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Author Topic: Alien life on Mars?  (Read 6947 times)

Offline pantodragon

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Alien life on Mars?
« on: 25/10/2012 15:02:39 »
On a radio programme this week, a scientist, a geologist, talked about life on Mars. She claimed that nothing bigger than microbes could exist there because anything bigger would have been noticed/observed by us.

Has the mind of science shrunk so far that they think they know everything that exists in the universe, that there are no off-the-scale, far out, really weird, invisible-to-the-human-range-of-senses creatures in the universe? In fact, this touches on some quite fundamental concepts of physics, concepts of the we-take-these-truths-to-be-self-evident kind, in this case the idea that the universe is the same throughout and that the little range of substances, forces, energies etc., that are familiar to us on earth are all that is. There is much weirdness in science fiction, but what might be out there may relate more closely to the imagined beings/worlds of the imagination than to mundane extrapolations from our current earthbound knowledge.

Another problem here is the individual’s capacity to see what is there. For example, when Captain Cook first arrived in the Antipodes, some of the natives within view of the shore simply did not see the ships. That is, the ships were so alien to them that their minds just rejected them. So, can we be sure (a) that our minds would not reject sight of some beings that are too alien and (b) that scientists minds are the best prepared to register the existence of the truly alien - as opposed, say, to the minds of science fiction writers, but of course it is scientists who are the front line position, in the field, telling us what does and does not exist?


 

Offline Boogie

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #1 on: 25/10/2012 15:14:19 »
Let's hope there were no velociraptors or T-rex ever on Mars. The next mission to Mars may have equipment designed to beam DNA back to earth so we can recreate life that once existed there.

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John Craig Venter, researcher and entrepreneur, is working to develop a machine that can sequence DNA found on Mars and then “beam” it back to earth. Venter’s goal is to send a “biological teleporter” to Mars, collect Martian DNA, and then recreate Martian life from it.


Link :
http://www2.electronicproducts.com/Create_a_Martian-article-FANE_create_martian_Oct2012-html.aspx

This doesn't make a lot of sense to me when we have several species here on earth that are near the brink of extinction that we could be trying to bring back instead of alien life forms from another planet. Where are our priorities?

So, if we recreate intellegent life from Mars, I think we would have just created a huge problem for ourselves. What if  it turns out to be wicked deadly and able to self reproduce. Our bleeding hearts will fight to keep it alive so it can destroy us all?

 

Offline JP

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #2 on: 25/10/2012 15:50:47 »
Pantodragon, I notice you've made this exact same post on several other fora.  In the future, please do not copy/paste content here that is also posted elsewhere on the web, as per our forum rules.

-mod
 

Offline Ophiolite

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #3 on: 25/10/2012 18:08:34 »
On a radio programme this week, a scientist, a geologist, talked about life on Mars. She claimed that nothing bigger than microbes could exist there because anything bigger would have been noticed/observed by us.
If this indeed what she said then she was being rather silly. We have placed a handful of landers and rovers on the surface. If macroscopic life exists it may well be restricted to a few locations that we have not chanced to touch down on. However, the rationale for saying any life is likely microscopic is a reasonable one.

You object to extending the principles of science to beyond the Earth, yet we have many reasons to believe this is a sound process and few if any reasons to doubt its efficacy. On that basis the environment of Mars seems to preclude macroscopic life forms.

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For example, when Captain Cook first arrived in the Antipodes, some of the natives within view of the shore simply did not see the ships.
I've seen this quoted. I've remarked on it myself. However, I suspect it may be a myth.
 

Offline syhprum

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #4 on: 25/10/2012 19:44:12 »
I feel that there has been so much transfer of materiel between Earth and Mars over the ages due to fragments blasted of by meteorites that organisms on Mars will have very similar chemistry to those on Earth but will have evolved to cope with the lower temperatures and high UV radiation.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #5 on: 25/10/2012 19:52:24 »
http://www2.electronicproducts.com/Create_a_Martian-article-FANE_create_martian_Oct2012-html.aspx
Isn't that putting the cart before the horse?

So far no life has ever been found or verified on Mars.

