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Old 07-25-2010, 01:16 PM
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Default Life In The Universe: The Great Filter.

Have you ever wondered how possible is it for complex and intelligent life to form in the universe? Many assume that the sheer amount of number of planets in the universe means that life should be abundant, thriving. Aliens should be knocking on our door. Why hasn't it? Is it the distance between worlds? Is it some sort of principle other life has not too mess with "industrial" species? Do we have the wrong "ears" to listen out to their calls? Turns out, advanced life in the universe can be an extreme rarity, and we are just one of possibly few success stories.

Filters. All life, everywhere, have filters. Filters which prevent life from becoming more complex, or developing at all. Take for instance, Mars. Mars may harbour bacterial life but the lack of an atmosphere and severe solar radiation prevents life there becoming more complex. That is Mars' Filter.

If life is adamant enough and conditions permit development, it will pass many of these filters. But what's life's Great Filter? What is the end-all to all? Have humans overcome this Great Filter already? If this is in our past, then humans should become a great civilisation, nothing would stop human development. If not, life on Earth is still to overcome it's greatest test.

What can take out an advanced species? Techology? War? Or a catastrophie? When we look at the possibilities for success, we must also consider the possibilities for failure.





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Old 07-26-2010, 01:33 PM
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This is exactly what part of my lecture today was about. The lecturer (who is a very interesting person and funny) was talking about how we have some bizzare bacteria on earth. one of the theories is they came from space. He continued to say if so, then they obviously survived the cold of space, so there must be heaps of these bacteria out there. He then ocntinued to talk about the existance of these bacteria (and possibly more complex life) on other planets, Mars was mentioned.

He said the sun was alot bigger many eayrs ago so the outer planets would have been exposed to heat at some time, so they probably used to be like earth. This made it possible for complex life, but as the sun shrank, they got colder and they dried up and life went back to the primitive or it went extinct (or did it?). Anyway, he went on a really long talk about this topic and it was really interesting.

I also saw "Into The Universe with Stephen Hawking" and he was talking about the same thing, since we know there are bacteria that can survive extremely low temperatures, he believes that bacteria are being preserved on meteors and a meteor landing on earth can bring new life forms to our planet. And let's say there is an earth like planet. The bacteria can evolve into more complex life forms so there's no doubt that life of whatever form exists on other planets and even in space

The probability can be calculated using an equation with 20 variables or something but anyway, this topic is very interesting to me

ooo, i just remembered. the lecturer also mentioned a movie (along with many others, he loves scifi... but didn't mention Avatar ) where a signal is recieved from outer space and turns out that its from another species and so we begin comunicating (i dont know how they recieved messages in such a short amount of time) but there was this idea of instead of asking them to come visit us, we can just give them the recipe for creating us (humans, since we've mapped the genome and we know what it takes to create life) and they can create one of us back on their planet and see what we're like and vice versa... it's an interesting idea

*it was this film. The story was written by Carl Sagan and his wife, it then became a film
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Last edited by tm20; 07-27-2010 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 07-26-2010, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreaming Of Pandora View Post
Have you ever wondered how possible is it for complex and intelligent life to form in the universe? Many assume that the sheer amount of number of planets in the universe means that life should be abundant, thriving. Aliens should be knocking on our door. Why hasn't it? Is it the distance between worlds? Is it some sort of principle other life has not too mess with "industrial" species? Do we have the wrong "ears" to listen out to their calls? Turns out, advanced life in the universe can be an extreme rarity, and we are just one of possibly few success stories.

Filters. All life, everywhere, have filters. Filters which prevent life from becoming more complex, or developing at all. Take for instance, Mars. Mars may harbour bacterial life but the lack of an atmosphere and severe solar radiation prevents life there becoming more complex. That is Mars' Filter.

If life is adamant enough and conditions permit development, it will pass many of these filters. But what's life's Great Filter? What is the end-all to all? Have humans overcome this Great Filter already? If this is in our past, then humans should become a great civilisation, nothing would stop human development. If not, life on Earth is still to overcome it's greatest test.

What can take out an advanced species? Techology? War? Or a catastrophie? When we look at the possibilities for success, we must also consider the possibilities for failure.




Not really. It's more the extreme difficulty of FTL travel, combined with the fact that while sublight travel to other systems is certainly possible, nobody wants to do it.

