We Are Not Alone.

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skolnick1
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We Are Not Alone.

Postby skolnick1 » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:18 pm UTC

I was at a talk from Bill Nye and the Planetary Society over the summer, entitled "The Lure of Europa". I stood on the side of the room at first, looking on as ol' Bill rasped about the tidal flexing that heats the planet's rocky core and creates a liquid ocean under the icy shell. This outer layer, he explained, would protect life inside from the harsh particle winds of Jupiter's ionosphere which sterilize the planet's surface. Tectonic observations, he said, gesturing to the poster leaned against the table at which the panel was seated, indicated that the surface rotates somewhat freely relative to the planet's interior, and that its mineral composition practically guarantees the potential for life as we know it. The orangish-red lines, lineae, he called them, that crisscross the surface of the planet were originally hypothesized to be canyons, but recent spectral flybys have shown them to be ridges, kilometers high and hundreds or thousands of kilometers long, rich in magnesium and sulfur. Analogous plate tectonics models, comparing them to ocean ridges, have difficulty recreating them, but such a system is not unexpectedly hard to model. I moved from the side of the room to the front, to get a look at the image to which he was referring. As I studied the poster, my jaw dropped. Something went off in my reptile brain, the part of me that's very afraid of crawling things and clusters of small holes.

Spoiler:
Image


Do you see it?
It's biotic, not tectonic.

There are striking similarities between the equations that describe natural growth patterns and crystal fracture, but speaking as someone who has broken a lot of things and let food go off in the fridge way too often, that looks way more like something growing than something broken.
If the interior of that thing is as much of a potential hotbed for life as the vapor plumes lead us to believe, there are going to be two forests in the ocean: one at the core, where heat is turned into organic chemical energy, and another at the surface, latched to the interior of the shell, either drawing energy from the heat gradient or breaking down the byproducts of its ecosystem with oxygen blasted from water molecules by particle radiation. It's going to put up feelers, and when in the course of time it develops the necessary radiotolerance mutations, it's going to break the surface, expand laterally, and put down adventitious roots. NASA has its people drawing up plans for space-ice-drilling rigs, but I really feel like step one ought to be landing something on one of those lines and checking to see if they're squishy.

Sometimes, in physics, a notion is particularly elegant, and you know it has a grain of truth to it because the universe seems to like a certain type of elegance. This idea seems to align for me not so much with the universe's sense of design as with its sense of humor. We cry to ourselves: "Could it be that we are alone? Where's all the life out there?", and it turns out that it's two doors down, staring us in the face--it's just a lot bigger than we expected.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:20 am UTC

It's a beautiful image and quite striking, and I have to admit that the fractal-ish repetition and fan-like orientations of the lines look familiar, but I think your sense of scale is messing with you. Life on Earth is an inconsequentially thin film on scales like this; there's no energy budget on Europa for something living to work on a tectonic-plate-scale.

As for the intuitive resemblance, consider cracked mud from a dried-out puddle in a thin, dusty soil. The shapes created are very similar.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Mokele » Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:54 pm UTC

Alternatively, it could be a mix - some unknown, biotic system "rooting" into the underside of the ice, spreading in very biological ways, weakens the ice due to "roots" penetrating into it. Thus, you could get biological-looking (if that can ever be really assessed) fracture patterns without any actual biological material at or near the surface or on colossal scales.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby skolnick1 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:04 pm UTC

I'm perfectly aware of how large they are. Think bigger, Copper Bezel--you're forgetting entire oceans!
Something like 70% of the heat that keeps the Earth's mantle from solidifying is from radioactive decay, and the remaining 30 or so is vestigial from coalescence. Solar heating is practically inconsequential, but here we are with roadways thousands of kilometers long on just that energy budget--now imagine the number of calories in the deep ocean, that lovecraftian place where the light of day will never penetrate, whether you're a million miles from the sun or a billion. Imagine piling up all the sea cucumbers and phytoplankton that eat heat and stone, and every fangly nasty horror that lives in smoker vent forests, and setting them ablaze. It's a lot of energy, is my point. And if a single organism filled the ecological niche of detritovore for an entire ocean planet, especially over millions of years, I could easily see it having the resources and pressure to develop structures which appear tectonic in scale.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:23 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:I'm perfectly aware of how large they are. Think bigger, Copper Bezel--you're forgetting entire oceans!
Something like 70% of the heat that keeps the Earth's mantle from solidifying is from radioactive decay, and the remaining 30 or so is vestigial from coalescence. Solar heating is practically inconsequential, but here we are with roadways thousands of kilometers long on just that energy budget--now imagine the number of calories in the deep ocean, that lovecraftian place where the light of day will never penetrate, whether you're a million miles from the sun or a billion. Imagine piling up all the sea cucumbers and phytoplankton that eat heat and stone, and every fangly nasty horror that lives in smoker vent forests, and setting them ablaze. It's a lot of energy, is my point. And if a single organism filled the ecological niche of detritovore for an entire ocean planet, especially over millions of years, I could easily see it having the resources and pressure to develop structures which appear tectonic in scale.


