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Death and the Sun
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 05:41 AM
Of the 200 billion star systems in the Milky Way, approximately 10 percent may contain planets capable of supporting life as we know it. A study conducted in the university of New South Wales in Austalia found that the most habitable areas of the galaxy form a ring around the galactic centre.

http://anzwers.org/free/universe/galaxy.gif

Three fourths of the solar systems in the galactic hotbed of life are older than our sun, so life there has existed for longer and had more time to evolve (and also to destroy itself too, probably).

More in this old but intriguing article:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/01/0106_040106_galaxylife.html

And how many intelligent civilizations are there in our galaxy? Use the Drake Equation (http://www.pbs.org/lifebeyondearth/listening/drake.html) to find out.

Shaun
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 06:35 AM
Very informative. Thank you very much for this fascinating piece of information and the included link. Do you guys think we'll eventually meet any other intelligent life, if we haven't already? I think the largest problem will be finding a way to travel faster than the speed of light. Personally, I think it is possible.

Death and the Sun
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 07:18 AM
Well, while there may be (and in fact there probably are) thousands of technological civilizations in our galaxy, the distances between them are likely to be so vast that contact will be difficult if not impossible.

I suppose a radio contact with another civilization would not be completely in the realm of science fiction, but actual contact is difficult to imagine at this stage in human evolution. If we manage to not blow ourselves to pieces and avoid devolving into a new dark age, well, we'll never know what the future may bring.

There is also a new theory that an intelligent alien civilization may try to advertise its presence with enormous orbiting artefacts, perhaps in basic geometric shapes, and arranged according to the prime numbers, instead of radio signals. Some scientists believe that instead of looking for radio signals we should try to gain visual data of planets that look promising. However this is not possible in practice yet -- it'll have to wait until more powerful telescopes come along.

Let me indulge in some wild speculation: if we do encounter an alien lifeform, or in this case the word "lifeform" should be used loosely, I suppose it is very likely to be some kind of self-replicating Von Neumann machine. For machine intelligences, the vast periods of time it would take to travel through space would be irrelevant, and if these machines were sufficiently sophisticated they could create an endless amount of copies of themselves from raw materials available everywhere.

Everything we know at the moment seems to indicate that faster-than-light travel is not possible. What makes you so optimistic?

Death and the Sun
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 07:24 AM
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6189

Blutwölfin
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 10:56 AM
One thought that makes me optimistic about another lifeform in our galaxy is that the galaxy is so enourmous. There MUST be another planet, earth-like, where life has developped. Whe should our planet be the only one with "useable" atmosphere and environment?

For me, it's more interesting WHAT KIND OF lifeform is "out there", than IF another lifeform has developped somewhere. Will they be like humans? Or completely different? Do they know about us or do they feel the same as we: "Is there someone else...?"

Once, I had a strange dream: I dreamt our world was just an atom in a blade of grass of a more huge world. And someone picked it... and ate it... but this will go too far now.. :D

Arcturus
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 12:03 PM
Stephen King - The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger



"The universe (he said) is the Great All, and offers a paradox too great for the finite mind to grasp. As the living brain cannot conceive of a non-living brain - although it may think it can - the finite mind cannot grasp the infinite.

The prosaic fact of the universe's existence alone defeats both the pragmatic and the romantic. There was a time, yet a hundred generations before the world moved on, when mankind had achieved enough technical and scientific prowess to chip a few splinters from the great stone pillar of reality. Even so, the false light of science (knowledge, if you like) shone in only a few developed countries. One company (or cabal) led the way in this regard: North Central Positronics, it called itself. Yet, despite a tremendous increase in available facts, there were remarkably few insights.

"Gunslinger, our many-times-great grandfathers conquered the-disease-which-rots, which they called cancer, almost conquered aging, walked on the moon - "

"I don't believe that," the gunslinger said flatly.