If living microorganisms are found, it will be far cheaper and more stable to just transport the organisms back whole.  As the biosphere failed, Mars could have some extraordinary fossils, lacking biological decomposition.  Yet, millions, or billions of years would still take a toll on the cellular structure.

Assuming a water/carbon form of life, one might expect some kind of a polar lipid cellular membrane.  Yet, other than that, there is no reason to assume the basic proteins, amino acids, DNA, and RNA would be the same on another planet. 

Without terrestrial DNA, a DNA sequencer would have nothing to sequence.
 

Offline Boogie

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #6 on: 25/10/2012 21:58:18 »
One of the three tests that were performed to see if life was present on mars, actually had positive results.

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"The Labeled Release apparatus brought on the mission worked by scooping up Martian soil and mixing it with water containing nutrients and radioactive carbon atoms. If the soil contained microbes, the life forms would release gases as a result of metabolizing. That Labeled Release test did, in fact, support the theory that there was life on mars, but the other two tests did not."

Apparently, this was enough evidence to justify spending mucho denaro to pursue on the next mission.

Regardless of life on Mars, why not use this technology to increase populations of endangered species or bring extinct species back into existence here on earth? I see no benefit to re-creating "Marvin the Martian" no matter how adorable he is. We are familiar with DNA and RNA on earth, why not start here and bring back some of the creatures that humans are responsible for their extinction. I think that would be the best place to start and would be the right thing to do.

They make it sound like the DNA they find will be analyzed and digitized and sent back to earth like some sort of high tech tweet. If we can store DNA electronically, then we could have an electronic library containing "copies" of every species on earth, including plants and insects as well as animals. You could use the same sort of technology to help inhabit other planets. You can transport a whole zoo on a pen drive which could take up a lot less room on a spacecraft. All you would need is the DNA data and universal recipient cells. Then, just add water, I assume. Some assembly may be required.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #7 on: 25/10/2012 23:08:23 »
I have no doubt we'll see mammoths or mastodons walking on Earth once again.  However, a population of 1 or 2 often is insufficient to re-establish a species.

There has been an unsuccessful attempt to clone an extinct animal, so it is easier said than done. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrenean_ibex

Is there any inherent right to life for extent species?  Which ones?

There would be many benefits of building a gene and protein library, and finding some very unique genes and proteins on another planet may actually have some benefits back here on Earth.  However, alien life, even alien microbes could also be very dangerous to grow on Earth as there my not be any immunity anywhere to the life form.  Perhaps one should at least initially restrict alien life to an off-world research station.  The Moon?  Mars?

 

Offline Boogie

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #8 on: 26/10/2012 00:09:09 »
However, alien life, even alien microbes could also be very dangerous to grow on Earth as there my not be any immunity anywhere to the life form.  Perhaps one should at least initially restrict alien life to an off-world research station.  The Moon?  Mars?

I couldn't agree more. Even if the original organism is harmless, there may be a chance that the DNA data could get corrupt during transmission and we end up with an angry martian packing a illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator.
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #9 on: 26/10/2012 20:05:28 »
I've tried to read up on the illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator Boogie, but so far the only redirections I got is to NSA and area 51? Shouldn't it be area 52? Is that where we keep them?
 

Offline pantodragon

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #10 on: 01/11/2012 14:40:06 »
Pantodragon, I notice you've made this exact same post on several other fora.  In the future, please do not copy/paste content here that is also posted elsewhere on the web, as per our forum rules.

-mod

Yes, I see that I didn't read the rules closely enough.  Having said that, I have to comment on this rule: it is absurd.  It is tantamount to saying that pantodragon (or anyone else) may not talk about the same subject, discuss the same issues, with different sets of friends unless she expresses herself in different words.  What is the thinking behind this?  At face value it seems as though Naked Scientists is inconveniencing its members to ensure that it has sole publication rights for  whatever they produce - an iniquitous practice that will be familiar to all freelance magazine writers.
 

Offline pantodragon

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #11 on: 01/11/2012 15:18:42 »
You object to extending the principles of science to beyond the Earth, yet we have many reasons to believe this is a sound process and few if any reasons to doubt its efficacy. On that basis the environment of Mars seems to preclude macroscopic life forms.

