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I can prove aliens exist!
 Posted: 20 June 2008 11:56 PM [ Ignore ]
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This is simple math, which probably has already been thought of before, but I have never heard of it being used, it came from the mind of a 16 year old…me

When someone asked my science teacher if she thought aliens exist, she said “no, the chances of life happening on Earth was very low, and I don’t think it will happen again.” Thinking that other types of life forms could have evolved from a non-earthly ecosystem aside, a simple math problem can prove life. x= A very low percentage (doesn’t need to be specific), y= Infinite space for life to develop (or HUGE amount of space). x*y = Infinite life in our universe.

Thoughts? Am I not the first?

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 Posted: 21 June 2008 06:24 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Ha! Very good attempt for a 16 year old, dorge. One problem, however, is that space is not infinitely large; it is finite. If it were infinitely large, then no matter the smallness of the probability, the overall probability would be 1, i.e., 100%. But sine space is not infinite, the actual number of the first probability is crucial.

At any rate, the astronomer Frank Drake pioneered this sort of calculation back in 1961. You can peruse his results HERE for example.

Just remember that many of these variables are complete unknowns, and simply coming up with an equation often gives people the sense that something is solved, when in fact the equation simply clarifies our complete lack of knowledge. Nevertheless it is a fun question to consider.

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 Posted: 21 June 2008 06:35 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yes, I believe too, that aliens exist, but I guess you can’t prove with your theory. Life forms need material or energy to develop. All living creatures consists of atoms and atoms don’t arise from nothing, they need existing particles or energy.

Also, material in universe isn’t infinity. Somehow huge amount of energy came to our universe right before the big bang. This amount of energy is basically a constant, it can’t change because of conservation of energy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_of_energy). Because material is only a form of energy (E=mc2), it can’t come out of nothing too.

So you got a equation a=b*c, where a is probability if aliens exist or not, b=probability of life and c is amount of energy or material.

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 Posted: 21 June 2008 11:28 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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lwd850 - 21 June 2008 06:35 AM

Yes, I believe too, that aliens exist, but I guess you can’t prove with your theory. Life forms need material or energy to develop. All living creatures consists of atoms and atoms don’t arise from nothing, they need existing particles or energy.

Also, material in universe isn’t infinity. Somehow huge amount of energy came to our universe right before the big bang. This amount of energy is basically a constant, it can’t change because of conservation of energy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_of_energy). Because material is only a form of energy (E=mc2), it can’t come out of nothing too.

So you got a equation a=b*c, where a is probability if aliens exist or not, b=probability of life and c is amount of energy or material.

You make it seem like energy is so scarce, when in reality every star in the visible sky is producing more than enough energy to sustain life, all it needs is a proper planet. I do not know how or what the theory of how life first started out as a single cell organism (by that i mean i don’t know when the first living cell started.) but it certainly should be able to be replicated with billions of trillions of chances. (there are as many stars in the universe as grains of sand on earth.)

The amount of energy is basically a constant, it can’t change because of conservation of energy

This quote is completely unrelated to this topic. I am fully aware of this law, but I don’t see how it hampers the beginings of life. You quoted Einstein with E=mc^2, but it was also Einstein who first thought that the uiniverse must be expanding or contracting, thus my crude hypothisis that space is infinite. Getting back to energy, and why this isn’t a problem, the energy from a star would be absorbed some way (most likely a plant, and if a plant is sufficient life for you then…), and then transferred to a herbivor, then that would be eaten etc… just like the energy cycle here on earth.

All living creatures consists of atoms and atoms don’t arise from nothing, they need existing particles or energy.

This quote too, also baffles me. Humans are made up of the same atoms on Earth, and I never suggested life randomly spawned in outer space…

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 Posted: 21 June 2008 11:37 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’m just saying, that animals need material not space. And material is finite, total amount of material will be the same, so it will never reach infinitive.

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 Posted: 21 June 2008 11:41 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Yes, in an infinite universe, there is an infinite amount of life forms, infinite amount of Earths, and infinite amount of copies of you. But we can never reach this “infinity”.  There is little meaning in what lies beyond the finite, observable universe, and the search for life was never meant to ask (or answer) those questions - science and empirical data can’t touch them, and even when we assume infinity - those thought remain just that - thoughts, with no practical meaning.

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 Posted: 22 June 2008 05:03 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Dorge, for the fun if it, we can do some very rough, approximate calculations.