The deep ocean on earth is something like a desert, and life on earth is very solar-driven. One would expect extremely low proportions of biomass if we were extrapolating from similar earth-like conditions.

Which would still be interesting, of course, if it exists, but I don't know that we have very good evidence for it yet.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby JudeMorrigan » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:27 pm UTC

If those lines were squishy (so to speak), we ought to be able to tell from the spectral analysis.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby skolnick1 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:27 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:If those lines were squishy (so to speak), we ought to be able to tell from the spectral analysis.

Only if you assume we're looking at the entire organism! If it were some kind of surface-based fungus, it'd have nowhere but "up" to vent its chemical secretions, and we'd be able to detect them. But if those are the roots of a giant interior kelp forest or something, gases and things could be exchanged into the ocean below, and the only spectral results we'd see are the magnesium and sulfur salts that it takes up into itself to drop the freezing point.

Tyndmyr wrote:The deep ocean on earth is something like a desert


If you went and scooped up a fistful of mud from the deep ocean, you would be holding billions of bacteria and helminths, probably including at least three "undiscovered" species. Granted, a lot of that comes from "Marine Snow", which is detritus from the surface, but there are entirely solar-independent ecosystems down there (and I feel like our estimates of their size really aren't great) which could be replicated in abundance on Europa.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:36 am UTC

If those ridges were entirely biotic, it'd rival the entire biomass on Earth, wouldn't it?

And, again, there's nothing unique about the ridge pattern.

Spoiler:
Image
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby JudeMorrigan » Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:33 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:
JudeMorrigan wrote:If those lines were squishy (so to speak), we ought to be able to tell from the spectral analysis.

Only if you assume we're looking at the entire organism! If it were some kind of surface-based fungus, it'd have nowhere but "up" to vent its chemical secretions, and we'd be able to detect them. But if those are the roots of a giant interior kelp forest or something, gases and things could be exchanged into the ocean below, and the only spectral results we'd see are the magnesium and sulfur salts that it takes up into itself to drop the freezing point.

As large as it would be, we'd be able to get spectral results off the "roots" themselves.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:29 pm UTC

The reptilian part of your brain is supposed to give false positive "life" detections, because that's how you run away from things that might kill you.

I don't see anything particularly biological about the pattern of ridges, and if tectonic models have a hard time with it, that's far more likely due to any number of other things than it is to life extensive enough to produce structures that large.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:32 pm UTC

You're hearing an avalanche and saying 'zebra'. You're not even hearing hoof beats.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby PolakoVoador » Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:35 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:The deep ocean on earth is something like a desert


If you went and scooped up a fistful of mud from the deep ocean, you would be holding billions of bacteria and helminths, probably including at least three "undiscovered" species. Granted, a lot of that comes from "Marine Snow", which is detritus from the surface, but there are entirely solar-independent ecosystems down there (and I feel like our estimates of their size really aren't great) which could be replicated in abundance on Europa.


You are comparing a handful of bacteria to a continent-spanning-tree-thingy...

And yes, there are some solar-independent ecosystems on Earth, but they're rather bleak compared to almost anywhere else on the planet.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:59 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:The deep ocean on earth is something like a desert


If you went and scooped up a fistful of mud from the deep ocean, you would be holding billions of bacteria and helminths, probably including at least three "undiscovered" species. Granted, a lot of that comes from "Marine Snow", which is detritus from the surface, but there are entirely solar-independent ecosystems down there (and I feel like our estimates of their size really aren't great) which could be replicated in abundance on Europa.