Without being specific about reasons, efficacy etc., I cannot deal with your specific objections.  You talk talk with an air of great authority, but all I can say is you are wrong.  Science does not stand on such solid ground as it would have us believe.  The air of authority with which science speaks disguises the insubstantiality, or even absence, of grounds on which it stands.  There are issues raised on this thread upon which science talks complete bollocks with complete authority.

Firstly, the old evolution thing: survival of the fittest, the selfish gene, competition etc..  This is so blattantly, absurdly wrong that it beggars belief that people actually swallow it.  Let’s just take one thing: competition leads to monoculture.  Cooperation leads to diversity.  This is very clear, unambiguous, unarguable.  It is also clear that human society is tending toward monoculture.  It is equally clear that the natural world has gone in the other direction, starting from relatively simple beginnings and evolving the huge, rich variety of life we see on our planet.  Explanation: humans are competitive and fight for survival, while nature is cooperative.

Secondly, scientists are blithely extending the rules they have derived for life on earth out into the greater cosmos yet they clearly have not even understood what rules apply on earth.  Nor have they understood the range of applicability and what justifies extrapolation of certain rules to systems and situations beyond their original home territory.

While we’re at it, let’s go right back to the beginning to the great big Bang with which modern science started: that we exist in, and are products of, a real material world (as opposed to, say, a virtual reality) and that that world is machine like i.e. is ordered by rules (as opposed to being ordered by, say, meaning).  This is all unsubstantiated and puts science in the same compartment as religions i.e. it is based fundamentally on belief.

If you choose to talk about the world being better today than ever before, if you try and justify science on grounds of its success, then you are making a fundamental error in logic, but one which people make all the time, especially those who are more concerned to be right than truthful.  In case you don’t see the error, it goes like this: how do you know what the world would have been like without science?  It might have been a lot better, it might have been a lot worse; you just don’t know.

I’ve dealt with some of the major misconceptions that science promotes, but it is riddled with assumptions and bad practice.  It is a sick animal indeed.

I can anticipate that there may be a reaction to my reply of the nature of: what are you doing on this site then if you think science is bollocks?  Well, the situation is actually rather more complex than scientists understand.  To me, science is just the latest big religion and I am interested in religions.  Further, they all are true but you have to know where the truth lies, and it lies in the mythology.  The textbooks of science contain the mythology of science just as surely as the Bible contains the mythology of the Judaic religions.  These mythologies talk in the language of dreams and are interpretable in the same way as dreams and the truth they contain is the truth of what is going on in the minds of their creators.
 

Offline BenV

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #12 on: 01/11/2012 15:23:09 »
Pantodragon, I notice you've made this exact same post on several other fora.  In the future, please do not copy/paste content here that is also posted elsewhere on the web, as per our forum rules.

-mod

Yes, I see that I didn't read the rules closely enough.  Having said that, I have to comment on this rule: it is absurd.  It is tantamount to saying that pantodragon (or anyone else) may not talk about the same subject, discuss the same issues, with different sets of friends unless she expresses herself in different words.  What is the thinking behind this?  At face value it seems as though Naked Scientists is inconveniencing its members to ensure that it has sole publication rights for  whatever they produce - an iniquitous practice that will be familiar to all freelance magazine writers.

This rule is in place predominantly because of the massive quantity of spam and spam-like posts that forums receive.  Posts that are duplicated on other fora are very often edited later to include spam links, or the poster never returns to actually discuss their posts.  This is a discussion forum, rather than a publishing platform.


With regards life on Mars, I wonder if she was overstating her point a bit.  We haven't found any evidence for life using any of the techniques we have tried, so right now, I think we're forced to accept the null hypothesis that there is no life on Mars.  But that doesn't mean we should stop trying.  At some point, that threshold will come, but Curiosity shows that we're not there yet.

Are we restircted to Earth-centric thinking?  I suspect so, but the nice thing about science is that it's a process, so if something arises that doesn't fit our current understanding, new hypotheses will arise to accommodate the data.
 

