Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #101  
Old 07-17-2016, 08:01 PM
Hari Seldon is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Trantor
Posts: 13,846
Life on earth appeared more or less as soon as conditions were suitable. But it percolated along as prokaryotic cells for 2 billion years. Then somehow one cell swallowed another and instead of digesting it, allowed to take up residence and become, say, a mitochondrian and evolution turned the mitochondria into energy generating machines. Another such became a chloroplast and started generating oxygen in the atmosphere (which was poisonous to most life at the time). Eventually, after another billion and a half years, multi-cellular life evolved. And then dinosaurs who lived for something like 165 million years without developing intelligence (or at least technology). Then a large meteor struck the earth and led to the demise of the dinos and the radiation of the heretofore minor group of mammals. One primitive class of these mammals didn't develop any particular specialization (unless you count tree-living as a specialization). One genus of these primates developed the ability to raise its forelimbs about its head and swing from trees. A few species of this genus came down out of the trees. Its hands and arms allowed to start developing stone tools. And, for some mysterious reason, develop language and so on.

Everyone of these steps was crucial to lead to us. I don't deny that there are probably many paths, but this was ours. And we have no idea how difficult any of them were. Perhaps, on average it takes longer than the life of a star to produce eukaryotic cells. We don't know and have no way of estimating.

One thing I recently read pointed out that even though stars smaller and cooler than our sun might have an estimated life of, say, 100 billion years before they turn into red giants, the lower redder radiation will give less free energy making the development of life harder.

Even if whales and dolphins are as intelligent as humans and even if they have language, they have no physical capacity for technology. It is entirely possible that life is common but technology exceedingly rare.
  #102  
Old 07-25-2016, 05:33 PM
Biffster's Avatar
Biffster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 5,322
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
Life on earth appeared more or less as soon as conditions were suitable. But it percolated along as prokaryotic cells for 2 billion years. Then somehow one cell swallowed another and instead of digesting it, allowed to take up residence and become, say, a mitochondrian and evolution turned the mitochondria into energy generating machines. Another such became a chloroplast and started generating oxygen in the atmosphere (which was poisonous to most life at the time). Eventually, after another billion and a half years, multi-cellular life evolved. And then dinosaurs who lived for something like 165 million years without developing intelligence (or at least technology). Then a large meteor struck the earth and led to the demise of the dinos and the radiation of the heretofore minor group of mammals. One primitive class of these mammals didn't develop any particular specialization (unless you count tree-living as a specialization). One genus of these primates developed the ability to raise its forelimbs about its head and swing from trees. A few species of this genus came down out of the trees. Its hands and arms allowed to start developing stone tools. And, for some mysterious reason, develop language and so on.



Everyone of these steps was crucial to lead to us. I don't deny that there are probably many paths, but this was ours. And we have no idea how difficult any of them were. Perhaps, on average it takes longer than the life of a star to produce eukaryotic cells. We don't know and have no way of estimating.



One thing I recently read pointed out that even though stars smaller and cooler than our sun might have an estimated life of, say, 100 billion years before they turn into red giants, the lower redder radiation will give less free energy making the development of life harder.



Even if whales and dolphins are as intelligent as humans and even if they have language, they have no physical capacity for technology. It is entirely possible that life is common but technology exceedingly rare.


So what made that one cell swallow another without digesting it?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  #103  
Old 07-25-2016, 06:11 PM
dracoi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 8,867
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tibby or Not Tibby View Post
Why? (snip)
What you keep describing as static environments are incredibly unstable arrangements. Let's say we're all happily homeostasising, but I have 2.1 children per generation and you only have 2.0 children. It won't take all that long (on geologic timescales) before the entire population carries my genes. And if there is a third guy who is having 2.2 children, he'll out-breed all of us.

As you say, even plants compete for light. There is no limiting resource, not even an inorganic resource like sunlight, that life isn't in competition for. The plant that grows tallest, fastest, adapts to lower light, climbs on other plants... these will be selected for. The plant that says "Why can't we all just get along?" is dead.

The same is true at an interstellar scale.
  #104  
Old 07-25-2016, 06:56 PM
dropzone's Avatar
dropzone is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Bedlam
Posts: 30,731
Quote:
Originally Posted by Biffster View Post
So what made that one cell swallow another without digesting it?
Indigestion. Duh.

I'm still unclear why a pronouncement by a physicist, who should have everything about the speed of light, the mechanics of space travel, the passage of time, and the bleeping Inverse Square Law as part of his second nature, would say anything that stupid. First, he didn't ignite the Earth's atmosphere, as promised. And then this?

What a maroon.
  #105  
Old 07-25-2016, 07:46 PM
Nelson Pike is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 831
Quote:
Originally Posted by dropzone View Post
Yes, and I agree with the idea, but for all the talk about aliens watching I Love Lucy we have only been broadcasting on the FM band (AM bounces off the ionosphere) since 1933 and, thanks to the inverse-square law, it's unlikely anyone has noticed us. Give it time.
I don't think Fermi is the kind of person who would have just forgotten about the inverse square law, if it was relevant.

And consider that humans have discovered exoplanets up to 13,000 light-years distant without benefit of FM broadcasts.

