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Study Puts Hole In Comet Theory Of Life's Origin

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the really-fast-carpool-lane dept.

Space 204

Astervitude writes "A new study by US and Japanese scientists has put a serious dent into one version of the popular panspermia theory that credits comets for bringing the seeds of life to Earth. Surveys conducted by the University of Arizona, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and others now show that objects from the main asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars were largely responsible for the period of Late Heavy Bombardment that ended 3.9 billion years ago. UA Professor Emeritus Robert Strom believes that no more than 10 percent of the Earth's water comes from comets and any oceans then extant would have been 'vaporized by the asteroid impacts during the cataclysm.'" Interesting, because this directly contradicts the Nova mini-series Origins that just finished running on PBS. Science never stops moving.

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my vote (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583678)

goes to the monkey's

-Sj53

Futile work (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583680)

Science never stops moving

Let them continue their futile work. In the Bible they have already been told what really matters, but they refuse to listen.

Re:Futile work (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583770)

Yeah,

why would man and animals need eyes if they couldn't see before, sight is a very high-level ability, a creature without sight doesn't realise he needs it? Also in 'natural selection' humans would have been eaten by everything without sight no matter how developed the brain was.

If we came from the ocean then why can't we breath underwater and if we are the most 'evolved' of creatures then why are the birds flying around the earth like it's going out of fashion? We're wingless, can't go underwater without breathing equipment, the ascent of man? Yeah right.

I'm sure if these 'scientists' really thought about it, evolution is absured, mutation is more accurate, but I wasn't a piece of garbage from 10000 billion years ago. I mean even micro-biology points to an intended design. How come nobody talks about entropy no more? Oh if we we're the offspring of monkeys then why arn't monkeys turning into humans?

I think Genesis 1:1 covers it.

Re:Futile work (2, Interesting)

Floody (153869) | about 9 years ago | (#13584918)

Logic, m'boy, logic. If you're gonna spout off psuedo-science like the pros, you gotta get a hold of some logic.

why would man and animals need eyes if they couldn't see before, sight is a very high-level ability, a creature without sight doesn't realise he needs it?
What does "realise he needs it" have to do with anything? Evolution is not intentional, evolution is not a "force". Nothing decides to evolve. A species ability to visually perceive offers many advantages, depending on the environment. Mate recognition, prey recognition, predator awareness, etc.

Also in 'natural selection' humans would have been eaten by everything without sight no matter how developed the brain was.


Which humans? Modern humans? There's no sense behind those ears, boy! Modern humans can create weapons and modify their environment to prevent being "eaten by everything". If you're talking pre-historic humans, I'd be willing to bet that a fair number of them were eaten.

Still, the ability to form even primitive weapons is an amazing advantage. Plus, do you really think people were always as they are today (physically, senses, etc)?

If we came from the ocean then why can't we breath underwater and if we are the most 'evolved' of creatures then why are the birds flying around the earth like it's going out of fashion? We're wingless, can't go underwater without breathing equipment, the ascent of man? Yeah right.


Who judges humanity as the "most evolved?" You? Last I checked, no mammals have gills, and the set of species that is truly amphibious is rather limited and primitve.

How do you propose a warm blooded animal should go about absorbing the incredible amount of oxygen necessary to maintain a fast metabolism with something like gills? What does Genesis 1:1 have to say about that?

I'm sure if these 'scientists' really thought about it, evolution is absured, mutation is more accurate, but I wasn't a piece of garbage from 10000 billion years ago. I mean even micro-biology points to an intended design. How come nobody talks about entropy no more? Oh if we we're the offspring of monkeys then why arn't monkeys turning into humans?


Ahh, here we see the real truth. It's personal, isn't it? You just couldn't possibly have been from genetic lineage decended from something more primitive, could you? News flash buddy: Just because you want something to be a certain way, doesn't make it so.

Your "intended design" is completely and totally without evidence in reality. The so-called "evidence" is nothing more than fanciful thought expirements based on theology rather than logic. Put it this way: any "designer" with the ability to exactingly design all the myriad forms of life is equally capable of "designing" a process by which life can adapt, change and mutate to best suit its environment over time. I suspect that a being with that much power is perfectly capable of making you an "offspring of monkeys", whether you like it or not.

(pssst.. nobody's forgotten about entropy, it's just that we're all sick of listening to very confused creationists try to bend the second law of thermodynamics to fit their will)

Re:Futile work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13585214)

Moron bit on the troll bait.

So... (4, Funny)

dan dan the dna man (461768) | about 9 years ago | (#13583694)

New study by scientists disagrees with programme made by television professionals to give the illusion of education to the masses?

Shocking! ;)

Or to put it another way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583724)

...observation contradicts propaganda. Big surprise.

Strike a shocked pose and ask "What? You believe what a TV show claims?"

Well duh. Not in the Bible (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583698)

God isn't a commit! Woohoo! Glad we cleared that up.

Heh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583699)

"...the popular panspermia theory that credits comets for bringing the seeds of life to Earth.

Popular AND full of innuendo.

Besides, we all know that Gil Gerard used a time machine, went back, and ejaculated into the primordial ooze.

Re:Heh. (5, Insightful)

Tatarize (682683) | about 9 years ago | (#13583825)

Personally I always hate panspermia. It seemed to fail Occams Razor pretty soundly. Yes, life on this planet came from an asteroid or comet from another planet. Well, if life can exist there to bring it here why can't it just develop here. Seemed like a big waste of time to me. I see no reason we cannot have a homegrown abiogensis on good old Earth. It's not like we hit some major hitch and need an alternate explanation that explains nothing.

Re:Heh. (1)

MikeURL (890801) | about 9 years ago | (#13584768)

also, comets form when planets essentially explode from collision with other large objects. Most forms of microscopic life can be killed if you boil them in water for five minutes but we are supposed to believe that microscopic life survived a planetary explosion large enough to eject chunks of rock hurtling across the universe. Not only that but these microbes also survived the cold and vacuum of space as well as heat and impact of entry into the atmosphere.

Re:Heh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13584936)

It is not a question of whether or not it could have developed on Earth, but a question of whether or not it did.

Hating a theory (that might correctly describe what happened to bring life to Earth) because it doesn't explain the origins of life seems a bit short sighted, no?

But then again... (2, Insightful)

nxtr (813179) | about 9 years ago | (#13583705)

Re:But then again... (5, Funny)

sbaker (47485) | about 9 years ago | (#13583740)

> 80 percent of all studies are wrong...

Which means that there is only a 20% chance that the study that shows that "80% of studies are wrong" is right.

Which means that we have no idea what the probability of error is without doing a lot more studies on the subject.

My head hurts.

Re:But then again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13584347)

Sure we do ... there's a 4% chance that the "80% of studies are wrong" study is right. Of course, there is an 80% chance I'm wrong ...

Oh, but think of the funding opportunities! (1)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | about 9 years ago | (#13584543)


nxtr: 80 percent of all studies are wrong...

sbaker: Which means that there is only a 20% chance that the study that shows that "80% of studies are wrong" is right. Which means that we have no idea what the probability of error is without doing a lot more studies on the subject.

Which means we'll just have to commission a bunch of "scientists" to study the matter further.

Ain't life grand as a "scientist" at the teat of the government sow? It's a win-win proposition, no matter whether you're wrong or you're right.

