Friday, May 21, 2010

Artificial life

Milky way starscape taken from Paranal.Image via Wikipedia
The creation of artificial life is one step closer, a milestone in science worth deep consideration. It also has severe repercussions for those who still cling to religious concepts of creation and dare to deny the possibility of evolution.

If life can be created in the laboratory, then there is no question of doubt that life would have arisen spontaneously from the ooze that was the early planet earth billions of years ago. No need for a God, just spontaneous generation of life.
Too bad for all you Christian Fundamentalists.

Billions of years later, with the process of evolution constantly in play we arrive at the world as we know it today. Again, no need for a God. Again, too bad for the Fundamentalists.

Consider also the unfathonable size of the universe with billions upon billions of galaxies like our own Milky Way and the possibility of life emerging on another planet is extremely high.

The most complex of all variables is that life would evolve in any way similar to life on earth. Why should it?
Not all planets would have similar environments as earth to allow for evolution to follow the same path from single cell organism to multi-celled complex organism. In other words, alien life forms would most likely be unrecognizable as life to us.

And finally, the possibility of intelligent life evolving that would be anything like intelligent life on earth is not a foregone conclusion.In fact, according the the Drake equation it's very unlikely.
The Drake equation states that:
N = R^{\ast} \times f_p \times n_e \times f_{\ell} \times f_i \times f_c \times L \!
N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible;
R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fâ„“ = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.[3]
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beamish said...

Not so fast.

Did they create the materials they created this "artificial life" from?

Nope. They made changes to an existing life form's genetic structure.

This is the equivalent of drawing a moustache on a copy of the Mona Lisa and trying to pass it off as a new painting.

One day, scientists may "create life" without intelligent input on their part, but for now, they'll keep trying.

Lexcen said...

Thanks for the correction Beamish.

beamish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beamish said...

It's really one of those Theseus' ship things. Replacing old planks with new planks until all of the planks are replaced, is it the same ship?

So scientists rearranged the DNA of a pre-existing organism to engineer changes in its offspring generations.

I built a three foot tall tower out of Lego blocks once.

I was just as close to creating life then as those scientists are now.

Lexcen said...

Beamish, I did change my wording to "one step closer" but maybe that's being optimistic.

beamish said...

If delusional falls under the category "optimistic," perhaps.

The rules of the contest are clear. Create life from nothing. Show your work.

The scientists are no where even near moving "one step closer" and their shell game of genetic vandalism proves "evolution" requires external intelligent meddling.

Hardly a cause to celebrate the death of God so much as much as a sad reminder that there used to be days when scientists were scientific.

ButterSnatch said...

Although I agree with you Beamish (and you too Lexan, although you didn't state opinion), I can't help but think about how incredibly self centered we (humans) are.

To think, in this day and age, that we are alone in the universe, is absolutely absurd. There are more galaxies in the universe than there are grains of sand on all the beaches on the planet Earth. Let that settle in and think about it... the ENTIRE planet's worth of grains of sand (Sorry that's a bit wordy, but I couldn't think of another way to put it!).

There is life out there, without a doubt, but as your post points out... would we recognize it if we found it?

In MY mind's-eye, I'd like to think that there are sentient life forms out there with which we'll be able to find a way to communicate. However, the possibility of life existing, although absolute in my mind, is one thing. Realizing their existence in the vastness of our universe is another story altogether/completely (IE: grains of sand'type vastness).

The Hubble Deep Field image that was taken, covers a speck of the sky only about the width of a dime held 75 feet away. There were 1,500 galaxies in that image alone. Now, I know there's no factual evidence of life, but in the vastness of the universe, if there is no life, what is THIS all about? I feel sad for people that think we're alone in the universe. I'm very respectful of faith, but the thought that we alone in this universe is unfothomable to me.

And the beat goes on...