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Subject: The possiblity of Alien lifeform?
fall out    10/7/2004 9:37:37 AM
How about it? What are the chances? Ive heard how there are billions of universes with billions of planets and if just one in a billion planets are like earth then there are billions of earth like planets out there, BUT, i've also heard that there is some evidence that it would be unlikely for alien's to exist? btw, if so, what/how would they take shape? as in like humans or perhaps even the hollywood style alien? Fall Out :)
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doggtag    RE:The possiblity of Alien lifeform?   10/7/2004 10:29:34 AM
I -agree that certainly there could be non-terrestrial (terrestrial here meaning Earth) lifeforms scattered around the cosmos. But the point we must concede is that we base "life" only on what we have observed here. Considering we have found active, thriving microbial life in sulfur-rich geothermal vents at near-boiling temperatures, and active microbial life in sub-freezing antarctic ice, certainly there could be other such bacterial, microbial, and single-celled organisms. But unless the natural evolutionary path on another world is very similar to our own, it should definitely be doubtful that every "alien" we find would be humanoid in form, having the typical 5 major appendages (torso with 1 head, 2 arms, and 2 legs.) Wishful thinking on our part that aliens will resemble our structure (we sometimes even suggest religion supports the theory (" my Father's Kingdom are many mansions." "...other sheep, of other folds.") We can only hope that our encounters will be with beings who are somewhat appealing to our human eyes and not horrifically unattractive. We also hope that they will have similar values on life. But there is also the chance that, as we humans have often escaped our own demise by the "skin of our teeth" (avoiding nuclear genocide?), another once-inhabited world we may one day find, it may have been populated by a race who weren't so cooperative with each other and didn't fair as well through the ages as we have. But certainly, the possibilty also exists that other races could well have put aside petty wars and belief systems and evolved to a point far beyond even what we imagine for our species. If such races evolved millions of years before us, they may well have ascended to a non-corporeal form (energy?) and would see us physical beings as little more than we see strings of amino acids in some primordial soup. There is the possibility that life across the cosmos revolves in circles, with one certain race evolving to the height of godhood, and becoming the progenitors of new life on several worlds, then dying off or moving on to places even beyond our comprehension and measure, with the life it created on those other worlds following the same cycle several million years later. One need only look at the natural cycles of events here on Earth and within our own solar system, to make fair assumption that there are similar "circles of life" across the cosmos, but just on a vastly larger scale. It's certainly fair assumption that some races will, and have, faired better than others. Considering how our own beliefs (religions) over the years have at times both stifled and encouraged our scientific growth, certainly other worlds who've mentally evolved to the point of structured civilization and languages would also succumb to such periods as well. But whether or not they "look human" I think is more hope than what is necessarily practical. Certainly, Nature here has developed other effective forms of life (body locomotion, reproduction, etc), and depending how life evolves on those other world (large amounts of land mass? or predominantly oceans?) will determine what physical form the biological beings of those worlds will look like. Certainly, if humanity survives to some future point where we evolve into an "ethereal, godlike being", perhaps we would chose to create life on other barren, desolate worlds to one day evolve into the form we have become so familiar with. The possibilty also then exists that we are the product of such a race ourselves, and our nearest "cosmic neighbors" may well have evolved and advanced along a similar path. We can only hope for now. But we won't know for certain until we get out there and discover it for ourselves..
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ridenrain    RE:The possiblity of Alien lifeform?   10/7/2004 12:25:49 PM
I'm voting for disembodied brains, floating through the air with a healthy dose of tentacles for good measure. Just by the odds, there must be some out there somewhere but what it looks like will be totally dependant on it's environment. There are some (star trek fans?) who believe that any race as evolved as we are would be pretty much humanoid but I think that's wrong. We assume the use of tools is a fundamental step in evolution, so hands of some form become necessary but we are only guessing, based on our very narrow experiences. We need more information and I'm sure a whole lot of people's opinions are going to be wrong with whatever we find.
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fall out    RE:The possiblity of Alien lifeform?   10/8/2004 9:30:47 AM
im over my head, but if you could put a % on it, what would be the % of first of all alien's existing at all? and secondly, what would the % chance of aliens existing like humans (ala star trek) and thirdly the % of aliens existing hollywood style?
