Debate and Discussion

Extra-Terrestrial Civilizations...
kyupol at 8:16AM, Oct. 30, 2007
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Do you believe in their existence? I do. Since if they dont exist, that would mean the universe is not as big as it is. That would mean the Earth and the Solar system is the only universe… and we humans are the master of it.

If the universe is sooooo huge, aliens must exist.

What do you think? Is there such a thing as aliens? Or should they be lumped in the same category as ghosts and goblins and orcs?



http://www.dark-ufo.com/MichioKakubelievesinaliens.html

Mainstream Scientist Michio Kaku Believes In Existence of Extraterrestrial Civilizations. He Lays Down a Hypothesis in Many of His Books.

Peter Beckinsale

Michio Kaku is a well respected theoretical physicist who graduated from Harvard in 1968 and has made notable contributions to string theory. While it is the belief by many that mainstream scientists reject any notions of extraterrestrial civilizations or aliens, Kaku is very unique. Not only does he believe in ETs, he also lays down a framework for their existence in his numerous books.

I have read Kaku's work, and he makes a convincing argument for the probability of alien civilizations. In his book Hyperspace, Kaku points out that there are at least hundreds of thousands of galaxies in the universe, which contain hundreds of thousands of planets. The probability is very high that not only do a few alien civilizations exist, but many. Kaku in his book Hyperspace compares humans as fish in a pond, only aware of the environment around them, not realizing there is a huge world outside the pond. In an article at his website Kaku had this to say In regards to Carl Sagan, another believer in alien civilizations:

the late Carl Sagan once asked this question, What does it mean for a civilization to be a million years old? We have had radio telescopes and spaceships for a few decades; our technical civilization is a few hundred years old… an advanced civilization millions of years old is as much beyond us as we are beyond a bush baby or a macaque.

This answers the question that many debunkers have raised for years. For years they have asked why aliens don't just announce their presence, or land in Times Square.

The reason that they will not do this is because if you are dealing with beings that are tens of thousands of years ahead of us, even millions, they would not be interested in us. Are you interested in an ant while you walk down the street?

Would you try to explain to a dog how to perform a complex equation? Most likely you would not, because a dog would not be capable of comprehending it. Now imagine an advanced civilization that are thousands of years ahead of us. See my point?

Kaku lays down a framework of levels of civilizations. Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3. Here are the descriptions of a civilization at these three levels:

Physics of Type I, II, and III Civilizations

Specifically, we can rank civilizations by their energy consumption, using the following principles:

1) The laws of thermodynamics. Even an advanced civilization is bound by the laws of thermodynamics, especially the Second Law, and can hence be ranked by the energy at their disposal.

2) The laws of stable matter. Baryonic matter (e.g. based on protons and neutrons) tends to clump into three large groupings: planets, stars and galaxies. (This is a well-defined by product of stellar and galactic evolution, thermonuclear fusion, etc.) Thus, their energy will also be based on three distinct types, and this places upper limits on their rate of energy consumption.

3) The laws of planetary evolution. Any advanced civilization must grow in energy consumption faster than the frequency of life-threatening catastrophes (e.g. meteor impacts, ice ages, supernovas, etc.). If they grow any slower, they are doomed to extinction. This places mathematical lower limits on the rate of growth of these civilizations.


Kaku defines a Type 1 civilization as one that is truly a planetary society, who has mastered all forms of terrestrial energy. Their energy output is much greater than ours. It would take at least 3,200 years to reach Type 2.

A Type 2 civilization is a civilization who have an energy output of a small star. They would be so advanced that they could build a sphere around their planet to maximize their energy output.

A Type 3 civilization is so advanced that they have begun colonizing other star systems. Their energy output is massive compared to ours. A civilization this advanced would be able to bend space and time at will. They would probably be capable of interdimensional travel and even time travel.


So where are we here on planet Earth? Well, we are type zero. We still get our energy from dead plants. Pretty pathetic, if you ask me. I could only imagine what an advanced alien civilizations thinks of us. With our racism, wars, and class struggles we will be luck if we ever get to a Type 1. At the current rate, in my opinion the human race is headed toward extinction. To read articles about Micho Kaku click the links below.