In absolute numbers, bacteria tend to give you high numbers, yes. But biomass in sub-solar regions of the ocean is dramatically lower than in other bits. This is the opposite of what you are proposing, and should reduce certainty in your claim. Additionally, the nutrients in the sub-solar regions largely consist of what sinks down from the areas where solar energy drives the ecosystem. Removing the sun from the ecology does pose significant energy concerns, which is particularly troublesome when you are proposing a particularly massive concentration of biomass.

In short, this example does not support your claim, and actually would appear to subvert it.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Dec 19, 2014 10:05 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:Something like 70% of the heat that keeps the Earth's mantle from solidifying is from radioactive decay, and the remaining 30 or so is vestigial from coalescence.
Okay, but assuming a similar composition Europa would have only 0.8% as much radioactive material as Earth and has less than 0.02% as much gravitational binding energy (which should roughly scale with the heat of coalescence). Not to mention the fact that heat from all sources leaves Europa much faster than it does Earth because it's got a smaller surface area relative to its volume and doesn't receive nearly as much heat externally.

Basically all the internal energy of Europa comes from tidal interactions with Jupiter, so you'd need to actually calculate that out before you can make any claims about how much biomass it might have.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Forest Goose » Sat Dec 20, 2014 6:46 am UTC

Brethren Moon?

Sorry, it's the first thing that came to mind from the image
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby skolnick1 » Sat Dec 20, 2014 5:42 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Additionally, the nutrients in the sub-solar regions largely consist of what sinks down from the areas where solar energy drives the ecosystem. Removing the sun from the ecology does pose significant energy concerns, which is particularly troublesome when you are proposing a particularly massive concentration of biomass.

In short, this example does not support your claim, and actually would appear to subvert it.


Check your facts, brother!

From wiki: "Previously, benthic oceanographers assumed that vent organisms were dependent on marine snow, as deep-sea organisms are. This would leave them dependent on plant life and thus the sun. Some hydrothermal vent organisms do consume this "rain", but with only such a system, life forms would be very sparse. Compared to the surrounding sea floor, however, hydrothermal vent zones have a density of organisms 10,000 to 100,000 times greater."
en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrothermal_vent#Biological_communities

So we're six orders of magnitude from "desert". Granted, this is only in tectonically active regions, but as Gmalivuk helpfully pointed out, tidal flexing effects dwarf any radiogenic potential and practically guarantee a core that's covered in such vent zones.

JudeMorrigan wrote:As large as it would be, we'd be able to get spectral results off the "roots" themselves.

Please, enlighten me! What spectral results are you expecting that we don't see? You're clearly far better-versed than I in the EM spectra of inhabited vs uninhabited water-ice moons. We observe sulfur salts, which we well know extremophilic bacteria use in redox. Does your Scouter not get a power level reading?

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Dec 20, 2014 6:34 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:
JudeMorrigan wrote:As large as it would be, we'd be able to get spectral results off the "roots" themselves.

Please, enlighten me! What spectral results are you expecting that we don't see? You're clearly far better-versed than I in the EM spectra of inhabited vs uninhabited water-ice moons. We observe sulfur salts, which we well know extremophilic bacteria use in redox. Does your Scouter not get a power level reading?
If you're allowed to assume a huge amount of biomass based on the mere curviness of ice ridges, you don't get to demand a very high level of expertise among the people pointing out how wrong your assumptions are.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat Dec 20, 2014 7:02 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:Check your facts, brother!

If you're trying to make an argument that 'where there's heat and/or chemical energy and water, there might be life', I doubt you'll find much disagreement. Where you seem to be leaping to wholly insane conclusions is that the shattered, colored surface of Europa is a SIGN of a moon wide life form.

Again, you're seeing water, and basically saying 'Cthulu!' which is, I mean, cool, but don't then tell other people to get their facts straight. Also, 'it's biotic, not tectonic' seems to imply that you think these ridges/valleys are CAUSED by life, instead of the much more reasonably given explanation of Jupiters tidal forces is another 'check your facts, brother' right back atcha.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby poxic » Sat Dec 20, 2014 7:28 pm UTC

Science does not progress by people making giant leaps and then clinging to them in the face of objections. Science progresses by people making a leap, then turning around and trying to disprove their own hypotheses. Only when no hypothesis-killing objection remains does it become accepted science.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby stianhat » Sat Dec 20, 2014 8:03 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:Do you see it?
It's biotic, not tectonic.


"We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances."

