Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
niko7865
Posts: 536
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2007 11:47 am UTC
Location: All over washington state, USA
Contact:

Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby niko7865 » Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:56 pm UTC

I need help convincing someone that chemistry (and physics) are the same on Mars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by niko
Chemistry is the same everywhere in the universe (except maybe in a black hole). The table of elements is the same everywhere, and the common molecules are the same everywhere. Given the temperature and pressure on Mars, it can only be water.



Can you provide evidence of this? I'm not trying to be a dick, be can you really be certain that we know EVERYTHING about the way molecular structure works across different planet? If you are certain, please embark your knowledge upon me, but your statement above is pretty broad and I would like more information.
21/m/athletic/white&nerdy/washington/straight/???
Image

psyck0
Posts: 1651
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:58 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby psyck0 » Sat Jun 21, 2008 8:15 pm UTC

Well, assuming that chemistry and physics are the same everywhere in the universe is what has enabled us to make so many predictions that later turned out to be true, and to do space flight, etc. In other words, it's a case of "it may not be gravity holding us down to the Earth- it could be some other force with identical properties".

Robin S
Posts: 3579
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 7:02 pm UTC
Location: London, UK
Contact:

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Robin S » Sat Jun 21, 2008 8:17 pm UTC

To add to this: one of the foundations of science is Occam's Razor, which basically says "don't assume things are more complicated than they need to be". Science works just fine if we assume the laws are the same everywhere, so why assume that they're not when there's no evidence of that being the case?

I mean, technically, we could all be brains in jars, or there could be invisible green men making all the particles appear to follow the laws of physics. But that takes a lot more explaining than if we assume things are the way they appear to be; it introduces an unnecessary level of complication into our scientific model. So, until a need arises to further complicate the model - in the form of actual evidence - we reject it.
This is a placeholder until I think of something more creative to put here.

User avatar
DarkLordofSquirrels
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:08 pm UTC

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby DarkLordofSquirrels » Sat Jun 21, 2008 9:47 pm UTC

How 'bout, because the laws of chemistry are essentially independent of the factors that differ between Mars and Earth? We can't really prove they're the same yet, since we don't have any chemistry labs on Mars, but it's a fair assumption since we know them so well here. Additionally, the probes we send to Mars typically land and move how we think they will, at least within parameters, proving some basic physics laws hold, which is a foot in the door, if you will.

That'd sure be funny if we made it there and found out SCIENCE didn't work :-P

Robin S
Posts: 3579
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 7:02 pm UTC
Location: London, UK
Contact:

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Robin S » Sat Jun 21, 2008 10:17 pm UTC

Science would still work; it would just mean that some of our current scientific laws were wrong. That would be through insufficient data, however, rather than a failing on the part of the scientific method.
This is a placeholder until I think of something more creative to put here.

User avatar
fenrir_darkwolf
Posts: 104
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2008 10:21 pm UTC

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby fenrir_darkwolf » Sat Jun 21, 2008 10:17 pm UTC

DarkLordofSquirrels wrote:That'd sure be funny if we made it there and found out SCIENCE didn't work :-P


Didn't you hear, science DOESN'T work. *flies away*
"You're gonna have to learn everything anyway, so which is first is not essential."
-Richard Feynman

User avatar
Charlie!
Posts: 2035
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:20 pm UTC

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Charlie! » Sat Jun 21, 2008 11:03 pm UTC

It's impossible to prove something in science like you can in math. Instead, you can only test things. We've tested mars a bajillion different ways and it behaves just like we'd expect if physical laws were the same there, but that's only 99.99% certainty, not 100% certainty. Everything could still be altered by a single anomalous observation.

Example: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2004/pdf/1778.pdf

If the person refuses to accept that science works by falsification and we're "only" 99.99% certain that mars is what it appears, I suggest mocking them.
Some people tell me I laugh too much. To them I say, "ha ha ha!"

User avatar
Minerva
Posts: 947
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2006 2:58 pm UTC
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Minerva » Sun Jun 22, 2008 12:57 am UTC

The laws of nature are everywhere the same. That's what makes them laws of nature.

