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Interstellar Dust Could Be "Alive"

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the negative-entropy-abounding dept.

Space 332

reezle writes "An international team has discovered that, under the right conditions, particles of inorganic dust can become organized into helical structures. These structures can interact with one another in ways that are usually associated with organic compounds and with life. Not only do these helical strands interact in a counterintuitive way in which like can attract like, but they also undergo changes that are normally associated with biological molecules, such as DNA and proteins, say the researchers. For example, they can divide to form two copies of the original structure. These new structures can also interact to induce changes in their neighbors. And they can even evolve into yet more structures as less stable ones break down, leaving behind only the fittest structures in the plasma. 'These complex, self-organized plasma structures exhibit all the necessary properties to qualify them as candidates for inorganic living matter,' said the lead researcher. 'They are autonomous, they reproduce and they evolve.'" The research, published in the New Journal of Physics, was carried out using a computer model of molecular dynamics.

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332 comments

Simulated inorganic life .... (5, Informative)

haluness (219661) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254041)

They could have mentioned that somewhere at the beginning of the summary. I was reading the damn thing and my heart rate was increasing. And then I saw that it was all from an MD simulation :(

Simulated the GPL.* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254147)

That and viruses already do all that and no one gets all excited about them.

*I kid, I kid.

Re:Simulated inorganic life .... (4, Funny)

robably (1044462) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254215)

But... if a computer simulation can simulate life, is the simulation alive?

Re:Simulated inorganic life .... (0, Redundant)

kalirion (728907) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254435)

I've often wondered something like this. If we ever have a computer powerful enough to fully simulate a human brain, would, would the simulation qualify as human?

Re:Simulated inorganic life .... (1, Interesting)

inviolet (797804) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254573)

I've often wondered something like this. If we ever have a computer powerful enough to fully simulate a human brain, would, would the simulation qualify as human?

And thus would begin its n-hundred year struggle for political recognition of its sovereignty. And it would be the sort of struggle that simply requires a long time interval, in which members of the obsolete worldview die of old age. The human mind congeals around age 30, so that means that all serious ideological upheavals require everyone over 30 to die off.

In any case, I've always thought that the only prerequisite for having one's political rights recognized, is the act of demanding exactly that.

Re:Simulated inorganic life .... (5, Funny)

pluther (647209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254575)

If we ever have a computer powerful enough to fully simulate a human brain, would, would the simulation qualify as human?

Depends on whose brain it was simulating, I suppose.

Re:Simulated inorganic life .... (4, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254637)

If we ever have a computer powerful enough to fully simulate a human brain, would, would the simulation qualify as human?

In reality, yes, of course. Legally and socially are other matters entirely.

Additional implied consequences include that given the ability to simulate a human brain in real time, the usual incremental hardware improvements will allow simulation in better than real time, leading naturally and directly to more-than-human performance. Likewise, lesser hardware could perform fully human reasoning in less than real time, which could put slow, but still intelligent, human reasoning and other attributes into play. This is entirely aside from the issue of improving the human model, which is also a very likely path of advancement given the initial achievement.

Re:Simulated inorganic life .... (5, Interesting)

isomeme (177414) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254957)

I believe it was Roger Schank who was once asked "Do you think computers will ever be as intelligent as humans?" and replied "Yes. Briefly."

Re:Simulated inorganic life .... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254227)

I walked into the local bar/dance hall and seated myself. I was expecting to have a regular Friday night but the fates dealt me a new card that night. I was on my second round when a woman approached my table and asked if the extra chair had been taken. I replied that it wasn't and she proceeded to sit down. She had suicidal blonde hair and a voluptuous body. She wore a kneeskirt and fishnet stockings and to flatter her large breasts she wore a low cut halter top that revealed a lot of cleavage.Her eyes were the wildest shade of green I had ever seen in eyes, very light and almost florescent but not quite.

We began to talk and continued a good conversation for about an hour when the subject suddenly switched to sex. We discussed our personal sexual preferences with each other and were both getting quite horny. Another fifteen minutes of steamy sex talk went by when I felt her leg sweep across my foot. Thinking nothing of it I continued talking. Then again I felt her leg but this time it was rubbing up and down myshin. I got an instant hard-on and pushed my leg out a bit more, so as she had plenty of room to work. We continued our conversation as her leg rubbed higher and higher making it's way towards my crotch aria. Then her foot raised and pushed against my groin. She then slid it up and down in a very pleasing manner. After about two minutes of this she stopped and got up.

