Life Should be Common in the Universe, physicists say

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by Nightshift, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Someone asked, if life is abundant in the universe why we are not surrounded by other life forms?

    Considering that the habitat must allow for variety, IMO the earth is a perfect example of hosting an incredible variety of life forms. I believe a great case can be made that any planet with a life sustaining atmosphere will have some form of life. Of course the question is if Man is the supreme intelligence or if there are species elsewhere who would consider us bumbling fledglings. We speak of other life, but we don't even uderstand intelligence.

    Question: at what point does "ability to change information" (quantum) become intelligent, and at what point does it become self-aware (conscious thought)?
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  3. wellwisher Banned Banned

    You don't need quantum to explain human consciousness. All you need is the premise of two centers of consciousness. Quantum is being used an internal source of the other center, since quantum obeys virtual properties, which can differ from the traditional physical-organic chemistry. The binary is virtual-tangible.

    The octopus has a single instinctive center of consciousness, which becomes self aware via the environment becoming the other. As the environment changes, so does the response. With two internal centers of consciousness (conscious and unconscious minds) our internal environment can also change, apart from the triggers of the external environment, such as via stages of life. This results in new ways of looking at the same environment, requiring modifications and even invention.

    We can simulate consciousness via computers, by having two connected computers do the same tasks, with each having its own needs some of which overlap and some of which can become mutually exclusive. They will need to develop compromises or else the other cannot approach steady state. For example, if I am busy and I can't take lunch, my unconscious mind will not care about such details, but will make me feel hungry and may even make my stomach sing. This might distract me from my work, due to the impact of this second internal center. I may need to compromise and eat a snack to satisfy the needs of the internal center. But this is short term and it may return in an hour since the loop is not fully de-potentiated. Self aware is an awareness of this separate self.

    There are mind experiments where you can prove this to yourself and gain self awareness.
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    What's your reason for assuming that these are such abrupt changes? There is a spectrum of intelligence right here on earth, with us (and a few other species of ape plus the cetaceans, elephants, corvids, psittacines, etc.) at the top end and some primitive cartilaginous fish (and perhaps a few precocious arthropods) at the bottom end.

    I suppose self-awareness might be one decent measure of intelligence. But it's not a very useful one for our purposes: how exactly do we determine that an organism is self-aware?
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  7. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    But it does not answer the question. And even as there are gradients of ability to exchange information (using this term in its broadest form), at some point it becomes self sustaining (feeding and reproduction) which IMO qualifies as living. But there are organisms without brains, which are "alive" and behave intelligently.

    Are there any thresholds, or is it everything more or less intelligent, from chemical interaction to future planning? The self-awareness question is just as difficult.
  8. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Paddoboy: You consistently mention the enormous number of galaxies & potential solar systems. You then jump to the conclusion that there must be many techological cultures.

    You ignore the possibility of intelligent life being a lucky fluke instead of an inevitable result of evolution.
  9. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    The mentioning of the numbers of galaxies, stars, planets, etc, of course the stuff of life being everywhere we look.
    eg: Did anyone really believe that water was so plentiful in the solar system/galaxy/Universe 50 years ago?

    Yep, most probably correct. But in a Universe, that is likely near infinite, [ if not infinite] with near infinite numbers, that lucky fluke [if it was a lucky fluke] could still be magnified a million times.
    But, no, I don't believe it was a fluke.
    Then of course, that other possibility in the great Infinite, of life "as we don't know it" arising somewhere.
    Since you asked a polite question, I'll ask one back.
    Why don't you believe that the vast numbers out there, would increase the chances of ETI arising somewhere, sometime.
  10. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    IMO, intelligence has to have certain fudamental properties before it can become functional. 2 + 2 = 4 in any equation, regardless how it is coded.
    There are these Universal Constants which must be satisfied and I cannot imagine any being able to function outside a coordinated system.
    The mathematical exchange of information goes way down to Planck size and all things have to behave in accordance with these constants.

