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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Universe Lusts for Life?

    Is the universe pro-life?

    By Bobby AzarianFebruary 15, 2019Cognitive neuroscientist, George Mason University


    An old and profound existential question is receiving new interest from the scientific community: Was the emergence of life in the universe an improbable event, or the opposite, an inevitable one? In other words, did life occur as a result of chance and contingency, or was it an inescapable and predictable consequence of natural law?

    While this question might first appear impossible to answer due to a severely limited sample size—Earth is the only life-harboring planet we know of—a new understanding of the mechanisms underlying the origin of life is reinvigorating the notion of a bio-friendly universe.


    But before getting into those mechanisms, some historical context may help put the question into perspective.


    The improbable vs. inevitable debate


    The mainstream scientific worldview assumes that life on Earth was an unlikely event that occurred against all odds. This “frozen accident,” which resulted from an improbable molecular collision in a primordial soup, likely wouldn’t happen again if we could rewind the tape of the universe and replay it with even the slightest change.
    e answer to this question would tell us whether biological life is a fluke or a regularity. The former answer would suggest that we are alone in the universe, a statistical anomaly. The latter suggests that the phenomenon is not uncommon in the cosmos, likely occurring on other planets with sufficiently Earth-like conditions.

    This assumption rests on the idea that Darwinian evolution is the exclusive means of physical adaptation in nature; that all the diversity and complexity we see in and around us, broadly construed, can be explained by environmental pressures acting on random genetic mutation. According to this paradigm, since adaptive change requires genes, the emergence of life itself must have been a result of chance, rather than an evolutionary process.
    The Nobel prize-winning French biologist Jacques Monod—a staunch skeptic and atheist—held the passionate and uncompromising belief that “The universe was not pregnant with life.” He poetically summed up this worldview in his influential book Chance and Necessity, published in 1970:

    “The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty.”


    But there is an alternative worldview
    gaining traction that is equally scientific and perhaps better supported by empirical evidence: If the physical and chemical conditions on Earth some 4 billion years ago were ripe for biological life, then it would serve to show that life in the universe is not a cosmic accident, but a cosmic imperative.

    The “inevitable life” school of thought is based on the idea that there are thermodynamic factors that constrain the random motion of atoms and molecules in such a way that essentially guarantees that biological systems will emerge where conditions permit. As an “attractor”—a state toward which a dynamical system tends to evolve—one could say that life was written into the “cosmic code.”
    This view was first articulated by another Nobel prize-winning French biologist from the 20th century, Christian de Duve. In his exceptionally cogent book Vital Dust, he argued that Monod’s claim that the universe wasn’t pregnant with life was not just wrong, but provably wrong.

    Decades after his book was published, physicists studying the origin of life from the Santa Fe Institute and MIT are arguing that de Duve’s position should be the reigning one. These researchers contend that the emergence of biological systems was an event that could have been predicted, and their reasoning is based on the fundamental physics principle known as the
    second law of thermodynamics.

    The second law states that the amount of entropy in the universe increases over time. But there is quite a bit of confusion over exactly what is meant by the term “entropy,” as there are numerous definitions used in different contexts. As it applies to the universe, the second law merely states that the finite amount of energy in the universe naturally tends to spread out. In doing so, the amount of “free energy” in the universe, meaning the energy that is available to do physical work, inevitably decreases over time. Entropy is simply a measure of the amount of energy no longer available to do work.

    It’s a new understanding of this old and fundamental law of physics, particularly in how it relates to the emergence of complexity, that is changing how we think about the probability of life in the universe.

    Dissipative adaptation: How energy flows create order


    According to the inevitable life theory, biological systems spontaneously emerge because they more efficiently disperse, or “dissipate” energy, thereby increasing the entropy of the surroundings. In other words, life is thermodynamically favorable.

    As a consequence of this fact, something that seems almost magical happens, but there is nothing supernatural about it. When an inanimate system of particles, like a group of atoms, is bombarded with flowing energy (such as concentrated currents of electricity or heat), that system will often self-organize into a more complex configuration—specifically an arrangement that allows the system to more efficiently dissipate the incoming energy, converting it into entropy.