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StaceyMontgomery at 8:57AM, Oct. 30, 2007
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Just to be fair, this framework for type 1, 2 and 3 civilizations was first proposed in 1964 by the Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev and is generally known as the Kardashev scale.

We really have no way of saying how likely alien civilizations are. You can't make a real argument with only one data point (that is to say, us). It is certainly possible that we are the only civilization anywhere - or perhaps there will someday be many and we are simply the first.

The real issue here is the so-called Fermi Paradox. Fermi pointed out that while all the arguments seem to support a vast universe filled with life and civilizations… we just don't see them. If the Universe is full of civilizations, why don't we see their probes, why dont we pick up their TV shows? Were are they?

I don't “believe” in alien societies - they may or may not be there. Certainly, it seems like we should be able to see them by now.

But I remain hopeful.
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bobhhh at 9:14AM, Oct. 30, 2007
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I think it was Carl Sagan, (I'm not sure here and google wasn't much help) who said something to the effect that considering the odds and the enormity of the cosmos, that it was terrestrial arrogance to assume the earth bore the only beings in existence.

He went on to state though that it was equal arrogance to assume that said life would be within striking distance such that would account for reports of ET contact.

Of course he was also instrumental in SETI, so maybe I'm wrong about attributing the quote to him, but I believe in the spirit. Basically, we will probably never know.

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Priest_Revan at 10:04AM, Oct. 30, 2007
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I personally believe that there is a huge possibility of other life forms out there. This universe is huge and I wouldn't doubt it.

Now, I dont' know if they're the stereotypical little big-eyed grey dudes or if they are hostile… but still, I'm sure some type of life exists.

As far as them visiting earth… well, I don't know about that. There is some proof that shows that they exist, but I have to literally see it to believe it to know that they have visited.

There have been reports that said that other life forms cannot exist in this universe because they would have to have all of these:

1. Water (which, I'm sure some life form out there could grow without it).
2. Air (same with water)
3. Just far enough from their sun (not true. creatures could adapt to freezing temperatures or extreme heat).
4. A larger planet to protect them from meteors and stuff like that (Jupiter is our shield).
5. If I'm right, I think the final one was atmosphere, but I'm not too sure.
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mlai at 11:33AM, Oct. 30, 2007
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The reason we haven't found evidence of ET such as alien TV shows is because our technology is so primitive for the tasks at hand.

Up until this year we weren't even able to detect planets outside the solar system. Then as soon as we had the means, BAM planets orbiting other stars popped up all over the place.

Oh but those are just giant Jupiter-like planets… those can't support life… Then as soon as the method for finding Earth-sized planets were introduced, BAM they find earth-sized planets like the next day.

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kingofsnake at 12:38PM, Oct. 30, 2007
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If you believe in the science of evolution, as should everyone, then it is vastly improbable that even the considering the massive expanse of the universe, that there exists even the most simple life anywhere else.

First you need a planet that could sustain life. The chances of a planet being the perfect distance from that planet's sun have the correct lunar path, and liquid water, is astronomically slim. So, if you know anything about astrology, the chances of a planet being able to sustain life is a handful per galaxy (the chances getting slimmer and slimmer as you approach the center of a galaxy, where there is the largest cluster of stars and planets.) Even with these factors there needs to be the perfect conditions for life to evolve from a lifeless state, the right sort of elements need to be in the atmostphere and the right sort of peptides and amino acids need to have regular contact. And even if all these specifics qualities are present the chance of amino acids forming the correct sequence to form the most simple self-replicating strand of RNA has been estimated as much as 1 chance in 2.04 x 10^390 and as little as 1 chance in 4.29 x 10^40, both of which are astronomically slim numbers.