And consider that the era of human human science is only 500 years old; The ETIs Fermi was thinking of would have passed our present state of development millions of years ago.
  #106  
Old 07-25-2016, 08:05 PM
Nelson Pike is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 831
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
Life on earth appeared more or less as soon as conditions were suitable...
Doesn't this imply that differing forms of life, genetically unrelated to all others, should have appeared in abundance?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
One thing I recently read pointed out that even though stars smaller and cooler than our sun might have an estimated life of, say, 100 billion years before they turn into red giants, the lower redder radiation will give less free energy making the development of life harder.
Double check that source- the universe is now only 13.8 billion years old, and I doubt any star has a life expectancy anywhere near 100 billion years.
  #107  
Old 07-25-2016, 08:21 PM
BigT's Avatar
BigT is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: "Hicksville", Ark.
Posts: 37,534
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson Pike View Post

The human Y-chromosone is not any 300 million years old, (the human species in less than 300 thousand years old, isn't it?) and when one's introduction is that badly falsified then everything that follows should be rewritten, preferably by different author.
The XY system well predates humans. It's present in most mammals and even some insects.

The only other ones I'm even familiar with is the ZW system used in birds and the X0 system used in some insects.

Heck, part of the reason for doubting the shrinking of the human Y chromosome is that it seems to be the same as the ones in chimpanzees.
  #108  
Old 07-25-2016, 08:46 PM
dropzone's Avatar
dropzone is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Bedlam
Posts: 30,731
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson Pike View Post
I don't think Fermi is the kind of person who would have just forgotten about the inverse square law, if it was relevant.
It is tatally relevant. There is no point in sending a shoutout if no one will hear it. The inverse square law is immutable as our technology stands. We are not broadcasting at extra-light frequencies, so unless you have equipment capable of discerning unimaginably small differences it makes no sense to listen for them. If you find one, you island hop to real prospects, settle/incorporate them, and listen for who is less dim. That takes a long time.

I was not hired at Fermilab, so I'm comfortable calling him an idiot.
  #109  
Old 07-25-2016, 09:06 PM
Nelson Pike is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 831
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigT View Post
The XY system well predates humans. It's present in most mammals and even some insects.

The only other ones I'm even familiar with is the ZW system used in birds and the X0 system used in some insects.

Heck, part of the reason for doubting the shrinking of the human Y chromosome is that it seems to be the same as the ones in chimpanzees.
I was commenting only on the human Y chromosone.

I have not yet taken another look at Bryan Sykes' discussion of what he considers to be human Y chromosone instability.
  #110  
Old 07-25-2016, 09:25 PM
Nelson Pike is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 831
Quote:
Originally Posted by dropzone View Post
It is tatally relevant. There is no point in sending a shoutout if no one will hear it. The inverse square law is immutable as our technology stands. We are not broadcasting at extra-light frequencies, so unless you have equipment capable of discerning unimaginably small differences it makes no sense to listen for them. If you find one, you island hop to real prospects, settle/incorporate them, and listen for who is less dim. That takes a long time.

I was not hired at Fermilab, so I'm comfortable calling him an idiot.
Do you even know who Fermi was?

He would have been as well aware as anyone, including you, of the limitations imposed by either the inverse square law
or the speed of light.

Now, our dialogue does not strike me as an interesting or fruitful diversion, and I do not promise to continue with it.
  #111  
Old 07-25-2016, 11:42 PM
dropzone's Avatar
dropzone is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Bedlam
Posts: 30,731
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson Pike View Post
Do you even know who Fermi was?
Fully aware and fully knowledgeable to know he was talking out of his ass. It was an off-the-cuff answer he put no effort into.

Quote:
Now, our dialogue does not strike me as an interesting or fruitful diversion, and I do not promise to continue with it.
Which I assume you have devoted no actual thought to at all. I'm not the moron I play online.
  #112  
Old 07-26-2016, 12:37 AM
Trinopus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 22,928
Quote:
Originally Posted by dropzone View Post
Fully aware and fully knowledgeable to know he was talking out of his ass. It was an off-the-cuff answer he put no effort into. . . .
No. Just no. You need to study more about the life and writings of this fascinating chap.

Last edited by Trinopus; 07-26-2016 at 12:38 AM. Reason: too rude
  #113  
Old 07-26-2016, 01:21 AM
Mijin's Avatar
Mijin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 9,712
Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
As you say, even plants compete for light. There is no limiting resource, not even an inorganic resource like sunlight, that life isn't in competition for. The plant that grows tallest, fastest, adapts to lower light, climbs on other plants... these will be selected for. The plant that says "Why can't we all just get along?" is dead.

The same is true at an interstellar scale.
Well I guess the same is technically true at an interstellar scale, but I think the following caveats make it moot:

1. There is no plausible scenario at this time for a species to evolve to travel interstellar distances; we're assuming interstellar species will travel such distances with (hyper-advanced) technology.
The fact that they have achieved this level of technology already implies a lot about such species.

2. Space is mostly (unimaginably vast) empty space. Species would not be tripping over each other the way that plants on a landmass (figuratively) are.
Or, if we're imagining a race to particular resources, and we're speculating that species may compete to make dyson spheres...we'd see evidence of that. And last year when the 100,000 closest galaxies were surveyed for such features, we found nothing.
If Dyson spheres exist, there are no galaxies saturated with them. This kind of competition is objectively not happening over the vast range we've looked so far.
  #114  
Old 07-26-2016, 08:39 AM
septimus's Avatar
septimus is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: the Land of Smiles
Posts: 21,526
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigT View Post
The only other ones I'm even familiar with is the ZW system used in birds and the X0 system used in some insects.
Interesting. I clicked the links, clicked again to Dosage_compensation, and now have a question.

