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Author Topic: What if we find life beyond the Earth, how does physics get rewritten?  (Read 2870 times)

Offline briligg

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I'm taking another stab at this one, i had a much longer-winded version. If we find life elsewhere, which seems increasingly plausible, how could that not imply that the universe has a powerful tendency to organize into incredibly complex systems? After all, one of the most fundamental aspects of life is that it adapts and spreads, as much as possible. Once it becomes intelligent, something that strikes me as bound to happen where ever a biosphere reaches sufficient complexity, the imperative to spread becomes astronomical - unless the intelligent species is destroyed, it will eventually spread beyond its own planet. Any discovery of life elsewhere, all the more if we discover it more than once, is a powerful indication that the universe is organizing on a vast scale, and that this is inherent in its nature. That mechanism would need to be described.


 

Offline Emc2

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if life is out there, and I believe it is, nothing needs to be changed, that life still has to follow the rules of physics..

  that life is still going to experience, the forces, gravity, etc.etc.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Indications are that Earth was colonized by bacteria extremely early in Earth's history.  This has led to speculations that given the right conditions, life will spontaneously evolve... quickly.  Fining other life forms wouldn't change those ideas.

Earth is considered a "goldilocks" planet, just right for the development of terrestrial life.  And, there are many reasons why carbon, hydrogen, and water provide the perfect medium for the development of life. 

What finding life elsewhere might do is help us better define the conditions required for the development of life.
 

Offline BillionsNbillions

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Physics does not need to be rewritten to accomodate life.  The Butterfly effect can cause highly organized patterns out of chaos.  The Mandelbrot Sets show how an extremely simple equation involving randomness and a feedback loop can create amazing complexity and pattern out of noise.  See the BBC's Secret Life of Chaos.  It has an example of a camera taking an image of a flame which is projected onto a white wall, which means the second projected image is also caught on camera projecting another image of the original flame and the projected image, and so on.  When the flame is moved around and the camera zoomed in, incredible patterns emerge that in no way resemble the original image of the flame.  The blood vessels in the body follow similar fractal patterns, as do river tributaries and even clouds.  The increasing complexity of the universe is a result of a few rules including randomness and a feedback loop. 
 

Offline yor_on

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That does not answer what life is, it just describes a possible way to complexity.
 

Offline CliffordK

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the imperative to spread becomes astronomical - unless the intelligent species is destroyed, it will eventually spread beyond its own planet.

I'm not sure there is any such imperative.  While Humans have spread to all corners of the planet Earth, one could easily stop here.

I'm not convinced there is any economic reason to spread to the other planets in our solar system.  Interplanetary commerce may be too expensive to be viable.  And, it may not be practical to consider other planets as a viable place to displace population overgrowth.

However, I believe that we will choose to eventually colonize our Moon, as well as  Mars and Venus, and a few of the outer moons.  Our moon will be vital for future astronomy research, but the other planets may be colonized more for curiosity than anything else.

Whether we eventually spread beyond our solar system is completely a different question.  No doubt we will eventually choose to attempt to send (functioning) unmanned probes to nearby stars.  But, moving humans beyond our solar system may not be practical.

And, even sending probes will likely be a multi-generational project.  One may choose to "seed" distant exoplanets with non-human terrestrial life, but only after verification that they are in fact sterile.
 

Offline simplified

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I'm taking another stab at this one, i had a much longer-winded version. If we find life elsewhere, which seems increasingly plausible, how could that not imply that the universe has a powerful tendency to organize into incredibly complex systems? After all, one of the most fundamental aspects of life is that it adapts and spreads, as much as possible. Once it becomes intelligent, something that strikes me as bound to happen where ever a biosphere reaches sufficient complexity, the imperative to spread becomes astronomical - unless the intelligent species is destroyed, it will eventually spread beyond its own planet. Any discovery of life elsewhere, all the more if we discover it more than once, is a powerful indication that the universe is organizing on a vast scale, and that this is inherent in its nature. That mechanism would need to be described.
If any interstellar empire needs our biological resources then we should be imperceptible. :)
 

Offline briligg

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I'm finally getting back to this, i got distracted.
The discussion  of chaos and feedback on that BBC show gets towards what i am trying to look at, but i agree with yor_on - life is another ball game. The current math describing the emergence of order is the beginning of the answer, maybe.
Perhaps i just yearn for a more vigorous sense of wonder in science. For instance, there is a large camp, i understand, building in the world of physics asserting that either time doesn't really exist, or that it is a dimension which doesn't inherently move  in any particular direction. Doesn't that immediately imply that from a broader perspective we don't have access to, ordered systems are connected across all time? And doesn't that then mean that if an intelligence could access that broader perspective and act across it, its organizing actions, from our perspective, would seem to spontaneously arise at a certain moment and then develop? And if our own intelligence isn't extinguished, doesn't it seem inevitable that we would eventually be that intelligence that bridges that veil? Say it takes a billion years to reach that point, so what? Once you do, you are god. Almost literally, minus the quaint anthropomorphism and moralism.
I remember when every scientist (who got on tv) claimed that finding life elsewhere was extremely unlikely because it was just too complex to arise twice. I suppose that the diligence necessary to good science makes this seem like just too many speculative leaps, but they seem to me like solid probabilities. How can we propose that time doesn't fundamentally exist or doesn't fundamentally have a direction, and then assume that nothing lives outside the limitations imposed by time? Especially since the scales are quickly tipping towards a world-view in which the arising of life is commonplace.
 

Offline briligg

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A recent episode of The Big Bang Theory (all hail!) mentioned the anthropic principle, and i looked it up and got to the version called the final anthropic principle, or the omega point, according to the thinking of Frank Tipler, but better explored by David Deutsch.
It has been attacked as wishful thinking, but i would prefer to call it emotionally speculative. When it comes to philosophies of everything, which i'd say thinking types always have to come up with sooner or later, one's personal preferences of course are primary determinants. But if you stay within the bounds of logic and scientific method, what's to complain about? Such world views function as personal inspiration, and to others mostly as pointers reminding one of how very, very little we know, and how certain it is that there are great big things out there we can't imagine and would never expect.
 

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