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Author Topic: Strange find on Titan sparks chatter about life  (Read 4502 times)
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« Reply #15: June 22, 2010, 09:48:34 am »

Regardless of life or not, it's enthralling that our own little solar system is populated by so many diverse worlds. I yearn for an unmanned probe to give us a better glimpse of them, but I dread that, if any life does exist on any or our immediate neighbors, our very attempts to learn about them could prove devastatingly disruptive to them.

That's assuming that scientifics would risk it. Which I personally doubt. At most, they would do orbital observation. Also sending a human to an ecosystem he is not used to (to an immunity system level) would be the equivalent of suicide unless they can come up with the super antibiotic that would be able to kill anything harmful to the human body without destroying us. You just have to see all the problems we get when humans get a flu that they are not supposed to get usually. A few thousand deaths and many months of sort-of-can't-really-call-it-panic kind of panic. (With religious freaks going on and on about how said flu is a punishment of god and the vaccines are actually some mind controlling device...)

And then again, the bacterias that we carry could also be devastating to a new ecosystem. The advantage with robots is that, after a few years in space, working at a temperature that is terribly low, without oxygen and such, the risk of contamination of another ecosystem is kind of low. But for living things, that's different.

But.. that wasn't the subject. >.>
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« Reply #16: June 22, 2010, 11:38:03 am »

That's assuming that scientifics would risk it. Which I personally doubt. At most, they would do orbital observation. Also sending a human to an ecosystem he is not used to (to an immunity system level) would be the equivalent of suicide unless they can come up with the super antibiotic that would be able to kill anything harmful to the human body without destroying us. You just have to see all the problems we get when humans get a flu that they are not supposed to get usually. A few thousand deaths and many months of sort-of-can't-really-call-it-panic kind of panic. (With religious freaks going on and on about how said flu is a punishment of god and the vaccines are actually some mind controlling device...)

And then again, the bacterias that we carry could also be devastating to a new ecosystem. The advantage with robots is that, after a few years in space, working at a temperature that is terribly low, without oxygen and such, the risk of contamination of another ecosystem is kind of low. But for living things, that's different.

But.. that wasn't the subject. >.>

Well, all that assumes that the biosystems are similar enough that cross-contamination is possible.  Which might not be a reasonable assumption.

In fact, I'd suspect the odds are really on the other side there.
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« Reply #17: June 22, 2010, 01:20:54 pm »

Well, all that assumes that the biosystems are similar enough that cross-contamination is possible.  Which might not be a reasonable assumption.

In fact, I'd suspect the odds are really on the other side there.

How so? I am assuming that the ecosystems are similar for a cross-contamination, yes, but you are also assuming that they are different enough for the opposite. So pretty much, it comes down to the same thing. Both don't seem very reasonable if you keep it down to that.

But since we already know how our system works and since we also have yet to discover another system that works, it only makes sense to use our system as example until we actually discover another system that works.

And that's assuming that there are other systems that works.

But all that is also assuming that a form of life based on Liquid Methane is actually possible and not just some dream. (And also that the awfully cold conditions of Titan doesn't quite matter.)

By the way, I read a bit of your story. :o
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« Reply #18: June 22, 2010, 01:25:04 pm »

How so? I am assuming that the ecosystems are similar for a cross-contamination, yes, but you are also assuming that they are different enough for the opposite. So pretty much, it comes down to the same thing. Both don't seem very reasonable if you keep it down to that.

But since we already know how our system works and since we also have yet to discover another system that works, it only makes sense to use our system as example until we actually discover another system that works.

And that's assuming that there are other systems that works.

But all that is also assuming that a form of life based on Liquid Methane is actually possible and not just some dream. (And also that the awfully cold conditions of Titan doesn't quite matter.)

By the way, I read a bit of your story. Shocked

The thing is, assuming biological compatibility to me strikes me as a MUCH bigger assumption.  I mean, there's tons of bacteria that can infect one animal and not another, and that's just inside our own ecosystem.  I don't see why other creatures should even have DNA .. they might have something else that serves the same purpose, but the exact same structure?  Seems unlikely to me.

That's not to say we can't cross-contaminate - something there might be a more effective competitor in our environment, or vice versa - but that's not the same thing as actual infection issues.  Just doesn't seem that likely to me.  The pile of coincidence is too big.

(has my story driven you mad yet?  please?  *tee hee*)
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« Reply #19: June 22, 2010, 02:14:31 pm »

The thing is, assuming biological compatibility to me strikes me as a MUCH bigger assumption.  I mean, there's tons of bacteria that can infect one animal and not another, and that's just inside our own ecosystem.  I don't see why other creatures should even have DNA .. they might have something else that serves the same purpose, but the exact same structure?  Seems unlikely to me.

That's not to say we can't cross-contaminate - something there might be a more effective competitor in our environment, or vice versa - but that's not the same thing as actual infection issues.  Just doesn't seem that likely to me.  The pile of coincidence is too big.

(has my story driven you mad yet?  please?  *tee hee*)

But tell me, How can worlds made of the same basic things, create life that are so completely different to the most basic level, DNA? Even further than that, I think (I am not 100% sure and if I am wrong, please say so) all living things are made of the same organic matter and all that matter has the same very basic component, carbon.

And you said it yourself, there are maybe millions if not billions of different bacterias on earth. If you only consider the flu from a year to another, for the past 5000 years, you would have 5000 different bacterias. Bacterias that evolve faster than any other species. Some might not be able to contaminate some species from another world but others could and probably would be able to or would be able to evolve in a way that would make them able to contaminate them. After all, if bacterias that only contaminated birds or pigs can evolve to contaminate us and kill us, why would they not be able to do the same thing from our world to another or another to our world?