If female humans "silence the transcription of one X chromosome of each pair" then why don't carriers of hemophilia have a 50% of having the disease? (Or is the silencing done cell-by-cell, and 50% "good" cells is enough not to suffer symptoms?)
  #115  
Old 07-26-2016, 09:08 AM
Steve MB is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Northern VA
Posts: 13,653
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson Pike View Post
I doubt any star has a life expectancy anywhere near 100 billion years.
Red dwarf stars (which are the most common type) go much longer than that:

Quote:
The less massive the star, the longer this evolutionary process takes. It has been calculated that a 0.16 [solar mass] red dwarf (approximately the mass of the nearby Barnard's Star) would stay on the main sequence for 2.5 trillion years
__________________
The Internet: Nobody knows if you're a dog. Everybody knows if you're a jackass.
  #116  
Old 07-26-2016, 09:22 AM
AndrewL is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 2,213
Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
Interesting. I clicked the links, clicked again to Dosage_compensation, and now have a question.

If female humans "silence the transcription of one X chromosome of each pair" then why don't carriers of hemophilia have a 50% of having the disease? (Or is the silencing done cell-by-cell, and 50% "good" cells is enough not to suffer symptoms?)
X-inactivation happens on a cell-by-cell basis when the developing embryo is at the stage of still being made up of a few hundred or so cells, so the adult woman will end up as a mosaic of cells with one or the other X chromosome deactivated. For hemophilia, having some cells without the defective gene is enough, they don't all have to be good.
  #117  
Old 07-26-2016, 10:21 AM
Nelson Pike is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 831
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve MB View Post
Red dwarf stars (which are the most common type) go much longer than that:
Well son of a gun you are right. The Wiki link is corroborated by Cambridge University, among others:

Cambridge University Institute of Astronomy: Lifetime of red dwarfs
  #118  
Old 07-26-2016, 10:31 AM
levdrakon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: USA
Posts: 17,348
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
2. Space is mostly (unimaginably vast) empty space. Species would not be tripping over each other the way that plants on a landmass (figuratively) are.
Or, if we're imagining a race to particular resources, and we're speculating that species may compete to make dyson spheres...we'd see evidence of that. And last year when the 100,000 closest galaxies were surveyed for such features, we found nothing.
If Dyson spheres exist, there are no galaxies saturated with them. This kind of competition is objectively not happening over the vast range we've looked so far.
I think Dyson spheres are silly. Hey, we can build solar panels, someday we'll put solar panels around the whole sun! That's like ancient Egyptians saying, hey, we can build pyramids, someday we'll build pyramids that reach to the stars!

Um, no. What we eventually build probably won't be anything we're imagining now.

Last edited by levdrakon; 07-26-2016 at 10:34 AM.
  #119  
Old 07-26-2016, 02:17 PM
Tibby's Avatar
Tibby is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,827
I don't care about Dyson spheres, but I'd like to see Dyson Balls placed around the globe to suck up the mess we've made.
  #120  
Old 07-26-2016, 03:49 PM
Trinopus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 22,928
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
. . . There is no plausible scenario at this time for a species to evolve to travel interstellar distances; we're assuming interstellar species will travel such distances with (hyper-advanced) technology.
The fact that they have achieved this level of technology already implies a lot about such species. . . .
Agreed. For one thing, species with hyper-technology can choose their future bodily modifications by gene-scripting. They would have left behind the ordinary non-volitional path of evolution. (Humanity is coming VERY close to this point, if it has not already.)

Also, technology proceeds vastly faster than biological evolution. It takes species millions of years to evolve wings...but we went from the Wright Brothers to the Moon in under 100 years. So if Interstellar travel is possible at all, it would take place in a cosmic eye-blink.

(And that leads to the scary question: how long do hyper-technological civilizations last?)
  #121  
Old 07-26-2016, 06:48 PM
watchwolf49 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: State of Jefferson
Posts: 8,499
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
[snip] ... (And that leads to the scary question: how long do hyper-technological civilizations last?)
Just until the next Chicxulub-like event happens. Humans are just the preliminary phase of the Age of Rodents.

Last edited by watchwolf49; 07-26-2016 at 06:50 PM.
  #122  
Old 07-26-2016, 09:05 PM
Blake is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 11,049
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tibby or Not Tibby View Post
Why? Competition between individuals or other species may be the population homeostasis mechanism most common on Earth, but it's not the only possibility, and it may not be the most common mechanism on alien planets. My guess is that intelligences equal to or greater than ours would willingly regulate their population to suit their environment, without having to out-compete others.
The problem is that a bacterium or even a chimpanzee can’t willingly regulate their population to suit their environment. You need intelligence before you can do that. There’s no plausible mechanism for an unintelligent species to regulate their population to suit their environment. And if unintelligent species are somehow not competing, then there can be no driver to develop intelligence. An intelligent species can have no competitive advantage in an environment with no competition, and life will never progress beyond the first organism to arise, never mind evolving into an intelligence.

Quote:
If a planet is populated with organisms that rely only on inorganic chemicals for food/energy and the planet has enough of those chemicals to adequately sustain the growing population, where does “more fierce” competition come in?
Earth is a planet is populated with organisms that rely only on inorganic chemicals for food/energy. We still have plenty of competition.

You are overlooking three vital points that mean that it is actually impossible to have enough of those chemicals to adequately sustain the growing population. The first is that population growth is exponential. The second is that evolution isn’t driven by competition, it’s driven by differential reproductive rates. The third is that there is never just one limiting factor on growth.