All this 'lol Mars type planets can't support life' annoys me... They can't support HUMAN life... That is not the only possible type of life that could evolve. Species will have evolved for other conditions too... breathing different atmospheres, higher/lower temperature range, even a completely different biological basis (silicon and nitrogen based life are both possible as a minimum)

Contact is a great film, watch it
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:43 PM
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Im certain that Mars harbours life, I was merely using that as an example of a Filter, which it is because Mars can't support complex life. The proof being that it doesn't now. A lack of an atmosphere and fierce solar radiation combined counts as a Filter, no matter if it's carbon, silicon or even hydrogen-based life-forms.

What Im getting at is that one of the reasons why we haven't interacted with other advanced civilisations could be that every species gets to a point where they become so complex that they end up becoming self-destructive, their 'Great Filters' and end up destroying themselves before they can make contact with other-worldly civilisations.

Humans may be approaching this Great Filter too with the invention of more and more devastating and destructive technology and only after we overcome this trait can we overcome our Great Filter.
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Old 07-27-2010, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Dreaming Of Pandora View Post
Have you ever wondered how possible is it for complex and intelligent life to form in the universe? Many assume that the sheer amount of number of planets in the universe means that life should be abundant, thriving. Aliens should be knocking on our door. Why hasn't it? Is it the distance between worlds?
More than likely. We haven't been able to get past our moon; "aliens" may not be as technologically advanced as some think.

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Originally Posted by Dreaming Of Pandora View Post
Filters. All life, everywhere, have filters. Filters which prevent life from becoming more complex, or developing at all. Take for instance, Mars. Mars may harbour bacterial life but the lack of an atmosphere and severe solar radiation prevents life there becoming more complex. That is Mars' Filter.
Meh, we're working on it.

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What can take out an advanced species?
The Reapers.
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Old 07-27-2010, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Dreaming Of Pandora View Post
Im certain that Mars harbours life, I was merely using that as an example of a Filter, which it is because Mars can't support complex life. [...]
What Im getting at is that one of the reasons why we haven't interacted with other advanced civilisations could be that every species gets to a point where they become so complex that they end up becoming self-destructive, their 'Great Filters' and end up destroying themselves before they can make contact with other-worldly civilisations.
Indeed, I am also pretty sure Mars harbours life. If not by itself then probably carried there with the first space probes from Earth. But more likely it evolved in the first years when the planet was warmer and liquid water existed.

Amazingly, life is really fast in coming by. On Earth, it took only a couple of millions of years from the formation of liquid, relatively temperate oceans to the first life. From that it took billions of years to reach land animals of course, but that was more of a "terraforming" issue as the original atmosphere was not suitable and the solar radiation was too high and some other factors that change ofer hundreds of millions of years. The point is, that the initial development of the first microbial life took a really short time compared to the lifespan of the planet. This suggests strongly that if the conditions are right, life easily develops. And if the same conditions are present anywhere else, the same would happen. Of course, the origin of life is still unknown, but it is likely that such conditions exist in the universe again. From that, I can imagine that the universe is teaming with life.

Now why do we not find intelligent space aliens? I have my own theory on that and it very much has to do with the way a civilization works. It works on growth and use of resources. Such a system however cannot really keep going as non renewable resources eventually run out and that civilization collapses. An industrialized civilization at the same time seems to be prone to destroy landbase with it and even has the ability to even worse technological mishaps (nuclear devastation, failures in biotech or nanotech). Such a civilization needs to expand to continue existing. If a civilization can reach new resources before it depleted the ones it sits on, it can keep going. Discover new lands or mine asteroids or other planets. Each such step however is one such "filter" you talk about and if the civilization cannot develop the means of forcing further expansion (often destroying what was in these places before) it gets stuck and ends.
From that I see two possibilities: One is that each civilization based on extraction of resources ends at some point. And the second is, that we surely never want to contact a civilization that got beyond the filter of space travel to the point they can reach other planets as they would most likely behave in a less than friendly way (Earth could turn into a Pandora in an instant with humans beeing the ones fighting with projective weapons against "ionic space laser bombs" ). To the same conclusion, I would not really like to see humans become such a race. If expansionism and resource extraction is what a civilization is based on, it will carry this with it into space and basically continue on its course as it has done on its home planet. Find me a different base for a industrial technological civilization and I may support the idea that space travel is possible and desireable.

In the end it seems to me like this: If a civilization based on consumption of non renewable resources develops, it cannot last very long on a planet. The time period in which high tech development is possible is merely some decades or centuries until resources run out. I doubt (or maybe rather I hope) no other civilization with that foundation has passed that point. And I also doubt, there is another means of developing space travel and such than such an unsustainable civilization.
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