Offline BenV

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #13 on: 01/11/2012 15:45:08 »
You object to extending the principles of science to beyond the Earth, yet we have many reasons to believe this is a sound process and few if any reasons to doubt its efficacy. On that basis the environment of Mars seems to preclude macroscopic life forms.

Without being specific about reasons, efficacy etc., I cannot deal with your specific objections.  You talk talk with an air of great authority, but all I can say is you are wrong. 

This is a science discussion website, so some evidence and discussion would be appreciated.  I choose not to accept your assertion that Ophiolite is wrong, and you are welcome to convince me otherwise.

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Science does not stand on such solid ground as it would have us believe.  The air of authority with which science speaks disguises the insubstantiality, or even absence, of grounds on which it stands.  There are issues raised on this thread upon which science talks complete bollocks with complete authority.

Please watch your language, we try to keep this a family friendly site.

Quote
Firstly, the old evolution thing: survival of the fittest, the selfish gene, competition etc..  This is so blattantly, absurdly wrong that it beggars belief that people actually swallow it.  Let’s just take one thing: competition leads to monoculture.  Cooperation leads to diversity.  This is very clear, unambiguous, unarguable.  It is also clear that human society is tending toward monoculture.  It is equally clear that the natural world has gone in the other direction, starting from relatively simple beginnings and evolving the huge, rich variety of life we see on our planet.  Explanation: humans are competitive and fight for survival, while nature is cooperative.

I think this oversimplifies the issue.  I'm not really convinced that competition leads to monoculture (as competition leads to niche fractionisation), nor do I see any evolutionary biologists suggesting that competition is the only factor at play.  The whole field of Evolutionary Game Theory looks at how different strategies work in different contexts.

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Secondly, scientists are blithely extending the rules they have derived for life on earth out into the greater cosmos yet they clearly have not even understood what rules apply on earth.  Nor have they understood the range of applicability and what justifies extrapolation of certain rules to systems and situations beyond their original home territory.

They're doing both at the same time - increasing our knowledge of life on Earth while looking for evidence of life, as we so far understand it, elsewhere.  As I said in the post above, if data arises that doesn't fit our Earth-based theories, new hypotheses will arise to help explain the new facts.

Quote
While we’re at it, let’s go right back to the beginning to the great big Bang with which modern science started: that we exist in, and are products of, a real material world (as opposed to, say, a virtual reality) and that that world is machine like i.e. is ordered by rules (as opposed to being ordered by, say, meaning).  This is all unsubstantiated and puts science in the same compartment as religions i.e. it is based fundamentally on belief.

Some of this is philosophy, rather than science, and some of it is misconception.  The Big Bang is not science dogma, it's the best fit explanation with the facts we have to date.  We accept the idea that the universe is mechanical because that explanation fits the facts.  If new facts arise that gives us cause to question these assumptions, scientists will do so.  This is the main reason why comparing science to a religion is nonsense.

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I can anticipate that there may be a reaction to my reply of the nature of: what are you doing on this site then if you think science is bollocks?  Well, the situation is actually rather more complex than scientists understand.  To me, science is just the latest big religion and I am interested in religions.  Further, they all are true but you have to know where the truth lies, and it lies in the mythology.  The textbooks of science contain the mythology of science just as surely as the Bible contains the mythology of the Judaic religions.  These mythologies talk in the language of dreams and are interpretable in the same way as dreams and the truth they contain is the truth of what is going on in the minds of their creators.

Now that's an interesting point - truth.  Scientists don't really lay claim to the truth, "science" understands that we are limited by our senses and our minds, and that the closest we can get to an objective truth is a form of inter-consensual subjectivity - and through this we reach the closest to objectivity that we are currently able to reach.  Science and religion(s) are different types of philosophy - perhaps that should be your starting point instead?
 

Offline Ophiolite

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #14 on: 01/11/2012 17:37:06 »
Pantodragon, I see that BenV has responded to most of your points elegantly and in much the same manner I would have chosen to. There was one paragraph he left unaddressed
If you choose to talk about the world being better today than ever before, if you try and justify science on grounds of its success, then you are making a fundamental error in logic, but one which people make all the time, especially those who are more concerned to be right than truthful.  In case you don’t see the error, it goes like this: how do you know what the world would have been like without science?  It might have been a lot better, it might have been a lot worse; you just don’t know.
I have not and I do not think anyone else in this thread has made the assertion that the world is a better place today as a consequence of science. I can make a strong argument either way.