Its mindboggingly unlikely that there are any planets with even the simplest life, the size of a molecule. But lets say there are a few planets out there that have all the perfect conditions despite the crazy slim odds, and despite how unlikely it is, the simplest forms of life evolved. Well it's going to take a few billion years before that evolves in to things that are multi-celluar. But lets go a step further and say that they evolved simple life around the same time as Earth did, maybe a billion or so years sooner.

There is absolutely no reason to suspect that another planet would evolve “intellegent” life rather than really big life with sharp teeth or thousands of tiny insects, or trees and only trees. If you recall, evolution is random mutations that create a genetic advantage for the survival of a species. A more intelligent brain is, by no means, the pinnacle, the ultimate, and the inevitable result of trillions of years of evolution. Even if a more intelligent brain would help a paticular species survive in their environment theres no garuntee that they'd evolve one, it's random.

ET civilizations are fantasies. You'd have a better chance of trying to find parallel universes with alternate human earth societies. Those might actually exist.
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mlai at 1:29PM, Oct. 30, 2007
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That argument will only hold up until they find fossilized/live bacteria on Mars or the Saturnian moons.

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kingofsnake at 1:36PM, Oct. 30, 2007
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Well you let me know “when” that happens
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DAJB at 3:57PM, Oct. 30, 2007
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mlai
That argument will only hold up until they find fossilized/live bacteria on Mars …
Ummm … there is some evidence to suggest they already have. Not conclusive, I grant you, but they have found stuff that very well might be.

kyupol
Is there such a thing as aliens? Or should they be lumped in the same category as ghosts and goblins and orcs?
Surely you're not doubting the existence of goblins and orcs? Have you not seen Lord of the Rings? They're real, I tells ya!
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bobhhh at 8:13PM, Oct. 30, 2007
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kingofsnake
You'd have a better chance of trying to find parallel universes with alternate human earth societies. Those might actually exist.

They do exist, Spock has a beard.
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imshard at 8:26PM, Oct. 30, 2007
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With the universe being as old as it is, it may be that other civilizations and races are only as advanced as we are. Or rather not advanced. Interstellar distances are simply too great to bridge right now. Our mutual technologies may simply not be advanced to detect each other right now. That or approximately 50 years worth of radio transmissions haven't had time to reach our nearest neighbors. (anybody seen Contact? same concept) Whatever creation event you believe in natural, evolutionary or divine any extraterrestrial life would have started on the same playing field as us. The little green men are probably still trying to launch small space stations and explore other worlds in their own solar system like us. We've just been trained by media to imagine aliens as more advanced than us so we could visualize meeting them.
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bobhhh at 12:03AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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imshard
With the universe being as old as it is, it may be that other civilizations and races are only as advanced as we are. Or rather not advanced. Interstellar distances are simply too great to bridge right now. Our mutual technologies may simply not be advanced to detect each other right now. That or approximately 50 years worth of radio transmissions haven't had time to reach our nearest neighbors. (anybody seen Contact? same concept) Whatever creation event you believe in natural, evolutionary or divine any extraterrestrial life would have started on the same playing field as us. The little green men are probably still trying to launch small space stations and explore other worlds in their own solar system like us. We've just been trained by media to imagine aliens as more advanced than us so we could visualize meeting them.

Actually it occurs to me that the universe being as old as it is means any other civilizations could be long dead or not in existence until we are long gone.
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bobhhh at 12:09AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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kingofsnake
If you believe in the science of evolution, …

Actually you have a valid point, but I must add that your argument also rests on the assumption that the process of life, and the materials of it generation are so unique and unlikely.

Without proper comparisons and control factors to test that assumption, we must allow the possibility that the generation of life is common given the correct conditions, even the logical out come. Perhaps life is just waiting to happen like a virulent primeordial slime seeking purchase in a fertile set of circumstances.

We don't really know yet and may never know for sure.
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StaceyMontgomery at 4:50AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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Kingofsnake said:

>

Wherever did you get these numbers? they seem quite unlikely. Since we know almost nothing about the process that lead to the formation of the first DNA on Earth, there is no real way to estimate these possibilities.