    This basic process was described almost a century ago by the Belgium chemist Ilya Prigogine, and he called the emergent system a “dissipative structure.” A basic example of a dissipative structure is the tiny whirlpool that appears when you remove the stopper from a full sink or bathtub. The emergent vortex is better at dissipating the kinetic energy from the flowing water compared to when the water flows directly.

    While Prigogine had some of the mathematics worked out for describing this self-organization process, it wasn’t until this decade that real progress was made in formalizing the phenomenon quantitatively. In a series of papers published over the years in various academic journals, a young physicist at MIT named Jeremy England has outlined a basic evolutionary process he calls “
    dissipative adaptation,” inspired by Prigogine’s foundational work.


    In two recently published computer simulation studies, one in the journal
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the other in Physical Review Letters, England’s team showed exactly how a simple system of lifeless molecules, like those that existed on Earth before life emerged, may reorganize into a unified structure that behaves like a living organism when hit with a continuous source of energy for long enough. This occurs because the system has to dissipate all that energy, and biological systems, which must metabolize energy to function through chemical reactions, provide a way to do just that. The simulation studies visually depict how such a complex system can emerge from simple molecules when energy flows through that matter, much like the whirlpool that inevitably emerges in a draining sink. Organization results from a need to disperse energy. While England’s abstract digital representation of the process might not be a perfectly accurate description of how real chemical networks self-organize, since simulations are simplifications of real systems, other experiments that actually used physical materials have demonstrated the same fundamental process.


    In a 2013 experiment published in the journal
    Scientific Reports, a group of researchers from Japan showed that simply shining a light (a continuous source of energy) on a group of silver nanoparticles caused them to assemble into a more ordered structure—specifically one with the ability to capture and dissipate more energy from the light. In a similar fashion, a 2015 study published in the journal Physical Review E demonstrated dissipative adaptation in the macroscopic world. When conduction beads were placed in oil and struck with voltage from an electrode, the beads formed intricate collective structures with “wormlike motion” that persisted as long as energy flowed through the system. The authors remarked that the system “exhibits properties that are analogous to those we observe in living organisms.” In other words, under the right conditions, hitting a disordered system with energy will cause that system to self-organize and acquire the properties we associate with life.


    Though dissipative adaptation occurs before a system has genes, the basic chemical system can still evolve through a kind of primitive natural selection process that is easy to conceptualize. When a molecular system is undergoing natural fluctuations whereby its collective form is randomly sifting through a number of successive structural states, those arrangements that allow the system to more effectively extract energy from the environment—a requirement for survival—will persist, while those arrangements that do not go by the wayside. This is presumably how an inanimate network becomes a biochemical network, such as that of a cell.


    While England’s simulation studies and the analogous physical experiments clearly show that there is a type of thermodynamic evolution that occurs before Darwinian evolution can kick in, the precise evolutionary stages between these types of emergent complex structures and living cells with genetic material is still unknown, as are the exact conditions on Earth that set the stage for dissipative adaptation. However, scientists from the Santa Fe Institute, the mecca of complexity research, have a pretty good idea of how it might have happened.


    ...for those interested in reading the remainder of this article:
    https://qz.com/1539551/is-the-universe-pro-life-the-fermi-paradox-can-help-explain/

    ...for those interested in Sky Fairy Creative Exertions: https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/






    Last edited by tomcat; 17-02-2019 at 06:49 AM.
    Majestically enthroned amid the vulgar herd

  2. #2
    ความรู้ลึกลับ HuangLao's Avatar
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    Everything You Know Is Wrong.

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    Interesting.

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    I don't think Darwin's theory and the disipative theory are mutually exclusive. One, the latter, could account for the very beginings (as the former does not), and the former is just how things went after the first dna structures organised into an organism.
    I also don't think the disipative theory and the primordial soup theory a neccesarily mutually exclusive, either. The latter helping the former to speed up.

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    the disipative theory
    ...*cough*...good science writing requires accuracy...