The point, however, is wholly irrelevant since science is not about making the world better, but about providing a methodology by which we can learn more about the world. In this regard it seems to have been amazingly successful. Would you care to name a methodology which has been more effective, or even as effective, for acquiring knowledge about the world? I would be fascinated to see what you  can offer in this regard. If, as I suspect is the case, you cannot produce such a beast then you are left with science as the currently best available methodology for learning about the world.

P.S. If you want to make the world a better place then you will need to consider ethics and philosophy  and the like, but don't ask a bread knife to act as a soup bowl.
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #15 on: 01/11/2012 20:56:58 »
I agree to disagree there O :)

Science have definitely made the world a better place to live in, although a 'shrinking world' also have made greed a global phenomena related to some few percent of the population worldwide. You can't hinder people from becoming greedy and shortsighted, especially not if we're actively encouraging it, by slogans like 'everyone can become a millionaire' etc. But science still gives us a, relatively simple, common value system understandable for all, although not discussing the philosophical aspects of living. In some undefinable way it reminds me of behaviorism.

But both science and behaviorism needs to be guided by ethics, without ethics humanism is lost.
 

Offline pantodragon

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #16 on: 05/11/2012 16:24:53 »
BenV, Ophiolite, yor_on:

You are eloquent, BenV, but you do not convince.  Now tell me you have no intention of convincing me.  Then I ask “Why is science taught in schools as truth if it does not intend to convince?”  Why will scientists dose me up with drugs, cut me open and re-arrange my innards, build nuclear power stations, genetically modify food, tell me what and how much I should eat etc., etc,…… all in the name of a best theory?  You’re telling me they are doing all these things and, in addition, shooting down astrology and all its relatives, all on the basis of “well, this is our best guess so far”?  I am reminded of the creation of the atom bomb.  There was a theory around at the time that the atom bomb could set off a chain reaction that would have the whole world turn into one vast atomic bomb.  Knowing that, they still went on and detonated it!!!! – Oppenheimer said “I am become Death”.  Cor!  Wow!  Yep, that’s science for you.  The lads don’t half get high on it.  (I would have expressed this more realistically, that is to say anatomically, but I’ve already been warned that this is a child friendly site – how do we discuss Freud, because that’s where we are getting to here?)

I quoted from the Schaffer play Amadeus at the beginning, and another quote from that play is most relevant: scientists are “young men showing off beyond their years”.

BenV says:  I think this oversimplifies the issue. 

No, I am not oversimplifying, you are overcomplicating.

BenV also says: Scientists don't really lay claim to the truth, "science" understands that we are limited by our senses and our minds, and that the closest we can get to an objective truth is a form of inter-consensual subjectivity

Well, we have a few assumptions here, then, don’t we, but embedded in the statements in such a way that they fool you into accepting them rather than questioning them and in such a way that they sound like virtues: this business of not laying claim to truth assumes that it is not possible to know truth.  Is this true then?  I don’t think so.  I think that it is necessary, for example, so that we do not fall off cliffs etc., that we are able to absolutely know what is true and what is not.  Even animals have to rely on knowing the truth of the world otherwise they could come a cropper.   

Also, there is this business about objective truth.  Science makes such a virtue of objectivity, but personally, I see rather more virtue in subjectivity: it seems to me that it is extremely disrespectful to disbelieve what individuals say.  Further, if one starts from believing what individuals say, low and behold, one is able to find that existence is rich enough to allow for truth to be subjective.  It is like living in our own individual realities: so long as our individual realities overlap sufficiently, we are able to communicate and understand one another but there is still room for an extension which is unique to the individual. 

I will anticipate a reply that accuses me of not believing scientists.  Actually, I do believe them, but as individuals.  The truth of science is true only for scientists.  Where I take issue is when they try and impose their truth on the rest of the world.  So, for example, science has forced the Judaic religions from backing down on the literal truth of the Bible – though there are still some fundamentalists in the States who have the backbone to stick to their own truth and refuse to allow evolution to be taught in their classrooms.