Occam's Razor, as explained by Newton. As a consequence, we will accept it to be tectonics by proven mechanism until we observe anything that makes the tectonic explanation inadequate to explain all observations.

Why? Because the omniscient spaghettimonster said so.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Dec 20, 2014 10:17 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:So we're six orders of magnitude from "desert".

Six orders of magnitude from abyssal plain brings you roughly up to the biomass of a terrestrial desert. I know that's not your main point here, but still, it's worth noting.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby JudeMorrigan » Mon Dec 22, 2014 12:28 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
skolnick1 wrote:
JudeMorrigan wrote:As large as it would be, we'd be able to get spectral results off the "roots" themselves.

Please, enlighten me! What spectral results are you expecting that we don't see? You're clearly far better-versed than I in the EM spectra of inhabited vs uninhabited water-ice moons. We observe sulfur salts, which we well know extremophilic bacteria use in redox. Does your Scouter not get a power level reading?
If you're allowed to assume a huge amount of biomass based on the mere curviness of ice ridges, you don't get to demand a very high level of expertise among the people pointing out how wrong your assumptions are.

Happily, it turns out I *am* a degreed chemist with significant professional experience in spectroscopy. Granted, most of what I look at these days is wideband IR data, but this is still something I actually am reasonably qualified to talk about.

Anyways, as unpleasant as you were, skolnick1, I'll give you an answer as well as a citation, since you have no particular reason to believe my qualifications. While, barring stellar calibrations, I never look at anything further out than geosynchronous orbit, it took me roughly five second to find someone doing the sort of analysis on the data from Europa that I expected to find.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14678661

Now, on first blush, you may think that this actually vindicates you. Hey, it turns out that there *are* distortions in the NIR in the regions of interest. Here's the thing - had you come here positing that the Europan linea could be harboring life, the most you would have gotten out of me was that it was very interesting. Instead, your claim is that those aren't linea at all, but a giant, moon-spanning organism. I can't tell you exactly what I would expect the spectra to look like. As you may infer from that paper, spectra can vary organism to organism depending on its constituents. But your world tree would, to put a fine point on it, involve a shit-ton of organic matter that would emit like a sonofabitch. There just ins't enough there in the observed spectra to believe that *that* is a possibility. In my professional opinion.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:59 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Additionally, the nutrients in the sub-solar regions largely consist of what sinks down from the areas where solar energy drives the ecosystem. Removing the sun from the ecology does pose significant energy concerns, which is particularly troublesome when you are proposing a particularly massive concentration of biomass.

In short, this example does not support your claim, and actually would appear to subvert it.


Check your facts, brother!

From wiki: "Previously, benthic oceanographers assumed that vent organisms were dependent on marine snow, as deep-sea organisms are. This would leave them dependent on plant life and thus the sun. Some hydrothermal vent organisms do consume this "rain", but with only such a system, life forms would be very sparse. Compared to the surrounding sea floor, however, hydrothermal vent zones have a density of organisms 10,000 to 100,000 times greater."
en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrothermal_vent#Biological_communities

So we're six orders of magnitude from "desert". Granted, this is only in tectonically active regions, but as Gmalivuk helpfully pointed out, tidal flexing effects dwarf any radiogenic potential and practically guarantee a core that's covered in such vent zones.


"desert" is a relative term, not an absolute one. This does not immediately get you to "megasystems distributed across the ice". Such communities are extremely localized, and the zone as a whole IS mostly reliant on this "rain", and is very, very sparsely populated on average, even with vent systems included.

Even assuming that vent systems are common(which may be the case), and that they exude a similar proportion of usable nutrients, etc(which may not be the case), getting from there to a massive ecosystem causing ice fractures requires an entire chain of life that isn't really at all analogous to earth's, so you're kind of out in the weeds. It's a LOT of assumptions without evidence.

JudeMorrigan wrote:As large as it would be, we'd be able to get spectral results off the "roots" themselves.

Please, enlighten me! What spectral results are you expecting that we don't see? You're clearly far better-versed than I in the EM spectra of inhabited vs uninhabited water-ice moons. We observe sulfur salts, which we well know extremophilic bacteria use in redox. Does your Scouter not get a power level reading?