So, to me, cross-contamination from one ecosystem to another, seems not only likely but has 100% chances of happening.

But then again, I am the kind of person that believe that since our system worked so well for millions of years (And I am not talking about it without the Human influence) and how life evolved in such a perfect way, that there is no way life on another planet in a universe made of all the same things, would evolve in a way completely different to ours in every aspect.

It seems to me as unlikely as a race somewhere that is born naturally with two heads and Sci-fi nonsense like that. <.< (Why would a race even need two heads?)

(And your story didn't drive me mad at all. It's pretty a pretty easy story to read. Not that it's a bad thing though. :o)
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« Reply #20: June 22, 2010, 02:22:05 pm »

But tell me, How can worlds made of the same basic things, create life that are so completely different to the most basic level, DNA? Even further than that, I think (I am not 100% sure and if I am wrong, please say so) all living things are made of the same organic matter and all that matter has the same very basic component, carbon.

And you said it yourself, there are maybe millions if not billions of different bacterias on earth. If you only consider the flu from a year to another, for the past 5000 years, you would have 5000 different bacterias. Bacterias that evolve faster than any other species. Some might not be able to contaminate some species from another world but others could and probably would be able to or would be able to evolve in a way that would make them able to contaminate them. After all, if bacterias that only contaminated birds or pigs can evolve to contaminate us and kill us, why would they not be able to do the same thing from our world to another or another to our world?

So, to me, cross-contamination from one ecosystem to another, seems not only likely but has 100% chances of happening.

But then again, I am the kind of person that believe that since our system worked so well for millions of years (And I am not talking about it without the Human influence) and how life evolved in such a perfect way, that there is no way life on another planet in a universe made of all the same things, would evolve in a way completely different to ours in every aspect.

It seems to me as unlikely as a race somewhere that is born naturally with two heads and Sci-fi nonsense like that. <.< (Why would a race even need two heads?)

(And your story didn't drive me mad at all. It's pretty a pretty easy story to read. Not that it's a bad thing though. Shocked)

But all bacteria that we've been able to find has evolved away from a common start.  To use an analogy from my own life - it all starts with a ball of yarn.  You can turn that yarn into a toy, a sweater, a blanket, a giant knot .. but it's all yarn.  Now start with a glass of milk.  No matter what, it's not yarn.  (yes, I know you can make yarn out of milk proteins.  But let's not go there).  Now, let's say that Earth is the ball of yarn .. and Titan is the glass of milk.  One simply isn't the other.  We've only got one point of reference right now - us.  But that doesn't mean even a little that other stuff is going to fit that paradigm.
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« Reply #21: June 22, 2010, 03:26:34 pm »

How so? I am assuming that the ecosystems are similar for a cross-contamination, yes, but you are also assuming that they are different enough for the opposite.

There are known organisms that could thrive on Mars and it seems reasonable that there could be Martian organisms that would thrive, say, in Antarctica where conditions are similar

But ... Other than a couple created in the laboratory, every known terrestrial organism uses the same 20 amino acids out of the hundreds of possibilities and millions of possible combinations
There is no reason that a truly alien life-form couldn't use a different combination

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that is also assuming that a form of life based on Liquid Methane is actually possible and not just some dream.

In theory, it's possible
Whether it exists within our own solar system is another question
Yet another is whether we would recognize something so exotic as a life form if we saw it
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« Reply #22: June 22, 2010, 05:04:56 pm »

Well, all that assumes that the biosystems are similar enough that cross-contamination is possible.  Which might not be a reasonable assumption.

When spacecraft are designed to actually land on another world these days, the assumption is that cross-contamination is possible (simply because that is the safest assumption) and, as I understand it, the lander is designed and treated to minimize those chances. They cannot be zero, but they try.
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« Reply #23: June 22, 2010, 06:48:27 pm »

When spacecraft are designed to actually land on another world these days, the assumption is that cross-contamination is possible (simply because that is the safest assumption) and, as I understand it, the lander is designed and treated to minimize those chances. They cannot be zero, but they try.

I can understand that - even if the percent is a 1% chance, it's still a bad idea.

It's just taking it as an ASSUMPTION that makes my little brain squoggle.
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« Reply #24: June 22, 2010, 09:08:53 pm »

There are known organisms that could thrive on Mars and it seems reasonable that there could be Martian organisms that would thrive, say, in Antarctica where conditions are similar

Ah, but would an organism from Antarctica that found its way aboard our imaginary spacecraft also be viable on Mars?  Or Titan?

So many things depend on environment; gram negative or gram positive?  Oxygen or not?  Above water freezing or below?  Free hydrogen?  Carbon?  Silicone?

Of course I believe it is folly to think that life forms on Earth and Titan have similar biology.  They have no history in common.  They have no environment in common.

But they do have chemistry in common.

It is not impossible that among our Antarctic organisms, on our imaginary spacecraft, one managed to survive.  And among its prodigy, one managed to adapt.  And that, over time, that one adaptation catapulted itself into a new species.  Titan Antarticanus.  A species that started on Earth and evolved on Titan.

Or if you prefer Mars, Aries Antarticanus.

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« Reply #25: June 22, 2010, 10:06:48 pm »


It is not impossible that among our Antarctic organisms, on our imaginary spacecraft, one managed to survive.  And among its prodigy, one managed to adapt.  And that, over time, that one adaptation catapulted itself into a new species.  Titan Antarticanus.  A species that started on Earth and evolved on Titan.

Or if you prefer Mars, Aries Antarticanus.

More likely on Mars than Titan, but yes -- it's certainly not impossible.
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« Reply #26: June 22, 2010, 11:00:52 pm »

More likely on Mars than Titan, but yes -- it's certainly not impossible.

I agree
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