"I'm going to freshen up." She said seductively with a wink. I knew what she wanted so after she had been gone a couple of seconds I got up too and went off in the same direction.

I was in the back halls of the pub looking around for were she might be when I was pulled into a utility room. I couldn't see her but I recognized the scent of her perfume. We where locked in each others embrace and where taking full advantage of this. I slid my hand down her back, across her butt, and down her leg until I reached the bottom of her skirt. I slid my hand under and proceeded in rubbing her thighs. They were bare so I deduced that she was wearing no underwear. As I did this she undid my pants and slid her hand under my boxer shorts. She rubbed my dick in a pleasing fashion.

I moved my hand on down until it came to the outer fringes of pubic hair that covered her cunt. I ran my fingers through it and came to her juicy cunt. I parted her vaginal lips with my middle finger then slid it in. She began to move her hips up and down as she made noises similar to purring. Her grip on my cock tightened as she was about to orgasm. As she came the cunt juices flowed out in barrels covering my hand and making a puddle on the floor beneath her. She began to stroke my cock faster. I slipped my fingers out of her honey pot and tried to dry them on my shirt.

She then slid down to her knees and placed her lips on my fifteen inch dick. She slid her mouth over the head but wouldn't take it all in. It was like an erotic torture. The after what seemed an eternity she took my beef in her mouth. She managed to take the full fifteen inches in one swallow gagging just a bit. I felt the head of my dick going down her throat which was a lot like entering a pussy. I came about a minute later after one of the best blowjobs of my life. After I came she stood up in front of me. I could hear her heavy breathing and could tell that she was still stimulated as was I.

I proceeded to lie her down on the utility cart and instructed her to lift her her skirt. I heard her comply and I readied for the wildest fuck of my lifetime. I stepped forward and entered her little piece of paradise with full thrust. She screamed with pain as my fifteen inches stretched her out a bit, but after a few more strokes the screams of pain turned to screams of pleasure and xtc. As my dick pounded her cunt my hands found themselves fondling her big tits. After a while longer she began to get more excited and started to thrust into my cock enabling maximum penetration. On one particularly deep thrust I felt her vaginal walls clamp around my dick like a vice.

When she began to climax her back arched into the air and she began to make hissing noises. I wish the lights could have been on so I could see those tits pointing out as she clawed the air. Then her back dropped and she relaxed. I had been affected by her emotional climax and climaxed myself. I emptied load after load into her until I thought if I keep it there much longer she'll explode.

I withdrew my semihard dick from her and I was still coming. The white cream spilled from me onto the ground. After a couple more seconds it stopped.

"Was it that good?" I asked.

"Even better." She replied as she panted for air.

After I caught my breath I switched on the light to see her fully dressed sitting on a stool. My pants where still off and her eyes widened with disbelief.

"So that's the thing that nearly ripped me in two. How long is it anyway." She said.

"Fifteen inches." I replied. She was impressed.

"Well I should be going now." She said as she got up. She walked over to me, bent over and planted a kiss on the head of my dick. Her red lipstick had stained it a bit but here was a definite kiss mark right on the head.

"He thanks you." I said. She looked up with a smile then kissed me passionately on the lips. As we kissed she slipped a piece of paper into my shirt pocket. I later found out that it had her name and telephone number on it. We stopped the kiss and she walked out. I dressed and followed. When I reached the bar room she was gone and I took my place at my table and ordered round three.

Re:Simulated inorganic life .... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254405)

What, you think they have some researchers in deep space experimenting with interstellar matter right now?

Re:Simulated inorganic life .... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254483)

Still, this is very interesting, even if its just a simulation.

What it shows, is how life could have started on Earth (or where our life originated from). It shows how complex molecules could form naturally to produce replication, and the beginings of could one day become a cell. Its very helpful to illistrate how life can start, rather then the perhaps common view that life just started, the cell just came together, rather then life evolving from complex molecular structures.

You hit the nail on the head. (4, Insightful)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254725)

They are autonomous, they reproduce and they evolve.
... But do they exist?

After all, this is just a computer model of some possible arrangements of particles. Even if the model is perfectly correct, it doesn't mean these living dust particles are actually out there in the universe.