To give you a simple example, if I put two bacterial cells into a thousand litre tank full of nutrient broth, I have effectively created a planet populated with organisms that rely only on inorganic chemicals for food/energy and the planet has enough of those chemicals to adequately sustain the growing population. Nonetheless, within a very short space of time nutrients will become limiting because there will be more cells than the available amount of food. That may take hours or it may take years depending on temperature, but it will happen very fast. And even if I made a literal ocean of nutrient broth, we will see the same thing. An ocean full of nutrient broth with two bacterial cells added will become nutrient deficient due to bacterial growth within a hundred years or so. That’s point one at work.

But even if we keep increasing the size of the ocean and keep feeding in nutrients so that there was never a shortage of nutrients, we would still not solve the problem, because of evolution. Even with no direct competition, the bacterium that breeds faster will outcompete the others. If one bacterium has a doubling time of 1 hour and another has a doubling time of one minute, the first bacterium will come to dominate the planet. If one bacterium dies when exposed to UV light or high temperatures and one doesn’t then the resistant bacterium will dominate and so forth. Every time we double the size of the ocean, the faster growing bacterium will fill it up first, and double in size while the other bacterium remains stable. With no competition at all for resources, you still have competition for simple space. If all the space is occupied by the faster breeding species, then you have competition. That’s point two.

Which leads us to point three. Even if we have an ocean full of nutrient broth, some environments will be optimal. The surface waters of a tropical estuary will be warmer, they will have more oxygen, they will have lower osmotic potentials, lower UV light levels and so forth. If those are the non-nutrient factors that one lifeform prefers, then there will be competition to occupy tropical estuaries. Even if there is no advantage to killing another organism for food, there is a huge advantage in killing it to remove it from a preferred environment so you can live in it.

To stop evolution and competition, you don’t just need adequate food. You need infinite food because the lifeforms will rapidly multiply to exploit all the food available. And you don’t just need infinite food. You need infinite space. And you don’t just need infinite space, you need infinite uniform space.

And none of those things are possible in the real universe. Two of them violate the laws of physics and one of them violates the law of gravity.

Quote:
And, a planetary population in self-regulated population balance that doesn't require organic matter to live should negate the competitive predator/prey model, I'd think.
What does “self-regulated population balance” mean? Do you mean that every single lifeform on the planet has made conscious decision to only produce a set number of offspring based on a decision made by a ruling committee? But that requires not only that every single lifeform is intelligent, but that they become spontaneously intelligent at the exact same moment.

That’s not plausible.

And if you mean that unintelligent species regulate themselves, well, that’s just impossible, As soon as one organism evolves to cheat it will occupy the entire planet, and then you will have a planet of cheating organism all competing with each other. A degree of interspecies cooperation is possible, but it mostly occurs where resources are limiting, not where they are abundant, and it can only occur in response to competition from other individuals.

Quote:
We can include photosynthesis in the mix...but those pushy plants can be pretty competitive vying for sunlight.
Not just for sunlight, but for water, and nutrients, and pollinators, and heat, symbiotic fungi, and fire protection and protection from predators …..

As a result we have plants that are carnivorous, We have plants that parasitise other plants. We have plants that deliberately promote fire and plants that deliberately suppress fire. We have plants that develop thorns to protect themselves and plants that exploit the thorns of other plants and so forth.

I think that’s the point you are overlooking. Planets can not be uniform, thus something will always be limiting. Even with limitless nutrients, some other resources will always promote one individual over another

Quote:
Yes, that is exactly what happens on Earth, but I question whether it has to work that way on all alien planets given a different set of physical circumstances and alternate modes of evolution.
That’s just saying “What if magic”. Evolution is driven by competition, and any species that can evolve will become competitive. The two are inextricably linked. You can’t have one without the other.

Quote:
Again, I'm assuming a planet with enough food/energy to feed all. Larger/more complex/more intelligent species may eat more and have more offspring, but not necessarily at the expense of other species. Each species could reach it's homeostatic population balance independent of other species, with little or no extinction taking place in the process
How would you ascertain “homeostatic population balance” if not by the number of organisms that an environment can sustain? And if a species can sustain one more individual by forcing out one individual of another species, that is competition and it defines a new “homeostatic population balance”.

And you are overlooking that competition occurs within species, not just between them. If one rhinoceros can produce more offspring than another rhinoceros by causing once buffalo to die, that rhinos genes will dominate the entire species in short order. At which point rhinos as a species will be competing with buffalo.

You seem to be saying “We can avoid competition so long as each species can achieve maximum reproduction rate and survival rates without competition”. That’s tautologically true, but it’s just handwaving. How could it be possible for any species to achieve maximum reproduction rate and survival rates without competition?

Quote:
We see plenty of species on Earth, living in close proximity, that don't compete against each other. Plenty of symbiotic examples of various types, too. I'm simply expanding on that model as possibilities for alien environments.
It’s trivially true that you can find plenty of species that don’t compete with each other. But you are calling all black birds crows. A starling doesn’t compete much with a blackberry, for example. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t competing heavily with other individuals.

I think that you are making the common mistake of overlooking that the most fierce competition any organism faces is from its own parents and siblings. Even in a world with just starlings and blackberries, starlings would be facing lethal competition from other starlings and blackberries would be facing lethal competition from other blackberries.

You can’t just “expand on the model” of species that don’t compete with each other without also expanding on the fact that they are inevitably locked in competition with thousands of other members of the same species. That’s completely invalid.

