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Author Topic:   What type of biological life will more than likely be found on other planets?
onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 1 of 178 (670450)
08-14-2012 2:34 PM


Got into a discussion the other day about the idea of "intelligent" life existing elsewhere in the universe.

My position: I don't doubt that life, as in living organisms, exists elsewhere. But to me the thought of one specific trait, that one specific species has had for only (roughly) 150,000 years, arising in another planet doesn't make sense. For me, something like, say, sonar is probably more likely, if there are large species, than intelligence.

Their argument followed the logical thought process that, if there is intelligence on one planet, why not on other planets? Which seems like a fair position. But, not convincing enough for me.

I find all traits unique to Earth and it's specific, random and chaotic natural history, and don't believe any of the traits that species have on this planet should have to be common anywhere else but here.

To make an analogy, the species on Earth are like human fingerprints, unique to the individual and not shared by anyone else.

Now, we can definitely debate my position, but, what I'd like to talk about would be, what traits, if any, would be realistically favored in a biological system?

Is there a common pattern that any biological system follows? Are there common traits that more than likely will exist on another planet? Like for example, more than likely we'll find plants and other organisms using photosynthesis.

Could any of the biology folks here chime in on this? What would more than likely be found on other planets, and, will intelligence be a common trait?

Also, as an aside, if they'd like, the creationist can give their take on what life elsewhere in the universe says about evolution and it's mechanisms.

- Oni

Edited by onifre, : No reason given.

Edited by onifre, : cleaned up a bit


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Stile, posted 08-15-2012 11:21 AM onifre has responded
 Message 4 by Genomicus, posted 08-15-2012 12:22 PM onifre has responded
 Message 5 by Lithodid-Man, posted 08-15-2012 1:21 PM onifre has responded
 Message 11 by Dr Adequate, posted 08-15-2012 8:45 PM onifre has responded
 Message 117 by New Cat's Eye, posted 08-21-2012 12:01 PM onifre has not yet responded

  
onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 7 of 178 (670495)
08-15-2012 8:23 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Stile
08-15-2012 11:21 AM


Re: I like to guess
My view aligns with the whole "from what information we do gather... Earth seems less and less 'unique' and more and more 'average'" idea.

Extrapolating with this view would lead one to believe that any trait that allows a species to dominate to a large degree is going to happen... sooner or later.

I agree that Earth is not unique in a wide sense, but like I tried to explain in the analogy, neither are finger prints, but everyone's is different. There are enough genetic material to have every single finger print be unique in that sense.

This is how I think planets are. There is enough material to make each unique.

But you make a good point with traits that help dominate.

Swimming.
Flight.
Breathing air (or local livable atmosphere).
Intelligence.

Each of those is a huge factor and has led to total dominance of a large portion of the planet.

What do they require?

Water (...maybe just liquid?).
Air/Atmosphere.
Host.

But why intelligence? It has not proven dominance for a very long time. Dinosuars were giant dummies by our measure of intelligence, and they lived way longer than us? And would have continued to do so had an asteroid not hit the planet.

I know we can only assume we'll survive but how do we know too much intelligence doesn't lead to our demise?

I don't know, of course. But my "naive sensors" start blasting angry noises whenever I try to think about humans being "the only intelligent life" in the entire universe. It's a big place.

Yeah, me too. But I'm slowly being able to accept it more and more. And at this point, don't really mind the thought of being alone.

- Oni


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 8 of 178 (670496)
08-15-2012 8:24 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Genomicus
08-15-2012 12:22 PM


Intelligence hasn't been around for only 150,000 years. We aren't the only intelligent species on the planet. Dolphins are quite intelligent, for example. It is fair to say that we are the most intelligent species on the planet, but we are not the only one.

For the sake of "drawing a line" lets call intelligence the ability to create art, music, do science, create mathematical equations and have complex communication.