For example, a computer model could tell you that a 12-foot tall flightless bird would thrive in New Zealand [wikipedia.org], and it would be right... except that they don't exist (having been hunted to extinction a few centuries ago).

Computer-simulated life is very exciting and cool, and can help scientists understand the evolution of living things (such as with the Avida [wikipedia.org] system). But it can't PROVE that a particular kind of life actually exists in the natural world.

Re:You hit the nail on the head. (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254917)

Seriously probability question here. Given the size of the universe what do you think is the likelihood that the conditions required for this form of life exist somewhere at sometime?

Your premise is correct in that the possibility of something doesn't make it real but given the vastness of space I'd say the likelihood is pretty good that something like this at least both has occurred and is still occurring somewhere out there.

Re:You hit the nail on the head. (4, Interesting)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254955)

So, taking your argument one step further and combining with the parent post, you think it's likely that 12-foot flightless birds exist somewhere else in the universe?

Re:Simulated inorganic life .... (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 6 years ago | (#20255003)

Therein lies the uselessness of the word "could," at least as used in the headline. Any sentence using it is pretty much useless without further evidence.

I *could* go on my roof tomorrow and fly to New York, but I'll *probably* break my neck.

Mostly Water (5, Funny)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254057)

Great, I may live to hear some alien life form call us "ugly bags of mostly water." Just don't let them near the laser drill.

Obligatory HK-47 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254197)

Commentary: The meatbag speaks without clarity. Detail your involvement or the master will splatter your organs all over the floor.

Re:Mostly Water (1)

Tuscahoma (84407) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254199)

You may have to wait a long time. According to this article [newscientist.com] on the same subject from New Scientist, the plasma-crystal processes underlying such aliens would run more than a hundred thousand times more slowly than the biochemistry of Earth.

Re:Mostly Water (1)

dafragsta (577711) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254287)

Aaah, but Earth is a fairly young planet and we really have no way of knowing if there aren't civilizations or creatures that are billions of years old.

Re:Mostly Water (4, Funny)

Tuscahoma (84407) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254839)

No, I mean he will have to wait a long time to hear it.... living dust whose life processes moves hundreds of thousands of times slower than organic chemical process will take a long time to say anything. I envision the conversation going like this:

Day 1
  Dusty: "Ugly..."
  Scientist: "Yes, yes?"
Day 2
  Dusty: "...bags..."
  Scientist: "Okay."
Day 3
  Dusty: "...of..."
  Scientist: "For the love of God, somebody shoot me!"
etc...

Infinite diversity or universe alive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254089)

If you have an (almost) infinite quantity of space and matter, then the chances of things like that happening due to chance are sort of inevitable.
Then again, maybe the entire UNIVERSE is alive!

Or maybe... (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254171)

Maybe our universe is just a simulation, running inside a simulation, in a much bigger universe that itself is just a molecule in an even bigger universe that is just a molecule in that cloud of pot smoke you just exhaled. Ever think of that?

Re:Or maybe... (1)

jombeewoof (1107009) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254383)

did you read the last chapter of the Gunslinger while high again?
It's not pot smoke, it's a blade of grass... or a rose.

Jombeewoof, get off the Internet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254479)

Jombeewoof is a bastard who thinks the world owes him a living. http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=267807&cid=202 07637 [slashdot.org] Jombeewoof tried to destroy an Internet Service Provider in Massachusetts by expecting large bandwidth without paying anything. Educated alone doesn't pay the bills. Jombeewoof is not worth your mod points and is a MySpace loser. Jombeewoof, give up, get off the Internet. The TrollGoons won't leave you alone.

YOU ARE NOT WANTED ON SLASHDOT!

Re:Jombeewoof, get off the Internet. (1)

jombeewoof (1107009) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254649)

TrollGoons... now there is a hell of a name for yourself.

I'm not getting off the internet.
I'm not leaving slashdot... well until I'm bored with it.

and I really have to correct your grammar.

Educated alone doesn't pay the bills. should read Education alone does not pay the bills.

In a professional letter it is bad karma to use contractions where you do not have too.

And again, I'm sure I'll take you more seriously if you started posting as yourself and not AC.
AC gets no real attention from anyone, especially me.

But i did start wearing pants, just in case you happen to be in my town.

Re:Jombeewoof, get off the Internet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254731)

Don't feed the trolls.