Mars exists, ergo it's made of stuff. What kind of stuff? Presumably pretty much exactly the same stuff the Earth is made of, since it's right next door and was formed from the same kind of process around the same time.

If you want to know what kind of stuff, then you examine it, using Science, bitches.

Based on orbital observations and the examination of little bits of mars that fall to Earth, the surface of Mars appears to be composed primarily of basalt. Some evidence suggests that a portion of the Martian surface is more silica-rich than typical basalt, and may be similar to andesitic rocks on Earth. Much of the surface is deeply covered by a fine dust of iron oxide.

Just like it's quite easy to observe what the composition of the planet is, it's very easy to observe what the composition of the atmosphere is.

The atmosphere on Mars consists of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, and contains traces of oxygen and water.
...suffer from the computer disease that anybody who works with computers now knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is you play with them. They are so wonderful. - Richard Feynman

User avatar
Plustax
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:01 am UTC
Location: The middle of Florida.
Contact:

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Plustax » Sun Jun 22, 2008 7:27 am UTC

Minerva wrote:The atmosphere on Mars consists of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, and contains traces of oxygen and water.



This here is the only thing that would possibly change. Can you start a fire on mars, or would you need more oxygen? And even then, it's not that's chemistry is wrong, it's merely operating under a different environment.

Thisisnotausername
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:08 pm UTC

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Thisisnotausername » Sun Jun 22, 2008 1:12 pm UTC

Robin S wrote: invisible green men

So... are they invisible, or are they green?
Random832 wrote:Superman in particular probably had a chance to try those skills on farm animals first....

Robin S
Posts: 3579
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 7:02 pm UTC
Location: London, UK
Contact:

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Robin S » Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:14 pm UTC

This is a placeholder until I think of something more creative to put here.

Klotz
Posts: 550
Joined: Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:27 pm UTC

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Klotz » Sun Jun 22, 2008 6:42 pm UTC

Basically, chemistry is governed by electromagnetism, which are described by Maxwell's equations, and some quantum effects, which, as far as I know, can be treated by the Schroedinger equation with a 1/r potential:

Image

Image * might be off by a few terms

Anyway, if you look at these equations, you can see that at no point are there terms for Earth are Mars. They are independent of planet.

Thisisnotausername
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:08 pm UTC

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Thisisnotausername » Sun Jun 22, 2008 7:07 pm UTC

But Klotz, that automatically assumed that the current theory is perfectly correct. Are you trying to make physics a religion? :wink:
Random832 wrote:Superman in particular probably had a chance to try those skills on farm animals first....

User avatar
Kaiyas
Posts: 459
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:57 pm UTC

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Kaiyas » Sun Jun 22, 2008 9:28 pm UTC

(For OP) Actually, you can just go ahead and ask him if he thinks the majority of astronomy is bunk. :D After all, exochemistry is just applied astrophysics astronomy.
Image
clintonius wrote:This place is like mental masturbation

Micron
Posts: 319
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 1:03 am UTC

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Micron » Sun Jun 22, 2008 10:05 pm UTC

niko7865 wrote:I need help convincing someone that chemistry (and physics) are the same on Mars.

Your opponent is either being unclear about what exactly they are questioning or, more likely, they are making a totally invalid argument. If you need to prove that chemistry works the same on Mars as on Earth then you might as well insist that I need to prove that the laws of physics (and chemistry) are consistent in front of my computer, in my bathroom, outside in the street, in the lab down the block, on the other side of the world, on the moon, and on and on.
Unless there is some evidence giving a reason why you should doubt that past observations will hold true in the future or in other locations then you don't need to "prove" anything here and it is a waste of your time to try to do so.

Now if your opponent was trying to make the point that there might be chemical reactions and processes at work on Mars that we are not expecting then that might be legitimate but that is very different than suggesting that chemistry is a fundamentally different process elsewhere.

