Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What Will They Be like? : Cells & Oxygen.

Again: the premise for this is--a). "they" are the agents originally responsible for the longterm path of technological evolution that produced, ultimately, the technology that comes for a visit; b). "they" therefore themselves had an evolutionary history of some kind in this physical universe; c). all manner of "other things" might imaginably show up and be observed, but these few posts are not about spirits, magonians, robots, tenth-dimensional unknowables, etal. In order to see what science might be able to see, I'm going to look at the most conservative "platform" for discussing possible ET life and intelligence: the evolved organism that the physical universe would produce "on its own". This brings the largest amount of current knowledge into play, and is arguably the most likely thing to happen in terms of physical visitation anyway. The diagrams on the left represents a visual simplicity of the general scientific thinking about how life formed in the first place. The diagrams recognize certain felt requirements to that success happening against the forces that would rather break things up than let them form. Ilya Prigogine saw that life was a mystery--scientifically--because it flaunted thermodynamics. The trend of thermodynamics is to reduce the usefulness of energy and create less order. Life swam against this tide and became more complex and more "forceful". How? Prigogine realized that Life was a special system. It was "self-organizing" [it could re-form itself both in the "lifetime" of an individual--by repairs--and in a next "generation"]. It was also "unstable". It was capable of change without necessarily catastrophic termination. It could "mutate" and still live. If such a system [and this is the best definition of "life"] was in an environment full of challenges to its integrity, it would be regularly assaulted or "perturbed". Because such "perturbations" might alter the system without "killing" it, the system would put itself back together again. Sooner or later, in the trial and error process of self-reorganization the system would hit upon an addition to its nature which "dealt with" the constant perturbation. That "addition" would be an "advance". Life would, inevitably, become more complex. "Any Unstable Self-organizing System Will Inevitably Advance." So, evolution in the face of thermodynamics. What this has to do with evolved extraterrestrials is actually a lot. Such characters must have begun their long trip up the evolutionary scale as such systems. The earliest organisms must have had such qualities and environments that "perturbed" them but didn't automatically kill them. Life needed a dynamic exchanging environment and the ability to shield and moderate that environment. Pure raw exposure is a hard way to try to go. Thus: cells...or sacs...or some
containment that has the property of protecting but not sealing off...permeability...transfer. The diagrams show one schema for creating such a system. Although it is possible that somewhat different chemicals might be used than our own honored amino acids [to make proteins], something like proteins must be involved. This is because it is the type of bonding that the amino acids have that leads not only to long complicated molecules, but molecules with an almost unlimited number of micro-shapes, and consequent chemical powers. They are the only known set of simple chemical structures that are composed of stuff the universe readily makes [remember the stuff in the meteorites] and will give life this powerful diversity of chemistry to choose from. I'd not be stunned that we could sit down with our galactic friends and eat a common meal, rich in mutually digestible proteins. Hopefully we would not decide to graze on one another. Much more, much, much more, could be said of this but this is boring chemistry to anyone but us chemists so lets try something else---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Once upon a time I was reading objections to UFO encounters as being "obviously false" and naturally my crap detectors went immediately up. One of the objections was that close encounters of the third kind were baloney because most of the critters had no masks or helmets, and. "given the great variety and divergence of life in the universe" they could not possibly be breathing our air. Such assertions were always followed by two things: 1). statements about possible "methane or ammonia" breathers [without the smallest scientific analysis of their "unlikely"-to say the least-b.s.], and 2). statements that Darwin's theory is on their side [which also turns out not to be true]. So, I decided to see if what they were saying made any sense. It doesn't. The following pages give the gist as to why not.

The article says something important beyond the "can they breathe our air?" question. It reminds us of what we know about technology. It does not spring from nowhere. Technology too evolves. If one cannot place ones thinking in a historical context [and see process and change] one can [I say will] jump to all sorts of erroneous, even preposterous "conclusions". An awareness of history IS actually worth ones time. In fact, if one understands history well enough, it is like taking a strong run at a barrier called "NOW" and bursting through and "seeing" at least a little way ahead. My goodness, history might even be "practical".


  1. Sounds pretty good, but just to lay out some other possibilities:
    Perhaps a technology could arise from natural electricity as is found in some fish and eels. Using ionic conductors and natural insulators, some electrochemistry could be done.

    Perhaps natural sources of strong acids and bases associated with volcanic activity could be more common on other planets, along with geothermal vents giving moderate heating abilities, thus allowing chemical technology including refining copper and perhaps other metals?

    Perhaps solar concentrators could be an alternative to fire - mica, native gold, pyrites, galena and some other natural substances are potentially shiny enough, and ice, quartz and perhaps a some other things could serve as refractive elements.