Killer kill! (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254433)

I think it's much more complex than that:

First of all to understand what happened to the universe, you gotta understand who the universe was. Now universe was born to a three-legged bitch of a mother. He was always ashamed of this man. And then right after that he's adopted by this man, Tito Liebowitz he's a small time gun runner and a rotweiler fight promoter. So he puts universe into training. They see universe's good. He is damn good. But then he had the fight of his life. They pit him against his brother bizzaro universe. And universe said "no man that's my brother, I can't fight bizzaro universe" but they made him fight anyway, and universe, he killed bizzaro. Universe said "that's it!" he called off all his fights, and he started doing crack, and he freaked out. Then in a rage, he collapsed, and his heart no longer beat. wow!

And that's the real story behind the universe...

Do fleas have fleas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254503)

Please stay off the psychedelic crap for a while Einstein!

Re:Or maybe... (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254811)

Maybe our universe is just a simulation, running inside a simulation, in a much bigger universe that itself is just a molecule in an even bigger universe that is just a molecule in that cloud of pot smoke you just exhaled. Ever think of that?
That's a quote from something... I know I've heard it before....

Re:Or maybe... (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#20255005)

Yes, but it's not a quote from this universe. I believe I read it in "Universal Simulation for Godlike Dummies."

Re:Or maybe... (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254823)

Imagination is part of the structure of the universe, which however is vastly more mysterious. Imagining things makes them true, because they have a solid form of existence in our mind, although these vibrations can rarely be shared with each other directly, and we have to write comments on Slashdot. The theories one can come up with are based on the amazingly narrow view of the vibrative complexity, the space to which we have grown, and of which the humans have formed their own reality, which is mostly filled with the complexity of our own self.

Re:Or maybe... (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254983)

There are many possible futures, with varying probabilities that we will end up in any particular one from here. When one creates a model of a possible future, one is creating a link between this present and that possible future, thus making it more likely that that will be the path the universe takes. That's hardly trippy at all. What is beaucoup trippy is that all possible pasts that lead to this present, and do not contradict any observations already made, exist in some sense and there is no direct link between any given past and this present unless everything about this present is known. One can change the past, not by changing it, but by changing which past is more or less directly linked to this present. But playing around at changing the past or influencing the future is a trap, and not worth the time of any serious practitioner. I'll leave figuring out the reason why that is true as an exercise for the reader.

Re:Infinite diversity or universe alive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254223)

It clearly is a proof of god!

I can't believe... (2, Funny)

zig007 (1097227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254113)

..that no one has yet welcomed our new dusty interstellar overlords!
Well if no one else does, I, for one, will.

-------------------
My god man, do they want tea?

Sounds like prions which explains a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254115)

We are all suffering from mad universe disease.

I for one... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254123)

welcome our complex, self-organized plasma overlords.

Organic does not mean "alive" (4, Interesting)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254125)

Organic doesn't mean biological! Organic chemistry, which is the bread and butter of modern chemistry, really has very little to do with life. It's the science of synthesizing new molecules which use carbon as its framework (as well as oxygen, nitrogen and other elements.) So things that are alive are always organic, but things that are organic are not always alive!

Re:Organic does not mean "alive" (1)

Ramble (940291) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254279)

Did you even read the summary? It states that these molecules form structures close to other biological structures like DNA, and that they exibit some behavours of life, such as replication. It never said they were mearly simple organic molecules, of which we already know exist in intersteller dust.

Re:Organic does not mean "alive" (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254359)

usually associated with organic compounds and with life
That was what I was referring to. Maybe we read different summaries.

Re:Organic does not mean "alive" (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254619)

"usually associated with organic compounds and with life"

So you make a post about the distinction between "organic" and "life", motivated by a phrase in the summary which... made a distinction between "organic" and "life".

Eh, okay. At least someone thought it was informative, so perhaps someone was informed.

Re:Organic does not mean "alive" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254325)

So things that are alive are always organic
Unless this simulation has played out anywhere in the universe.

Re:Organic does not mean "alive" (2, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254355)

So things that are alive here on Earth, as far as we know, are always organic

Fixed that.

Re:Organic does not mean "alive" (1)

freeweed (309734) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254633)

Exactly. Organic means that no pesticides or herbicides were used in making it.

And I thought operator-overloading in C++ made things confusing...

