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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:So on the AP and on various astronomy websites I have been following 3 teams of scientists who have been studying exoplanets.
One of these exoplanets (I believe in the Pegusus system) revolves around two suns which are hydrogen and oxygen base. The thought process has long been, follow the water and we will find life. Yet the planet they hoped they would find something on has turned out to be a silicone based atmosphere with 1500F degree temps and winds of 500-2000mph, so they were bummed.

Now, there was a quote in one of the recent article on it, I on the AP (there's one on Rueters too)
There are two quotes that really strike me...
"The very fact that we've been surprised here is a wake-up call. We obviously need to do some more work," Grillmair said.

Charbonneau said these surprising "sniffs of air from an alien world" tell astronomers not to be so Earth-centric in thinking about other planets. "We're limited by our imagination in thinking about the different avenues that these atmospheres take place in," he said.

But the thing is, they have been painfully Earth-centric. There is the very real possibility that they have seen life on other planets but have applied such a limited definition of life that they missed it.

What I don't get is if Gene Roddenbury could envision such things, to the point where he inspired the developement of modern technology (anyone seen the show "How Star Trek Changed the World?" It's fantastic!), George Lucas, Frank Herbert... and many scientists will openly admit that these works inspired them to go into the study of science, then where did their imaginations go?
Sometimes it seems that people of a heavy scientific persuasion, even those of the hobbyist nature, seem to forget that the study of science begins with possibility, not impossibility.

Thoughts? Anyone else follow this?

(BTW the results of one of these studies is going to be published in the next issue of Nature Magazine, and I believe I read that they will be covering it on the science channel).


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:Pele, I don't think they're as Earth-centric as you think.

But there are some assumptions that we can make about life, or at least life based on chemistry (which is the only sort of life that we can even prepare to investigate since a life form which was completely incorporeal would probably not be within our abilites to detect it).

1) Life must utilize energy, and produce some sort of waste.

2) Life must have a way to perpetuate itself (otherwise it would die soon after it came to exist and we'd never find it)

3) The chemical reactions necessary for life processes must occur in some medium.

So you're right. These observations do not preclude life on these worlds. However, there is one very important thing. If you look at Venus, Mars, or Jupiter you see that their atmospheres are at equilibrium concentrations of their substituents. There are not large amounts, say, of highly reactive gases because those would be expected to react with other materials and form less reactive materials.

But if you look at Earth, you see an atmosphere that is 21% oxgen. Oxygen is an absurdly reactive gas. It's so reactive that we can watch it react with various substances before our very eyes, and I don't just mean fire. The Statue of Liberty wasn't always green. It's made of copper. It used to be copper-colored. But it oxidized and now it's green.

If all life on Earth were to die today, it wouldn't take very long (a few tens of thousands of years) before the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere dropped to 1% or less.

So the clue to life is that you will notice that compounds in the atmosphere of a planet will seem wildly out of equilibrium with no good explanation. That means that something or someone is using energy to change the background equilibrium of the planet's atmosphere.

The lack of this finding doesn't necessarily mean a lack of life. The biomass on Earth that is found underground (and I mean DEEP underground, where the temperature starts to go up because of the magma) is about equal to life on or near the surface. These life forms have little interaction with the surface and might be undetectable without drilling. Heck, we live here and we've only discovered these life forms (mostly archaebacteria) in the last few decades.

But I don't think their thinking is Earth-centric at all. They are casting the broadest net possible. Nobody has said that these worlds must be lifeless, only that they can't harbor anything remotely resembling our form of life.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:I'm sleepy right now, but I just wanted to say that I am actually quoting some of the research scientists who worked on those stars, who said they were extremely Earth-centric.

I screwed up when writing that out in that this
"Charbonneau said these surprising "sniffs of air from an alien world" tell astronomers not to be so Earth-centric in thinking about other planets. "We're limited by our imagination in thinking about the different avenues that these atmospheres take place in," he said." is a direct quote from one of the men who studied the non-pegasus system planet. wink

I liked alot of what you had to say, and want to process it, and well, read it when I am either well rested or really caffinated before commenting. wink

(btw, offtopic I am going to be in Long Island in March, and in the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island in June. Hope to get to see you!)


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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FireTom
Stargazer

Member Since: 20th Sep 2003
Total posts: 6650
Posted:Very interesting what you are writing there, Doc.

How about the possibility that - not now and in the very near future - man may find a way to alter an otherwise even hostile atmosphere, in order to turn it into some that "life as we know it" might be able to survive?

But in thinking of "intelligent liveforms out there" in terms and under conditions of humanoids or anything that is related to our way of being - is earthcentric... IMO

Why does "life has to produce waste"? confused


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Domino
UnNatural Scientist - Currently working on a Breville-legged monkey
Location: Bath Uni or Shrewsbury, UK
Member Since: 26th May 2004
Total posts: 757
Posted: Written by: FireTom


How about the possibility that - not now and in the very near future - man may find a way to alter an otherwise even hostile atmosphere, in order to turn it into some that "life as we know it" might be able to survive?




This idea has had some press recently in one form - ideas to soak up excess CO2 from the atmosphere, the logic being that after reducing carbon emissions there's still all previous emissions up there to deal with.

 Written by: FireTom


But in thinking of "intelligent liveforms out there" in terms and under conditions of humanoids or anything that is related to our way of being - is earthcentric... IMO




Yup, but I'm not certain that's what the good doctor was saying. Incidently have you read They're made out of meat?


Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I can beat the world into submission.

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E_V_I_L
E_V_I_L

Mosh-mosh-mosh-mosh.
Location: Midlands
Member Since: 31st Jul 2003
Total posts: 346
Posted:Personally I'd love it if we found any form of life anywhere that wasn't carbon-based. It'd force a complete re-think about most things we know about life.

Plus, who knows what, say, a Silicon life-form would need (Very sci-fi choice there, I know!) as anything put forward so far is theoretical. For all we know life forms that we can't yet even imagine might thrive in what we'd consider "hostile" environs, yet perish in our own environment.

And I do so hope that not all lifeforms are humanoid. That'd really be boring!


Xbox360 Live ID - Sacred Apollyon

"Enemies you threaten make armies. Enemies you destroy make graves."

"Here is a test to see if your mission on earth is finished: If your alive it isn't."

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87wt2gxq7
87wt2gxq7

veteran
Location: Birmingham
Member Since: 12th Apr 2005
Total posts: 1502
Posted:Pele, have you got the links to the sites you were looking at?



Ta. smile


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Mascot
Mascot

enthusiast

Member Since: 20th May 2002
Total posts: 301
Posted:silicon based life is a sci-fi cliche but the choice was made for a reason.

Silicon is one above Carbon in the periodic table and thus shares many of it's properties.

We are finely adapted to our environment, and beings from other planets would be finely adapted to theirs. It is almost inconceivable that we would be able to survive any length of time in an alien world or that they could survive here.


Walls may have ears but they don't have eyes

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