User avatar
McHell
Posts: 322
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 12:52 pm UTC
Location: Ellowen Deeowen

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby McHell » Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:57 pm UTC

Robin S wrote:To add to this: one of the foundations of science is Occam's Razor, which basically says "don't assume things are more complicated than they need to be".


Philosophers of science would heartily disagree with you, as Occam is quite recent compared to the foundations, and you're opening the inductive vs deductive debate here.

I am in no way such a philosopher, but still: I'd say it's science's sledgehammer --- whack most problems with it and some progress happens usually; if not that's an interesting result as well. This as opposed to mathematics, where you always assume the worst (as in, don't trust any machinery unless proven to work in given conditions).

M

User avatar
Yakk
Poster with most posts but no title.
Posts: 11128
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:27 pm UTC
Location: E pur si muove

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Yakk » Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:06 pm UTC

The Occam's Razor argument, made explicit:

Uniform laws of chemistry are sufficient to explain every observation we have seen about mars and the rest of the universe.

We can see the spectral lines we'd expect from earth-chemistry laws, the materials all seem to be earth-chemistry based, etc.

As we have a sufficient explanation, and no reason to presume that there are extra rules. You can presume there are extra rules, but we place the burden of evidence on you (the proposer of arbitrary rules), and not the person who presumes that "we have a sufficient system that can predict observations, so we don't tack stuff onto it".

This isn't a mere matter of not knowing much about mars -- we have a huge amount of information we have gathered from mars. In order for the laws of chemistry to be different on mars, they would have to be "sneaky" and trying to look like earth-laws. This is why, when you make claims like "what if the laws are different on mars", you are approaching "what if we are brains in a vat" paranoia.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

User avatar
Vieto
Posts: 1558
Joined: Sun Jun 22, 2008 10:44 pm UTC
Location: Canada

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Vieto » Sat Jun 28, 2008 2:11 am UTC

well, the soil chemistry is the same:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25396378/

User avatar
Turambar
Posts: 234
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 9:43 pm UTC

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Turambar » Sat Jun 28, 2008 8:27 am UTC

Yeah, if the rovers have had the chance to look at soil and atmospheric samples and analyze them, then we know that it's normal baryonic matter, and it reacts in a way identical to familiar chemicals, then only the most batshit insane would suggest anything other than that.
"Physics is like sex. Sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it."
--Richard Feynman

User avatar
Indon
Posts: 4433
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:21 pm UTC
Location: Alabama :(
Contact:

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby Indon » Sat Jun 28, 2008 8:11 pm UTC

Tell them that you'll prove it the moment they can conclusively prove that Mars even exists.

:P
So, I like talking. So if you want to talk about something with me, feel free to send me a PM.

My blog, now rarely updated.

Image

User avatar
SpitValve
Not a mod.
Posts: 5130
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:51 am UTC
Location: Lower pork village

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby SpitValve » Mon Jun 30, 2008 5:06 pm UTC

This is part of what is called the Cosmological Principle. It can't be proved, it's an assumption: that all the rules of physics and chemistry are the same everywhere in the universe.

If we don't make this assumption, we can't do any astronomy because we have no basis to start from. So we have to make this assumption so that we can get anywhere. It's a good-sounding assumption as it agrees with our general philosophy of how the universe works, and it appears to produce consistent results, so everybody (well, there's always one who disagrees) believes it's a correct assumption.

opsomath
Posts: 89
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2006 1:58 pm UTC

Re: Prove chemistry is the same on Mars

Postby opsomath » Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:03 am UTC

One word: spectroscopy. The same light source hits Mars as Earth. All the effects of Martian matter interacting with it can be explained in terms of molecules we have chemically characterized here on Earth.

Same goes for the rest of the universe; we can see molecules in nebulae thousands of light-years away, and figure out what they are, by some of the same spectroscopic techniques an analytical chemist uses to figure out what the white goo at the crime scene is. Cool? Yes.

Okay, now why would someone make such a dumb assertion as "Chemistry is different on Mars."?


Return to “Science”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests