Life; but not as we know it

If you pre-decide something and close down discussion, everything is possible, impossible, likely or unlikely. But, in life you are defined by the choice of choices you will allow, or are allowed. It’s hard to work out the effects of a particle or force on another particle if you don’t know sub-particles exist, but it’s also true that trying to get the figures to add up, using ‘fudge factors,’ is getting bogged down on the detail, missing the effect. An example is something like phlogiston. We are sure it doesn’t exist, mainly dismissed due to needing negative mass, a principle that has strangely resurfaced in modern theoretical physics. But if not dismissed, getting bogged down in the mathematics of phlogiston, you can form a theory for its existence that has a logical structure in modern physics, especially if you add the key ingredient of confirmation bias.

There are many theories evolving on finding the architecture of life. One of the latest is called ‘Assembly Theory.’ But all are devoid of how life has actually come about. Without this vital piece of knowledge, it’s all mere random guesswork bases on absolutely no evidence at all, just vague and unsubstantiated theories. You can build a structure on anything, but as the storm of evidence arrives it will demolish completely those without firm foundations. There is also the likelihood that as all life on earth has only one basis, either the avenue to life is so common and channelled that it normally can take only one route, so we see the results everywhere from individual and separate occurrences, and the consequence is that DNA and RNA forms the basis for life everywhere in the universe, or more likely, there only one form of life that developed in one place only on this planet, and it moved everywhere else and thrived before evolving into its current form, so finding it in all of the extreme places is utter nonsense that there is an equal chance that it developed there. In this case it didn’t develop where it is found, apart from one unique place that nobody knows where, why, and what conditions were there. The current theories are based on; decide on a random guess, then find logic to support it. Given a 50:50 chance of the likely answer, the likelihood of coming up with a logical result supporting the theory is about 90:10, so confirmation bias is rampant in these areas.

An example of decided evidence:

We know a Ford Mondeo is composed mainly of steel, plastic, rubber, glass, oil, copper. We can safely say that everywhere a Ford Mondeo is found, it may have developed there. There are problems with Ford Mondeo’s developing at the bottom of rivers and at least one may have developed at the bottom of the sea where it was found in close proximity to a boat. There may be signs of them coexisting, or some form of symbiosis, but this is yet to be positively confirmed. The EU, UN and Bakers Guild are setting up research projects run by interested scientists with public funds, and various groups have proof that people are carist and discriminate against Mondeos, so an equal purchase policy is being set in place and people will be reported if they choose other cars for whatever reason. Discussion of this is forbidden, and you will lose your tenure if you query it. Carist views must be closed down as a threat to society, even discussion of it is considered a social crime.

You can always use mathematics. If you calculate the number of cars on this planet from zero to infinity, it would be certain to produce a Ford Mondeo. Iron, steel, rubber, etc, have already be found in various places in the world, so a Ford Mondeo can occur in any place where these things are found. If it occurs on this planet, using similar relationships found in the Greenbank formula, it’s likely that Ford Mondeo’s are present on 1 in 10,000 planets. Since there were about 1.5 million Ford Mondeo’s produced in the UK over about 20 years, extrapolated to the world that is 200 million, so there should be around 2 x 10^31 Ford Mondeos in the universe.

The concepts are rubbish, based on the unknown, and presently unknowable factors. All of this showing the difference between theory and reality, most theory being on similar grounds and a similar level, but we still rely on it for evidence and believing it true in higher degrees in modern science. Usually flavour of the month until the facts don’t add up. It can last longer than its normal lifetime if there is enough consensus, and ignorance of competing ideas and invalidating anomalies are taken. To use the same principle, ‘Ford Mondeo’s don’t exist.’ “Well, I’m looking at one.’ ‘Must be your imagination, the theory says they can’t.’ Or, ‘The Ford Mondeo is a massless particle; we’ve checked the wavelength and shape, so there must be a particle that is an anti-mondeo to produce this effect.’ “A particle that has a mass of ~3,300lbs has been found going in the opposite direction, so this according to theory means we’ve discovered the anti-mondeo.’ Shame the 2015 BMW weight about 3,300 lbs, and a Nissan Micra carrying 5 heavy people and a lot of shopping the same. Again, the result and structure are pre-decided by adherence to theory, only people outside thinking it’s probably rubbish.

