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Forum » SpaceEngine » Off-topic Discussions » Life in the Universe (Any and all hypothetical discussions about life elsewhere)
Life in the Universe
laiodDate: Sunday, 30.03.2014, 21:02 | Message # 76
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If there is life out there, in the universe, civilizations like us may be few and far between. More likely would be like you said, microbes and bacteria maybe, and if we are lucky maybe some multicellular organisms, such as something like a dog. But technological civilizations would most likely be VERY rare. But this is all my opinion. For all I know there could be a civilization more advanced than us a few hundred light years away.




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DoctorOfSpaceDate: Sunday, 30.03.2014, 23:18 | Message # 77
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Quote laiod ()
For all I know there could be a civilization more advanced than us a few hundred light years away.


Considering the circumstances under which humans came into existence, I would have to say there probably aren't any intelligent aliens close by.

I doubt we are the only ones in the universe, there are just too many worlds out there. I would guess we are probably one of a couple or a few in the entire Milky Way galaxy though, or perhaps the only ones.





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midtskogenDate: Monday, 31.03.2014, 07:38 | Message # 78
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Life appeared early in Earth's history, suggesting that life isn't very rare given the right conditions which could well exist many other places within a few hundred ly. The evolution up to animals, however, took much more time, and the universe might simply be too young for much intelligence to have evolved. The question is, did the evolutionary ball roll faster on Earth than elsewhere if we assume that life isn't extremely unique to Earth?




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laiodDate: Monday, 31.03.2014, 19:54 | Message # 79
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Quote DoctorOfSpace ()
I doubt we are the only ones in the universe, there are just too many worlds out there. I would guess we are probably one of a couple or a few in the entire Milky Way galaxy though, or perhaps the only ones.
This is probably true. Technological life is probably more rare than microbes, so there may be one other in the Milky Way. But there could be thousands of planets with say bacteria on them. Honestly I don't really know, but that is what I would like to believe.





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HarbingerDawnDate: Monday, 31.03.2014, 23:25 | Message # 80
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Quote laiod ()
Technological life is probably more rare than microbes

I'd say it's definitely more rare than microbes, how could it possibly be more common?





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DoctorOfSpaceDate: Tuesday, 01.04.2014, 00:32 | Message # 81
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Microbes are the dominant life on Earth after all.




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midtskogenDate: Tuesday, 01.04.2014, 08:18 | Message # 82
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Quote HarbingerDawn ()
I'd say it's definitely more rare than microbes, how could it possibly be more common?

A bit far fetched, but let's say most galaxies went from microbes to intelligent life which constructed self-replicating machines replacing biological life.





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SoundtrackComposer05Date: Wednesday, 24.09.2014, 05:46 | Message # 83
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This is just an idea, but perhaps our definition of life is far too narrow.

We are comparing life on other planets to what we have observed of life on our own. Seeing the immense variability of species on our own planet, it may not be difficult to imagine that life can take many different forms. Almost all life on Earth as we have observed is carbon based (NASA discovered arsenic-based life in 2010, see this article) , with all life featuring one or more cells that make up the organism.

Who is to say that on planets of different elemental compositions that life has not taken a different form. On Earth we generally separate plants, animals, and bacteria, though each of those are considered life. Seeing the innumerable possibilities in this universe, it would be foolish to assume that those are the only forms that life can exist in.

Life at it's most basic level, is nothing more than a chemical reaction. There are many different courses such a reaction can take, depending on what is there to react. For example, plants are what we refer to as organisms that survive through means of converting CO2 and water into sugar and oxygen with solar energy. Animals such as humans, instead use aerobic respiration, and convert oxygen into carbon dioxide to produce ATP. Two completely different processes, to sustain two different forms of life. The possibility of other forms of life working off different reactions involving different elements is not unlikely.

In the end, I am only suggesting that we not overlook planets simply because of their elemental makeup, but instead consider the possibility that life could (to badly quote Jurassic Park) "find a way". As a disclaimer though, I'm not a chemistry or biology expert, so if I am incorrect in my reasoning please, don't hesitate to correct me.
 
HarbingerDawnDate: Wednesday, 24.09.2014, 06:49 | Message # 84
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Quote SoundtrackComposer05 ()
Almost all life on Earth as we have observed is carbon based (NASA discovered arsenic-based life in 2010, see this article)

That life is not arsenic-based, it is carbon-based, it was just proposed to use arsenic in lieu of phosphorus in its DNA (the discovery has since been refuted).

Quote SoundtrackComposer05 ()
Who is to say that on planets of different elemental compositions that life has not taken a different form.