To this, the man in black merely smiled and answered, "You needn't. Yet it was so. They made or discovered a hundred other marvelous baubles. But this wealth of infomation produced little or no insight. There were no great odes written to the wonders of artificial insemination - having babies from frozen mansperm - or to the cars that ran on power of the sun. Few if any seemed to have grasped the truest principle of reality: new knowledge leads to yet more awesome mysteries. Greater physiological knowledge of the brain makes the existence of the soul less possible yet more probable by the nature of the search. Do you see? Of course you don't. You've reached the limits of your ability to comprehend. But nevermind - that's beside the point."

"What is the point then?"

"The greatest mystery the universe offers is not life but size. Size encompasses life, and the Tower encompasses size. The child, who is most at home with wonder, says: Daddy, what is above the sky? And the father says: The darkness of space. The child: What is beyond space? The father: The galaxy. The child: Beyond the galaxy? The father: Another galaxy. The child: Beyond the other galaxies? The father: No one knows.

"You see? Size defeats us. For the fish, the lake in which he lives is the universe. What does the fish think when he is jerked up by the mouth through the silver limits of existence and into a new universe where the air drowns him and the light is blue madness? Where huge bipeds with no gills stuff it into a suffocating box abd cover it with wet weeds to die?

"Or one might take the tip of the pencil and magnify it. One reaches the point where a stunning realization strikes home: The pencil tip is not solid; it is composed of atoms which whirl and revolve like a trillion demon planets. What seems solid to us is actually only a loose net held together by gravity. Viewed at their actual size, the distances between these atoms might become league, gulfs, aeons. The atoms themselves are composed of nuclei and revolving protons and electrons. One may step down further to subatomic particles. And then to what? Tachyons? Nothing? Of course not. Everything in the universe denies nothing; to suggest an ending is the one absurdity.

"If you fell outward to the limit of the universe, would you find a board fence and signs reading DEAD END? No. You might find something hard and rounded, as the chick must see the egg from the inside. And if you should peck through the shell (or find a door), what great and torrential light might shine through your opening at the end of space? Might you look through and discover our entire universe is but part of one atom on a blade of grass? Might you be forced to think that by burning a twig you incinerate an eternity of eternities? That existence rises not to one infinite but to an infinity of them?

"Perhaps you saw what place our universe plays in the scheme of things - as no more than an atom in a blade of grass. Could it be that everything we can perceive, from the microscopic virus to the distant Horsehead Nebula, is contained in one blade of grass that may have existed for only a single season in an alien time-flow? What if that blade should be cut off by a scythe? When it begins to die, would the rot seep into our universe and our own lives, turning everthing yellow and brown and desiccated? Perhaps it's already begun to happen. We say the world has moved on; maybe we really mean that it has begun to dry up.

"Think how small such a concept of things make us, gunslinger! If a God watches over it all, does He actually mete out justice for such a race of gnats? Does His eye see the sparrow fall when the sparrow is less than a speck of hydrogen floating disconnected in the depth of space? And if He does see... what must the nature of such a God be? Where does He live? How is it possible to live beyond infinity?

"Imagine the sand of the Mohaine Desert, which you crossed to find me, and imagine a trillion universes - not worlds by universes - encapsulated in each grain of that desert; and within each universe an infinity of others. We tower over these universes from our pitiful grass vantage point; with one swing of your boot you may knock a billion billion worlds flying off into darkness, a chain never to be completed.

"Size, gunslinger... size.

"Yet suppose further. Suppose that all worlds, all universes, met at a single nexus, a single pylon, a Tower. And within it, a stairway, perhaps rising to the Godhead itself. Would you dare climb to the top, gunslinger? Could it be that somewhere above all of endless reality, there exists a room?...

"You dare not."

And in the gunslinger's mind, those words echoed: You dare not. "


http://media.bestprices.com/content/isbn/76/0142800376.jpg
http://www.stephenking.com/DarkTower/

Blutwölfin
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 03:26 PM
Never read that book. Didn't even know about it.
Strange thing... and kind of spooky... There must be a connection between the Master of Horror and myself... :beer-smil

Shaun
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 06:55 PM
Everything we know at the moment seems to indicate that faster-than-light travel is not possible. What makes you so optimistic?