- Oni


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Replies to this message:
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onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 9 of 178 (670497)
08-15-2012 8:28 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Lithodid-Man
08-15-2012 1:21 PM


Re: Biochemistry
Thanks Oni, this is a great topic. I hope the following makes sense. I am just spouting some thoughts based on what I know about this planet.

No doubt, it's a great topic I think.

If I had to bet on the biochemistry of extraterrestrial life, my money would be on that some of the basic processes of terrestrial life would be common. Things like photosynthesis, glycolysis, etc.

I say this based on a few assumptions. One being that that Earth is 'ordinary'. That is, the early history of a planet in the ballpark of Earth's size and position around any remotely similar star will be more similar than dissimilar to our own history. If this is correct then it is not a complete leap to assume that at some stage in that planet's development abiotic carbohydrates and other critical components of terrestrial biochemistry (such as adenine) were abundant.

While it is fun to speculate about different biochemistries, given how readily some of the building blocks of terrestrial biochemistry have been shown to form suggests to me that we should expect to see them elsewhere. What I mean is that while carbohydrates do not have to be the basic energy source for life, it would seem strange to me for it not to be the most common one given the abundance of such.

So if that is the case, then glycolysis is likely to be common, and if that is the case, then photosynthesis (and/or chemosynthesis) should also be common as they are remarkebly similar chemical pathways (just in reverse).

From there, using Earth as a model, I would guess that the vast majority of life in the Universe are analogs of our prokaryotes (yes I know that this applies to Earth as well!). As I understand it prokaryotic life, including photosynthesizers, appeared on Earth just about as soon as they were able to exist. Then they just existed for billions of years. That suggests that from a probability standpoint life is easy to make, eukaryotic life on the other hand is tough and unlikely. So probably a lot more extraterrestrial stromatolites than green-skinned Orion slave girls.

Dude, great lesson in biochemistry. I agree with all of it.

But then I gather that you like me feel intelligence is more unlikely than likely?

- Oni


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onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 13 of 178 (670504)
08-15-2012 9:40 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by NoNukes
08-15-2012 8:56 PM


How few of those things can dolphins do?

None of those things. I'm just making an arbitrary line in the sand, where this is intelligent and "that" is not. It is specifically to separate us from every other animal.

I get that other things are "intelligent", but for the sake of this thread they are not.

How many of those things can you do?

All of them. You can too.

- Oni

Edited by onifre, : No reason given.


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Replies to this message:
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onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 14 of 178 (670505)
08-15-2012 9:48 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Dr Adequate
08-15-2012 8:45 PM


Thanks Dr. A.

So flight definitely would more than likely be a trait seen, given the post-blob Earth-like state is acheived.

Would you, could you, can "we", know how likely it is to get past that stage?

From what I've seen and read, it seems like getting past the blob stage requires a group effort of surrounding celestial bodies and rock stuff (not the technical term).

- Oni

Edited by onifre, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 15 of 178 (670506)
08-15-2012 9:49 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by jar
08-15-2012 8:44 PM


Re: Are those measures of intelligence or technology?
Couldn't something still be intelligent if it was quadrupedal with nothing comparable to hands?

I would think so given the vastness of the universe and the diversity of life.

- Oni

Edited by onifre, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by jar, posted 08-15-2012 8:44 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
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onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 18 of 178 (670512)
08-16-2012 12:29 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by jar
08-15-2012 10:10 PM


Re: Are those measures of intelligence or technology?
Could something with nothing comparable to hands have ability to create art, music, do science, create mathematical equations and have complex communication?

Yeah totally, there is no limit in my opinion to which "body types" or lack there of can reach the intelligence we speak of. Given the diversity of life here on Earth I would say anything goes.

As for intelligence itself, just look at what it is here on Earth. It's a species 1% different from a primate still in trees picking ticks of the back of it's relative with the intelligence of our toddlers, at best.