Re:But then again... (1)

Scarblac (122480) | about 9 years ago | (#13584999)

Which means that there is only a 20% chance that the study that shows that "80% of studies are wrong" is right.


That's a pity though. Suppose the study was exactly right. Then the people who did that study have a way to tell which studies are true and which are not.


All we'd need to do then is submit all studies made to that panel, _before_ publication. We'd get to 100% immediately!


Re:But then again... (1)

mondoterrifico (317567) | about 9 years ago | (#13583951)

Heh that says 50 percent. Regardless, as long as it isn't a negative percentage, Science can move forward. :)
Think about it. 50 percent is correct. Science builds on itself, therefore as long as at some time, some of the ideas being discussed are in fact correct, science as we understand the term will progress.
It is a misunderstanding of how Science progresses that would lead someone to think that anywhere near 100 percent of papers discussed were accurate, is needed.

Well duh! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583706)

We all know that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created life, you fools!

Re:Well duh! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583746)

RAMEN!

Genesis Therories (0, Flamebait)

platypibri (762478) | about 9 years ago | (#13584188)

Well, I will point out that the various theories of Creation in the last few hundred years has been far more stable than any scientific theory put forward. Perhaps it would be better if science types started using rhetoric like "We Think" or "We Believe" instead of "We now know..." I mean, the version of Darwinism that was taught in my school has pretty much been shot to heck, but my Biology teacher sure enough said, "This is how it happened." Just thought for debate, not fuel for the fire. Also, I can't seem to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster as I have yet to find any historical or archeological evidence to support the revelation. Surely anyone who believes in any Deity should be able to give examples of it's work on the history of man.

Re:Genesis Therories (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 9 years ago | (#13584426)

"1 + 1 = 3" has been a pretty stable "theory" for millennia.

Re:Genesis Therories (2)

ucahg (898110) | about 9 years ago | (#13584614)

Regardless of what you think of the grandparent's stance on creation (and the complete absurdity of it that you imply), his point about scientists saying "we know" instead of "we currently believe" is still valid.

You only responded to one part of his statement, but I'm more curious as to what others think of the other half. Personally I agree with that point.

Re:Genesis Therories (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 9 years ago | (#13584701)

People have to understand what "we know" means. Adults have to take everything we hear with some number of grains of salt. Scientific statements of "we know" are more reliable than metaphysical statements of "we know", and adults should understand that for ourselves.

Which is why it's important for people to learn about science before tehy accept its knowledge. Just like it's important for us to learn about religion. Not just to learn the science, like reading it in _Discover_ magazine, or to learn the religion, like reading it in a bible. But we need to learn how the "knowledge system" works: its history, its failures, its successes, its alternatives and their histories. Just like we don't need to learn enough science to be scientists in order to appreciate science (and our world that it explains), we don't need to become experts in the discipline, to become scientists or clerics. We need to understand what the strengths and limitations are, and what it means when a scientist or a cleric says "we know", "I believe" or "this is". Otherwise, we're just faking it, and we will make all kind of mistakes, without ways to recover. And that's very dangerous, considering how powerful are these ways of knowing, whether they're right or (especially when) they're wrong.

Re:Genesis Therories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13585144)

yeh like the daily show with jon stewart's evolution schmevolution saying we are 98.5% genetically similar to chimps even though that was an old estimate as the chimp genome was not mapped until a while back and we now know we're about 96% similar [nationalgeographic.com] . and this info was readily available BEFORE the show was made yet they still said 98.5% as FACT. ugh people need to stop messing with science's credibility like that.

Re:Genesis Therories (2, Insightful)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | about 9 years ago | (#13584994)

Well, I will point out that the various theories of Creation in the last few hundred years has been far more stable than any scientific theory put forward.

That's just because such "theories" either ignore any inconvenient facts, or revise the "theory of Creation" so that it is impossible to disprove (and then pretend that's what the "theory" said all along). Eventually, they can say (like you did) that their theory has been stable longer than the physically-testable theories, and is therefore somehow "better".

Also, I can't seem to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster as I have yet to find any historical or archeological evidence to support the revelation.

You obviously haven't read much about the Church of the FSM. Part of their Articles of Faith is that the FSM continually adjusts reality so that you can neither prove nor disprove its existence - much like the fanatics who insist that the Bible is the literal truth say that their "ever-truthful" God created the world thousands of years ago, complete with all the physical evidence that makes us think it is billions of years old.

Why (1)

Enoch Lockwood (889602) | about 9 years ago | (#13583707)

Why would it be easier to believe that life began elsewhere than to assume that life started here on Earth? Is there some particular reason not to believe that the life on Earth got started on Earth?

Re:Why (4, Insightful)

sbaker (47485) | about 9 years ago | (#13583726)

> Why would it be easier to believe that life began elsewhere
> than to assume that life started here on Earth?

Two reasons:

1) We have some idea of the early conditions on Earth - but maybe
      we have a hard time believing that those were conducive to
      forming life from scratch. If life started elsewhere then there
      is almost no limit to the range of concievable temperatures, pressures,
      gravity, radiation and chemical environments in which it might
      ultimately have formed.

2) Time: Is the Earth old enough for that very early phase of going
      from completely non-biological materials to DNA, cell walls, etc?
      If not - then panspermia explains that by saying that life was
      around in some other place LONG before the Earth was formed.

So panspermia allows for a scientific explanation of life's formation
that is perhaps more plausible than formation on early Earth.

Re:Why (2, Insightful)

Ingolfke (515826) | about 9 years ago | (#13583763)

So panspermia allows for a scientific explanation of life's formation
that is perhaps more plausible than formation on early Earth.


Scientific? Sounds to me like you have a untestable theory for the origins of life. You can test components of the theory, but ultimately you always be able to say... well sure it came from somewhere else, but it's been millions/billions of years and all of the concrete evidence has been washed away.

Re:Why (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 9 years ago | (#13583806)

Actually, the theory is testable. If you find life elsewhere, and can show a common evolutionary ancestor, then it is probable that it is correct. If, however, it has no common ancestor with life on earth (e.g. completely different cell structure, or not even cells as we know them), then it is safe to say that life began in different places independently.

Re:Why (1)

sigzero (914876) | about 9 years ago | (#13583815)

No it isn't testable. "If you find life elsewhere" is like saying "If God showed himself" then creationism would be right. You are making sweeping assumptions that cannot be tested.

Re:Why (2, Insightful)

cnettel (836611) | about 9 years ago | (#13583835)

Notice he has two parts in the statement. IF we detect life elsewhere, we can make comparisons. Life elsewhere, in itself, wouldn't be the proof, it's just a necessary condition to make observations. Many other theories on the origin and nature of early life could be strengthened or invalidated if we found it elsewhere and had more than a single sample to study. This is not unique to the theory of panspermia, although of course the outcome validating the theory would be that both samples available to us would in fact show enough similarities to indicate a common origin.

Re:Why (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | about 9 years ago | (#13583838)

I'm waiting for God to show up and Say "Actually I evolved"

"Actually, I evolved", God. (1)

Otheus (897195) | about 9 years ago | (#13583847)

Please refer to the Gospel of Ship [answers.com] . You must decide how you will WorShip Me.

Re:"Actually, I evolved", God. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583874)

God: You must decide how you will WorShip Me.

Me: How about not at all, you fucking pompous windbag of the sky.

Re:Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583841)

Your claim of it not being testable, makes no sense at all. While his claim of testability does.