    ...what did the universe look like before the Big Bang? A dot on another bubble? What caused the "explosion"? If the rise of life is inevitable in this universe, is it also inevitable in other universes (should they exist?). If other universes don't exist, why not? Do the physics of this universe apply to other universes as well? Why did the Sky Fairy bother with any of this? A need to be worshiped by mentally handicapped bipeds? ...fortunately, we have drink to help us explore these questions...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    ...*cough*...good science writing requires accuracy...
    Tedious gay queeness constantly being displayed. How many times do I have to tell you I acknowledge I'm a poor speller? Big fukcen deal.
    It would have been more mature, and less queenish, to remark on my comment. But, I guess you can't help it, you were born that way... so carry on. Please correct every mistake I make.
    Thanks in advance.

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    Tedious gay queeness
    ...is there another kind?...

    ...I notice you avoid speculation on any of the questions I posed and prefer to focus on your own unscientific bipedal insecurities...sometimes the lust for life produces dead ends...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    is there another kind?
    Of course there is. Some of my best friends are gay and don't feel the need to be womanly and bitchy about everything. They loathe queenish gays, as do quite a lot of people.

    Your questions? Since they are unaswerable, my specualtion would only serve for you to remark upon my personality or spelling. Is that why you want me to try?
    And "avoid" is a rather large leap to an odd conclusion. "Choose to ignore an attempt to sound profound" would have been better.

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    I was always taught that the definition of a lifeform requires the following, using a badly spelt acronym:

    Movement
    Assimilation
    Respiration
    Reproduction
    Irritation
    Growth
    Excretion

    Most of that seems not to apply here.

  10. #10
    Balls to Monty
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    I finally got round to reading The Blind Watchmaker late last year.

    It was written in 1986 but it reads like it was written last year.

    Explaining the natural rising of complexity without the direction of a creator is at the core of the question of the origin of life.

    You need to explain how a replicator can first get started. Once it gets started evolution explains the transition to any level of complexity.

    Dawkins describes some plausible ideas (not all his own orignal thought) on how those inorganic replicators can get started (clay structures in flowing water being one of them).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Looper View Post
    You need to explain how a replicator can first get started. Once it gets started evolution explains the transition to any level of complexity.
    Indeed, and this is why I say the Dissipative Adpatation theory does not exclude Darwin, and in fact builds on the greater scenario.



    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    I was always taught that the definition of a lifeform requires the following, using a badly spelt acronym:
    My bio teacher, Mrs Green, had MRSGREN, movement, respiration, sensitivity, growth, reproduction, excretion, nutrition.
    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Most of that seems not to apply here.
    Indeed not. First you need unalive molecules, maybe primordial soup, and some dissipative adaptation.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    IMy bio teacher, Mrs Green, had MRSGREN, movement, respiration, sensitivity, growth, reproduction, excretion, nutrition.
    So the silly cow fucked around with it to match her name?

    How fucking arrogant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    So the silly cow fucked around with it to match her name?

    How fucking arrogant.
    Yeah, ok Harry.

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    Thailand Expat jabir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    ...*cough*...good science writing requires accuracy...

    ...what did the universe look like before the Big Bang? A dot on another bubble? What caused the "explosion"? If the rise of life is inevitable in this universe, is it also inevitable in other universes (should they exist?). If other universes don't exist, why not? Do the physics of this universe apply to other universes as well? Why did the Sky Fairy bother with any of this? A need to be worshiped by mentally handicapped bipeds? ...fortunately, we have drink to help us explore these questions...
    If the universe is infinite how could there be other universes? And if it isn't infinite there must be at least one other universe that is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jabir View Post
    If the universe is infinite how could there be other universes? And if it isn't infinite there must be at least one other universe that is.
    The universe can't be infinite if it is still expanding. If it isn't infinite, there is no argument that there is another universe, just that outside the expanding universe is the state before the big bang.

