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Snow Algae found in ice spires means

RJM Corbet

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Life on Earth is enormously tenacious and adaptable, once it is established. But that does not mean life must be able to originate in extreme conditions. Life is amazing at adapting to almost anything, given the chance. But first life has to originate. And that is the issue?
 

Robert Zwilling

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The conditions are extreme only through the eyes of human beings which means absolutely nothing. Extreme condition life can be anywhere. We only speculate that the type of life on Earth started under "warmer" rather than colder conditions, but doesn't mean that is the only way life can start.. Probably the only way to find out if life is fairly well scattered around by whatever means possible we will have to send people to the Moon and Mars to dig into the dirt, look under rocks, do a real search. The rovers are nice but they are missing far more than they are detecting. I wouldn't be surprised if we had to go down a couple of meters or more to find something. If something found on the surface was not bothered by water or heat it would probably be very hard to kill and might be better off left where it was found.
 

Robert Zwilling

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Originating and adapting are two very different things but there is a theory floating around that some of the life on planets could be seeded from off planet sources. Any thing that could go through space probably is very well adapted to a wide variety of conditions. I don't believe Earth is the gold standard for representing the variety of life in this universe. That is way too dependent on the view afforded to people based only on personal experience.

There is a crazy planet wandering around 20 million light years from here that has no sun, maybe a few moons or even other planets orbiting it, and a very strong magnetic field. It is called a brown dwarf but that only gives it's mass but not exactly what is made of. The terms failed stars, brown dwarfs and rogue planets are used interchangeably which makes one wonder what they are made of, especially since they are supposedly like a Jupiter styled gas planet and we have several different gas giants in our solar system.

The rogue planets could be truly wandering or traveling in extremely huge orbits. The age of most of them is unknown but this particular one is only 200 million years old which is much younger than expected, if is a failed star. If you look up the various articles on rogue planets it can be seen their numbers run from rare to everyday events. With all the confusion about what happens when a star fails to form but still forms something from 12 to 80 times the mass of Jupiter I would say that the formation of life is right in there embedded in the same shroud of confusion. We are only talking about carbon based life which can't be the only kind. We are also only talking about life based on matter, What if there is life based solely on energy?

Some people say that the only thing "alive" in our bodies is the energy that courses through it and once that leaves the body it's just a pile of junk. That opens up the door for any kind of body in any kind of environment. At very cold, very hot, or intense pressure of any kind, energy has some very strange looking properties, most of which we have no idea how it "works." We don't have a good idea of exactly how many dimensions we are living in. Much of what we know is based on what we can personally experience or observe and that is a very small fraction of this universe.
 

RJM Corbet

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Much of what we know is based on what we can personally experience or observe and that is a very small fraction of this universe.
Yes. We have go by what our five natural human senses and what the telescopes and other extensions of our senses can determine of 'nature'. There is a difference between (correctly) insisting that because 'nature' is all we can observe -- that therefore nothing beyond nature can exist?
 

Vertigo

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We are only talking about carbon based life which can't be the only kind.
Why can't it? I never understand the why so many people insist other forms of life must exist. The is no must about it. They may exist, though I think it highly unlikely; silicon is one of the other bases for life that many people propose and yet silicon is the most abundant element on this planet and, guess what, there's no silicon life on this planet. The minority carbon element is the base of all life here. I'm not saying there cannot be other forms of life out there just that, based on all the evidence we have, it is looking less and less likely.
 

Robert Zwilling

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I would say based on how everything we are discovering is disrupting the old ideas of how the universe is put together the less likely the old ideas are the only game in town.
 

Vertigo

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I would say based on how everything we are discovering is disrupting the old ideas of how the universe is put together the less likely the old ideas are the only game in town.
But you still haven't said why carbon based life can't be the only kind. I can accept that you think it likely it's not the only kind whilst I think it's likely it is the only kind. But if you are going to say it cannot be the only kind then you must have some evidence to support that. Just because we are always discovering new things about how the universe works it doesn't automatically follow that we will eventually discover non carbon based life. It doesn't even make it more likely really.
 

Vertigo

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This is the one I like.
Now I think this is even less likely than non carbon based life. At least for it to be 'natural.' It's conceivable that some fantastically advanced technology might be able to do something like this but for it to occur 'naturally' you would have to come up with a mechanism whereby energy naturally starts to organise itself and then figure out a mechanism by which that organisation can reproduce itself, all by small incremental advances in that organisation. We can and have figured out how this could happen with carbon based life. But pure energy? I doubt it, pure energy simply does not organise itself. Pure energy is not really a 'thing' it's a potential.
 

RJM Corbet

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Ok, well look, I am surprised at how everything has managed to organise itself. It is all energy? A photon is not a thing; it is pure energy? An atom is a state of energy organised at various states and levels, etc? It contains no solid material.

To me, the whole organisation of energy from the big bang onwards appears to be anti-entropic? Energy naturally tends towards the lowest level? Death, not life is the natural state? Life is energy organised not just to avoid entropy, but to reverse entropy. Life 'grows'. At least while it is growing. Ok, it's all a mystery to me.