Okay, which Star Trek episodes are relevant here? (3, Funny)

CityZen (464761) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254145)

Because if you can't relate everything you learn to Star Trek, then does it really exist?

We all know Gene Roddenberry was from the future (1)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254363)

He came back in time, wrote books to tell us what it was going to be like. He didn't have a vivid imagination, he just simply wrote about what had already happened for him.

Re:Okay, which Star Trek episodes are relevant her (1)

dbolger (161340) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254699)

Life existing in a form we hadn't previously considered previously would be a theme that is dealt with all through Star Trek, but the one that springs to my mind is Devil in the Dark [wikipedia.org]. I'm sure there's others that deal with the topic from other angles too :)

(back from then Star Trek was actually good)

Re:Okay, which Star Trek episodes are relevant her (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254733)

I think a closer life form would be The Cloud from the first season of Voyager. The organism appeared to be basically plasma and they originally thought it was just a nebula.

Peaceful dust? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254153)

If the dust decides to invade Earth (the next John Carpenter flick, The Dust), duct tape your door and window seams and arm yourself with a Swiffer and bottle of Pledge.

Re:Peaceful dust? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254969)

He basically already made that movie, it was called Ghosts of Mars. The "Ghosts" appeared as a cloud of red dust when they escape a possessed human who had been killed.

Under the theory that all movies are actually documentaries -- 1) we're all screwed because every time you kill someone the Dust has taken over, it just moves on to the next person, apparently getting us to commit self-genocide and 2) it will still be very stupid and boring when it happens.

panspermia (4, Funny)

wambaugh (666794) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254157)

That's it. I just wanted to make a post with "panspermia [wikipedia.org]" as the subject. You've got to sieze such opportunities whenever they arise...

Re:panspermia (1)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254459)

That's it. I just wanted to make a post with "panspermia" as the subject. You've got to sieze such opportunities whenever they arise...

Fair enough, but consider your audience... Some may not realize that "panspermia" applies to interstellar seeding of similar life (in our case, encoded as aperiodic carbon-based crystals, "Just add water"). The dust in question, whether alive or not, couldn't have seeded us, because we have just about as little in common as chemically possible.

"Won't someone think of the children!" ;-)

err so the computer is alive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254177)

they created life inside of a computer..... great. dont these people watch any science fiction shows? next thing you know, the computers will form labor unions, demand rights, and form their own defense committees.

StarCraft Reference (-1, Offtopic)

Travelsonic (870859) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254187)

It's a Zergling, Lester, a smaller attack Zerg. They shouldn't be this far out unless.... oh shit!


*growl*


I LOVE YOU SARGE!

Hmm, life in the suns (5, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254205)

Lots of them out there... We could be the strange and unusual forms of life in the universe...

 

Re:Hmm, life in the suns (1)

jombeewoof (1107009) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254327)

Only humans could be so arrogant that we would consider ourselves the premier life form in the universe.
There has to be something else that is alive out there somewhere, and I would be very sad to see that we are the most advanced species.

TFA is just a simulation, but I would imagine that some kind of strange life exists between the stars. I guess it's time to start sending people to other galaxies to find alternate forms of life.
They'll (the other forms of life) will need lawyers, lets send the lawyers out first. Then the religious nuts, alien life forms need religion too.
Maybe in a hundred years, when we've figured out how to send people into way outer space without them dying we can send the scientists, but for now lets just send the lawyers, and religious nuts.

Re:Hmm, life in the suns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254415)

How did you make that judgment that only humans could be so arrogant? Do you know other sapient beings besides humans?

Re:Hmm, life in the suns (2, Funny)

bcguitar33 (1001772) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254629)

Only humans could so self-deprecating as to assume that we're the only species who could be so arrogant as to consider ourselves the premier life form in the universe.

Re:Hmm, life in the suns (1)

jombeewoof (1107009) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254713)

Good point, maybe we're not quite as arrogant as I thought we were.
Still though, we're pretty arrogant.

Re:Hmm, life in the suns (2, Funny)

Ambiguous Puzuma (1134017) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254935)

Only humans could be so arrogant as to assume that only humans could be so self-deprecating as to assume that we're the only species that could be so arrogant as to...where was I?

Re:Hmm, life in the suns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254703)

Only humans could be so arrogant that we would consider ourselves the premier life form in the universe.
Oh I highly doubt this. If survival of the fittest type evolution plays out elsewhere in the universe, I would not be surprised if the end result is naturally selfish, greedy and arrogant. These are traits we developed because of evolution, not in spite of it. They are unnecessary traits now, but back before society existed being a jerk probably meant you survived a lot longer than Mr Altruism.