As I said, it is, in fact, possible to understand existence in such a way that there is no quarrel between science and religion; that Richard Dawkins need not feel it his duty to go out and about and attempt to demolish astrology and all its friends and relatives – they are all, in fact, true --- isn’t it wonderful? A world in which there is no need to fight?  A world of ultimate tolerance?  Ah, well, perhaps not.  What are people going to do for amusement then?!!
 

Offline BenV

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #17 on: 05/11/2012 16:32:19 »
BenV says:  I think this oversimplifies the issue. 

No, I am not oversimplifying, you are overcomplicating.


I apologise for not having the time right now to approach the rest of your post, but I just wanted to clarify this bit.  I was referring to your statement that:

Quote
Firstly, the old evolution thing: survival of the fittest, the selfish gene, competition etc..  This is so blattantly, absurdly wrong that it beggars belief that people actually swallow it.  Let’s just take one thing: competition leads to monoculture.  Cooperation leads to diversity.  This is very clear, unambiguous, unarguable.

This is clearly an oversimplification of the idea of evolution by natural selection.  As I further went on to explain, competition does not lead to monoculture, and it is not the only driving force in evolution.  You seem to dismiss the idea of evolution, but only after simplifying it into absurdity.
 

Offline syhprum

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #18 on: 05/11/2012 20:47:33 »
How has a technical discussion about life on Mars degenerated into fundamental Christian arguments about evolution?.
« Last Edit: 05/11/2012 22:02:58 by syhprum »
 

Offline Ophiolite

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #19 on: 08/11/2012 10:31:56 »
Pantodragon,
I don't intend to indulge your erection of a strawman. Which strawman? "Now tell me you have no intention of convincing me."

Perhaps you will take the time to address my question: Would you care to name a methodology which has been more effective, or even as effective, for acquiring knowledge about the world?

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it seems to me that it is extremely disrespectful to disbelieve what individuals say.
It seems to me dumb to believe what individuals say without there being substantiating grounds.
 

Offline pantodragon

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #20 on: 08/11/2012 15:44:33 »

This is clearly an oversimplification of the idea of evolution by natural selection.  As I further went on to explain, competition does not lead to monoculture, and it is not the only driving force in evolution.  You seem to dismiss the idea of evolution, but only after simplifying it into absurdity.


The strange thing is that in my experience, and one can find most fortuitous reasons for this (such as necessity, such as life would not be possible else), the truth is amazingly simple and within the grasp of individual human beings – or I should say, and this is crucial, within the grasp of healthy individual human beings.  Where one finds complexity one finds lies, and where one finds lies, one finds competitiveness.  Also, where one finds competitiveness, one finds illness, and therefore competitiveness is its own worst enemy.

I am not dismissing the idea of evolution.  Complex systems, such as the human body, or the natural environment, must be self-regulating because the component parts cannot be disentangled, and their functions within the whole cannot be predicted.  Under those circumstances a complex being or system cannot be controlled, cannot be developed by conscious interference, and cannot be repaired by outside agents, but must be allowed to develop of its own accord,  and that is an evolutionary process, and must be self-regulating, self-repairing etc. – this is why the interference of scientists in the natural world and the human body is so iniquitous.

Where I might take issue with science is over its claims to know the history of the natural world on such scant evidence and making so many assumptions.  For example, you have absolutely no evidence to suggest that dinosaur bones were in the ground before they were discovered.  Even as a Christian (which I am not), I could offer an alternative: for reasons of his own, which I do not presume to know, being such a lesser being, God decided that it would be a good idea to plant these bones in the ground at the appropriate time.  The simple truth is that there is no way of choosing bewtween these two explanations for the existence of dinosaur bones – it just depends which religion you adhere to.

So here we get back again to the fact that science is just the latest big religion.  You only have to look at it from a detached, outside perspective to see that the other religions and science have the same features, which thus proclaims them to be of the same family. 

Science always offers that it is open to change, that on the basis of new evidence it will alter its theories – but the point is these have to be new scientific theories.  Science guards itself well: it clings to the supremacy, and the seeming reasonableness, of the scientific method.  Also, it ensures that nothing that is not orthodox science ever gets published or taken seriously by subjecting the work of all scientists to the Peer Review system.  The idea that science or scientists are open minded is ridiculous.  They even drive for converts, and to discredit competing religions.

