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Switch to Forum Live View What Does This Mean?
2 years ago  ::  Dec 03, 2012 - 4:44PM #1
CoolWarrior
Posts: 10,164

What is the meaning you give to this scientifically and philosophically?


The Mars Rover has found organic compounds.


 


"

SAN FRANCISCO — The Curiosity Mars rover has discovered something interesting in a scoop of ruddy sand, but NASA scientists say they’re not quite sure what it means.



Sand that was shaked-and-baked inside the car-size rover’s chemistry kit bubbled off traces of organic compounds, mission scientists said at a press briefing Monday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.


Such compounds, made of carbon and chlorine, are of the type that, in some cases, indicate microbes in the soil.




But such compounds also could be contamination from the rover itself — or they may have rained onto the surface inside meteorites, said Paul Mahaffy, a mission scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.


“It’s unclear if the carbon is Martian or terrestrial,” Mahaffy said.


Further tests will help clarify the source of the chemicals, but mission scientists cautioned that the rover is not equipped to find life itself, only the conditions that may be ripe for life."







www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-s...

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2 years ago  ::  Dec 03, 2012 - 5:17PM #2
mytmouse57
Posts: 9,782

It means there's life elsewhere in the universe.

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2 years ago  ::  Dec 03, 2012 - 5:27PM #3
mountain_man
Posts: 39,266

What it means is that we have a lot more research to do.

Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

I am a Humanist. I believe in a rational philosophy of life, informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by a desire to do good for its own sake and not by an expectation of a reward or fear of punishment in an afterlife.
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2 years ago  ::  Dec 03, 2012 - 5:33PM #4
TPaine
Posts: 9,338

Dec 3, 2012 -- 5:17PM, mytmouse57 wrote:


It means there's life elsewhere in the universe.



And that should be considered surprising?

"It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves." -- Thomas Paine: Dissertations on First Principles of Government (July 7, 1795)
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2 years ago  ::  Dec 03, 2012 - 5:40PM #5
mountain_man
Posts: 39,266

Dec 3, 2012 -- 5:33PM, TPaine wrote:

And that should be considered surprising?


I'd find it surprising if they found intelligent life anywhere in our Universe.

Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

I am a Humanist. I believe in a rational philosophy of life, informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by a desire to do good for its own sake and not by an expectation of a reward or fear of punishment in an afterlife.
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2 years ago  ::  Dec 03, 2012 - 5:47PM #6
d_p_m
Posts: 9,870

The odds of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe are likely very close to 1. The more useful open question is 'how many technological civilizations are there in our own galaxy'? We really don't know enough to estimate that, crude attempts like Drake's equation notwithstanding.

"If you aren't confused by quantum physics, you haven't really understood it."

― Niels Bohr



"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

-- Albert Einstein
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2 years ago  ::  Dec 03, 2012 - 6:01PM #7
mytmouse57
Posts: 9,782

Dec 3, 2012 -- 5:33PM, TPaine wrote:


Dec 3, 2012 -- 5:17PM, mytmouse57 wrote:


It means there's life elsewhere in the universe.



And that should be considered surprising?




Nope. 

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2 years ago  ::  Dec 03, 2012 - 6:04PM #8
mountain_man
Posts: 39,266

Dec 3, 2012 -- 5:47PM, d_p_m wrote:

The odds of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe are likely very close to 1.


Elsewhere? I meant anywhere.

The more useful open question is 'how many technological civilizations are there in our own galaxy'?


Those would be hard to find. People like to say that someone tens of light years away is watching the first run of "I Love Lucy." Not gonna happen. The signal will travel far out into our Universe, but after a light year or so, the signal will be so degraded that it will just be a hiss that not even Lieutenant Commander Data could enhance. Any intelligible pattern will be lost by then. The same with their signal coming our way. Then there is the probability that a technological civilization will only be putting out radio signals for a short time, a hundred years or so. Then they'll go dark as the technology advances beyond radio.


We really don't know enough to estimate that, crude attempts like Drake's equation notwithstanding.


It may be crude, but I think it was meant to be. Drake didn't intend to get an accurate count of what's out there, just to demonstrate that the probability is high. Even if you plug conservative numbers into his equation you still get a large probability.

Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

I am a Humanist. I believe in a rational philosophy of life, informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by a desire to do good for its own sake and not by an expectation of a reward or fear of punishment in an afterlife.
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2 years ago  ::  Dec 03, 2012 - 6:10PM #9
d_p_m
Posts: 9,870

Dec 3, 2012 -- 6:04PM, mountain_man wrote:

Then there is the probability that a technological civilization will only be putting out radio signals for a short time, a hundred years or so. Then they'll go dark as the technology advances beyond radio.




That's my guess. Network things a bit more, and the need for stuff like high powered skin painting radars and TV stations goes away. Even before radio is abandoned, power levels will drop as use switches to ubiquitous microcells, rendering radio signals undetectable at any distance. That may be a good thing. As Hawking pointed out, there is no reason to assume advanced aliens will be benevolent.


IIRC, most of the 'parameters inserted' copies of Drake I have seen used much too big numbers for the 'detectable emission' time span.


Out of seven parameters, I am reasonably sure we can't accurately estimate 4 or 5 of them.

"If you aren't confused by quantum physics, you haven't really understood it."

― Niels Bohr



"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

-- Albert Einstein
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2 years ago  ::  Dec 03, 2012 - 7:40PM #10
mountain_man
Posts: 39,266

Dec 3, 2012 -- 6:10PM, d_p_m wrote:

That's my guess. Network things a bit more, and the need for stuff like high powered skin painting radars and TV stations goes away. Even before radio is abandoned, power levels will drop as use switches to ubiquitous microcells, rendering radio signals undetectable at any distance. That may be a good thing. As Hawking pointed out, there is no reason to assume advanced aliens will be benevolent.


But it is also unreasonable to assume that if they were able to read our signals that they could get here.


IIRC, most of the 'parameters inserted' copies of Drake I have seen used much too big numbers for the 'detectable emission' time span.


Out of seven parameters, I am reasonably sure we can't accurately estimate 4 or 5 of them.


That's not the point of his "equation." It was never meant to be as accurate as 2+2=4. It's just a device to help people understand the probabilities.


As our knowledge progresses the parameters inserted become more and more refined.


R* =The rate of formation of stars suitable for the development of intelligent life.


fp = The fraction of those stars with planetary systems.


ne = The number of planets, per solar system, with an environment suitable for life.


fl = The fraction of suitable planets on which life actually appears.


fi = The fraction of life bearing planets on which intelligent life emerges.


fc = The fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space.


L = The length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.



The two I highlighted are a good example of that refinement. Now it appears that almost all stars have planetary systems. Now we are zeroing in on planets in the Goldilocks Zone. For "L" we can use ourselves as an example. So, we're doing alright with what we have to work with.


For me, I'm convinced that life of some kind is out there. The probabilities are pretty good. Has that life visited us? No. Is that life smarter or more advanced than we are? Maybe. But then maybe we are the most intelligent beings around. That's scary.

Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

I am a Humanist. I believe in a rational philosophy of life, informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by a desire to do good for its own sake and not by an expectation of a reward or fear of punishment in an afterlife.
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