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xenobiology

Debate and discussion of any biological questions not pertaining to a particular topic.

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xenobiology

Postby alextemplet » Sun Feb 26, 2006 4:48 am

Xenobiology is the study of extra-terrestrial life. This is a topic blurred by a lot of mystery and controversy because it ties right into UFOs, although in reality it's much deeper than that. While most scientists don't take UFOs credibly, most of them do treat xenobiology with a certain degree of respect. After all, it is indeed possible that life exists elsewhere in the universe. Personally, I even believe it's possible that some of them might be visiting us, although I personally haven't seen enough proof (yet) to say for sure if that's actually happening.

So, what do you guys think about this? Be they microbes frozen on Mars or ET zooming through our skies, what's your opinions about the possibility of other life out there somewhere?
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Postby Ken Ramos » Sun Feb 26, 2006 12:19 pm

You know that is an interesting thought. Seems as though I read an article many months back about the possibility of "other" forms of life making its way to our planet via meteors or comets, namely bacteria. The possibility exists but chances were rare due to the fact that most objects burn up on entry into our atmosphere and that even those that may make it through somewhat intact would be so hot that any life as we know it could not survive on them. :D

National Geographic or Google News had an article on their website about a star scientisits have discoverd, that had the physical properities that would make life possible to exist if there were a planet to be orbiting it. This star and its system were some X number of light years away and the only thing it seems to me that they had anything to go on were the spectrum readings taken from the stars light.

So, in my opinion it seems that even though the scientific world may take this form of biology seriously, there seems to be not much they can do with it and if life did exist on other planets it would not be in mans best interest not to go tampering with it, seeing as how we have botched up the life that exists on our own planet and we could never possibly travel there to study it even if we did have proof that it exists.

Our own world still holds many mysteries yet left to be discovered. So I will just have another cup of coffee, peer through the lenses of my microscope, study about that which is known on our own planet and hope that it will lead me to that which is not known as yet.

Xenobiology? To speculative to be seriously persued I think. As long as we rely on fossile fuels as our main source of energy and people of this world still go about homeless, hungry, and in poor health; our energy, time, and money are best spent being concerned with these things and the biology of our own kind and our own world, I think. :wink:
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Postby alextemplet » Sun Feb 26, 2006 2:34 pm

There are people who believe that life on this planet may, at least in part, have been carried in on asteroids. I once read an article in Astronomy magazine that said that it's possible for amino acids to occur naturally in outer space. And studying extraterrestrial life may not feed our homeless, but neither will many other things we research. The way this planet's going, with the environment going down and our population going up, sooner or later we're going to have find a way to leave. Eventually that could bring us into contact with other life, and then we'd have to do something other than just argue about if these aliens really exist.

Also, there are star systems not unlike our sun that have been around for a bit longer, about a few million to about a billion years older than the sun. If these systems have life, then that life has gotten a million or billion year head start on us. Think about all the technology we've gotten in the past hundred years; imagine what we could do in the next million! So I certainly think it's possible for someone else to come and visit; I'm just skeptical as to whether or not they actually do.
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Postby Linn » Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:08 am

Well I could say that I saw UFO's but
most people wouldnt believe me just an
ordinary person
but there are some famous people
who have reported seeing them
and talk about it with the risk of being made fun of.

Asronauts and presedents to name of few.
Jimmy Carter for example wanted to tell the public
about some kind of secret but he was not "allowed" to.
and President Reagan alluded it. NASA has photos of
strange anomalies
(UFO"s) that cant be explained.
Although there is controversy from skeptics
that it was actually the planet Venus Carter saw
He still maintained that he saw a UFO and not Venus
Here is some info about Carter:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Carter

Here is why people may think they see a ufo:

http://www.unmuseum.org/ifonat.htm
Last edited by Linn on Mon Feb 27, 2006 1:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby alextemplet » Mon Feb 27, 2006 1:31 am

