're not from here or something else is *really* out of whack.



Coadunate
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 13 Aug 2008
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 679
Location: S. California

11 Nov 2009, 8:33 pm

techstepgenr8tion wrote:


Quote:
Coadunate wrote:
Can you imagine the possibilities that exist in the universe? To answer the question The emergence of life: could it be different? Let’s break it down. Instead of calling it life let us just call it a pattern. How many permutations would it take to get a pattern to duplicate itself? With all the endless possibilities and time it seems that life can be considered to be anywhere and made of anything, and with duplication the pattern buys itself even more time to mutate even further. In fact just looking at fractals it seems that the whole universe is alive.


To even find alien life of any sort in our universe would have wild implications - maybe not necessarily religious, but perhaps that everything we think we know about chemistry at that level or even our very idea of originating here is all wrong. Our biggest problem in figuring out origin of the first single celled organism is that pure chance wouldn't have a prayer, even the molar mass of the universe times planks constant times seconds since the big bang generates a number that's something like 41,900 zeros short. Also, any natural energy or chemical law that creates anything by process is naturally antithetical to the creation of information (rather it creates dependent patterns). If there is other life in the universe - either we're not from here or something else is *really* out of whack.


What would you say the pure chance number is for the Foxp2 mutation?


http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1 ... vered.html



techstepgenr8tion
SomeRandomGuy
SomeRandomGuy

User avatar

Joined: 6 Feb 2005
Age: 39
Gender: Male
Posts: 20,431
Location: The 27th Path of Peh.

11 Nov 2009, 9:04 pm

Coadunate wrote:
What would you say the pure chance number is for the Foxp2 mutation?


http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1 ... vered.html


Don't know, just that as flowery as the results of the mutation were I doubt its all that different from other more mundane evolutionary mutations. I mentioned origin of life because its much more cut and dry as its a matter of going from nothing to what's needed for a minimal metabolic and self-replacing unit. There may be stats on how many ribose sugars would need to be switched out and the probabilistic resources for that to happen by purely random means, I'm sure once the factors are known its quick enough to calculate - I haven't had the chance to read up on the mutation of already formed proteins yet.



TheOddGoat
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 19 Oct 2009
Age: 27
Gender: Male
Posts: 516

12 Nov 2009, 6:07 am

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
TheOddGoat wrote:
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Most scientists today accept evolutionary theory as the correct view of how life emerged.


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

Then biological evolution, most of the time they aren't looked at together.

I think from context, it is clear that I am talking about speciation, and particular life-forms.


But surely for how life forms could alternatively develop it is important to know what they are developing from?



Awesomelyglorious
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 17 Dec 2005
Gender: Male
Posts: 14,316
Location: Omnipresent

12 Nov 2009, 10:29 am

TheOddGoat wrote:
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
TheOddGoat wrote:
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Most scientists today accept evolutionary theory as the correct view of how life emerged.


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

Then biological evolution, most of the time they aren't looked at together.

I think from context, it is clear that I am talking about speciation, and particular life-forms.


But surely for how life forms could alternatively develop it is important to know what they are developing from?

Maybe I was confused as to where you were going, I thought you were criticizing my OP.