Google: 'does life violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics' and its throws up a lot of confusing and conflicting replies. Nothing that is easy to get a handle on. Just words really. But life is anti-entropic, by any understanding?

There's no proper value that can be called energy either, really? I think that to define energy either as some sort of mathematical
potential or detritus is not really getting towards any proper sort of definition.

These are interesting questions, and I am looking forward to hearing from people who have reasonable knowledge of the science.
 
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Brian G Turner

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Life is energy organised not just to avoid entropy, but to reverse entropy. Life 'grows'. At least while it is growing. Ok, it's all a mystery to me.
Life on Earth is powered by energy from the sun. One key feature of ecology is tracking how energy and materials moves between species as part of the food web.
 

Robert Zwilling

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There are colonies of chemotroph animals clustered around undersea hydrothermal vents where there is no sunlight, no photosynthesis. They get their energy from the 700 degree highly acidic water coming out of the vents that have large amounts of minerals and sulfides dissolved in them. There are many kinds of chemotrophs which live on the surface under normal conditions and do utilize products from photosynthesis. The ones by the undersea sulfur vents are probably completely free of any connections to photosynthesis or energy from the sun. This kind of life ranges from bacteria to small crustaceans. It is not know if the bacteria that starts the whole food cycle originated in the vent colonies or something that originally came from the surface. This type of life could exist on Mars, Venus, maybe even the Moon and Europa.

The chemotroph life is all carbon based and is built exactly like regular life, only the life providing energy reactions are different but it shows how the energy source is not connected to the sun. These life forms have been looked at as originators of life on Earth. The different kinds of bacteria can process methane, iron, nitrogen, all kinds of materials for energy in place of photosynthesis. There are many different strategies for harnessing energy on this planet, almost as if there were many different planets rotating on the same axis.

While I can't prove that is it possible that all life can't be based on carbon, I can use a reverse proof. Start with the archaeologists who say that if proof of a way of life, way of doing things, manipulation or use of materials can't be found in the dig site then the ancient people who lived at the dig site didn't have it. On one level it makes a lot sense, keeps everything straight, but I just don't like way it makes the facts are fit to then draw conclusions.

We had people walking around on the Moon several times and found no signs of life. We have machines crawling all over Mars and found no signs of life. Our powerful telescopes have found no true signs of life on any of the planets in the solar system. We have never found any radio signals that can be decisively labeled as made by alien civilizations. The only thing we got are UFO sightings which tip the scales way over to the life is out there side but never positively proves it. Maybe it's some kind kind of game space aliens play with Earth. The formerly empty space around us is filling up with more and more things within 20 million light years of Earth that we never knew existed, found by new sensing techniques, but still no signs of life.

Following the archaeologists lead, if we can't find any signs of life in outer space then there is no life out there. If Earth is the only planet that has life, then supposedly, human beans are the highest form of life in the universe. If there were just a couple of million of planets out there, that reasoning might be reasonable. Since there are millions of different kinds of planets and and an almost infinite number of planets out there, without any real proof I will say that there is also life out there. With so many possibilities I am willing to believe life has many different forms in this universe. It could be that the basic gene model is standard for most matter based life but that in no way proves that another element couldn't be the foundation of a genetic type structure.
 

Serendipity

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Huh? I put one link up to an interesting article and there's whole conversation!

I did once write a short story in which the background work was to devise how life could survive on Mars as the planet died. Whilst I'm not a biological / chemical expert, I found the results surprising and worrying. I think we underestimate how much life can cling on in very constrained terrain (or whatever you want to call extraterrestrial spaces).

We don't fully know the history of Pluto, but if it had live earlier on in its existence, then that live could find a place to hide on the planet - which may be in its snow pinnacles - or somewhere else on the dwarf planet.
 

Vertigo

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There are colonies of chemotroph animals clustered around undersea hydrothermal vents where there is no sunlight, no photosynthesis. They get their energy from the 700 degree highly acidic water coming out of the vents that have large amounts of minerals and sulfides dissolved in them. There are many kinds of chemotrophs which live on the surface under normal conditions and do utilize products from photosynthesis. The ones by the undersea sulfur vents are probably completely free of any connections to photosynthesis or energy from the sun. This kind of life ranges from bacteria to small crustaceans. It is not know if the bacteria that starts the whole food cycle originated in the vent colonies or something that originally came from the surface. This type of life could exist on Mars, Venus, maybe even the Moon and Europa.

The chemotroph life is all carbon based and is built exactly like regular life, only the life providing energy reactions are different but it shows how the energy source is not connected to the sun. These life forms have been looked at as originators of life on Earth. The different kinds of bacteria can process methane, iron, nitrogen, all kinds of materials for energy in place of photosynthesis. There are many different strategies for harnessing energy on this planet, almost as if there were many different planets rotating on the same axis.

While I can't prove that is it possible that all life can't be based on carbon, I can use a reverse proof. Start with the archaeologists who say that if proof of a way of life, way of doing things, manipulation or use of materials can't be found in the dig site then the ancient people who lived at the dig site didn't have it. On one level it makes a lot sense, keeps everything straight, but I just don't like way it makes the facts are fit to then draw conclusions.