Quote SoundtrackComposer05 ()
Seeing the innumerable possibilities in this universe, it would be foolish to assume that those are the only forms that life can exist in.

I know of no one who assumes any of these things.

That said, however, there are good reasons why focus is generally concentrated on organic biochemistry. Carbon is uniquely suited to serving as the basis for extremely complex molecules. Even its most chemically similar cousin, silicon, is not so versatile. Life, at the very least, needs some mechanism by which to perpetuate itself, and self-replicating chemistry is by its very nature complex. So you need to have an elemental composition which is suitable for forming long and complex molecular structures. Not many elements can do this, and carbon is better than any of them. Carbon is also a very abundant element in the universe, as are the other essential elements to life as we know it, and when we look out into the universe we see that nature very commonly forms a huge variety of complex organic molecules. As far as I know, the same is not true for any other type of chemistry. Given its commonality and extreme chemical versatility, it is probably a safe bet that most life in the universe begins with organic chemistry.

That doesn't mean that other chemistries are impossible, but we don't know whether any others could naturally develop and function, and in any case they would almost certainly be more rare. It is also possible for life to evolve beyond biochemistry altogether (to become technological for example), but this requires biochemistry of some kind as a prerequisite.

I would be the first to agree that life may be infinitely diverse in the forms it can take (the diversity of forms on Earth alone is staggering), but the possible mechanisms which may lead to the origin of life are likely to be limited in number, with most of them being much less likely than others.

Regarding SpaceEngine, it already generates a variety of types of life on almost every class of world, and is more optimistic about where and how often life may be found than almost any scientist would be, and it will surely be expanded and refined in the future to simultaneously come more into line with reality while also increasing in diversity to show what all is possible.





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midtskogenDate: Wednesday, 24.09.2014, 07:50 | Message # 85
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Quote HarbingerDawn ()
That life is not arsenic-based, it is carbon-based, it was just proposed to use arsenic in lieu of phosphorus in its DNA (the discovery has since been refuted).

IMO the announcement is a good example of a publicity stunt gone bad. It turned into an embarrassment for NASA, and the carrier of Wolfe-Simon went down the drain completely unnecessary. While it's fine to offer some media friendly conclusions, it's important at the same time to present such a discovery this way: This is the evidence we have, this is what we think, but please try to arrive at different conclusions. If they'd responded differently to the criticism and backed down a bit, they would have been praised for it, but instead they went to the trenches and passed a point of no return. When making a bold statement, there's a fine line between success and disaster depending on how you present it and your reaction to criticism.





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SoundtrackComposer05Date: Wednesday, 24.09.2014, 22:05 | Message # 86
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Quote HarbingerDawn ()
That life is not arsenic-based, it is carbon-based, it was just proposed to use arsenic in lieu of phosphorus in its DNA (the discovery has since been refuted).


Thanks for bringing that to my attention smile I was unaware that it had been refuted since then. In the future I should probably investigate these claims further.

You made some very good points about the chemical properties of carbon that I had not considered when typing my response, most notably it's abundance and versatility. I apologize if I sounded condescending or assumptive, I can definitely see why organic chemistry would be the most likely source of life when considering the reasons you stated above.
 
IdgeliosDate: Sunday, 09.11.2014, 14:30 | Message # 87
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I personally have multiple views due to the speculative nature of where life may be.

One view I have is that life is a exceptionally rare phenomenon, as in only one out of a million star systems will even have any life at a. However even that there'd still be millions of life bearing worlds. Complex or multicellular life isn't inevitable and I'd say one in ten or so worlds have it, or one in ten million worlds have life. Still thousands of worlds with complex, multi-cellular life! But that's not the one that makes me happy. No, that would be seeing how intelligent life developed only once in the solar system [unless martians or Dino people really did once exist] I'd say one in a thousand worlds with complex life will have intelligent life of any sort. Which would be only a few worlds in the galaxy. Interstellar civilizations? Using my very low estimates,none may currently exist in the galaxy or one might already if we are unlucky. Thankfully such alien will probably be so advanced they may not give a damn if we make a spaceship and see no reason to exterminate us due to how rare spaceship using civilizations are or are waiting for us to be advanced enough to assimilate. Either way I hope that life is exceptionally rare since than humans can colonize the galaxy in peace!