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ridenrain    RE:The possiblity of Alien lifeform?   10/8/2004 10:13:51 AM
I'd say everyone is over their heads on this one because all we have is speculation. If Carl Segan was right and there are "billions and billions" of stars and life on just one of them, the odds would be billions and billions to one. As to the other questions, it's my off hand guestimate that it would be 12.928 and 46.325, accurate 14 out of 20 times. That, and $2.00 would get you a coffee.
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Ehran    RE:The possiblity of Alien lifeform?   10/8/2004 6:53:15 PM
it appears that there are a crapload of planets in the "running water" zone scattered about. we really do need better tools before doing meaningful stats up but i believe we have already detected several worlds out there with large amounts of free oxygen in their atmospheres. our current understanding of planetology strongly implies that free oxygen in large quantities is the product of a biosphere of some sort. life could very well be as common as in star trek.
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doggtag    percentages   10/8/2004 7:25:58 PM
we can only assume and speculate on that, fallout. But until we are actually out there ands seeing/discovering it ourselves, any percentages and educated guesses are little more than hope, considering the magnitude of the topic (taking into effect the overall vastness of the universe.).
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bunglefoot    RE:percentages   11/30/2004 1:14:21 PM
Personally I think that there are three possible schools of thought (all others being disregarded as loony) regarding life elsewhere in existence. The first school of thought acknowledges that life is so supremely unlikely that we may well be unique. The second school of thought acknowledges the first school of thought but points out that the chance of life is non-zero (we are here after all), and that the universe is an immense place. Thus, it is almost certain that life will exist elsewhere. The third school of thought says that we are wrong about the odds to create life, and that anyplace that has a sufficiently diverse environment and an energy supply will eventually harbor it given enough time OR that our definition of what constitutes life is grossly inadequate due to inexperience with forms of life other than our own, and that we will 'know it when we see it' almost everywhere.
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ridenrain    It's life Jim, but not as we know it.    11/30/2004 2:08:17 PM
I guess he was more than a simple country doctor.
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eon    RE:It's life Jim, but not as we know it.    11/30/2004 4:19:33 PM
The Star Trek "model" is actually surprisingly valid. Assuming that most planets like ours ("M" or "Men'shara" class, as they put it) manage to retain their biospheres for a long enough time for multicellular lifeforms to evolve, the biosphere itself will tend to favor warm-blooded, viviparous creatures (Dejah Thoris' oviparousness notwithstanding). Assuming the above, we find that for the basic tool-using ability required to create an even semi-technological culture, the lifeform will very likely walk upright to free at least one pair of limbs for manipulation. Since minimum brain-size is one restriction on sentience, but maximum body mass (requiring more heart action to properly feed the brain with nutrients via blood)creates an upper limit, the average size of our hypothetical NTE is also very probably in the under-3-metre range. Add in the necessity of stereoscopic vision and you find that your most likely candidate is an omnivore or predator, as opposed to an herbivore, which has eyes (or whatever) on the sides of the skull to keep watch for anything apt to eat it. Add in that planets like ours favor carbon-based lifeforms, and you end up with an upright, roughly bipedal, ex-predator-turned-omnivore with about two eyes and four limbs total, on the grounds that evolution doesn't overcomplicate if it can help it. Or in other words, Andorians, Vulcans, Tellarites and Klingons would not surprise me nearly as much as Velantians, Palainians, Rigellians, and all the panoply of unusual and/or downright bizarre lifeforms conceived by E.E. "Doc" Smith. They may exist, in other sorts of biospheres, but if "Class M" planets are the bulk of worlds that produce sentient life, I'd expect humanoids to form the greatest percentage of that life. As Mr. Spock might say, it's actually quite logical..
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ridenrain    RE:It's life Jim, but not as we know it.    12/5/2004 1:18:28 AM
While defer to superior knowledge on the surface, my simplistic thought is that we prejudicial humanoids simply cannot accept that any other shape could be intelligent. Given that binocular vision is a good thing and opposing thumbs almost a necessary, it's not unbelievable that a big fish in a little pond might exceed expectations. I'm just thinking that it's a really big world out there and there will be things that we didn't even think of. The laws of physics may exist but why can't details become lost in the translation.
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