We really have no idea how likely planets are, or how likely Earth-like planets are, or how important it is that they are Earthlike for life to develop.

We have no way of knowing how likely life is, whether we mean life just like here one Earth or in wildly different forms.

Actually, life first appeared on Earth a relatively short time after conditions allowed - from that, we could just as easily assume that life is common.

We have no idea how many time life leads to intelligence, or intelligence to technological civilizations, or how long technological civilizations last.


I'm always amazed that so many people have such strong feelings on topics like this. I think we're just going to have to accept that the universe is likely to surprise us.
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kingofsnake at 5:03AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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The biggest problem of evolution is the question regarding how life could evolve from a state of lifelessness. And I'm talking of the simplest self-repliators, not even single celled organisms yet. I got those specific numbers from the website of an evolutionary theorist, but I had originally heard about it in my Philosophy of Science class in college. Genetic chemist have tried to show how life could evolve from a lifeless state foe decades now, and even they agree that it falls within that range of probabilities.
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StaceyMontgomery at 6:54AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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Kingofsnake, the logic behind those numbers escapes me. Since we don't yet understand the process of abiogenesis, there's no reasonable way to say how likely it is. You kind of imply that these numbers are widely accepted among scientists- but I do not see that reflected in the literature at all.

I'll say again that life on Earth arose rather quickly - in geological time, it seems to have happened just as soon as conditions would allow it. I would never predict possibilities based on one event - but this at least presents the possibility that life might arise quite often when conditions allow.

How do you square the idea that life arising is very rare with its rapid appearance on Earth?

Of course, this is well worn ground - at this point, we are really just debating the famous Drake Equation. Anyone interested in this debate should look into Drake's work. This wikipedia article is a good start:

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

It can be fun to plug different numbers into the Drake equation and see what comes out.
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ozoneocean at 7:07AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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StaceyMontgomery
The real issue here is the so-called Fermi Paradox. Fermi pointed out that while all the arguments seem to support a vast universe filled with life and civilizations… we just don't see them. If the Universe is full of civilizations, why don't we see their probes, why dont we pick up their TV shows? Were are they?
As imshard points out, the speed of light is a natural barrier. And the other thing that some others have hinted at is that perhaps other life forms are just far too fundamentally different to ever even come across us? A lot of our outlook on aliens is based on ourselves. Why should aliens even have civilisations as we know them? Let alone things as esoteric as probes and TV shows… Why should they even ne interested in looking for other life forms?

It strikes me that the idea itself might just be a particularly human one and not shared anywhere else.
 
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mlai at 7:26AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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Abiogenesis: Unlikely? I seem to remember an old experiment in which a scientist with a chemistry set and electric probes was able to randomly generate organic particles within days of starting the experiment. We all learned about it in high school. I haven't looked into that since. I'm sure Creationists are bashing it all over the place.

@imshard: You're assuming our own evolution took place at a brisk pace. Earth had like what, 2-3 extinction level events in its lifetime? The dinosaurs weren't the only ones blasted into oblivion. Earth evolved intelligence rather late.

What if, on another planet, a species equivalent in age to our dinosaurs evolved intelligence? Then they would've had millions of years to develop the tech necessary to ward off the next ELE. Then by the time we came on the scene on our planet, their civilization is already hundreds of millions of years old.


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bobhhh at 7:40AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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Its like I said, Time is as likely a barrier as distance between us and other civ's.
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bobhhh at 7:45AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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kingofsnake
The biggest problem of evolution is the question regarding how life could evolve from a state of lifelessness. And I'm talking of the simplest self-repliators, not even single celled organisms yet. I got those specific numbers from the website of an evolutionary theorist, but I had originally heard about it in my Philosophy of Science class in college. Genetic chemist have tried to show how life could evolve from a lifeless state foe decades now, and even they agree that it falls within that range of probabilities.