However this view despite my ideology hoping for it to be the case is rather unlikely, as there's just too many organic chemicals floating about on so many worlds and in comets for life to be so rare. Yet intelligent life may still be a rather rare phenomenon, which I hope is the case and believe to be the case. Though I do expect interstellar explorers to happen upon some advanced form of eusocial life dominating their planet at some point. Eusocial life has been remarkably successful on earth, and they're mostly tiny insects or mole rats. Imagine what a human sized eusocial life form may be capable of. But intelligent life akin to humans may be very rare in the universe by large. It can't be stressed how rare intelligent life is on earth. Only one species has sent a man to another celestial body in the solar system through a direct, intentional means we know of. I personally hope it stays that way if humans can become a interstellar civilization.

I often combine by views by believing that perhaps some ancient, ancient alien civilization was able to seed much the galaxy with life, or at least a part of the galaxy. Or at least that's what I got going in me space opera. Setting I'll share with you all one day.

As for what a alien space Civilization may use, I have no clue. Who knows, there's so many paths of technology and societal development on earth alone that imagining tech developments of other planets is tricky when going too deep on the subject. For instance there could be a advanced alien civilization that got by without fire for their whole existence, using lava forges instead.
 
midtskogenDate: Monday, 10.11.2014, 20:55 | Message # 88
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If evolution on Earth is typical, life can exist for several billion years without doing anything spectacular (but when it does, it happens relatively quickly). So, we don't know if common life is, but where it exists, it's mostly very primitive.




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Storm026Date: Monday, 10.11.2014, 22:11 | Message # 89
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Life could end up in the atmospheres of gas giants simply by having a moon with life on it getting hit hard enough or even asteroids with dormant microbes hit the gas giant and before it got too deep the bacteria escapes and is light enough to float in the atmosphere of the gas giant. Assuming the gas giant atmosphere has the right conditions than, evolution takes over and anything is possible! Life could probably get to a lava planet the same way but the organisms have to initially be able to handle the high temps. then evolution takes over!
 
Harbinger_of_LifeDate: Monday, 10.11.2014, 23:17 | Message # 90
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Does anybody here think that spacefaring organisms would contact humanity, or another species of animals on this planet? Of course as primates, we see ourselves as advanced - the golden race, perhaps - so much that we tend to 'seperate' ourselves from the natural world. If a chimp builds a bivouac, it's deemed "Natural". If a human builds one, it's "Artificial", "Manmade", the list goes on.

Differences aside, the cats may see themselves as the "Golden Race" they might think that the world revolves around their species. Orangutans may think humans are an underdeveloped inbred cousin to their race. There really is no right or wrong when it comes to this, so would extraterrestrials think the same? Would they observe this planet and see humans as humans see ants; a pseudo-productive, tiny race that scavenges from its environment to produce a rudimentary society?

I suppose it depends on their origin! Hypothetical scenario; they are carbon based - come from a world like titan in the Barnard's Star system. They were tree dwelling, had six legs, and their upper legs evolved into arms. Over 300,000 earth years, they united and became interstellar. Let's say humanity is the second race they discover.

They may be fascinated by our insects as opposed to us, because they may relate to their biology the most. Most likely, though, they would probably contact humanity. We have space stations, they have spaceships. They land, contact whoever (NOT the president for goodness sakes. In so many alien movies they contact the president. How would they have any clue about our democracies and government. Maybe leadership is foreign to them?) and we forge an alliance.

On the other hand, imagine a giant, hive-minded single organism covering an entire planet the size of mars in an uncharted Red Dwarf 338 light-years from our own star. The organism is planet-sized, basically. It has evolved to a stage that would be considered interstellar, biologically. There is no barrier between its technology and its biology. Its seeds are star-ships and possibly even probes. A few land on Earth, as humanity, we have no idea what these giant, leathery, metallic, raisin-shaped things are that are landing in our atmosphere.

What if the hive-mind had never encountered eukaryotic life on its homeworld? Its probes would have no idea how to or what to chart on Earth. What if these seeds were designed to grow? I mean, in so many sci-fi movies, the aliens are nearly always bipedal, have weaponry nearly identical to that of humanity, and then they brawl in ground-to-ground combat until the human winds and stabs an American flag into the alien or whatever.

Personally, I think that's really unlikely. The U.S. has plans on how to combat alien life-forms, but what if they were simply carbon-hungry seeds that landed all over our planet? I could go on and on here, but the points I am getting to is;

Life in the universe can take on nearly any shape, form and mind. As humans, we should be prepared.

We really aren't that special... As life we are, but we are just animals with slightly more complex minds than some. We should be proud of our technology, however, we are but Snails compared to some of the life out there.

Thanks for reading, if you did, and I would love to hear back and see whether you think aliens might recognize us out of the entire biosphere. The Earth is green 'cos of Plants, not Humans!
 
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