I don't think with our present technology we could measure anything faster than the speed of light (in a vacuum). The known universe is huge. If a particle were to have a constant acceleration and went undisturbed, flying across the universe, would it not eventually surpass the speed of light? I think it would, but ths speed would be so fast that it would be in a location before it could be seen there.

Zyklop
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 07:08 PM
According to Einstein, in this case space would deform.

The Horned God
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 07:52 PM
According to Einstein, in this case space would deform.

And the moving object would weigh more than the entire contents of the universe, gaining infinite mass at lightspeed. An object would require infinite energy just to go at the speed of light according to Einstein. Or, I think I read that somewhere..

Rehnskiöld
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 08:36 PM
Exciting stuff!

Death and the Sun
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 10:05 PM
One thought that makes me optimistic about another lifeform in our galaxy is that the galaxy is so enourmous. There MUST be another planet, earth-like, where life has developped. Whe should our planet be the only one with "useable" atmosphere and environment?

For me, it's more interesting WHAT KIND OF lifeform is "out there", than IF another lifeform has developped somewhere. Will they be like humans? Or completely different? Do they know about us or do they feel the same as we: "Is there someone else...?"

Once, I had a strange dream: I dreamt our world was just an atom in a blade of grass of a more huge world. And someone picked it... and ate it... but this will go too far now.. :D

Actually I think life on Earth is, not exactly an anomaly, but probably not among the most common types of life in the galaxy. I would hazard the guess that most alien lifeforms have metabolisms based on hydrogen instead of oxygen -- after all hydrogen is by far the most common element in the universe, making up about three quaters of the universe's mass.

Then of course there is the possibility of other phenomena classifiable as "life" that are so bizarre we cannot even begin to imagine them.

Arcturus
Monday, May 9th, 2005, 10:23 PM
I doubt most anyone happens to have it handy (like me :D) but there's a very good article in the January 2000 Special Millennium Edition of National Geographic about life beyond earth, aptly entitled Life Beyond Earth. It brings forth several theories and ideas of where and how life may have evolved, how scientists are looking for it, and what it might be like.

"As much as ectraterrestrial life could confound our expectations/../physical and chemical properties are universal, so it is reasonable to expect that any intelligent life we're likely to encounter will share some basic characteristics with Earth life:

SIZE Intelligent life must be complex and multicellular, and scientists believe that cells have an inherent minimum size, so we don't expect intelligent life to be tiny.

HEAD Light, sound and odor will exist throughout the universe, so sensory organs are good bets, probably located near a large, complex brain.

SKELETON An internal skeleton to support and protect vital body parts and a central nervous system for internal communication may be necessary

LIMBS Intelligent being will almost certainly have appendages for locomotion and toolmaking.

Although aliens could have multiple limbs and eyes, on earth two eyes and four limbs work well without ovetaxing the brain."




"Extraterrestrial life, by definition, is not conveniently located."
:D

Arcturus
Tuesday, May 10th, 2005, 07:04 AM
Took me a while, but here is the article plus some other stuff related to the subject :)

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0001/fngm/
http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0301/resources_who.html
http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0412/feature4/

Arcturus
Tuesday, May 10th, 2005, 10:38 AM
Alien life? At least that's what I thought at 5AM yesterday when i started digging for that elusive spare packet of coffee one can never find. Scared me ****less when i stuck my hand in there without looking first. That's what you get for forgetting you had potatoes....
http://www.forums.skadi.net/attachment.php?attachmentid=4556

Death and the Sun
Tuesday, May 10th, 2005, 10:52 AM
For some reason I'm reminded of this:

http://www.theofficialjohncarpenter.com/data/movies/stills/thst13.jpg

Lissu
Tuesday, May 10th, 2005, 10:54 AM
Alien life? At least that's what I thought at 5AM yesterday when i started digging for that elusive spare packet of coffee one can never find. Scared me ****less when i stuck my hand in there without looking first. That's what you get for forgetting you had potatoes....Seems like you are ready to grow some new potatoes :D

Arcturus
Tuesday, May 10th, 2005, 11:25 AM
Yeah, just call me Spud.:D

Or then i'll just let it evolve and one day I'll have a pet
http://www.itchstudios.com/psg/misc2/tentacle.jpg