The rule ‘One hours practical is worth a hundred hours of theory’ has ceased to be used, and a hundred hours of theory is seen as equivalent to 100 hours of practical. Similarly, the often quoted ‘to become proficient at something takes about 10,000 hours of practice.’ This is theory working on generalities. If you have no feedback and willingness to improve, you will get no better after 10,000 hours than if you spent 1,000 hours, or possible 100 hours. The keys are focus, concentration and the willingness to adapt. An example is 10,000 hours of lectures on history. Without building up and working out your own structure of what happened, you are just repeating the views and errors of others, sometimes 1,000-2,000 separate from the actual events. A whole lifetime of confirmation bias. Pooh Bah, ‘Choose the history you want, and I’ll endorse it,’ based on ‘to the victor goes the spoils,’ but adding the proviso and the reality of ‘, and the history.’

History can never be worked out or judged in retrospect. The situations and driving forces acting at the time are not present in the current. What is the sign of a decent person and better than most in one period of history is a monster judged in another. ‘I would have done,’ a comment made after all the factors were known, and when the key driving forces are no longer there would take superhuman knowledge at the time. So, judging too harshly when you were not there at the time suggests immaturity rather than depth of knowledge.

So, we come back to the start of life on this planet.

  1. Another unique form of life has been found. Then it’s throughout the universe. Distance probably stopping most contact with it. Or avoiding us. Humans; I’ve met them, and know what they’re like. So far, no other form of life has been found.
  • A unique form of life has not been found. Then it only happened once, and only in one place. This is the current situation as far as we know it, and because of this, the likeliest. Also, because of this, the odds against discovering where it started is next to impossible. On earthly fumaroles; probably 1 in a million. You might as well claim if you found an iPhone on the street that it was developed and made in that exact place. My guess is that the most important part of life is the membrane, where a membrane can form and accumulate, so a mild air-liquid interface with constant drying and wetting. Without a membrane you just get a collection of mixed chemicals.
  • ‘We found life on Mars,’ ‘on a meteorite,’ ‘detected on another star.’ Then it’s throughout the universe, and will probably have started out there and jumped to earth at some time. Distance probably stopping most contact with it. If the same form is found, then it probably didn’t start on earth, and all life present just moved and developed here, so 2 applies. If we get there and find it has a different basis, then 1. applies rather than 2.
  • Life will never develop in a sealed vial of pure water. If you seal a vial with all of the requirements for life, it probably won’t ever develop in it, however long you leave it. Building blocks mean nothing without key processes, and my guess a membrane. You might as well throw up 3,300lbs of the right materials up into the air and expect the aforementioned Mondeo to fall the ground.

Until we find another basis for life then the odds are very much in favour of it being unique, not necessarily to one place. We can think of unusual ways of it moving elsewhere.

If it is unique and particular to this planet we have a choice; do we spend the time squabbling about the décor, or do we do something about it? It’s almost certain that the current set of animals we have will probably be extinct when we go extinct. I liked the series ‘After Humans,’ but it was based on a short-term premise. If we go, all the elephants, dolphins, whales, dogs, cats, all go with us. Probably not for a few thousand, maybe ten thousand, a different form of some of them possibly surviving for millions. Panda’s, Koalas and some of the rarer species, especially the more specialised, no chance I’m afraid.

So, we need to get off and survive away from this single guaranteed target. Not just odd cosmetic discoveries and visits, but real long-term survival away. It’s a daunting responsibility we have, but it may be that humans are life’s single and only chance, not taking it now meaning it will never be taken. What is the value of survival of all life worth in monetary terms? Less than a new iPhone? Less than a new Tesla? Probably less than a daily cappuccino to the modern person.

Given the lack of interest in life’s survival I am still thinking the plan is probably the only way mankind and all animal life can go on in some form.

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