    But as I mentioned before, an organism does not have to have a brain or a neural system in order to function in a pseudo intelligent manner in its environment. A slime mold can solve a maze, rather efficiently.
  11. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Self aware is an awareness of oneself. This is a process and not a singular thing. It means one becomes consciously aware of actions and activities, generated by oneself, that were previously unconscious. If you were playing poker in Las Vegas, even slight twitches or touching the nose, will give away your hand. These unconscious body language activities are called "tells". One will need to become self aware of these unconscious outputs, being generated below consciousness, or else others will exploit this.

    If you never played cards, there is no reason to become self aware of unconscious body language this degree. One could blissfully remain less than fully self aware and never even know the difference. Most humans are not self aware, until there is need. Self aware is not about looking in a mirror and knowing it is you, although that can help point out some things which are not under conscious control, like tells, which others can see from the outside.

    This definition requires comparing two or more things, so one can see a contrast. Self awareness often comes with 20/20 hindsight. When one is young, they may take all types of risks. Later in life, one may ask what was I thinking? Self awareness often comes with age, when it questions motivations that were once just blindly accepted and not thought through very well.

    Self awareness is connected to free choice. One cannot have free choice while also being unconscious of motivation or affinity. In the example of the poker player and his "tells", his tell are a form of unconscious determinism, due to his lack of free choice. This determinism has a cause and effect logic that others can use to predict his hand. If he becomes self aware, now there is choice instead of determinism.

    The confusion about self awareness is the assumption if you can do one self aware activity, this one thing makes you self aware. This like being able to boil water and that making you a master chef. It takes more than one thing.

    A liberal or conservative person might ask themselves, why do I slant that way instead of accept both ways? The answer would require introspection leading to self awareness. To just blindly accept one way is a form of unconscious determinism that shows lack of free choice. This is closer to the norm, than being self aware, which takes a lot of introspective work. Self awareness is implicit of two centers within the brain, one which defines determinism like instincts and tells. and the other which can see these in action.

    This second center of consciousness, that allows self awareness is relatively new in evolution, and seems to appear around the time of civilization 6-10k year ago. One can argue that this secondary may have been what was driving this change. These humans became self aware of natural instinct and learned to choice otherwise, thereby changing migratory human instinct into what was needed to stop.

    Self awareness is not a condition of the scientific method, although the scientific method helps this to develop, by providing a consistent external platform from which the needed contrast can appear for introspection.
  12. krash661 [MK6] transitioning scifi to reality Valued Senior Member

  13. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    If that's in relation to wellwisher's rant, I'm in total agreement.

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  14. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life:

    A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, sometimes it helps.

    Read more at:
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Hm, the odds for life in the Universe is going up while the odds for life on Earth are going down, depending on your viewpoint, ..........cheers.
  16. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    What a leap: From optimism about microscopic, self-replicating molecular patterns being ubiquitous in the cosmos to expectations of "civilizations" being profuse. It's almost hilarious how quickly our brains fall out when looking up at the sky. One week there is much biological posturing about "Evolution is not a climb up a ladder of progress". And the next week there are sophisticated / refined populations of complex macroscopic organisms popping out of every tortured landscape, frozen vista, and barren or scum-covered body of liquid under foreign starlights.
  17. Arne Saknussemm trying to figure it all out Valued Senior Member

    I have made this point before. Whether we're alone in the universe or not, we should behave as if we were. Just as you should behave alone in your room as you would if honored guests were present. And who would know that we were behaving so well?

    We would!

    And if there are sentient beings out there, and most likely there are, when/if they do meet us some day, they will recognize us as highly cultured gentlefolk regardless of what they themselves are.
  18. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    Well, so far we only know about one planet with microscopic, self-replicating molecular patterns, and that has led to sophisticated / refined populations of complex macroscopic organisms (well, OK, humans, at least). So 100% so far. Why would you assume that the same process would not happen multiple times? No gods, please.
  19. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Although life elsewhere in the universe, does logically follow, there is no direct proof. These are two separate issues. I also believe that life should be elsewhere, due to the abundance of water and carbon in the universe. But I am also objective to the fact, we have not found anything that can prove this hypothesis is true. It is like a child saying, I will get presents for my birthday but I can't find where they are hidden. There is faith involved, based on expectation of something not seen, but which our gut says is true based on experience. Bigfoot uses the same template of faith.

