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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?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.
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.We are only talking about carbon based life which can't be the only kind.
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.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.
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.This is the one I like.
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.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.
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: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.
'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.'
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'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,'