Sulfur salts are great, as is water, but while both open up possibilities of life, they are not proof of life. We have precisely one known case of life, Earth, and the spectral analysis for that indicates obviously, a lot of O2, H2O, etc. I expect that in general, the more a given set of spectral results looks like earth's, the stronger case you'd have...though it'd still be fairly weak, because as mentioned, merely having water, etc doesn't guarantee life. We already know of a number of bodies containing water on which we have not found life. If life was as plentiful everywhere there was water as on earth, it seems probable we'd have found it by now, but we haven't.

Anyway, if we narrow it down from "finding life via spectral results" to "confirming THIS particular theory via spectral results", that makes the task somewhat easier, because you're proposing an immense ecosystem. Such an ecosystem, of necessity, would need a truly massive sulfur cycle, and you would expect to see evidence of large quantities of the various compounds we see in proportions roughly akin to earths. What we know of the atmosphere on Europa indicates that it's quite thin, and mostly made up of O2. That isn't really evidence of a vast sulfur-based ecosystem. Granted, our current evidence is limited, and I guess it's possible that somehow a vast system exists, but does not affect the atmosphere, but what we know does not provide support for your idea. Now, this sort of life might exist in a much smaller form, it's the whole vast ice-cracking ecology that I'm having trouble with.

Note: I am less qualified in this area than Jude, as my astronomy experience consists of "hey, those look like fun electives" in college. Still, I wrote up my response before I noticed his, so hell with it, I'm posting it.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby skolnick1 » Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:39 pm UTC

Jude, you don't think I've seen that study? I'm not some backwoods crackpot without access to elsevier, man. I have degrees, I do my reading. I still think this is the best explanation.
Guys, it's not a solid planet. You can't keep thinking of it as inhospitable just because there's not much external atmosphere.
It's like I've handed you an egg. And you sniff it, look at it under a microscope, maybe flick the shell a bit, test its conductivity, and come to the conclusion that it's wholly lifeless based on a lack of detectable metabolic signatures. And the cracks developing in the surface, well, those are obviously caused by thermal effects.

Look. Say you're the Europan equivalent of pando, and you've got waste gases to vent. You've got two fluid media where you can open your stoma and vent: underwater, where it's warm and wet, and the waste will be utilized by things that will eventually die so you can eat them again, or above the surface, into the near non-atmosphere that clings to the exterior of the shell.
Jude, you're proposing (perhaps "asserting" would be a better word) that the organism would, instead of behaving like every plant and fungus on Earth, prefer to pump those gases kilometers through its roots to the radiation-harsh, near-vacuum surface so that it can fart them out and wave hi to your ass.

Guess what dissolves readily in cold water! Heyyyyy surprise it's the gases you were looking for!

stianhat wrote:Occam's Razor, as explained by Newton. As a consequence, we will accept it to be tectonics by proven mechanism until we observe anything that makes the tectonic explanation inadequate to explain all observations.


Do a little reading: the tectonic explanation is entirely inadequate in explaining 90% of the surface's structures.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby skolnick1 » Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:47 pm UTC

poxic wrote:Science does not progress by people making giant leaps and then clinging to them in the face of objections. Science progresses by people making a leap, then turning around and trying to disprove their own hypotheses. Only when no hypothesis-killing objection remains does it become accepted science.

Right, except I'm exceptionally fond of making leaps and the rest of you seem to be very good at trying to disprove me, so I figure we can distribute the labor a little bit.
Give me objections, brother.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:32 pm UTC

Youve yet to provide support, let alone adequately respond to criticism.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby FancyHat » Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:32 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:Jude, you don't think I've seen that study? I'm not some backwoods crackpot without access to elsevier, man. I have degrees, I do my reading. I still think this is the best explanation.

Actually, that does sound a bit ceramically fractured. Having degrees and being a crackpot are not mutually exclusive.

Guys, it's not a solid planet.

Are your references to a moon as a "planet" the hint that you're old-skool trolling?
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby JudeMorrigan » Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:33 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:Jude, you're proposing (perhaps "asserting" would be a better word) that the organism would, instead of behaving like every plant and fungus on Earth, prefer to pump those gases kilometers through its roots to the radiation-harsh, near-vacuum surface so that it can fart them out and wave hi to your ass.