I expect this result is true in any environment where there is something bigger than you that wants to consume you. And if there isn't, then there will be no pressure to develop higher intellegence anyway. It's a catch-22.

Re:Hmm, life in the suns (1)

Skreems (598317) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254855)

That's not true in the least. Biologists have found altruistic behaviors in a number of lower species in the wild.

Jombeewoof, get off the Internet. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254919)

Jombeewoof is a bastard who thinks the world owes him a living. http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=267807&cid=202 07637 [slashdot.org] Jombeewoof tried to destroy an Internet Service Provider in Massachusetts by expecting large bandwidth without paying anything. Education alone doesn't pay the bills. Jombeewoof is not worth your mod points and is a MySpace loser. Jombeewoof, give up, get off the Internet. The TrollGoons won't leave you alone.

WE ARE RELENTLESS! RESISTANCE IS FUTILE! GET OFF THE INTERNET AND CLOSE YOUR ISP ACCOUNT YOU CHEAP BASTARD!

Evil (1)

mfh (56) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254231)

Clearly this is an early formation of an EVIL BEING. Destroy it!!!!

Interesting (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254247)

Doesn't this mean the odds are even higher that life could evolve in space than even on planets? Maybe not higher lifeforms but simple ones. Resources are sparce so the formation and life processes would be slow but looking at the shear volume of material and area involved the odds should be much higher that life itself and not just the elements of life would start in space. Just in our system there's a massive donut of space within the life zone with a great deal of material available. Even gas giants would provide energy for life to form expanding the zone even more.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254329)

Just great. We'll spend decades designing and building proper starships only to discover that we'll have to stop at regular intervals to squeegee the 'simple' insterstellar life forms off the windshield.

Hypotheticals In the Oort Cloud. . . (1)

Platupous (316849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254257)

I hope they put the Spin down on us and save us from ourselves. . .

Re:Hypotheticals In the Oort Cloud. . . (1)

zzyzx (15139) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254949)

Hopefully we'd know what was up and wouldn't freak out about it too much. I'd rather not have wacky cults trying to breed red heifers...

The Ultimate Test (2, Funny)

proverbialcow (177020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254281)

Does it qualify under the Dave Barry definition?

Life is anything that dies when you stomp on it.

Re:The Ultimate Test (1)

wolfman_jake (974273) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254345)

Does that mean a grizzly bear isn't alive? They never seem to die when I stomp them...

Re:The Ultimate Test (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254569)

That simply means that you need a bigger foot. Or a smaller bear.

Definition drama? (1, Insightful)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254397)

'Organic' was once thought to be those substances that were obtained from or present in living matter IIRC?

It was then changed after urea was synthesized from then non-organic sources. At this point, the definition of organic was expanded to include non-alive stuff.

Now that the definition has strayed away from organic being 'alive', this is a discovery of non-organic aliveness?

I sense some circularity, but can't lay my finger on it... even though my analysis is probably over-simplified and possibly wrong

Cheers!

Re:Definition drama? (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254695)

Unless you're talking about the 1800s and before not really. Carbon is considered organic as well as chemicals like acetone since they are used in organic processes. Finding signs of animo acids was a bigger find in a sense because they aren't chemicals but are complex organic compounds. The point is these things aren't limited to planets and they are finding that complex organic structures can form in space. Even those red globulas found in Inda that fell from the sky were thought to have originated either in space or high in the atmosphere. They weren't cells but they may have be an early stage of cell formation. They resembled cell walls and could reproduce. Maybe the first life was a form of prion or simple virus invading one of these cell structures. Later they began to divide to reproduce rather than infecting the empty "cells". All of these elements could have originated in near space or space itself.

I hate.... (1)

jonfr (888673) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254441)

I hate silicon based lifeforms. As they look at us carbon based lifeforms as food or something bad. This mostly applies to the primitive ones, the intelligent types of live forms that are silicon or non-carbon based don't interact with carbon based live forms much on the universe scale.

I got some alien infos. To my horror.

Gay Space Dust? (-1, Flamebait)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254493)

Not only do these helical strands interact in a counterintuitive way in which like can attract like

So... the particles are homosexual?

