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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

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Giant Dutch duck explodes in Taiwan!

Happy New Year

Petunia

I wondered what that noise was!

Happy New Year to you, too,

Geraldine

My big problem with Fermi et al is that they seem to adopt Star Trek's arrogant human-centric view of aliens, ie they must be all be humanoids with bad skin. I find it much more satisfying to keep an open mind.

Yes, Jannie, and dreadful accents, too!

The last time an alien visited they nailed him to a cross. No wonder they stay away.

It has not got to be a giant leap of faith to believe that life exists or is ready to exist in abundance in the rest of the universe so the hypothesis is in all probability correct that life started outside of earth and adapted around the conditions found here. However life in the universe will take many forms some of which will have evolved in the same way that made us and will not be that much different from the life forms found on earth. The rest will have evolved in a much different way and the environment they inhabit will very alien and incompatible with our own. In what ever way they have now become meeting any of them is unlikely unless finding a way to travel faster than the speed of light is found. We cannot be sure that interstellar travel is not possible and some voracious beings that evolved from an animal equivalent to earth's T Rex is not at this moment hurtling towards us. After all man only happened because of the extinction of the dinosaurs and what if on anther earth like planet dinosaur like life existed but did not die out and continued to evolve. The stuff of science fiction of course but much that was previously fiction has now become fact.

I sometimes think the dinosaurs never died out when I read the odd 'grump' from DM! (Just kidding, DM.) As you indicate, Antis, it is all pure speculation, highly enjoyable but no more and no less. Although the arrogant me, as in ME, ME, ME, rather likes the idea that we are alone in the universe and that the whole damn thing was made for MY benefit!

David the dinosaurs didn't die out. I have several very brightly coloured ones in the aviary alongside the back verandah. Mind you they are not the size of a T-rex although the one that lives in its own little palace inside thinks it is a T-rex and has a penchant for fingers of the unwary.

Your insect and reptile life is, in my opinion, yet another reason for not visiting 'down under there'!

Being as I'm unable to stir together an appropriate comment for this post and, since this is the first opportunity I've had for wishing my fellow D&N "loyalists" a best in the New Year - it's maybe a good idea to remind ourselves of how far we, er, our host has progressed where "Swotology" is concerned:

Thus, the universe is timeless, so bang goes the, er, Big Bang theory! Well, as it happens I gather that some scientists are already having doubts on that one. In his second point he confuses, I think, two entities, matter/energy and time. I agree that in the very nano-second matter/energy is produced then time begins, because time is measurement and you can only measure something that exists. But if he is correct that matter/energy have always existed then it follows that time has always existed - the two go together hand in hand, indivisible - until of course, that wretched 2nd Law of Thermodynamics has its wicked way and all energy ceases, at which point all time ceases because there is nothing to measure. _______ touched a sympathetic nerve with me by the way he stressed the importance of mathematics. It is indeed the very keystone to our understanding, despite the fact that at the moment it merely serves to underline how much we do not know, rather like a man lighting a match in a cave as big as St. Pauls and trying thus to understand where he is. He also rather spoils his argument by suggesting that the universe is rational, to which I can only respond with one expression - irrational numbers! And as for 'harmony', again, without wishing to become bogged down in details, I would simply remind him of the correctly named Chaos Theory. Yet again, I would remind him that if the Big Bang theory is correct, part of what permitted the eventual cohesion of sub-atomic particles which eventually led to the existence of planets and stars was their very slight dis-harmony as they flew away in the explosion.

I'd post a link to where that comment appeared but I fear it'd be taken by "who" DD was responding to, as an invitation to come back for more.

Oh, you're such a tease, JK, it actually sounded like quite an interesting discussion, a rarity in these columns!

According to the big-bang theory, the universe itself came into existence around the same time, circa 13bn years ago.

So maybe the universe AND life were both created at the same time? Now that's really quite interesting.

SoD

Thanks, SoD, it's only 8.45am and already I have a headache! Actually, one of the popular theories is that life, or to be precise, the ingredients for life were scattered around the universe and, so to speak, were just waiting for the right conditions in order to kick off. However, given that earth conditions are probably not unique in the universe we return to Fermi's paradox - where the hell are they?

When you look at the incredibly contrived situation required to create life from dead things - an organism with no Mum and Dad, so to speak, that has only been achieved very recently (2010, here's the search - the bloke's name is Craig Venter).

In essence, Venter created a synthetic DNA and inserted it into the carcass of another cell i.e. a cell that's had its DNA removed. Note he didn't create the cell carcass itself either, that's for another day! The resulting wriggly has synthetic DNA with Venter and his colleagues names stamped onto it, the letters of the alphabet. It has no parent, therefore is not subject to evolutionary theories. It's original life, it's "parent" was a bunch of dead stuff. (As a spooky aside, Venter wishes to coincide his work with that of 3D printers. Ahem, I'll leave you with that one for another day too ...).

And that sophisticated, massively contrived engineering has never been observed as happening in the natural world on earth - no bolts of lightning in puddles of minerals have ever been seen to create a parentless microbe. So then what chance is there that the world 10 billion years ago would be able to create the first life form? No sophisticated laboratories then, were there, not even a "life friendly" planet for the nigh-on impossible "bolt of lightning in a primordial puddle"?

However, whatever was happening before the big-bang some 13bn years ago, and / or whatever caused the big-bang, by a process of elimination, seems to be the only place where life could have started. If the big-bang was sophisticated enough to create the mind-blowing complexity of the sub-atomic matter and energy nexus, why not the original parentless life forms?

As for Fermi's paradox, there are two possible explanations: -

(1) If the world was as inhospitable to life in its early days as is described, most of the original parentless life forms were probably wiped out without trace. Maybe all wiped out, other than those that dodged the bullets of environmental inhospitability and ended up in the earth.

(2) If there were only a few of the original parentless life forms, perhaps bunched in close proximity in some energy matter cloud as it hurtled its way onto forming the earth, there'd be none anywhere else in the universe other than on earth.

SoD

I can't disprove it, obviously, but I have some severe doubts concerning Mr. Venter's efforts. There have been a myriad of other efforts to reproduce life forms from zero all of which have failed despite their claims.

Also, I find it hard to believe that any sort of life form was present at the Big Bang. It makes more sense to me that the fundamental ingredients were there which over time were 'pulverised' by the formation of stars, and that subsequently the destruction by fire and explosion of those stars created new elements, like carbon, which in turn were the building blocks for life to begin **in certain specific circumstances**. The current theory, I gather, is that it began deep in the oceans under pressure and with huge amounts of heat escaping from the earth's core - but, hey, what do I know?

I suppose I could sum up my position by saying rather loftily (and uselessly) that my mind is open, mostly because there's bugger all in it!

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