Just because getting to other stars and looking for life there is hard, does not make it untestable. You just need exceptional patience. On the other hand if you are actually arguing there is no firm evidence right now for it, you are ofcourse correct. But that wasn't what the parent was talking about.

Anycase, please try to define more clearly what your objection is more clearly next time, as it is I can't quite figure out your logic and have thus made quite a few assumptions on what I think you meant.

Re:Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13585209)

no you make no sense at all. see if we found very simple prokaryotic ancestors on earth and similar ones on another planet, it wouldn't prove anything at all. they would of course be similar regardless of if they had a common ancestor because to be an ancestor it would have to be pretty much the absolute most basic form of life. life would always form at the very basic level in the same way. life is chemical reactions and chemical reactions happening on earth happen the same way throughout the universe. it' too fucking simple a thing to have meaningful deviations.

Re:Why (1)

jav1231 (539129) | about 9 years ago | (#13583858)

Are you on crack? How the fuck is that testable? Find any life on another planet? Better call NASA because THEY haven't found it yet. Talk about propaganda.

Re:Why (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | about 9 years ago | (#13584182)

It is investigable , I wouldn't say it was testable yet though .

Re:Why (2, Insightful)

sbaker (47485) | about 9 years ago | (#13583870)

I didn't say that we necessarily need panspermia to explain the origins of life, or that the theory is testable.

If we find a perfectly good explanation for the origins of life on Earth - then that is still not proof that life actually did start here.

That means that Panspermia is unfalsifyable - which is a bad thing for a scientific theory. All you can do is to presume that it's false until someone proves otherwise.

But the previous post questioned why Panspermia could possibly be of any help in explaining the origin problem. I merely pointed out the theoretical possibility that Panspermia might some day be an important explanation of how this happened.

If you somehow managed to utterly PROVE that life could not possibly have originated on early Earth, science would be in deep trouble without something like the Panspermia theory which allows one to hypothesise other sets of conditions and longer timescales.

Suppose we found evidence that life could not have formed without some particular chemical compound that cannot ever have existed at earthly temperatures and pressures? Then you'd be forced to admit that life started elsewhere. In a sense, you could prove panspermia by showing that life could not have come from early earth. Given that there is demonstrably life here now, you'd have proven that it had to have come from elsewhere.

A true test of Panspermia would require us to find another planet - perhaps one very similar to Earth and to demonstrate that life here and life there shared striking similarities that could not have arisen by chance. For example, if both life forms had similar long stretches of 'junk' DNA. You'd be unable to show that the 'life originated on earth' theory was true anymore because by symmetry, it might have arisen on planet-X and travelled here instead of the other way around.

So Panspermia might be proved, conclusively. If we found evidence of life on (say) Mars and could demonstrate that this life bore striking resemblances to Earthly life. You'd then be forced to admit that the overwhelmingly most likely explanation was that life could travel from one planet to another. You'd still be left with the question of whether it originated on Earth, on Mars or in some yet other place...but the idea that life could be formed in one place and travel to another would be demonstrably true.

Re:Why (1)

PineHall (206441) | about 9 years ago | (#13583947)

The earliest evidence for life [brookes.ac.uk] is 3.8 billion years ago. The time the earth cooled to form solid mantle is about 4.0 billions years ago. (Or to go further back the earth formed about 4.3-4.5 billion years ago.) Was about 200 million years enough time for simple life, which is really not very simple, to evolve and then survive during the meteorite bombardment that was happening then?

I think this is a big problem for the current theory. Panspermia pushes this problem off earth and gives the possibility of enough time for random chance to allow simple life to form. I still think this theory and other ideas evolutionists have with the orgins of life are too improbable.

Re:Why (1)

deimtee (762122) | about 9 years ago | (#13585022)

200 million years is actually quite a long time.
Given daily twice daily tides thats sufficient for 146000000000 mixing cycles and 73000000000 heat/cool cyles in a chemical bath the size of all of Earth's coastlines. That gives a pretty good chance of developing a simple chemical replicator, and once you have that evolution takes care of the rest.

So why does this contradict panspermia? (3, Interesting)

sbaker (47485) | about 9 years ago | (#13583710)

Sure, this is an interesting paper with important ramifications - but I don't see how it has any bearing on the theory of panspermia.

Surely it only takes one tiny droplet of life-carrying comet water to make it into earth's early oceans without being boiled into sterility. If conditions were right, that initial small pocket of bacteria or virii could multiply to cover the planet in a matter of years.

You can't tell me that over millions of years and millions of impacts, not one would come down at a sufficiently low speed or favorable grazing angle to gently melt comet ice into an existing ocean.

Given what we've observed of Mars meteorites ending up on Earth, it's perfectly possible for life from one part of the universe to spread from planet to planet - and even solar system to solar system.

If you buy into the idea that there was life elsewhere in the universe long before life has been found to have existed on Earth - then panspermia is very possible.

My problem with that theory is that it doesn't answer any questions about how life formed in the first place. There still has to be an origin world - and explaining how life appeared there is just as hard as explaining how it might have formed here in the absence of panspermia.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (4, Insightful)

PakProtector (115173) | about 9 years ago | (#13583752)

Yes, but, as you point out, the Problem with the Idea of Panspermia is that it does not explain how life arose -- it just shifts the blame for it (as it were) elsewhere.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583758)

The slashdot summary is misleading at best. Strom et al. are not saying that panspermia is wrong. What they are saying is that most of the water on Earth did not come from comet impacts.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (5, Interesting)

bmgoau (801508) | about 9 years ago | (#13583803)

Increasingly complex molecules competed for energy and material to form larger and more sustainable molecules. The molecules that arranged themselves by chance to absorb the most energy and strongest structure surivied the longest, and this process continued until basic structures combined in a symbiotic relationship that would help sustain the period of those structures existance. This process continues until basic cell structures formed, and again combined by chance to form larger structures. Eventually the strongest and most energy effecient structure was developed by chance through the process of natural selection until we had basic repoductive structures. Mutations which led to longer life and thus more chance of reproduction continued until movement and adaption were constituents, from there entire structures began to work together to from basic cells, which over time developed processes for reproduction and survival through chance combination and mutation. Cells began to grow in complexity in a bid for survival, by chance some began working together to form multicellular groups, which became organisms with adaption relative to the abilities of each cell, then came encoded cellular variation to ensure multicellular groups continued to form by precedence. Over much time increased numbers of simple structures combined to form larger and more complex structures witht he ability for their own kenetic movement beyond growth, because of the natural selection of moveable multicellular organisms made them more adaptable then others and thus more likely to reproduce. Eventually all sorts of mutation and chance combination occured which would lead to ever more complex structures with better adaptability till the first regonizable biological systems formed. From there we have basic sea life and countless steps later down the evolution chain, human beings.

Of course, it might be out of order, and one would have to know that the time this would take would be immense.

For those who make the chance argument, stateing that such complex structures canot possibly arise by chance i say:

Look at the size of the universe, there must be at least 125 billion galaxies, each with roughly 100 billion stars, each with the possibility of terrestrial planetoids, each with a massive surface area with plenty or energy and materials for the possibility of forming the molecular strutuces by chance that are a prelude to life. Then take that number, and times it by the age of most galaxies.....All of a sudden the chance doesnt seem so small.