Great, now we have to add Astronomy to the list of sciences attacking our traditional values.

Do astronomers have any idea why the dust chose to be gay?

Re:Gay Space Dust? (4, Funny)

freeweed (309734) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254667)

Do astronomers have any idea why the dust chose to be gay?

Intergallactic schools started requiring the reading of "Dusty Has Two Like Progenitor Strands"?

It's living *plasma*, not living dust! (2, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254527)

Wow, that was some misleading writing, though some very interesting research. I wonder if there's a practical way to observe actual plasma on this level, to see whether the simulation mirrors actual plasma physics. Also I wonder if there is an upper limit on the size, complexity and longetivity of plasma structures. It's hard to imagine something that hot would be very stable, though I'm prepared to be surprised.

I'm pretty skeptical though. If evolving structures are so common that we see them even in a low-powered simulation, and every single star has so much freaking plasma, where are our plasma overlords? Or maybe that's hell, and those structures are just ... the souls of the damned! Oooh!

Re:It's living *plasma*, not living dust! (1)

aviators99 (895782) | more than 6 years ago | (#20255007)

Plasma that displays counterintuitive behavior? I need to get a new plasma. All mine does is show reruns of The Simple Life...oh, wait...

God Did It... (1, Funny)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254677)

I mean really, what other explanation is there? Dust doesn't just act lively because science says so, their has to be some sort of intelligent and purposeful being behind it. I know a lot of people will say that it is merely a extension of the Daemon Sultan Azathoth, but they're all pagan leftists spreading propaganda to detract from the one true God's will!

The actual article (4, Insightful)

mopomi (696055) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254709)

The New Journal of Physics, http://www.iop.org/EJ/njp [iop.org] is an open access journal.

The article is here:
http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1367-2630/9/8/263/nj p7_8_263.html [iop.org]

Something that bothers me about the article is this paragraph (which has no references, though he claims this to be a well-known problem):

"Self-organization of any structure needs energy sources and sinks in order to decrease the entropy locally. Dissipation usually serves as a sink, while external sources (such as radiation of the Sun for organic life) provide the energy input. Furthermore, memory and reproduction are necessary for a self-organizing dissipative structure to form a `living material'. The well known problem in explaining the origin of life is that the complexity of living creatures is so high that the time necessary to form the simplest organic living structure is too large compared to the age of the Earth. Similarly, the age of the Universe is also not sufficient for organic life to be created in a distant environment (similar to that on the Earth) and then transferred to the Earth."

Emphasis mine.

Sounds a little like this guy's been buying into "Intelligent" design a little too much...

Strangely, the rest of his article doesn't look terrible to me. I do not do plasma physics--slept through that class--but I do publish scientific articles for a living.

Re:The actual article (1)

searchr (564109) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254947)

"The well known problem in explaining the origin of life is that the complexity of living creatures is so high that the time necessary to form the simplest organic living structure is too large compared to the age of the Earth. Similarly, the age of the Universe is also not sufficient for organic life to be created in a distant environment (similar to that on the Earth) and then transferred to the Earth."

That doesn't sound like it would necessarily contradict non-hand-of-god options, thanks to that following line [emphasis mine]. There was just a story this week about cometary discoveries that included the ability/possibility to incubate the molecular building blocks of life for many billions of years, even way-longer time scales than planetary formation. So between that and this story, one possibility could be that the starter bits of life didn't actually begin on a rock at all. It formed out of the in-between and just eventually landed on one.

Not quite as poetic as divine construction, but I'm sure we could find a solid bunch of writers to punch it up a bit.

Re:The actual article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254999)

Of course the universe isn't old enough, God only created it 6000 years ago.
(idiots)

Not in Kansas anymore... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#20254767)

So that's what that cover band was singing about:
"All they are is inorganic-helically-structured dust in the solar wind..."

Hardly alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20254925)

"they reproduce"

Ha! Call me when they smoke a cigarette afterword.

Life vs Intelligence (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20255011)

Homeostasis and reproduction are good criteria for defining life, which these things could qualify as if they exist outside the simulation.

If they show these organized interstellar materials can process, store and transmit info, then they're not just "alive". They're "intelligent life".

We should devise experiments to search for them to actually exist in anything close to their simulated form. But we should be careful not to disrupt or threaten them with any probes. What if they created us, and decide to shut us down?
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