Quote:
Given the resources available in a likely aquatic environment, isn't it possible, or even probable, our octopods could harness exothermic chemical reactions, and find the building blocks to build smart phones and whatnot, but still be unable to build and launch a rocket into outer space?
No. If you can build a smartphone, you have the ability to build a rocket. You have now switched your position from arguing that they couldn’t to do it to arguing that maybe they wouldn’t do it. Those are very, very different propositions.
Quote:
I'm guessing they would first have to build a missile-launching submarine to launch the rocket and why would a race of octopus people bother to build a missile-launching submarine, if not to launch a rocket to a place they have no desire to explore?
To a marine species, the air would be like the sea. They would no more need to build a missile launching submarine than humans needed to build submarines to catch fish. They simply need to build a boat or, even simpler, establish a shallow water “port” just as human did to launch their boats.

You would have to question how such a species wouldn’t have a long history of sending out land boats to hunt the land and mine guano, just as humans did for the sea. But of course on your world nothing hunts or mines because no resource sis ever limiting anywhere. Which makes the evolution of intelligence pointless, and hence impossible.

Quote:
This brings up an interesting side question, however: could a species evolve cognitively and be considered super-intelligent, yet not have the ability to build advanced technology?
It’s hard to imagine. With no writing, only a very, very limited knowledge base is even possible. Basically, you are restricted to what one individual can remember and pass on. Mathematics is almost impossible. Brains just don’t work that way. While they can simulate the environment well enough to catch a bouncing ball, they don’t communicate the underlying mathematics to the conscious mind, and there is no reason they would.

If your brain somehow is communicating all this mathematics and knowledge to the consciousness, then the consciousness will realise the value of technology immediately. Stephen Hawking has less ability to manipulate the physical world than a dolphin, but he understands the applications of technology as well as anyone.

A dolphin with human intelligence may not be able build a car, but it could certainly pair of tweezers that it could use in its mouth. And that is the only tool it needs to build all the other tools.

But more importantly, if an organism is that intelligent, then the ones that are better able to manipulate their environment will outcompete the others, which will inevitably lead to the evolution of manipulatory appendages.
  #123  
Old 07-26-2016, 09:17 PM
dropzone's Avatar
dropzone is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Bedlam
Posts: 30,731
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
No. Just no. You need to study more about the life and writings of this fascinating chap.
Fascinating? Yes. Always right? No.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
Well I guess the same is technically true at an interstellar scale, but I think the following caveats make it moot:

1. There is no plausible scenario at this time for a species to evolve to travel interstellar distances; we're assuming interstellar species will travel such distances with (hyper-advanced) technology.
The fact that they have achieved this level of technology already implies a lot about such species.

2. Space is mostly (unimaginably vast) empty space. Species would not be tripping over each other the way that plants on a landmass (figuratively) are.
Or, if we're imagining a race to particular resources, and we're speculating that species may compete to make dyson spheres...we'd see evidence of that. And last year when the 100,000 closest galaxies were surveyed for such features, we found nothing.
If Dyson spheres exist, there are no galaxies saturated with them. This kind of competition is objectively not happening over the vast range we've looked so far.
This...

Quote:
Originally Posted by levdrakon View Post
I think Dyson spheres are silly. Hey, we can build solar panels, someday we'll put solar panels around the whole sun! That's like ancient Egyptians saying, hey, we can build pyramids, someday we'll build pyramids that reach to the stars!

Um, no. What we eventually build probably won't be anything we're imagining now.
..and this.

And Blake is right, for the most part.
  #124  
Old 07-26-2016, 09:38 PM
Mijin's Avatar
Mijin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 9,712
Quote:
Originally Posted by levdrakon View Post
I think Dyson spheres are silly. Hey, we can build solar panels, someday we'll put solar panels around the whole sun! That's like ancient Egyptians saying, hey, we can build pyramids, someday we'll build pyramids that reach to the stars!

Um, no. What we eventually build probably won't be anything we're imagining now.
I agree. I was just throwing Dyson spheres out there as an example, but the point is we don't see any known resources being seized.

This was in the context of the argument that even on interstellar scales there will be competition and only the strongest will survive. I was simply saying that:

1) Actually it's not so simple, as any species with interstellar technology has likely left biological evolution long behind (as well as other likely differences) and

2) If we really were in a dog-eat-dog galaxy, that's so saturated with life that resources must be competed for (and all species are trying to maximize their cut), we should see some evidence of that. If not Dyson spheres then something. Indeed we can look beyond our galaxy for evidence of that, and we don't see it.
  #125  
Old 07-26-2016, 10:00 PM
Blake is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 11,049
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
2) If we really were in a dog-eat-dog galaxy, that's so saturated with life that resources must be competed for (and all species are trying to maximize their cut), we should see some evidence of that. If not Dyson spheres then something. Indeed we can look beyond our galaxy for evidence of that, and we don't see it.
95% of the universe is dark energy/matter. IOW something that providing gravitational attraction. But we can't interact with it.

IOW we know literally nothing about 99% of the matter and energy in the universe beyond the fact that it must exist but doesn't seem to actually exist. That makes claims that we aren't seeing anything consuming matter or energy resources very bold.

A total absence of 95% of the universe surely counts as something, doesn't it?

For all we know, these interstellar empires could be harnessing 95% of the matter and energy in the universe, and that is what dark energy is.
  #126  
Old 07-26-2016, 10:20 PM
Mijin's Avatar
Mijin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 9,712
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake View Post
95% of the universe is dark energy/matter. IOW something that providing gravitational attraction. But we can't interact with it.

IOW we know literally nothing about 99% of the matter and energy in the universe beyond the fact that it must exist but doesn't seem to actually exist. That makes claims that we aren't seeing anything consuming matter or energy resources very bold.
It's not a claim; it's a correct observation.