As for complexities, whos to say life is complex, its equally possible that life is mearly countless basic systems working symbiotically for the goal of survival and reproduction. I give the cargo cult as ana example: In World War 2 several tribes worshiped American cargo planes because the ability and complexities of human flight were so vast to them that the cargo planes could only be explained as items of a supernatural nature. It never appeared to them that these planes were not godly and no complex beyond their understanding, such is a cargo plane simply a number of systems discovered by humans by chance working in parrallel.

As for thurther complexity: If life is so complex that the possibility of chance is so small, then how does one explain oru manipulation of life, for example insulin producing bacteria, or the mapping of the genome. How does one explain the evolution and appearance of new viruses and bacterial strains by chance.

Life is beautiful, it is wonderous and magestic, but it is not beyond our understanding. It arose by chance, it's growth is determined by evolution and it is not complex. It just appears that way to some.

I always think, that maybe the reason ID and creationalists fight progress and science is they think that discovery is taking the magic and beauty away from life. But instead, what they dont realise, is that all it is doing it discovering more beautiful and wonderous details. We are not finding answers, only more questions. We are giving power to ourselves and whatever purpose we serve. There is no need to be afraid, no need to be ignorant, only a need to be open to the wonders that surround us and fuel the need for discovery that comes with conscienceness.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (2, Informative)

smallfeet (609452) | about 9 years ago | (#13583920)

%60 of systems seem to be binary or trinary, not good for life to develope. Planets would need to be in the "goldylocks" zone where water is liquid much of the time. And there are about 5-6 other factors that would limit development of life elsewhere. There will still be a lot of good planets, but not anywhere near as many as you suggest.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (2, Insightful)

bmgoau (801508) | about 9 years ago | (#13583963)

I never suggested that the enviroment neccisary for life would be common, i mearly stated that given the scope of the universe it is probable that many systems like ours could exist. Of course, given lifes adaptability, it is ignorant to assume that the environment here is the one specifically needed for life. for instance we have already seen life in cave that never see light, and entire ecosystems surviving off the heat from volcanic vents.

Life will find a way, and given the scope of the universe, even if such systems were uncommon, as you stated, there would still be numorous possibilities.

some quick math tells me that even if a habitat suitiable for life was 0.1%, there would still be 150000000000000000000 locations in the universe.

0.01% gives 15000000000000000000

both these numbers to me are very nice, but still to optimistic.

Lets just say that solar systems like our own were only .00000001% of the systems in the universe. There would still be 150000000000000 locations close to supporting life.

Of course, all of this remains speculative, and massively over optemistic, until we start reaching for the stars.

But i will continue to say, that given the scope of the universe, the time avaliable and lifes adaptability, I believe life will be a very common occurance throughout the universe, it may just not be in the way of anything that would resemble life to us.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (1)

bmgoau (801508) | about 9 years ago | (#13583973)

To add:

To paraphrase Carl Sagan:

"If it is just us, it seems like and awful waste of space"

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (1)

sbaker (47485) | about 9 years ago | (#13583976)

OK - so 125 Giga-galaxies times 100 Giga-stars per galaxy times...what...2 planets per star on the average?

That's maybe 25,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets. ...any you're claming the problem is that 60% of those are uninhabitable because or binary stars? Oh dear...only 12,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 left.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (1)

Decaff (42676) | about 9 years ago | (#13584842)

%60 of systems seem to be binary or trinary, not good for life to develope. Planets would need to be in the "goldylocks" zone where water is liquid much of the time. And there are about 5-6 other factors that would limit development of life elsewhere. There will still be a lot of good planets, but not anywhere near as many as you suggest.

These requirements are a myth. Even with the assumption that life requires liquid water, the idea liquid water only exists within a 'Goldilocks' or 'just right' zone based on distance from a Sun is clearly wrong - there is almost certainly liquid water under a layer of ice on Europa due to tidal heating. The same is likely on Callisto and it even is possible that the same conditions may arise on moons of Saturn.

As for binary or trinary star systems - providing the stars are sufficiently separated (by at least several light hours or days) there is plenty of room for stable planetary systems to form around each star.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583937)

Look at the size of the universe, there must be at least 125 billion galaxies, each with roughly 100 billion stars, each with the possibility of terrestrial planetoids, each with a massive surface area with plenty or energy and materials for the possibility of forming the molecular strutuces by chance that are a prelude to life. Then take that number, and times it by the age of most galaxies.....All of a sudden the chance doesnt seem so small.

The size and age of the universe are meaningless if you don't have any other informaton to go on.

The universe could have been a billion times larger and a billion times older, and still had no life in it, if the chance of life developing were sufficiently small. If the chance of life developing were zero, then you could have an infinitely large universe of infinite age, and it would contain no life. That's simple mathematics.

So, basically, you looking at the universe and saying "wow, it's big, no wonder there's life" is no more meaningful than a creationist looking at the universe and saying "wow, it's big, that proves God exists". Neither of you is making a comment with any scientific content or value whatsoever.

We simply don't have the data to draw any conclusions about the likelihood of life having developed here, or elsewhere. We don't have the data to draw any conclusions at all about how common life is likely to be in the universe; basically, it is just as plausible that our world is unique, as that there is some form of life in every galaxy.

Let's wait for science to find some evidence before we start jumping to conclusions, okay?

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (1)

sigzero (914876) | about 9 years ago | (#13584391)

It is so highly improbable that life arose by "chance" to make it virtually impossible. What are the chances of a volcano exploding and making a nice house? That is pretty much the same thing.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (1)

w9ofa (68126) | about 9 years ago | (#13584699)

Your reasoning, when broken down, consists of statements like this:

1.) X is true
2.) Therefore, Y

Note, that the statements have no relationship other than being part of your argument. If you are confused, I can make a few examples:

1.) The universe is big and old
2.) Life must have sprung into existance randomly.

Or

1.) Someone found a previously unknown strain of bacteria
2.) Life must have sprung into existance randomly.

Go read a good introductory philosophy book if you are still confused about why this is wrong.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (4, Informative)

StuckInSyrup (745480) | about 9 years ago | (#13583807)

If conditions were right, that initial small pocket of bacteria or virii could multiply to cover the planet in a matter of years.

I do not disagree completely, but one word is definitely wrong in this sentence. Virii.
A virus is a parasitic lifeform, that "lives" only inside of a living cell. No cell - no life, no multiplication, no evolution and no spreadnig. Outside of a living cell a virus is an inactive lump of protein and nucleic acid.
Other tahn that, a virus is a potent driver of evolution by mixing up its host genome, possibly creating new genetic structures.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (1)

sbaker (47485) | about 9 years ago | (#13583818)

My apologies - you are absolutely right of course. With no pre-existing life to infect, a virus couldn't reproduce. So strike that word.

Well, panspermia theory is a bit like ID .. (2, Interesting)

RedLaggedTeut (216304) | about 9 years ago | (#13583824)

Well, the panspermia theory is a bit like intelligent design - it is not one theory, but several theories, however, the panspermia theories have a chance to be proven true, while the ID theories tend to be proven wrong.

Examples:

- the cosmos helped life come into existance by simple organic molecules that were
  - formed in space
  - ejected from a planet

- life spread through our solar system, that is:
  - from mars
  - the asteroid belt was formely a planet hosting life which

- DNA/RNA came from space

- bacteria survived a journey through the cosmos

The study reported by slashdot makes some of these theories unlikely, but not all of them.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 9 years ago | (#13584055)

don't see how it has any bearing on the theory of panspermia.