I'm doing no such thing. I'm saying that if your organism were as large as you were suggesting, we could see evidence of the organism itself in the spectra. Let's be clear here, your original assertion was that "there are going to be two forests in the ocean: one at the core, where heat is turned into organic chemical energy, and another at the surface, latched to the interior of the shell, either drawing energy from the heat gradient or breaking down the byproducts of its ecosystem with oxygen blasted from water molecules by particle radiation. It's going to put up feelers, and when in the course of time it develops the necessary radiotolerance mutations, it's going to break the surface, expand laterally, and put down adventitious roots." I'm saying that if there's a forest "at the surface", the forest itself will show up in the spectroscopy regardless of where its gaseous waste winds up. And that would equate to rather more than "possibly as much as 0.2 mg cm(-3) of carbonaceous material that could be of biological origin".

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:04 pm UTC

sholnick, at first blush, it very much seems that you're claiming that the only logical explanation for what seem to be some extra ridges in some ice on a moon is a immense unknown organism living inside it. This (and nothing to do with your education, geographic location in the woods, back, front, or otherwise, or access to Elsevier) is why people are responding to you as if you are a crackpot. If that characterization is false, please feel free to correct it.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Angua » Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:39 am UTC

Doctor Who was obviously a foreshadowing:
Spoiler:
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby HungryHobo » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:07 am UTC

skolnick1 wrote:It's like I've handed you an egg.


bad example, eggs respire. You can detect them using oxygen and emitting CO2.

Right, except I'm exceptionally fond of making leaps and the rest of you seem to be very good at trying to disprove me, so I figure we can distribute the labor a little bit.
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You might get a better response if you actually listened to the objections rather than ignoring them and making more wild leaps that ignore the previous objections.

Right now it's like watching people talk with David Icke.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby skolnick1 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:28 pm UTC

FancyHat wrote:Are your references to a moon as a "planet" the hint that you're old-skool trolling?

Are your hangups on semantic distinctions rather than actual conversation the hint that you're a pedant?

Copper Bezel wrote:it very much seems that you're claiming that the only logical explanation for what seem to be some extra ridges in some ice on a moon is a immense unknown organism living inside it


Bez, of course it is not the only logical explanation, but it's physically plausible and better at explaining the observed phenomena (lineae distribution patterns, chaos regions) than tectonics models. The word "sufficient", part of the "sufficient to explain appearances" in Newton's phrasing, is a matter of personal taste, and while you may be comfortable shrugging your shoulders and ascribing it to "eh, tectonics we probably don't understand yet", I'm not. I'm not a geologist, so I have to operate under the assumption that, when the geologists have tried and failed to reconstruct the distribution based on tectonic models, it's because they're working with an incomplete data set rather than faulty models.

It is not the only logical explanation, simply the most logical given our certainty about the presence of water, significant energy gradients, and biogenic compounds in the planet's subsurface ocean.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby skolnick1 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:38 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:if your organism were as large as you were suggesting, we could see evidence of the organism itself in the spectra...I'm saying that if there's a forest "at the surface", the forest itself will show up in the spectroscopy regardless of where its gaseous waste winds up. And that would equate to rather more than "possibly as much as 0.2 mg cm(-3) of carbonaceous material that could be of biological origin".

Just to be clear, here...we're talking about the INTERIOR surface of the shell, right?
When you look at the lineae, you are looking at the roots of the interior forest, and you see spectra reminiscent of that which you get from organic, earthly life. That is the spectral evidence of this organism. I could see hyphae emitting quorum sensing hormones or something, but you don't really expect our assays thus far to have picked those up, do you? I don't know what other spectral evidence you'd expect.
Regarding your quote from that paper on the upper limit of carbonaceous material...I would refer you to the sentence immediately following the one you quoted.
"However, inherent noise in the observations and limitations of spectral sampling must be taken into account when discussing these findings."

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:52 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote: I'm not a geologist, so I have to operate under the assumption that, when the geologists have tried and failed to reconstruct the distribution based on tectonic models, it's because they're working with an incomplete data set rather than faulty models.
"i dont know anything about the very thing im making sweeping declarations about, but i assume being told im wrong is because actual individuals in the field are more ignorant of the field than i."

... bro, are you even in the sciences?
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Mokele » Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:54 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:Bez, of course it is not the only logical explanation, but it's physically plausible and better at explaining the observed phenomena (lineae distribution patterns, chaos regions) than tectonics models.


<Citation needed>

"It looks organic" is not evidence. Show quantitative assessments of patterns produced by organic and inorganic processes, and where these lines fit in those.

skolnick1 wrote:I'm not a geologist, so I have to operate under the assumption that, when the geologists have tried and failed to reconstruct the distribution based on tectonic models, it's because they're working with an incomplete data set rather than faulty models.