Sure, we could tomorrow make some discovery that suddenly turns the light on and we find "Oh here is where all the extraterrestrial intelligences hang out". Or, as you say, that such species are indeed harnessing great resources in ways we did not realize.

But that doesn't make it invalid to point out that right now we have no evidence of any ETIs, not even disputed evidence, let alone a rat race of sentient species competing.
  #127  
Old 07-26-2016, 10:35 PM
Blake is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 11,049
Your claim was, and I quote, "If we really were in a dog-eat-dog galaxy, that's so saturated with life that resources must be competed for (and all species are trying to maximize their cut), we should see some evidence of that. If not Dyson spheres then something. "

To me, it seems that you arguing that there isn't any evidence of vast amounts of matter or energy resources inexplicably disappearing in the universe. The kind of evidence of disappearing energy we might see if there were Dyson spheres everywhere. And if not Dyson spheres causing energy and matter to disappear then "something". So if vast amounts of matter and energy resources aren't disappearing, then there can't be all this competing life.

But then when I point out that 95% of all the matter and energy in the universe is disappearing, you say that that is not evidence of something. You don't say why it's not evidence, but you imply that it's because we can't explain a way in which aliens would cause it to disappear.

That is a very bold claim when we live in a universe where we can't see 95% of whatever makes up the universe.

The existence of dark matter may well be evidence of alien intelligences. The fact that we can't correctly interpret the evidence or explain the evidence doesn't make it not evidence.

It seems like you are saying that there was no evidence of gravity before Newton, which seems ludicrous. If there was no evidence, then how did Newton deduce gravity from the evidence? But if the evidence had always been there, and nobody had been able to correctly interpret it, then it is no different from dark matter being evidence of advanced ETs.
  #128  
Old 07-26-2016, 11:17 PM
Mijin's Avatar
Mijin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 9,712
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake View Post
To me, it seems that you arguing that there isn't any evidence of vast amounts of matter or energy resources inexplicably disappearing in the universe.
And, at this time, there is not.

Quote:
But then when I point out that 95% of all the matter and energy in the universe is disappearing, you say that that is not evidence of something.
95% of the energy is not disappearing. I think you've misunderstood the concepts of dark matter and dark energy.

And of course they are evidence of something, but in the context of what I was saying something was referring to some data supporting the hypothesis that we're in a rat race galaxy of competing sentient species.

Quote:
It seems like you are saying that there was no evidence of gravity before Newton, which seems ludicrous. If there was no evidence, then how did Newton deduce gravity from the evidence? But if the evidence had always been there, and nobody had been able to correctly interpret it, then it is no different from dark matter being evidence of advanced ETs.
If we went by your understanding of what evidence is, then every hypothesis imaginable has evidential support.

Ghosts exist? Sure, they are responsible for the phenomenon of sonoluminescence. Since we don't understand sonoluminescence yet, how can you be so arrogant as to say it is not supporting data. And so on.
  #129  
Old 08-01-2016, 02:08 AM
TYphoonSignal8 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 309
Fire consumes and propagates.

Assume peaceable alien fire visits us. We send those rabid alien-killing xenophobes, firemen, out to kill them off. If only we had seen the sentient code in those flickering flames offering friendship, trade, and cultural exchange before the water murdered them!
  #130  
Old 05-20-2020, 09:45 PM
Mcmechanic is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 117
Old thread I know. But the focus on human level intelligence as the definition of intelligence is funny to me. I would think the leap from a cat to a human in intelligence is far less then the leap from bacteria to a cat. Meaning, once central nervous systems developed, it was just a series of accidents. But the jumps between life starting, multi-cell, and central nervous system are the great filters. The difference between a cat and a human are minuscule.
  #131  
Old 05-20-2020, 09:57 PM
Mcmechanic is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 117
I guess my non coherent point is, if we ever discover a planet filled with cats, we are not even remotely alone, lol
  #132  
Old 05-21-2020, 12:58 AM
Mijin's Avatar
Mijin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 9,712
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcmechanic View Post
I would think the leap from a cat to a human in intelligence is far less then the leap from bacteria to a cat. Meaning, once central nervous systems developed, it was just a series of accidents. But the jumps between life starting, multi-cell, and central nervous system are the great filters. The difference between a cat and a human are minuscule.
Firstly, who was focusing on human intelligence? I can't find that in the thread.

Secondly, I would tend to agree with you that I doubt there is a great filter between cat intelligence and human intelligence. However, we don't know that. It's absolutely possible that that's the great filter. If we knew where the filter was, that would be the end of the paradox.
  #133  
Old 05-21-2020, 07:25 AM
Urbanredneck is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 8,502
I think 2040 is fairly realistic in the context that by that time humans will have traveled to Mars and maybe somewhere else in our solar system like Europa and might find - something. It might only be fossils but it might be a living organism but I'm betting they will find something.
  #134  
Old 05-21-2020, 08:27 AM
Biffster's Avatar
Biffster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 5,322
Quote:
Originally Posted by Urbanredneck View Post
I think 2040 is fairly realistic in the context that by that time humans will have traveled to Mars and maybe somewhere else in our solar system like Europa and might find - something. It might only be fossils but it might be a living organism but I'm betting they will find something.

ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE.
- Arthur C Clarke, 2010
  #135  
Old 05-21-2020, 10:13 PM
Mcmechanic is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
Firstly, who was focusing on human intelligence? I can't find that in the thread.