I think it is also important that people should learn the truth of what goes on behind the closed doors of science, in the inner sanctums: it really is a very nasty world, a dog-eat-dog world, and the notion of that wonderful community of scientists all working together for the greater good is a travesty.  Scientists are concerned with one thing only and that is not truth, it is winning.  If any scientist is lucky enough to happen upon an alternative theory to those that are current, he or she will fight tooth and claw, and will seek allies, to get their theory accepted and their name in the science books.  As I said, truth has nothing to do with anything; its all about winning.
 

Offline pantodragon

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #21 on: 08/11/2012 15:46:31 »


Perhaps you will take the time to address my question: Would you care to name a methodology which has been more effective, or even as effective, for acquiring knowledge about the world?


One might say that we live in the best of all possible worlds: in other words, science is no accident.  The scientific method and the world described by science, is the method and world that best suits people of the modern world.  The reason people need a ruley, predictable world is because they are sinking into autism.  For a healthy person the world of science is a prison in which they would languish and die.  As to a methodology which has been more effective, that is a matter for the individual.  That this should be so would take some explanation but it starts from throwing out the idea that existence is ruled by mathematics, is in fact ordered by laws and trying out the idea that existence is ruled by meaning, and that meaning is much more flexible and less predictable and, in fact, more human, than laws.  Actually, I suppose one would probably have to go the whole hog and try out the idea that we live in a virtual reality rather than a real, material world.

I say “try out” because that is how you should approach finding out the truth.  You have to allow it to come to you.  This is because you cannot control understanding, cannot drive it, cannot force it to grow, and this is fundamentally about understanding, not knowledge.  Also, understanding often requires new concepts, new perceptions, and these come from experiences, or from something someone says to you, but at any rate, you cannot know in advance how your perception needs to change and can only find out how it has changed after it has changed.
 

Offline pantodragon

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #22 on: 08/11/2012 15:48:55 »
How has a technical discussion about life on Mars degenerated into fundamental Christian arguments about evolution?.

Please refer to my response today to BenV, but essentially it is because science is another religion and therefore optional theories offered by other religions are relevant to any scientific discussion.
 

Offline BenV

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #23 on: 08/11/2012 15:49:59 »
Okay, that's enough philosophy, please can we return to the topic in hand?  We don't have a philosophy section of the forum, but I'm sure a new thread on the philosophy of science would fit in the General Science board, should you wish to start one.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
« Reply #24 on: 08/11/2012 19:19:19 »
Ben,
Thanks for pushing the topic back towards the original question.
One can, of course, look for parallels between Earth and Mars, or between Primordial Earth and Primordial Mars. 

Yes, with all the probes, flybys, and etc, we likely would have noticed if Elephants roamed the surface on Mars, or perhaps a Sequoia growing somewhere.  However, we might not be able to detect an eagle flying around Jupiter, as long as the species hasn't developed artificial satellites and radio transmission yet.

The Armstrong Limit (6,300 Pascals) is greater than the surface pressure on Mars (1,155 pascals in the depths of Hellas Planitia).  Thus, while a thick leather may be able to endure the low pressure, features such as terrestrial eyeballs, or mucous membranes could not.

Plants, however, may be able to endure lower pressures than animals.  If a water cycle existed, the low pressure might in fact help with water transport within the plant.

Anyway, I would agree that it is unlikely that we will suddenly find LIVING large macroscopic life on the surface of Mars.

Since Mars is volcanic (Olympus Mons), there likely is a depth where temperatures and pressures might allow the persistence of liquid water, and could potentially support life. 

Microscopic life forms would be most likely, but I don't think we have the data to rule out subterranean macroscopic life forms.

It is possible that life elsewhere would have different molecules than life on Earth, so probing for DNA nucleotides, or Amino Acids might not confirm or disprove life originating on Mars. 
« Last Edit: 08/11/2012 19:26:01 by CliffordK »
 

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Re: Alien life on Mars?
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