Exactly, that's part of my point. There's plenty of perfectly credible people who take extraterrestrial life seriously. I don't think there's currently sufficient evidence to prove it, but I do think the matter deserves some serious research. And if there is some sort of super-advanced race trying to contact us, just imagine what we could learn from them!
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Postby Khaiy » Tue Feb 28, 2006 7:34 pm

I heard a fairly complelling argument against it once, actually. The conditions under which life can form are a very narrow range, and even under the appropriate conditions it's still ridiculously unlikely for the necessary amino acids to combine and form the corresponding proteins. Even after this, those protein combinations must couple with a mechanism by which it can reproduce itself before the building blocks of life are set.

That being said, I still think that the universe is large enough and has been around long enough that life has formed elsewhere at some point, but like alex I'm still waiting for evidence of it.
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Postby alextemplet » Tue Feb 28, 2006 8:55 pm

Perhaps the biggest question is, if other life does exist, how will we contact them? Normal light-speed communications, such as radio waves, takes centuries, if not millenia, just to send and receive a message across relatively short distances. And as far as we know, faster-than-light travel is impossible. And I don't care how advanced your technology is, you're still subject to the laws of physics. That's what keeps me skeptical.
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Postby Khaiy » Tue Feb 28, 2006 9:08 pm

A friend of mine who's very into physics told me once that if the speed of light is a constant, then time and space must be malleable. A planet might be 100 lightyears away as normal space goes, but if it could be bent to be 20 minutes away...

So I guess it's the general lack of specific evidence that keeps me skeptical :p
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Postby alextemplet » Tue Feb 28, 2006 9:13 pm

But how do you bend it? What sort of technology can distort the entire universe that way? I also remember reading Stephen Hawking's The Universe in a Nutshell, which mentions a number of weird but cool ideas. With regards to hyperspace travel, Hawking said it's possible but you probably won't survive the journey. It'd be almost like going into a black hole.
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Postby Khaiy » Wed Mar 01, 2006 1:10 am

Yeah, the math involved in altering space would be pretty crazy, and the theory is relatively recent (within the last decade or so for serious work, and conceptually only about 60 years ago). I wish I was as into physics as I am biology, then I could stay up to date on this stuff more easily.

But just because we can barely conceive of the idea now doesn't mean that it's impossible. A thousand years ago, if you told someone that there would one day be a weapon that could destroy an entire city in an instant, no one would be able to figure out how either.
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Postby Ken Ramos » Wed Mar 01, 2006 3:13 am

You know all of this sounds well and good and we could get into some very cool discussions on curved space and wormholes but consider this; the light we are seeing from stars or star systems thousands if not billions or more light years away, may be just now getting to us. So the origin of that light may no longer exist. Those stellar systems may have burned out billions of light years ago. If our sun were to burn out instantly, it would be or take 8.6 seconds before we would know it or realize it. A lot of good that is going to do us. :lol:

Question: If you were in a vehicle traveling at light speed and you turned on a spot light to shine ahead of that vehicle. Would it produce a beam of light or not? If so how fast would the beam be traveling? The answer could be in the infamous formula E=mc^2 :D
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Postby alextemplet » Wed Mar 01, 2006 3:27 am

Let's not forget about the possibility of much more primitive life much closer to home. I'm sure we've all heard about the meteorites from Mars that had trails produced by microbes in them. If those trails could be proven to have been caused by life, then right there we already have proof of extraterrestrial life. Mars also did once have oceans, and was much like the earth at that time, so it might have held life at some point. And then there's Jupiter's moon Europa, which is covered in ice. Some scientists think that there might be liquid oceans under the ice, and there might be life there. Now given how improbable it is for life to spring up on its own, we can certainly cast doubt on these ideas, but most astronomers do take these ideas seriously, so we shouldn't be too hasty to reject these ideas either. And if we can find primitive life in our own backyard, the possibility of intelligent life existing somewhere else is, well, pretty easy to accept.
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