Secondly, I would tend to agree with you that I doubt there is a great filter between cat intelligence and human intelligence. However, we don't know that. It's absolutely possible that that's the great filter. If we knew where the filter was, that would be the end of the paradox.
Just saying, the Fermi paradox asks “where’s everyone at?”, cat's won’t answer, but the intelligence between an answer and a non answer is insignificant
  #136  
Old 05-21-2020, 10:36 PM
Mcmechanic is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcmechanic View Post
Just saying, the Fermi paradox asks “where’s everyone at?”, cat's won’t answer, but the intelligence between an answer and a non answer is insignificant
Only in our human minds, developed by the same processes that brought about cats, is there a difference.
  #137  
Old 05-22-2020, 02:51 AM
septimus's Avatar
septimus is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: the Land of Smiles
Posts: 21,526
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake View Post
Life as we know it existed quite happily without chlorophyll for 500 million years.
Yes; one speculation is that chlorophyll doesn't utilize green light because it needed to rely on the purple light reflected by early bacteriorhodopsin photosynthesizers.

But even primitive bacteria rely on heavy metals. The active site of decollagenase is a zinc ion. Several important proteins use iron. Several other metals are essential for some bacteria. This shows not only the utility of supernovae for life, but how amazingly complex life is, with special enzymes configured to capture ions of manganese, zinc or whatever as they happen to wander by.

We really do not know how easy it is for a soup of RNA and amino acids to develop into complex life. It may be much more unlikely than many assume.


Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
We still have not ruled out the existence of life within our own solar system. Seems a wee bit early to giving up on the entire galaxy, much less the universe.
We have detected life in our own solar system; indeed it is extremely complex life. What we're still looking for are signs of intelligent life.
  #138  
Old 05-22-2020, 03:25 AM
Mijin's Avatar
Mijin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 9,712
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcmechanic View Post
Just saying, the Fermi paradox asks “where’s everyone at?”, cat's won’t answer, but the intelligence between an answer and a non answer is insignificant
I still don't get your point.

The fermi paradox asks why it is that we have not yet detected evidence of advanced life; there is no concrete reason we are aware of why there could not be even millions of advanced civilizations. So why don't we see even evidence of one (where "advanced" means more advanced than us)?
People often get the Fermi paradox the wrong way round: they think that if they can think of a plausible reason why we don't see ETs then that's it solved. But there are lots of relatively plausible reasons, and the paradox is more asking: Which one(s) are correct? Or if, indeed, our list of candidate explanations includes the correct one.

In terms of your discussion of cats, I first thought you were just suggesting that the great filter cannot be between humans and cats. I would agree that the filter is unlikely to be at that stage, but we don't know enough to rule it out.
But now you're implying the universe may have planets with species at the cat level, but none at a human level: this would imply the great filter *is* between humans and cats.
So...what is it you're saying?

Last edited by Mijin; 05-22-2020 at 03:30 AM.
  #139  
Old 05-22-2020, 03:18 PM
Mcmechanic is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 117
Ok, I guess I’m implying that the great filter is after humans if one subscribes to the belief that one species is superior to another.
Further advancement in technology or biology inevitably can only lead to more introspection until technology and evolution stagnate. I can’t imagine any other outcome.
As far as the universe is concerned though, we’re all just silly cats with silly toys.
  #140  
Old 05-28-2020, 10:34 PM
Mcmechanic is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 117
Judging by current human technological progress, any other technological species will develop a digital inner world of fully immersive virtual reality, before being able to engineer self replicating probes, or the resources necessary to send generational starships to amount to much galaxy wide colonization. Why go anywhere, if you can experience anything imaginable at home? Hell, my nieces could care less about having a driver’s license.
Kardeshev scale is so 1960’s.
  #141  
Old 05-28-2020, 10:55 PM
Mcmechanic is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 117
Fully immersive Virtual reality is the great filter. Biological progress results in fully immersive virtual reality quicker. Technological progress results in fully immersive virtual reality quicker.
I’m right, lol. Just kidding. But would love to hear arguments.
  #142  
Old 05-28-2020, 11:56 PM
Mijin's Avatar
Mijin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 9,712
I've been talking up VR for years on the Dope, usually sounding like a crazy person. I think science fiction does a terrible job of imagining the full possibilities for VR (though in fairness, anything beyond "poor facsimile of the real world" would be hard to film and write compelling stories for).

However, behavioural solutions to the Fermi paradox tend not to be very convincing. Because, to work, they need every single individual, in every civilization, to play ball, over billions of years. Because as soon as one individual decides to launch a self-replicating probe, evidence of her species will be spread around the galaxy within mere millions of years.
And since the tech to make a self-replicating probe might be within humans' grasp within a century or two, it seems likely to be something an individual or at most a small team would be capable of doing in an advanced species.

Last edited by Mijin; 05-28-2020 at 11:59 PM.
  #143  
Old 05-29-2020, 06:10 AM
Tibby's Avatar
Tibby is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,827
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
<snip>

The fermi paradox asks why it is that we have not yet detected evidence of advanced life; there is no concrete reason we are aware of why there could not be even millions of advanced civilizations. So why don't we see even evidence of one (where "advanced" means more advanced than us)?<snip>
Perhaps there are millions of civilizations in the universe capable of sending out self-replicating probes. But, what if those civilizations average only ~1 per galactic supercluster? In the accelerating expanding universe in which we find ourselves, in order for any of those probes to reach us, they would need to replicate at a rate approaching infinity and travel significantly faster than the speed of light.
  #144  
Old 05-29-2020, 10:11 AM
Babale is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,297
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson Pike View Post
Doesn't this imply that differing forms of life, genetically unrelated to all others, should have appeared in abundance?
No, because even if it is relatively easy for abiogenesis to occur under the right conditions, it is even easier for life to reproduce. Imagine that you take a bunch of primordial soup full of life's basic building blocks and add some energy so that life arises. It would then proceed to do what life does, assimilating and digesting nearby organic molecules in order to grow, gain energy, and reproduce. That first life form would then be able to outcompete any other form of life.