<Citation needed>

Seriously, show me a paper saying "we cannot possibly reproduce these with any current model".

skolnick1 wrote:When you look at the lineae, you are looking at the roots of the interior forest, and you see spectra reminiscent of that which you get from organic, earthly life. That is the spectral evidence of this organism.


<Citation needed>

Where is that spectral evidence? Not just of life, but of this super-organism.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby JudeMorrigan » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:28 pm UTC

skolnick1 wrote:When you look at the lineae, you are looking at the roots of the interior forest, and you see spectra reminiscent of that which you get from organic, earthly life.

No. The spectra are not reminiscent of roots.

That is the spectral evidence of this organism. I could see hyphae emitting quorum sensing hormones or something, but you don't really expect our assays thus far to have picked those up, do you? I don't know what other spectral evidence you'd expect.

Ok, seriously. Are you under the impression that spectrometers can only get readings off of gasses or something? Again, I would expect these *roots themselves* to impact the spectra. The IR spectra of plant matter in a vacuum does not look like the IR spectra of blocks of ice or rock.

Regarding your quote from that paper on the upper limit of carbonaceous material...I would refer you to the sentence immediately following the one you quoted.
"However, inherent noise in the observations and limitations of spectral sampling must be taken into account when discussing these findings."

Yeah ... the implications there were not what you apparently think they were. It's saying that it might not be evidence of extraterrestrial life at all - not that there could be wildly more biological carbonaceous matter there than they were positing.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby Dopefish » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:14 am UTC

Just to possibly expand on the 'roots' themselves having a spectra, my undergrad chemistry knowledge tells me that spectra arise from atoms/molecules falling from excited states, and the energy differences (and hence the resulting spectra) are essentially unique to each atom/molecule. Anything not at absolute zero has a chance of randomly getting bumped into an excited state, so it seems to me that one could use spectroscopy to identify pretty much anything given a sufficiently sensitive detector. Hot gases would certainly be the easiest and give off the most readily observable spectra, but it seem entirely intuitive to me that even solid organic matter (particularly purportedly living organic matter that would be relatively warm and have chemical activity) would give off a distinct spectrum that could be detected if it were there (and the above posters indicate that such a thing has not been detected).

I'm sure people who have gone beyond undergrad and/or actively do spectroscopy could put forward even more advanced explanations, but my point is that it doesn't seem like something one would need an advanced degree in order to recognize as 'roots' if that's what they were, and the fact that people who do have those advanced degrees aren't recognizing them as such seems like very strong evidence that they are in fact not 'roots'.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby JudeMorrigan » Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:02 am UTC

Hey, it's someone else who understands the fundamentals of absorption spectroscopy! One thing I would say though is that I think we can only make very broad assumptions about the composition and structure of exo-organisms. As such, if there were a giant network of roots on Europa, I wouldn't necessarily expect scientists to be able to look at the spectra and say they were roots. However, I would definitely expect them to be able to look at the spectra and say authoritatively that there was rather a lot of organic matter in the lineae and probably expect them to be able to add that the structure of the spectra was highly suggestive that it was of biological origin.

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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby FancyHat » Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:20 am UTC

skolnick1 wrote:
FancyHat wrote:Are your references to a moon as a "planet" the hint that you're old-skool trolling?

Are your hangups on semantic distinctions rather than actual conversation the hint that you're a pedant?

Not a hangup, I was just wondering if you were trolling.

In olden times, when trolling was an honourable and noble art (at least compared to so-called 'trolling' these days), those who were trolling would often hint that they were trolling. One way this could be done is to include (and, if necessary, repeat) a slightly-too-obvious mistake, such as referring to a famous moon as a "planet".

But I accept you're not trolling.

Please note that crackpottery looks very different from the inside to how it looks from the outside.
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Re: We Are Not Alone.

Postby chenille » Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:13 am UTC

PolakoVoador wrote:And yes, there are some solar-independent ecosystems on Earth, but they're rather bleak compared to almost anywhere else on the planet.

Are there actually? Most of the ecosystems that get called solar-independent seem to be reliant on oxygen, and that's really as much a product of energy of energy from the sun as organic matter like marine snow is. As such, I don't think they are a fair analogy for how even microbial life on a moon like Europa might work, and I have a difficult time imaging what alternative source of chemical energy there might be that hasn't burned itself out a long time ago.


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