    I think you overstate the case for wildfires being a limiting factor at 20% greater oxygen than today. Sea-level O2 is about 21% now. 300M years ago in the Carboniferous period O2 was as high as 35%, yet as the name of the period indicates, much of the Earth's coal was laid down during that time, and not burning until it was dug up recently. 20 million years later, in the Permian, the O2 had fallen to 12% - was it partially because of fires? Maybe. But the high O2 could not have been the sole cause - the O2 level had been above 24% for many millions of years, steadily increasing. In the Permian, the O2 levels went down and down, past the point where additional burning could have been a risk. Fire can't have been the primary mechanism for the O2 decline. Fires that occur regularly and consume the easily burned fuel such as brush and grasses will rarely have a chance to build into firestorms (as seen in American history until the past few decades of fire suppression leading to huge fires) even when O2 is quite a bit above 23.2% (as seen in the Carboniferous fossil record).

    Your apparent larger point that aliens in the sense that most people mean (that is, whoever or whatever is responsible for the residuum of UFO cases that defy explanation) must be mundane biological entities is at odds with much of the evidence, though. Jaques Valee, Carl Jung and Bruce Duensing have grappled with the other, esoteric side of things, and there is no clear line between alien-UFO phenomena and spiritual, psychological and paranormal phenomena. There are many reports of high strangeness (vanishing, transforming; telepathic, missing time, or other mental effects; plus a wide variety of really crazy stuff that most respectable researchers won't even write down) by people who have no reason to lie and plenty of reason to keep their experiences to themselves, but no well-verified samples, bodies, wreckage, or anything that would indicate a mundane physical nature for these alleged ETs. Even non-verified reports of physical evidence are rare. The nuts-n-bolts-only ET believers have to throw out a huge amount of inconvenient evidence from UFO and alien encounters to maintain their belief, and do a good deal of hand-waving to account for the evidence for their position which should be found but is not.

    It is also clear from repeated, controlled presentiment experiments, remote-viewing trials, "cross-correspondence" proving either survival after death or some hypothesis considerably more extravagant, and several other lines of experimental and other evidence that physics is missing something big, so big that the "interdimensional" alien hypothesis must be taken seriously, and cannot be ruled out by appeal to fundamentalist materialist assertions that the universe is already well-explained and our knowledge is sufficient to say what is possible and impossible from first principles. We can only say what seems more or less probable to us from the limited evidence at hand.

  2. Sir: quit phrasing this personally--talk about ideas and facts without accusing "me" of this and that. I'm presenting these things as I have read and studied them and it's not about me. Also, read the rest of the blog--hardly a limited scope of possibilities being presented. Drop the "you say it MUST be" type of language--there's none of that here. And, regarding ideas of unusual life environments, we'll all need a bit more detail as to how a primitive intelligence gains fine containment and control of such forces. I'm not blogging to "argue" in the combative sense of the word. If we can't share interesting ideas in a non-personalized way, well, lets just agree to disagree. Finally, my studies and opinions about UFOs are WAY past your characterization of them. Please quit burdening the discussion with those assumptions. Questions about concerns are a hell of a lot more congenial and neutral than sweeping labeling. As to the ideas in your post, I agree with a great deal of them as reading the blog will demonstrate. The wildfires idea comes from two fine scientists: William Irvine and Preston Cloud. The concept to them was not arrived at trivially. If they are wrong, so be it. My own presentation to the "Sturrock/Rockefeller Panel" was precisely on the high-strangeness UFO phenomena that you accuse me of ignoring. My colleague who sat next to me at that meeting was Jacques Vallee. Just tone it down. Maybe we'll both be able to learn something.

  3. I'm sorry you took it personally, that was not my intent. I tried to soften the wording with phrases such as: "sounds pretty good, but just to lay out some other possibilities..." and "your apparent larger point...". The "nuts-n-bolts-only ET believers" wasn't meant to characterize you in particular but rather the problems with a common line of reasoning. The fundamental assumption of that school of thought seems to be explicit in the opening of your post: that UFOs are a technological phenomenon coming from what are (or at least were) mundane, conventionally-scientifically explicable beings. Your post is good within its self-defined area of inquiry, which assumes a conventional materialism for the sake of discussion. I agree with you both within those assumptions and taking the wider view that much evidence shows that those conventional assumptions are not consistent with the data.

  4. Actually the assumption of the post is even further removed from an ET conclusion about UFOs than that. The posts are about the scenario "what if we were visited by a technical device which was produced by beings who were physically originated in our universe--what then would they likely be like?".I DO favor the ETH for the majority of the UFO encounters while still seeing other explanations [especially for some % of the case pile as it comes through the door]. However the post wasn't directly about UFOs at all, but about potential ET visitors. It WAS historically inspired by my buddy Jacques' insistence that his anti-humanoid analysis proved that UFOs weren't ET. Now if you really wanted to criticize someone for jumping way beyond the data, why don't you jump on Jacques? He's a big guy; he can take it.My posts are only to indicate that certain arguments which intend to destroy the ETH are not necessarily valid. These discussions merely attempt to restore some open-mindedness to the debate that has been inappropriately pushed on a priori arguments of non-feasibility, having frankly nothing to do, directly, with UFO case data.I actually feel pretty clean about that, but it has continually amazed me how "important" arguing against the ETH has gotten for some people; a phenomenon that has subjected me to a lot of sarcasm and name-calling in certain quarters even though I personally have never posted there at all, nor know anyone involved in the uncivilized behavior. Jacques by the way NEVER does this. You can have a very civilized discussion with him.



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