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    lob
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    since dna became more commenly accepted, i have thoughts along the lines of dna being life rather than what we believe to be life,, ie,,
    Movement
    Assimilation
    Respiration
    Reproduction
    Irritation
    Growth
    Excretion

    dna also evolves, doesnt need oxigen to servive,, can still be read after millions of years being fossilized, could indead be sent through space for ever and a day, and still be read,, and my personal idea,,, it still holds all the info that the particular dna evolved from. possibly back to the very first couple of bites. time will tell.

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    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    Some of my best friends are gay and don't feel the need to be womanly and bitchy about everything.
    ...your misogyny is showing...
    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    my specualtion would only serve for you to remark upon my personality or spelling.
    ...clever: you spotted my trap...
    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    Choose to ignore an attempt to sound profound
    ...you need more work on this one...

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    Thailand Expat jabir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    The universe can't be infinite if it is still expanding. If it isn't infinite, there is no argument that there is another universe, just that outside the expanding universe is the state before the big bang.
    If our universe is expanding as we believe, it a) cannot be infinite, and b) must be expanding into something. If a), then whatever it's expanding into also cannot be infinite unless d), otherwise it would be shrinking to allow that expansion and infinity cannot shrink.

    One way this could work is if c) there is at least one universe beyond ours, and d) it or one of them is infinite and encompasses all others, which would allow for any amount of expansion by any number of universes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    I don't think Darwin's theory and the disipative theory are mutually exclusive.
    Actually, given that Darwin did not know about genes, I would argue they are mutually inclusive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    ...*cough*...good science writing requires accuracy...

    ...what did the universe look like before the Big Bang? A dot on another bubble? What caused the "explosion"? If the rise of life is inevitable in this universe, is it also inevitable in other universes (should they exist?). If other universes don't exist, why not? Do the physics of this universe apply to other universes as well? Why did the Sky Fairy bother with any of this? A need to be worshiped by mentally handicapped bipeds? ...fortunately, we have drink to help us explore these questions...
    Just thought I'd give you a helping hand as you are obviously struggling with the concept TC. "The Lord said let there be light" and hence the big bang. Please feel free to disprove it.

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    ...your misogyny is showing...
    Because I mention "woman" in a negative but realistic way is not misogyny.
    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    ...clever: you spotted my trap...
    Yes. It's about science, not spelling or personalities (irony acknowledged in advance )
    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    ...you need more work on this one...
    ...you need to elaborate more on this one... no comprende.
    Quote Originally Posted by Takeovers View Post
    Actually, given that Darwin did not know about genes, I would argue they are mutually inclusive.
    That's what I'm suggesting. I'm suggesting they are not (neccesarily) mutually exclusive.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Cow View Post
    Absence of evidence (of something) is not evidence of absence (of something).
    FTFY just for clarity. Correct. Basically, from where you're coming from I assume, absence of evidence of a divine entity is not evidence of the absence of a divine entity. Correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Cow View Post
    "The Lord said let there be light" and hence the big bang. Please feel free to disprove it.
    Can't do that, but can prove that "The Lord's Word" as presented in the Bible has got serious issues with time spans.

  22. #22
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Cow View Post
    "The Lord said let there be light"
    ...so, the absence of light is the absence of the lord then...now I understand your fear of the dark...
    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Cow View Post
    Please feel free to disprove it.
    ...and risk a lightening bolt? Not on your life...
    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Cow View Post
    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
    ...fortunately, alternative facts have come to light...and will continue to come to light until the Sky Fairy finally admits he's really a contagious personality disorder....

  23. #23
    Balls to Monty
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    Quote Originally Posted by jabir View Post
    If a), then whatever it's expanding into also cannot be infinite unless
    It is not expanding into a pre-existing 3D void.

    3D spatial dimensions are an internal property of the universe.

    This is an example of where the limitations of the human minds evolved nature of perception on geological scales begins to diverge from the nature of reality on cosmological scales.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Looper View Post
    It is not expanding into a pre-existing 3D void.

    3D spatial dimensions are an internal property of the universe.
    Nonsense ...but, it's easier to think that so we don't have to deal with infinity

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    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foobar View Post
    it's easier to think that so we don't have to deal with infinity
    ...or worse, what's after infinity...

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