We don't know how many times abiogenesis happened, but it could have happened many times with many different forms of life but our distant ancestor and its descendants ate all the other lineages.

Also one of the theories for the origin of viruses suggests that they come from abiotic yet self replicating proto-life that learned to attack and reproduce using living cells. As viruses can't reproduce on their own it does make sense that they could only evolve after our branch of cellular life had developed.

Quote:
Double check that source- the universe is now only 13.8 billion years old, and I doubt any star has a life expectancy anywhere near 100 billion years.
Red Dwarfs live for 100 billion years, potentially even up to a trillion by some models. This means that no red dwarf in the universe has ever run through its entire life cycle -- not even close. We have some ideas about what old red dwarfs become but obviously it will be a very long time before we can test those models :P but some of the theorized star remnants will last for many trillions of years.
  #145  
Old 05-29-2020, 10:43 AM
Babale is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,297
I just realized I was responding to a 4 year old post. I blame light lag!
  #146  
Old 05-29-2020, 11:40 AM
Mijin's Avatar
Mijin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 9,712
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tibby View Post
Perhaps there are millions of civilizations in the universe capable of sending out self-replicating probes. But, what if those civilizations average only ~1 per galactic supercluster? In the accelerating expanding universe in which we find ourselves, in order for any of those probes to reach us, they would need to replicate at a rate approaching infinity and travel significantly faster than the speed of light.
Yes that's a possibility.

But look at it this way: For the purpose of the Fermi paradox, when we ask the question "Are we alone?", we're practically just talking about our local cluster of galaxies. Because if FTL is impossible, we'll never be able to explore beyond this. And if FTL is possible then that makes the paradox much worse since there would be no bounds on how far, or how quickly, a single advanced species could spread.
So the proposition that the local cluster only contains a single sentient species is akin to asserting we're alone...OK, but the question would be why? There are trillions of planets within that volume.
  #147  
Old 05-29-2020, 01:21 PM
Biffster's Avatar
Biffster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 5,322
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
Yes that's a possibility.

But look at it this way: For the purpose of the Fermi paradox, when we ask the question "Are we alone?", we're practically just talking about our local cluster of galaxies. Because if FTL is impossible, we'll never be able to explore beyond this. And if FTL is possible then that makes the paradox much worse since there would be no bounds on how far, or how quickly, a single advanced species could spread.
So the proposition that the local cluster only contains a single sentient species is akin to asserting we're alone...OK, but the question would be why? There are trillions of planets within that volume.

Why? Maybe because life is a pretty rare and precious thing, not to be taken for granted. Oh sure, life is pretty abundant on this planet, but by no means does this mean life must exist somewhere else. Maybe it exists billions of years in the past or billions in the future. There’s no logical reason to assume that life elsewhere in the universe must exist at the same time we do.
  #148  
Old 05-29-2020, 01:51 PM
eburacum45 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Old York
Posts: 2,993
Quote:
Originally Posted by Biffster View Post
There’s no logical reason to assume that life elsewhere in the universe must exist at the same time we do.
Well, there are some reasons to expect this. The metalicity of stars in the early universe was generally low, and that means planets were fewer, less dense, and contained fewer metals to incorporate into molecules such as haemoglobin and chlorophyll.

Conversely, the metallicity of stars in the far future may be too high to support small planets like Earth in stable orbits; planets in the future may be too massive and disruptive to allow the development of long-lived terrestrial worlds in the habitable zone.

Neither of these factors pose an absolute limit, but it is possible that the current era is the peak time for the development of Earth-similar life-bearing worlds.

Last edited by eburacum45; 05-29-2020 at 01:52 PM.
  #149  
Old 05-29-2020, 03:29 PM
Larry Borgia's Avatar
Larry Borgia is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 11,094
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcmechanic View Post
Only in our human minds, developed by the same processes that brought about cats, is there a difference.
The cats won't answer because they keep knocking over their own radio telescopes.

Seriously, I have never understood the Fermi Paradox. Space is very very big. Interstellar travel is likely impossible. Humans are a very sophisticated species, and we've sent a whopping two spaceships into interstellar space, where all they'll do is travel for a tiny distance and die.

As for self-replicating probes, why? Why would any intelligence want to do that. Do any of you have an interest in sending out a self-replicating probe which won't benefit you or humanity in the slightest?
  #150  
Old 05-29-2020, 08:27 PM
Mijin's Avatar
Mijin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 9,712
Quote:
Originally Posted by Biffster View Post
Why? Maybe because life is a pretty rare and precious thing, not to be taken for granted. Oh sure, life is pretty abundant on this planet, but by no means does this mean life must exist somewhere else. Maybe it exists billions of years in the past or billions in the future. There’s no logical reason to assume that life elsewhere in the universe must exist at the same time we do.
No one is assuming anything.
The point is that, even assuming that life is rare, that would only be a partial answer to the Fermi paradox because we would still want to discover *why* it's rare.
Clearly it's not impossible for sentient life to develop, so which part(s) are so unlikely to not happen again in a radius of 100 trillion planets.

Sent from my Redmi Note 8 using Tapatalk
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:34 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017