In that 1% difference in DNA you find the ability to create the internet, the works of Michael Angelo, the music of Floyd, travel to Mars and the Moon, and come up with mathematical equations like String, General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and everything involving the mathematics of the Big Bang. That's just in 1%!

So imagine what intelligence would be if we go 1% more than us in the same sense as we are more than chimps. What would that type of intelligence look like? Would that type of intelligence even see a need to communicate with us, or even be able to?

If chimp intelligence is no better than toddler intelligence, then perhaps our intelligence is to them no better than their toddlers.

So with all that being said, I would see no limit to what a species like that could create and can also see it not having the need to use any of the functions we use to create art, or music or anything like that.

- Oni


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Replies to this message:
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onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 31 of 178 (670579)
08-16-2012 11:56 AM
Reply to: Message 19 by jar
08-16-2012 8:40 AM


Re: Are those measures of intelligence or technology?
But you defined intelligence as ability to create art, music, do science, create mathematical equations and have complex communication.

No no, that's what I defined our intelligence as.

But, to satisfy NoNukes, it is certainly not the only LEVEL of intelligence. And in my opinion, if there is something more intelligent than us out there, it certainly is not by any reason that I can think of their limit to intelligence. For them, intelligence can be something so far beyond our understanding that it may even escape our reasoning or ability to recognize it.

How does a quadrupedal critter with nothing comparable to hands do those things?

Just to make the point again, they are not limited to their intelligence falling within our (or my - for the sake of this thread) measure of intelligence. They could be intelligent in a way far beyond anything we can recognize.

My example of the chimp helps understand what I'm saying. Chimps do not recognize our intelligence. They're not sitting around with other chimps in awe of our cars, and iPads, and waiting for pictures from the Hubble telescope saying "Boy these humans sure are smart." Likewise, there is no reason following that evidence that we could recognize the intelligence of a species smarter than us.

We could be chimps to them.

- Oni


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 Message 19 by jar, posted 08-16-2012 8:40 AM jar has acknowledged this reply

  
onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 32 of 178 (670584)
08-16-2012 12:02 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by jar
08-16-2012 10:20 AM


Re: Are those measures of intelligence or technology?
I question if the criteria he specified defines intelligence; I believe what he described is based on technology more than intelligence.

I would say they are technological advancements due to our intelligence.

But I don't see what technology has to do with coming up with mathematical equations, having complex languague, making art as beautiful as Michael Angelo's works, and going off on a guitar like Hendrix?

But again, I was only describing OUR intelligence and it most certainly does NOT mean it is the ONLY measure of intelligence. It is the highest measure on this planet, but else where it might be seen as intelligent as a chimp to us.

- Oni


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 Message 30 by jar, posted 08-16-2012 10:20 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 34 by jar, posted 08-16-2012 12:13 PM onifre has responded
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onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 33 of 178 (670586)
08-16-2012 12:10 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by NoNukes
08-16-2012 9:42 AM


Are you quite sure that dolphins do not create music or have complex communications?

I'm sure you can call it that. Like jar's examples of birds, I see that as beautiful music to my ears too. But they are not composing symphonies or writing Stairway to Heaven.

If you are going to define intelligence as separating us from every other animal (and plants too I'm sure) then you would seem to be using a rather biased screen to identify intelligent life on other planets as well.

I'm only trying to create a scale of intelligence from 0-humans for the sake of this thread and only for this thread.

I do believe dolphins have intelligence as do primates, dogs, whales, etc. In fact, some expert in a specific field of biology (like someone who works with beetles) could probably convince me that they show some signs of intelligence, and I would agree. I think most things have some level of it.

- Oni


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 Message 26 by NoNukes, posted 08-16-2012 9:42 AM NoNukes has acknowledged this reply

  
onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 35 of 178 (670596)
08-16-2012 12:32 PM
Reply to: Message 34 by jar
08-16-2012 12:13 PM


Re: Are those measures of intelligence or technology?
I contend that we cannot draw such a line when talking about intelligence.