It doesn't. According to TFA:

Comets have played a relatively minor role in inner solar system impacts, Strom, Malhotra and Kring also conclude from their work. Contrary to popular belief, probably no more than 10 percent of Earth's water has come from comets, Strom said.
10% of Earth's water is a FUCK of a lot of water (137 million km3); and in that you only need one living cell to colonise the whole planet in a very short time geologically. It seems the submitter either had an agenda, or thought he had to sex up the story to have it posted; sadly the Slashdot editors went along for the ride and even quote irrelevant TV science into the bargain. Since Slashdot earns money by the hit, any pretext to stir up yet another Creationism flame war is good business.

Al Gore! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13584062)

Guys, you have it all wrong.

After all your theories, I think you'll find that Al Gore invented Life.

Re:So why does this contradict panspermia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13585256)

My problem with that theory is that it doesn't answer any questions about how life formed in the first place. There still has to be an origin world - and explaining how life appeared there is just as hard as explaining how it might have formed here in the absence of panspermia.

To quote the old lady who Stephen Hawkings quoted, "It's turtles all the way down."

misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583714)

The article says that 10% of the earths water may have come from comets. That's a lot of water.

Re:misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583792)

That's nothing...

100% of Mars' water may have come from comets.

Everyone knows well enough (1)

mmu_man (107529) | about 9 years ago | (#13583767)

that we are the second evolution of the Ancients [gateworld.net] , who left the galaxy several millenia ago.

Re:Everyone knows well enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583970)

Hallowed are the Awe Rye

in previous news... (1)

DeathByDuke (823199) | about 9 years ago | (#13583813)

probe puts hole in comet!

We have three different non-competing models here (5, Interesting)

Otheus (897195) | about 9 years ago | (#13583840)

First, there is panspermia, the notion that microorganisms evolved independently of earth's atmosphere and, probably via comets and/or asteroids, seeded earth with the life -- not just the building blocks, but life itself.

Second, there is the comet-abiogenesis link, the notion that comets contain the organic molecules, (chains of hydrocarbon and methane) which, in abundance in the right conditions, will form monomers, which will form polymers, which form peptides, which form nucleic acids, which form RNA, which forms DNA. Note, this happens every single second in every living being. Abiogenesis is when this reaction happens outside of a life-form. Scientists are quite close (as I understand it) to seeing abiogenesis (in controlled conditions) in the lab, and the theory more or less hinges on the abundance of the comet-supplied raw materials.

Third, comets are not meteors! They are fundamentally different as the recent NASA mission Deep Impact proved. (Initial reports indicate) comets do indeed contain the building blocks believed to be required for abiogenesis. They also contain ice. In fact, they are mostly large-holed sponges of ice.

So on the one hand, you have some scientists saying that water came from comets. (But all water? I wasn't aware of that hypothesis, but perhaps it was not a popular one.) Then you have the scientists quoted in the article here on Slashdot, that the water did not originate from comets because the meteors would have vaporized all the water from the comets, and so water must have come from somewhere else. This does not directly compete or refute with either the comet-abiogenesis hypothesis or or the panspermia theory. Both of these theories are compatible with water already existing on the earth anyway.

Now, as far as the scientist's hypothesis, that the meteors would have vaporized all the comet-borne water? There are two problems with this. First, the water on earth must have come from somewhere. If there was water on the earth before the meteor-bombardment, then that water also would have been vaporized! So water came after the bombardment. Now if the paper is saying that comets could not have supplied the earth's water, they have contradicted themselves. The earth has water, the meteors vaporized the water 3.9 B years ago, therefore the water came from somewhere else. And as was shown by Deep Impact, comets are really mostly porous ice, which means they would not have impacted the earth and left scars in the same way meteors do. In fact, the meteor impacts of earth may have left no signs at all, other than the presence of water and organic material.

Re:We have three different non-competing models he (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | about 9 years ago | (#13583913)

Look, regardless of what we call that life-bearing probe some intelligent entity lobbed at us, we can be certain it would be smart enough to make sure that some of the payload reached the surface and began multiplying.

Misleading statement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583939)

Regarding the articles' statement that prior water was "vaporized", all I can say is "so what"? Just because it turned to vapor doesn't mean that the water left the planet.

Any water which existed before the asteriod bombardment could well have remained afterwards. The water would have returned to its liquid form back from the gaseous state, after it cooled down.

In order for the water to have left the Earth, the water molecules would have had to reach the Earths' escape velocity, of 25,000 Miles per Hour (IIRC).

Certainly some water molecules did. But ALL of them? I would find that really hard to believe.

Re:We have three different non-competing models he (3, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | about 9 years ago | (#13584068)

Say there was an ocean on earth, and something big slammed into it, vaporizing all the water. Wouldn't that water just eventually precipitate back down?

I mean, vaporizing something like a person would pretty much destroy them, but it doesn't do much to eliminate individual atoms, it just moves them around. So the ocean itself might be turned into water vapor, but then where does that all go?

I'm sure a big enough impact could blow matter up into space, where it'll float away never to bother the busy earth again, but I would think that most matter gets propelled outwards from an impact, not up. So wouldn't a meteor hitting an ocean just spread the water around?

Re:We have three different non-competing models he (1)

LarryRiedel (141315) | about 9 years ago | (#13584938)

the meteor impacts of earth may have left no signs at all, other than the presence of water and organic material.

comet impacts

Re:We have three different non-competing models he (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13585034)

There's another explaination for where most (or all) of the surface water on Earth came from, the small comet theory (see http://smallcomets.physics.uiowa.edu/ [uiowa.edu] for details). And this bombardment has been going on ever since the Earth formed.

Why its not turtles all the way down (4, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | about 9 years ago | (#13583875)

Although the panspermia theory is intriguing, it does NOT answer the question of the origin of life -- was it from another planet that was inoculated by an even earlier comet..... It's like the theory that the Earth rides on the back of a giant turtle/ But what does that turtle ride on? Or is it turtles all the way down.

If we are to assess the probability that life is exogenous or endogenous to Earth, we must ask about the relative probability of: a) life forming on a planetary body versus b) life forming on a planetary body which then survives being blasted into space, travelling interstellar distances, happening to collide with another forming planet of just the right composition (without ever venturing too close to some hot star), and surviving that collision.

Even if the probability of life arising on a planet very very low, the relative probability of endogenous versus exogenous origin is very skewed toward endogenous origin. Because exogenous origin requires both endogenous origin (somewhere else) and then a low probability trip between planets, exogenous origin would seem to be very unlikely unless there are large numbers of planets with endogenous life that spew lots of interstellar-traversing chunks. But if there are large numbers of planets with with their own endogenous life, then the probability of life forming on Earth endogenously must also be high and trump the low likelihood of life just happening to make it from somewhere else.

Re:Why its not turtles all the way down (2, Interesting)

sbaker (47485) | about 9 years ago | (#13583934)

Your argument has merit - but you are assuming that all planets that might be postulated as the ultimate origin of life are earth-like.

You might argue (although I personally would not) that the probability of life spontaneously arising on a world with the precise parameters of early earth is Pe - but the probability of it arising on a planet with different parameters of atmosphere, composition, temperature, gravity, radiation - is larger than Pe. Call this probability Px (probability of life forming on planet X). But there are lots of planet types out there if we don't know what the perfect conditions for forming life is (and I don't think we do) then Px might be as large as N times Pe where N is the number of planets in the universe. But certainly Px is larger than Pe just because of the range of possible alternative conditions.

Further more, these probabilities might be: "The probability of life forming in any given year" - so the probability of life forming at any time in the past would that annual probability times the available amount of time over which life might have been able to form. Well, if you require endogenesis, then you have only Te==the age of the earth - where exogenesis allows Tx==the age of the universe minus the travel time. I think it's clear that Tx > Te

So whilst the probability of life travelling between worlds might be some low probability (call it Z), then it might still be that Z.Px.Tx > Pe.Te - which would make exogenesis (panspermia) more probable than endogenesis.

Since Tx is MUCH greater than Te, and N is such a large number (so Px is much larger than Pe), we can allow Z (the risks due to travelling between worlds) to be tiny and still believe that exogensis is more probable then endogenesis.

Re:Why its not turtles all the way down (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 9 years ago | (#13584020)

Thank you. That was lucid and interesting.

Re:Why its not turtles all the way down (2, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | about 9 years ago | (#13584252)

So whilst the probability of life travelling between worlds might be some low probability (call it Z), then it might still be that Z.Px.Tx > Pe.Te - which would make exogenesis (panspermia) more probable than endogenesis.

That's a very interesting argument. I would suspect, however, that Z is such a small number as to swamp all the other terms. A panspermic chunk must gain enough velocity to escape the gravity well of its planet AND star yet not have so much velocity that it doesn't get captured by our Sun's gravity well (yet not penetrate too deeply into the Sun's gravity well that the chunk gets baked). And life on the chunk must survive its ejection from its home planet.

Moreover, the effective value of N can't be that large, since panspermic chunks from only nearby stellar system have any hope of reaching Earth. The umpteen hundred million planets on the other side of the galaxy don't contribute much to the population of chunks floating about. My guess is that the probability of a chunk getting to Earth is worse than proportional to 1/d^3 -- stars twice as far away have less than 1/8 the chance of delivering a chunk here. I say 1/d^3 to reflect the combination of 1/d^2 projection of objects over distance times 1/d for the slow accumulation of damage over millions of years of floating in interstellar space. Thus, I'd bet the effective N is not high at all (less than 10 to 100). Moreover, N will be small unless Px is nearly 1 so that many local star systems spawn endogenous life. But if Px is near 1 for a large population of local planetary systems, then why should we think that Pe is very small. And if Pe isn't tiny, then we're back to a high chance of endogenous life on Earth.

Even the Tx/Te ratio isn't as high as it might seem since Px was zero at the beginning of the universe because there were no heavy elements. Only after a sufficient number of supernovae and second generation stellar systems formed would Px rise. In fact the Earth's relatively late arrival probably means that Pe is higher than the Px of older systems born before the galaxy accumulated as much heavy elements. Tx is also down-modulated by life-destroying events. If life formed on a planet that was then sterilized by a supernova, gamma ray burst, etc. billions of years before Earth became habitable, then such a high Px planet would be unlikely to contribute much to the chance of spawning life on Earth. It seems like the ratio of Tx/Te might only 10 to 50 or so.

Finally, even if Px > Pe, there's the assumption that life arising on these high Px planets can survive on Earth. One might suggest that a high Px planet is like a lush tropical environment -- very conducive to life -- and that Earth's postulated low Pe status makes Earth relatively desert-like. What is the likelihood that a life form adapted to a high Px, tropical planet, would survive on a low Pe, desert world? I'm not saying life can't adaptt, only that not all high Px worlds spwan life than can survive on Earth. This likelihood that Earth might be effectively uninhabitable by life from a high Px world means the effective Px is lower (or Z is even worse).

I agree with (and enjoyed) your arguments about N, Tx/Te, Px/Pe, but I seriously doubt that the numerical values of these ratios trumps the incredibly small probabilities of an interstellar transfer of a viable lifeform. My suspicion is that Z has a very very large negative exponent that outweighs these other terms.

Until we can visit other planets in other star systems, we'll have a hard time estimating all these numbers. And, ultimately, the panspermia theory is impossible to falsify as we can never prove it did not happen, only that it has a relatively low probability of having happened.

Science never stops moving (2, Insightful)

no parity (448151) | about 9 years ago | (#13583905)

And yet, when fighting alternative models like "Intelligent Design", everyone pretends scientific findings were cast in stone.

Re:Science never stops moving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13584060)

And yet, when fighting alternative models like "Intelligent Design", everyone pretends scientific findings were cast in stone.

And global warming.

Re:Science never stops moving (1)

vondo (303621) | about 9 years ago | (#13584099)

I have seen almost no scientists that present science this way, even to the general public. And this uncertainty is something proponents of ID (or deniers of global warming, to address the other reply to this) sieze on and say "Scientists have no idea, they change their minds all the time, so they must be completely wrong." Yes, science never stops moving, but complete reversals are rare and come about when the evidence is there. The more common scenario is that scientific understanding slowly advances, changing course slightly as it does as the evidence warrants.

Re:Science never stops moving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13584184)

I think you misunderstand the problem with intelligent design (as most scientists see it). The problem is not that the theory goes against current knowledge, but that it skips over scientific method altogether. See, when Darwin proposed evolution, he had thought up a hypothesis, found something to study, and found evidence to back up the hypothesis.

To even more comply with science, evolution has been supported by various studies ever since. The argument for intelligent design is more like "I have a hypothesis, it is valid". You really can't skip the steps in the middle, and still expect to be respected by the scientific community.

In the end, scientific method can be more important than what you propose.

Re:Science never stops moving (1)

Decaff (42676) | about 9 years ago | (#13584861)

And yet, when fighting alternative models like "Intelligent Design", everyone pretends scientific findings were cast in stone.

Did they? When? I haven't noticed. Funny, but I assumed that the benefit of the scientific approach was that ideas are very definitely NOT cast in stone, unlike the dogma of Intelligent Design, which states that some things are just too complex to have ever evolved.

Science never stops moving? (4, Insightful)

jaymzter (452402) | about 9 years ago | (#13583917)

That's an interesting comment that glosses over many of the statements of science that are commonly excepted so much as "fact" that anyone that points out inconsistancies in them is labeled as anti-science or ignorant. Of course we are always learning more and yesterday's accepted theories have to adapt to new knowledge, but the virulence some people have for defending pet theories borders on intolerance.
A good case in point is evolution, where if you don't mention it in a glowing light on /. you get modded into oblivion. Please note I didn't relate it to Creationism or Intelligent Design, it's just that the theory of evolution itself has about as many holes as IE. Sure, right now it's the best idea going, but that doesn't mean it's the end of the conversation. Yet questioning it all usually does end the conversation.

Re:Science never stops moving? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13584125)

That's an interesting comment that glosses over many of the statements of science that are commonly excepted so much as "fact" that anyone that points out inconsistancies in them is labeled as anti-science or ignorant. Of course we are always learning more and yesterday's accepted theories have to adapt to new knowledge, but the virulence some people have for defending pet theories borders on intolerance.

A good case in point is evolution, where if you don't mention it in a glowing light on /. you get modded into oblivion.

Another one is global warming. Question it, and you're labeled a tool of the evil oil comanies.

Re:Science never stops moving? (1)

Thanatopsis (29786) | about 9 years ago | (#13584808)

Really - What holes exactly are you talking about? Oh that's right you have no idea of what you talking about.

Origin of life and fear (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | about 9 years ago | (#13583957)

From the post:

UA Professor Emeritus Robert Strom believes that no more than 10 percent of the Earth's water comes from comets and any oceans then extant would have been 'vaporized by the asteroid impacts during the cataclysm.'

Uhuh, so that one that did get through can use the excuse "wha? criminey, Tara was still virgin, its not supposed to happen the first time!"

Re:Origin of life and fear (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | about 9 years ago | (#13583998)

I forgot to mention that 10% of the earths water is no small amount and it seems to me that water is a decent place to survive cataclysms since you pretty much have to get stranded outside of water before you really notice such world changing events. I mean, if I were a really small organism, thats how it would seem to me.
Cripes, now I have to RTFA.

"Evolution Schmevolution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13583993)

I do believe that "The Daily Show" already answered all of these questions this week. If you saw the three way interview with the Evolutionist, Creationist, and Metaphysical something or other, aka, the "Schmevolution Panel," we learned that life was created by twelve energies, and we don't actually exist anyway. Since we are all virtual, and it is a moot point.

(http://www.comedycentral.com/sitewide/media_playe r/play.jhtml?itemId=18132 [comedycentral.com]

Life (2, Interesting)

bmgoau (801508) | about 9 years ago | (#13583999)

"If it is just us, it seems like and awful waste of space" - Carl Sagan Increasingly complex molecules competed for energy and material to form larger and more sustainable molecules. The molecules that arranged themselves by chance to absorb the most energy and strongest structure surivied the longest, and this process continued until basic structures combined in a symbiotic relationship that would help sustain the period of those structures existance. This process continues until basic cell structures formed, and again combined by chance to form larger structures. Eventually the strongest and most energy effecient structure was developed by chance through the process of natural selection until we had basic repoductive structures. Mutations which led to longer life and thus more chance of reproduction continued until movement and adaption were constituents, from there entire structures began to work together to from basic cells, which over time developed processes for reproduction and survival through chance combination and mutation. Cells began to grow in complexity in a bid for survival, by chance some began working together to form multicellular groups, which became organisms with adaption relative to the abilities of each cell, then came encoded cellular variation to ensure multicellular groups continued to form by precedence. Over much time increased numbers of simple structures combined to form larger and more complex structures witht he ability for their own kenetic movement beyond growth, because of the natural selection of moveable multicellular organisms made them more adaptable then others and thus more likely to reproduce. Eventually all sorts of mutation and chance combination occured which would lead to ever more complex structures with better adaptability till the first regonizable biological systems formed. From there we have basic sea life and countless steps later down the evolution chain, human beings. Of course, it might be out of order, and one would have to know that the time this would take would be immense. For those who make the chance argument, stateing that such complex structures canot possibly arise by chance i say: Look at the size of the universe, there must be at least 125 billion galaxies, each with roughly 100 billion stars, each with the possibility of terrestrial planetoids, each with a massive surface area with plenty or energy and materials for the possibility of forming the molecular strutuces by chance that are a prelude to life. Then take that number, and times it by the age of most galaxies.....All of a sudden the chance doesnt seem so small. As for complexities, whos to say life is complex, its equally possible that life is mearly countless basic systems working symbiotically for the goal of survival and reproduction. I give the cargo cult as ana example: In World War 2 several tribes worshiped American cargo planes because the ability and complexities of human flight were so vast to them that the cargo planes could only be explained as items of a supernatural nature. It never appeared to them that these planes were not godly and no complex beyond their understanding, such is a cargo plane simply a number of systems discovered by humans by chance working in parrallel. As for thurther complexity: If life is so complex that the possibility of chance is so small, then how does one explain oru manipulation of life, for example insulin producing bacteria, or the mapping of the genome. How does one explain the evolution and appearance of new viruses and bacterial strains by chance. Life is beautiful, it is wonderous and magestic, but it is not beyond our understanding. It arose by chance, it's growth is determined by evolution and it is not complex. It just appears that way to some. I always think, that maybe the reason ID and creationalists fight progress and science is they think that discovery is taking the magic and beauty away from life. But instead, what they dont realise, is that all it is doing it discovering more beautiful and wonderous details. We are not finding answers, only more questions. We are giving power to ourselves and whatever purpose we serve. There is no need to be afraid, no need to be ignorant, only a need to be open to the wonders that surround us and fuel the need for discovery that comes with conscienceness. I never suggested that the enviroment neccisary for life would be common, i mearly stated that given the scope of the universe it is probable that many systems like ours could exist. Of course, given lifes adaptability, it is ignorant to assume that the environment here is the one specifically needed for life. for instance we have already seen life in cave that never see light, and entire ecosystems surviving off the heat from volcanic vents. Life will find a way, and given the scope of the universe, even if such systems were uncommon, as you stated, there would still be numorous possibilities. some quick math tells me that even if a habitat suitiable for life was 0.1%, there would still be 150000000000000000000 locations in the universe. 0.01% gives 15000000000000000000 both these numbers to me are very nice, but still to optimistic. Lets just say that solar systems like our own were only .00000001% of the systems in the universe. There would still be 150000000000000 locations close to supporting life. Of course, all of this remains speculative, and massively over optemistic, until we start reaching for the stars. But i will continue to say, that given the scope of the universe, the time avaliable and lifes adaptability, I believe life will be a very common occurance throughout the universe, it may just not be in the way of anything that would resemble life to us.

Re:Life (3, Funny)

houseofzeus (836938) | about 9 years ago | (#13584152)

Parse Error: Expected '<p>' at line 1.

Sorry Guys... (1)

Kirkoff (143587) | about 9 years ago | (#13584005)

I'm actually the reason for the origon of life... You ever forget stuff on a trip? Well, I went back in time and left a pair of old, smelly socks...

Life (1)

bmgoau (801508) | about 9 years ago | (#13584007)

To paraphrase Carl Sagan:

"If it is just us, it seems like and awful waste of space"

Increasingly complex molecules competed for energy and material to form larger and more sustainable molecules. The molecules that arranged themselves by chance to absorb the most energy and strongest structure surivied the longest, and this process continued until basic structures combined in a symbiotic relationship that would help sustain the period of those structures existance. This process continues until basic cell structures formed, and again combined by chance to form larger structures. Eventually the strongest and most energy effecient structure was developed by chance through the process of natural selection until we had basic repoductive structures. Mutations which led to longer life and thus more chance of reproduction continued until movement and adaption were constituents, from there entire structures began to work together to from basic cells, which over time developed processes for reproduction and survival through chance combination and mutation. Cells began to grow in complexity in a bid for survival, by chance some began working together to form multicellular groups, which became organisms with adaption relative to the abilities of each cell, then came encoded cellular variation to ensure multicellular groups continued to form by precedence. Over much time increased numbers of simple structures combined to form larger and more complex structures witht he ability for their own kenetic movement beyond growth, because of the natural selection of moveable multicellular organisms made them more adaptable then others and thus more likely to reproduce. Eventually all sorts of mutation and chance combination occured which would lead to ever more complex structures with better adaptability till the first regonizable biological systems formed. From there we have basic sea life and countless steps later down the evolution chain, human beings.

Of course, it might be out of order, and one would have to know that the time this would take would be immense.