We had people walking around on the Moon several times and found no signs of life. We have machines crawling all over Mars and found no signs of life. Our powerful telescopes have found no true signs of life on any of the planets in the solar system. We have never found any radio signals that can be decisively labeled as made by alien civilizations. The only thing we got are UFO sightings which tip the scales way over to the life is out there side but never positively proves it. Maybe it's some kind kind of game space aliens play with Earth. The formerly empty space around us is filling up with more and more things within 20 million light years of Earth that we never knew existed, found by new sensing techniques, but still no signs of life.

Following the archaeologists lead, if we can't find any signs of life in outer space then there is no life out there. If Earth is the only planet that has life, then supposedly, human beans are the highest form of life in the universe. If there were just a couple of million of planets out there, that reasoning might be reasonable. Since there are millions of different kinds of planets and and an almost infinite number of planets out there, without any real proof I will say that there is also life out there. With so many possibilities I am willing to believe life has many different forms in this universe. It could be that the basic gene model is standard for most matter based life but that in no way proves that another element couldn't be the foundation of a genetic type structure.
You are absolutely correct that hydrothermal vents are quite likely to be the origin of life on Earth. But there are a couple of other points. The highest temperature vents get up to is around 800F which is around 450C. However life doesn't actually exist in these temperatures:
'While these fluids are hot, they tend to cool very quickly as they mix with seawater,' explains Maggie. 'The vent might be very hot, but when you move away from it a little, you can have a temperature of 20°C or so, which is quite nice for lots of animals.'
'Most animals can't cope with anything over 40°C. Very close to the hot fluid, there are typically only microorganisms. These can survive in temperatures up to around 120°C,'
Those two quotes are taken from this rather good article from the National History Museum: https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/survival-at-hydrothermal-vents.html
These organisms would probably struggle to survive on Mars and the Moon due to the lack of water, the gas giant moons are much more likely. It is possible life many have existed on Mars in the past but we have so far found no evidence. The search goes on however with new probes planned that will be capable of drilling down to moderately significant depths. It will of course be massively exciting if we do find evidence of life, either past or present in any of these places.

With regard to the rest of your post; archeologists (or at least those that I know) almost never make absolute negative judgements because it is almost impossible to prove a negative. They will generally say that it something is unlikely as they can find no evidence. To simply say that because there are so many planets it is inevitable there is non carbon based life out there is, I'm afraid, faith not science. Again I repeat that I do not deny the possibility but until I see evidence of any non carbon based life I will still maintain that the evidence we do have suggests it is unlikely.

The thing is, other mechanisms for life based on another chemicals typically require massively more energy for their reactions than carbon based organic reactions and none of them come anywhere near close to the extraordinary versatility of carbon based organic chemistry. Which certainly doesn't make it impossible but it does mean that any such mechanisms are going to be at a huge disadvantage in competition with carbon based life and is therefore only likely to occur in environments where carbon is rare. However as carbon is an extremely abundant element this is going to significantly reduce your count of places where this might happen.

No one can ever prove there are no other kinds of life or even that there is no other life. Again you can't prove a negative. However the longer we keep coming up with no other traces then the less likely it is. And I'm afraid UFO 'sightings' are not going to convince me or any scientist.
 

Robert Zwilling

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Perhaps Earth is an example of the lowest common energy denominator in the game of life. Earth's temperature range that allows water and other substances to easily exist as liquids, solids, and gas probably makes a very easy gateway for starting up life compared to other planets. Any kind of mechanical motion like tides, winds, storms, or even the movement of frozen material might speed up the formation of life. If there is bacteria on Mars it is probably very tough, and lives a very sedate life. It could take years for bacteria to get enough energy to divide in two. It could also have genes that allow it to repair it's genetic structure due to radiation damage. I would suspect that bacteria like that might not be a big player in evolving into something else which would make for a very stable but hardly noticeable population.
 

RJM Corbet

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Enceladus? Life is almost bound to originate in total darkness in frigid water below 10 miles of ice? It HAS to, because there's liquid water there? Devise a spacecraft to go there and drill through the ice? Looking for black smokers. Where life is bound to originate. I hope they're not using my money. I would rather we do something to stop death of the Amazon, plastic clogging the arteries of our planet, etc.
 
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StilLearning

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Life is more likely to originate in the dark, as solar UV breaks up organic molecules. There's no need to drill as material from the ocean appears to be transported to the surface. And the point is not so much to find life, but to discover where conditions we think are suitable for life and its origins exist, and if they have led to it's arising, or any significant distance towards that from simple organic chemistry. By comparing abiotic but life friendly environments to our own teeming planet we can test our theories of how life arises and evolves. I can provide peer reviewed scientific papers and policy documents to support the above points, if you'd like. Such fundamental science is the root of major new discoveries and solutions, although you can seldom tell in advance where they will lead, so I'll pay your share gladly mate. Are you in the uk? We contribute, per tax paying capita, about £12 a year to the whole of space exploration, including climate, weather, crop etc monitoring missions. I'll BACS you your share, just PM me an account you'd like it sent to.
 
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