And I agree. There is no limit to what intelligence can be. But on this planet that's what the highest level of intelligence is.

So for this thread, I'm only making an arbitrary point where we can say this is intelligent this is not intelligent. But just for the thread.

I'm not sure that we are yet capable of understanding or maybe even recognizing intelligence that is not based on human perceptions, location, environment and technology.

That's what I was explaing with the chimp example, that we are probably not capable of recognizing an intelligence far greater than ours just as a chimp does not recognize our intelligence.

I don't think we disagree on anything. It just seems you're not accepting that for this thread I've set up an arbitrary scale for intelligence.

- Oni


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 Message 34 by jar, posted 08-16-2012 12:13 PM jar has acknowledged this reply

  
onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 36 of 178 (670597)
08-16-2012 12:34 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by jar
08-16-2012 8:40 AM


Re: Are those measures of intelligence or technology?
dbl post

Edited by onifre, : No reason given.


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onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 37 of 178 (670598)
08-16-2012 12:35 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by jar
08-16-2012 8:40 AM


Re: Are those measures of intelligence or technology?
How does a quadrupedal critter with nothing comparable to hands do those things?

By some method that we cannot full understand, yet.

Why would there need to be a limit on how to do those things? I don't think humans have cornered the market on any of that - if in fact intelligence is a likely trait that evolves typically in a biological system. I still remain very skeptical about that.

- Oni


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onifre
Member (Idle past 1736 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 41 of 178 (670611)
08-16-2012 1:55 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by Taq
08-16-2012 1:01 PM


Re: Hands are Handy
In my opinion, evolution on our own planet is a great model for what we would expect for life elsewhere. More specifically, convergent evolution holds the evidence we need.

For example, eyes evolved independently in several different lineages. We would also expect life on other planets to have eyes. Wings also evolved in several different lineages, from insects to huge flying reptiles. It doesn't matter if you have 6 legs and an exoskeleton or 4 legs and an internal skeleton, wings are advantageous, as are eyes.

Certainly the ability to detect light waves will be very likely, since I would have to imagine that a planet would need that level of energy coming from the Sun to even be able to have sustainable life of any kind. It seems likely any organisms on that planet would then interact with these light waves in some way giving rise to the "eye".

But wings I'd say require a little more than just the Sun. Wings require land, since flight (exept for a flying fish) seems to evolves from land animals. So I would put wings equal to detecting light. But that's just a distinction I'm making.

I would add, once there is land, and before wings, you get "legs" of the various types we see on Earth. Which I see as basically, the need to get around the environment to increase food supply and mating potential, drives the need for the mechanism to do so.

So can we roughly say, if there is land of some kind (and to me I can see it being a big if), first we need to see, then we need a method to get around - first comes legs of some kind, then came flight of some kind - and once this was acheived, arms and that type of dexterity came about?

Without hands any further increase in intelligence can not be used.

It seems for now, to be the last on the line in the model I roughly created - so it makes sense that it's so valuable in the emergence of intelligence.

On a more philosophical note, we still don't know if a human level of intelligence is a good adaptation in the long run. We have built technology that is capable of wiping out our entire species. For all we know, this type of evolved intelligence is a dead end. Perhaps it self desctructs more often thant it doesn't. Human like intelligence may be a candle that burns very bright for a very brief time on the scale of evolutionary time lines. What we may find on other planets is archaeological evidence for cultures that reached our level of technology and then disappeared soon afterwards.

Yeah, or maybe even not getting out of Africa, when it was said there were only 2000 of our species left (Or something like that, not quite sure of those numbers. But something close to that.)

Or maybey everything will work out just fine and we will all have flying cars within the next decade!!! I NEED FLYING CARS!! WHY CAN'T THEY GIVE ME FLYING CARS!!! hehehe

I know right?! I'll settle for a fuckin hoverboard at this point!

- Oni


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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