You seem so quick to disallow any chance of ET life existing. It may be improbable, but not currently disproven. While you make some interesting points, you are also making a lot of theoretical suppositions and treating them as fact.
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kingofsnake at 8:22AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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I'm just saying that the hypothesis posed by this paticular forum topic was

“space is so big that it's incredibly unlikely that intelligent civilization hasn't developed somewhere else in the universe.”

and I'm saying that the hypothesis is false, because life evolving AT ALL is such a slim probability that even in the vastness of space the odds are against it, and even if on another planet it bucked the probability and life did evolve theres absolutely NO reason to suspect that another planet's evolution would result in intelligent life, rather than anything else. A highly developed brain is not the forgone conclusion of eons of evolution.

I'm not saying that I know for sure that theres no intelligent alien life, I'm just saying it's 1)unlikely for life to exist at all and 2)even more unlikely that they would be intelligent
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ozoneocean at 8:43AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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kingofsnake
and I'm saying that the hypothesis is false, because life evolving AT ALL is such a slim probability that even in the vastness of space the odds are against it
That's not true as far as I know: You underestimate the vastness of space and time. so I'd say the odds are in favour, not against :)

As for Mlai's “extinction events”, actually these are as much theory as aliens in a lot of ways… What we have is evidence that points to extinctions, but the “events” that caused them are speculation: The asteroid idea is a possibility, but we shouldn't kid ourselves that we “know” in this case.

Also, the idea that this time around we “developed intelligence” is also faulty. It's relative. And that brings us to the heart of the problem with alien civilisations: if we can't get past the notion that we're some sort of unusual “intelligent” super-animal, then how can we possibly expect to recognise extra terrestrial civilisations since our idea of what makes up ourselves is so focussed on differentiating ourselves from everything else?

…space exploration will never be like Star Trek.
 
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heymelby at 9:55AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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This thread is hard to read, there is so much speculation and assumption being presented as fact it's ridculious! I imagine the crapy education most of us got an social/political/entertainment forces are to blame. There is NO factual scientific evidence of Macro-evolution at all. “Science” and i use the term loosely has no answers to the pre-cambrian explosion (all life suddenly appeared) or as to why fossils of common animals we have today are found with dinosaurs, why gold jewlery, tools and artifacts are found in coal (supposed to be millions of years old, yeah right) There is alot of evidence out there that is not reported because it does not fit a predetermined explaination i.e evolution. Now Micro Evolution (changes within a species) yes, It should be called adaption because the trits appear in responce to environmental stimuli or breeding, Dogs for example those little yip yap things and greyhounds are vastly different, yet they are DOGS. There was a study done on fruitflies a while back, since fruitflies live only a short time it is possible to simulate “millions of years of life cycles” in just a few. The scientists where trying to prove evolution, they came up with hundreds of variations….of fruitflies! No matter how big,small,antenne or now antenne they were all fruitflies…no new species. So that leaves that some intelligence created everything and thus could have and probably has created life elswhere, so yes i'm sure there are aliens as long as the environment was made for it.

I'm sure i offended some people here that believe evloution, but this is something i am very passionate about, i used to believe it too (cause that's all i was taught in school) since i've learned on my own and researched on my own I've come to different conclusions. Sorry but truth is not relative, and believing something does not make it so.
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ozoneocean at 10:40AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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heymelby
I'm sure i offended some people here that believe evloution
Belief in creationism, while it's not necessarily religious, comes from a religious origin. It's quite out of date now and even the mainstream of most religions support evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory points us towards the right direction, but of course no one can say definitively how life on earth began.

That said, creationism doesn't preclude that idea that there could be alien civilisations, unless you take certain very strict, minority Christian interpretations of it.
 
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StaceyMontgomery at 11:20AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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Heymelby

Could you provide a link to that study of fruitflies? I am not familiar with that one.

I am familiar with William Rice and G.W. Salt fruitfly experiments of the 80s - and they did in fact create new species of fruitflies that could and would not interbreed with each other - and in much less than a human lifetime.

After all, Mankind has been breeding dogs for a rather short span of time, but we've already effectively created new and separate species. You can say “but they're all dogs!” but that's because you say they are. If we discovered chihuahuas and huskies for the first time today, we would in fact call them separate species.