For those who make the chance argument, stateing that such complex structures canot possibly arise by chance i say:

Look at the size of the universe, there must be at least 125 billion galaxies, each with roughly 100 billion stars, each with the possibility of terrestrial planetoids, each with a massive surface area with plenty or energy and materials for the possibility of forming the molecular strutuces by chance that are a prelude to life. Then take that number, and times it by the age of most galaxies.....All of a sudden the chance doesnt seem so small.

As for complexities, whos to say life is complex, its equally possible that life is mearly countless basic systems working symbiotically for the goal of survival and reproduction. I give the cargo cult as ana example: In World War 2 several tribes worshiped American cargo planes because the ability and complexities of human flight were so vast to them that the cargo planes could only be explained as items of a supernatural nature. It never appeared to them that these planes were not godly and no complex beyond their understanding, such is a cargo plane simply a number of systems discovered by humans by chance working in parrallel.

As for thurther complexity: If life is so complex that the possibility of chance is so small, then how does one explain oru manipulation of life, for example insulin producing bacteria, or the mapping of the genome. How does one explain the evolution and appearance of new viruses and bacterial strains by chance.

Life is beautiful, it is wonderous and magestic, but it is not beyond our understanding. It arose by chance, it's growth is determined by evolution and it is not complex. It just appears that way to some.

I always think, that maybe the reason ID and creationalists fight progress and science is they think that discovery is taking the magic and beauty away from life. But instead, what they dont realise, is that all it is doing it discovering more beautiful and wonderous details. We are not finding answers, only more questions. We are giving power to ourselves and whatever purpose we serve. There is no need to be afraid, no need to be ignorant, only a need to be open to the wonders that surround us and fuel the need for discovery that comes with conscienceness.

I never suggested that the enviroment neccisary for life would be common, i mearly stated that given the scope of the universe it is probable that many systems like ours could exist. Of course, given lifes adaptability, it is ignorant to assume that the environment here is the one specifically needed for life. for instance we have already seen life in cave that never see light, and entire ecosystems surviving off the heat from volcanic vents.

Life will find a way, and given the scope of the universe, even if such systems were uncommon, as you stated, there would still be numorous possibilities.

some quick math tells me that even if a habitat suitiable for life was 0.1%, there would still be 150000000000000000000 locations in the universe.

0.01% gives 15000000000000000000

both these numbers to me are very nice, but still to optimistic.

Lets just say that solar systems like our own were only .00000001% of the systems in the universe. There would still be 150000000000000 locations close to supporting life.

Of course, all of this remains speculative, and massively over optemistic, until we start reaching for the stars.

But i will continue to say, that given the scope of the universe, the time avaliable and lifes adaptability, I believe life will be a very common occurance throughout the universe, it may just not be in the way of anything that would resemble life to us.

Re:Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13584439)

Must prove I'm right....

God cannot exist...

Must defy obvious logic for complex diatribe...

RNA doesn't matter....

Must ignore string theory... :-)

Panspermia fills the same need as Genesis 1:1 (1)

orionware (575549) | about 9 years ago | (#13584015)

Just as Genesis fills that need of those to believe that some mystical entity created life, panspermia fills the need of those who don't believe in creation.

An unknown force causing the creation of life.

Just wait a week, "scientists" will have a new explanation.

At least the creationist folks stick to their theory.

Science never stops moving..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13584122)

Well, of course. It's religion that holds the job of remaining unchanging and stagnant, in spite of growth or change of evidence.

Panspermia vs. GOD vs. Evolution vs. Creationism (0, Troll)

malhombre (892618) | about 9 years ago | (#13584594)

NOTICE TO DIETY BELIEVERS: No degree of error on the part of science in explaining the origins of life and matter, whether in whole or in part, shall be misconstrued as proof or evidence of the validity of any other theory or belief structure. I.E. EVEN IF SCIENCE IS COMPLETELY WRONG, THAT IN AND OF ITSELF DOES NOT PROVE RELIGION CORRECT IN ANY WAY!

fuck you and the horse you rode in on (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13584632)

Learn to spell, asshole.

Re:fuck you and the horse you rode in on (1)

malhombre (892618) | about 9 years ago | (#13584710)

My trusty steed politely declines your kind offer (says you are "too small"), I am still considering, and I know how to spell asshole, asshole. Wow...I'm crushed by your overwhelming intellect combined with your mastery of the written language. Leave me bruised and broken on the rocks of mental majesty, why don't ya?

Re:Panspermia vs. GOD vs. Evolution vs. Creationis (3, Insightful)

Guido von Guido (548827) | about 9 years ago | (#13584829)

Notice to slashdot user in love with capitol letters: do not make the assumption that everyone who believes in God is a creationist. It is annoying and counterproductive.

Many of the plaintiffs in lawsuits against idiotic creationist "equal time" laws have been religious figures. Do not make the assumption that all religious people buy into the creationist agenda.

Re:Panspermia vs. GOD vs. Evolution vs. Creationis (1)

malhombre (892618) | about 9 years ago | (#13585046)

Good point. There are so many gods out there, you can't just generalize, can you? So confusing. Speaking of "annoying and counterproductive", every time science does what science does, as in throw out a theory that no longer holds water, you can bet your ass that members of the superstitious faction who believe the world is 8-10K years old will be right there, demonstrating yet again their failure to comprehend that the nature of empirical science is to develop theories based on a body of evidence, knowing full well that the theory will be abandoned upon the discovery of evidence or proof to the contrary. It just irks me that they put forth the notion that every time that healthy method is brought into play, it somehow automatically validates their silly assed explanation. But if you are religious, yet do not subscribe to the "theory" of creation, my apologies. The caps were an attention getter meant to convey my exasperation at the same old same old. I'm actually pretty quiet and reasonable in person, unlike most zealots I have met.

Re:Panspermia vs. GOD vs. Evolution vs. Creationis (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | about 9 years ago | (#13585147)

Do not make the assumption that all religious people buy into the creationist agenda.

Then those "rational" religious folks should be a LOT more vocal about denouncing the fanatics who claim to represent them, and should vote against putting those fanatics into positions of power. It makes it awfully easy to assume that they DO buy into such idiocy.

this is a religion vs science toll (2, Interesting)

technoCon (18339) | about 9 years ago | (#13584984)

"Interesting, because this directly contradicts the Nova mini-series Origins that just finished running on PBS. Science never stops moving."

Those inclined to believe the Bible and feel skeptical when science apparently contradicts it, should take comfort in the fact that science's story has changed over the century whereas (relatively) the Bible's has not.

This is does not mean that religion ought to ignore and deprecate science. Things like that Galileo business provide powerful insights into how to interpret scripture. If the Bible says "sunrise" it should be interpreted phenomenologically. That is as an observation of brute phenomena and one should not take that as an explanation of the mechanism that gave rise to the phenomena. (Incidentally, the weatherman is not a flat-earther because he tells us sunrise/sunset times.)

With this phenomenological principle in mind, someone who believes in the Bible will be able to interpret its statements about God according to that same phenomenological principle. Troubling verses about God "doing evil" are thus explained. To wit, God establishes things like gravity and hydrodynamics that move in predictable patterns. When those patterns conspire to crush us, via tsunami or hurricane, we perceive evil fom God's hand.

But the character behind these phenomena is more reflective of the scientific principles of natural law.

I suppose I should ask for an offering at this point. Instead, I'll ask that we all work a little harder at our science so we can better predict natural forces and prepare for them.
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