    One problem I see is the existing theory in biology, can't explain how to form life from scratch. How life formed on earth is also based on theory without direct data; lab. I suppose if one can accept this schema, it becomes the standard even for big foot speculation. Both depend on a lottery system, where the working assumption is a lottery, where there are winners across the entire country. It seems too primitive, for science.

    Say we apply this lottery template to unicorns. We can say life forms endless shapes and sizes with no sense of direction. Unicorns are a shape that looks like other known shapes (horse) but with only the single addition of a horn. Therefore unicorns could exist as a lottery winner. To complete the template we don't have to show proof or that would alter the template. All we need is faith in a god of lotteries and chance. But what tends to happen, is not all applications of the template, like big foot and unicorns are not allowed to used the template, since these don't worship the god of chance properly.

    This template of lottery winners is not settling for me. I prefer a more logical approach to life and its formation that can lead to a template based on logic and proof, and not just hope in a casino based outcome, overseen by the god of chaos and chance.

    My starting point for thinking about life is the conceptual model of water and oil. These two liquids will phase separate into two layers. The result of the separation is lower system energy and lower system entropy, with the entropy going the wrong way (2nd law). The entropy goes the wrong way compared to a solution of these two liquids.

    Nature created this useful quirk between water and many carbon based organics. Since a pure solution will have higher entropy, but since oil and water can't mix, there will need to be a long term push to increase entropy via chemical modification. The structures and shapes within the cell, is based on the hydrogen bonging within proteins, DNA, RNA and water, to name a few. It just happens that the DNA, which is the template, is the most hydrated big molecule within life, (has the most structural water). It fulfills the entropy need. This is not random, but by design, based on the limits places on atoms by nature. Each atom has a functionality and range of states. The DNA combines a hand full of atoms and hits a sweet spot.
  20. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    If you expect to convince me that we're omnidirectionally surrounded by alien civilizations in this neighborhood of the galaxy, then you'll have to do more than appeal to gibberish like evolution being teleologically-oriented to produce intelligent life and its technologically adept social organizations. That's the incredible notion ("...we should be surrounded by other civilizations") in the OP I was addressing, so I assume that's very much the rate of it occurring which you are either defending here or are trying to recruit new members for in regard to whatever "Golly-Gee-Gosh Sapient ETs Are Ubiquitous Cult" you represent. Don't haw and sputter back that this is not what you meant / intended, since "your no gods, please" non-sequitur and the rest would indicate you otherwise surrendered to hasty presumptions yourself when you hit "Submit Reply".
  21. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    I was merely pointing out that the only example we know of a planet that has life, has also evolved intelligent life. I didn't mention any particular area of the galaxy, and nor did your post that I quoted.

    If you want to come to an estimate of the likeihood of civilisations, then the analysis would go something like this:

    Number of stars in universe: 100 billion in each galaxy times 100 b galaxies - very large number (N)
    Discount vary large and very small stars and those close to galactic centre. Now less than N but still very big.
    Planets are common based on recent work.
    Search for small rocky planet with long-lived sun not too close to galactic centre, and wait 4.5 billion years.

    The result is much less than N but stil a very large number - imho.

    I'm not trying to convince of anything. Why don't you look at the numbers instead of babbling nonsense.

    My comment about gods was intended to keep the religionists at bay since their musings would interfere with the logic.

    Oh, and by the way, we'll never meet them.....
  22. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Then buzz off back to your local gathering of Klaatu's Witnesses. Your "non-attempt" to convince me, with gibberish about quantitative information being a replacement for evidence -- that it is equivalent to observed / detected signs and sightings of alien civilizations that we'll "never [even] meet" (wow, is that invisible or elusive beings stuff familiar) -- didn't go anywhere.
  23. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    I don't belong to Klaatu's Witnesses. Well, you're a strange person. Quantitative information can be useful, after all. We won't meet them because the distances are too far and it would take too long, nothing to do with the issues you mention.

    This is a science forum, and you should make some attempt to be rational here.

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