Of course, if you checked their DNA, you would find they are very closely related.

Just as when we check the DNA of humans and chimpanzees and… dogs, and discover that they are all closely related. Lots of species are closely related. If Dogs and humans came from separate creations, why would their DNA show them to be cousins?

There is lots of evidence that supports our understanding that all life on Earth is part of a single family.

It's amazing that we can't talk about anything on these message boards without the subject of creationism coming up. I look forward to the day one of you creationists makes a falsifiable statement. That's the day you'll start doing science.

Heymelby said:

>

and

>

Talk about speculation and assumption!



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ozoneocean at 11:44AM, Oct. 31, 2007
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Actually… What Heymelby's said there reminds me pretty much of the plot of Terry Pratchett's proto-discworld novel: Strata! lol!

In it a terra-forming company alters worlds for habitation and every so often one of the workers will play a prank and put a wrist-watch on a dinosaur skeleton or something… I think Douglas Adams also touched on the idea of messing with the study of the past like that in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective agency and The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy.

…Seems that line of thought has only been rich ground for comedy writers… I wonder why?
 
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mlai at 12:33PM, Oct. 31, 2007
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schoolbooks
In 1953, taking their cue from Oparin and Haldane, the chemist Stanley L. Miller working under Harold C. Urey carried out an experiment on the “primeval soup”. Within two weeks a racemic mixture, containing 13 of the 22 amino acids used to synthesize proteins in cells, had formed from the highly reduced mixture of methane, ammonia, water vapor and hydrogen. While Miller and Urey did not actually create life, they demonstrated that more complex molecules could emerge spontaneously from simpler chemicals. The environment simulated atmospheric conditions as the researchers understood them to have been on the primeval earth, including an external energy source in the form of a spark, representing lightning, and an atmosphere largely devoid of oxygen. Since that time there have been other experiments that continue to look into possible ways for life to have formed from non-living chemicals, e.g. the experiments conducted by Joan Oró in 1961.
Here you go. Old science experiement we all learned about in high school. Except maybe if you live in the Bible Belt they may censor this from science texts, eh? You guys do that?

I should emphasize the “within 2 weeks” part of that experiment.

Also, you may want to know that bird speciation due to separation distance of populations has long been studied. Yes, macro-evolution is observable.

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StaceyMontgomery at 12:43PM, Oct. 31, 2007
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OzoneOcean said:

>

I find this argument compelling. But it takes some of the fun out of aliens, of course. I guess we might be able to talk with them even if If they don't understand Ed Wood and Tristan Taormino… but why bother?

It sounds like a Galaxy full of blue whales.

Still, that beats the “hungry klingons everywhere” possibility.
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kingofsnake at 1:19PM, Oct. 31, 2007
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I'd like to enphasize the

schoolbooks
did not actually create life.

aspect of this. the probabilies I presented (whatever they were 1 to 2.68 * 10^268) is the probability that the chemicals and amino acids that compose the essential building blocks of single strand RNA self-replicators would randomly combine into one of the very few correct sequences to form one of these self-replicators.

That was in 1953, and science still hasn't been able to create life out of a lifeless state, they've only been able to simulate how the elements that compose life could come about on their own. And you know science can simulate a primordial soup under a much faster spectrum than would occur in a real world scenario.

When we can develop life from a lifeless state, it will be huge for science and evolutionary theory.
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mlai at 2:21PM, Oct. 31, 2007
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If amino acids can be randomly synthesized from methane, ammonia, etc in two weeks in 1 chemistry set, how can you still look at anyone with a straight face and say that it's unlikely millions of years of brewing an entire planet would lead to RNA strands?

Someone
And you know science can simulate a primordial soup under a much faster spectrum than would occur in a real world scenario.
All the guy did was toss in the ingredients simulating primordial earth into a vat and turn on a spark to simulate lightning and radiation. He did not go fiddling with PCRs or what-have-you to speed the process.

Before anyone gets impressed by this number 2.04 x 10^390, read this below.

Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM

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