Infinity tends to be confused because it gets mixed up between mathematical and practical infinity.  Rather than using this word, consider the numbers in orders of magnitude.  There are about 1.5 X 10^9 galaxies and 0.5 X 10^9 stars in our galaxy.  Assuming it’s average, that mean 2.25 X10^18 stars total.  We’ll call that A.  From our examinations of those close enough to us to determine, it seems that a fair number of them has planets, let’s say 1% so that’s .01A have planets.  So far we’ve only been able to detect large planets, but let’s guess and say one percent of those with planets have one or two within the liquid water range, so that’s 0.0001A which have planets which could develop life similar to ours.  That’s 2.25 X 10^14 or 2,250,000,000,000 planets that have thermal conditions that could support life similar to ours.

I have no idea how much water there is on earth, but I’ll take a guess at 10,000 cubic kilometers (plus or minus an order of magnitude).  That’s 10^10 cubic meters of water or 10^13 liters of water.  Each liter weighs 1000 grams.  Water’s molecular weight is 18 so by Avogadro’s number that means there are 6.023*10^23 molecules in that 18 grams or 55 X that number in each liter.  That’s 10^13 * 10^23 *6.023 * 55 water molecules on earth, or 10^38 *3.33 water molecules.

There would be far fewer other simple molecules dissolved, such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane, methanol, ethanol, acetic acid, phosphoric acid, etc.  They would mostly exist as ions.  So, let’s make a guess and say the concentration is, in general, one one-hundredths of a percent of each of these.  Since some of these are heavier than the water molecule, let’s get rid of the 3.33.  So there would be 10^34 of each of these molecules on average.
We have sunlight, volcanic heating, cosmic rays, radioactive decay, all pouring energy into this water solution.  And, they get to do it over a billion years.  That’s 10^9 X 365.24 days * 24 hours * 3600 seconds.  That’s 3.15 * 10^15.

The probability of any group of these molecules forming amino acids and combining into a form that tends to catalyze synthesis of itself is quite low,  let’s say one in a million trillion or 10^-18 any given second, but we have 10^34 of these molecules (let’s divide it by a hundred because there has to be a number of them to combine).  That’s 10^32 molecules.  Let’s guess that the chance of any of them reacting with something around it is 1 in 100,000 or 10^5.  That’s 10^27 * 3.15 X 10^15 seconds, or 3.15 X 10^42 reactions.  The probabliity of life forming reactions would be that times 10^-18, or 3.15 * 10^24 over the billion years before life occured on earth.

So people who say life on earth was an extremely improbable occurance haven’t thought through the probablities.  Now, I’m sure many of my number can be questioned, but then one should have a defensible number to substitute and do the calculations.

Looking at the very high likelihood of life forming in an ocean and the probable number of likely planets I’d say it’s essentially certain that life has happened on a great many planets.  Your teacher doesn’t have any idea of what s/he’s talking about.

Now, if you want to ask how many have intelligent life, that’s a different story, since we haven’t seen any evidence of intelligent life on earth with the possible exception of whales and dolphins.

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 Posted: 23 June 2008 10:13 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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An alien is a being from another world. Extend this definition to include from another dimension/reality or universe as well and it gets really interesting. Why must we assume that aliens must come from another world out there in an UFO, Hollywood style?

What is a being? A living creature.
What is life? The capacity for growth, replication and functional activity.
Are viruses alive? Yes and no, depending on how you define life.

http://www.mcb.uct.ac.za/tutorial/virwhat.html

Dead viruses can resurrect themselves or be resurrected sometimes. Scary.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/12/03/071203fa_fact_specter

Then, last year, Thierry Heidmann brought one back to life. Combining the tools of genomics, virology, and evolutionary biology, he and his colleagues took a virus that had been extinct for hundreds of thousands of years, figured out how the broken parts were originally aligned, and then pieced them together. After resurrecting the virus, the team placed it in human cells and found that their creation did indeed insert itself into the DNA of those cells. They also mixed the virus with cells taken from hamsters and cats. It quickly infected them all, offering the first evidence that the broken parts could once again be made infectious.

Where do viruses come from? Some scientists suggest from meteorites in outer space. Are they the aliens?

Humans are hybrids of cells, bacteria, viruses and fungi. There are more of them than human cells and at least 8% of the human genome is composed of retroviruses and related elements.

Now, consider this BBC report on the formation of universes:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7440217.stm

Their model suggests that new universes could be created spontaneously from apparently empty space. From inside the parent universe, the event would be surprisingly unspectacular.

We are the evolved aliens…..resistance is futile.

QED

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 Posted: 24 June 2008 08:46 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Statistically yes this could prove whether or not alien life forms exist. However the only thing statistics ever prove is that people are dumb enough to play the lottery.

This kind of reminds me of another statistical theory in which that one could pass through an object entirely, providing the atoms and their electrons are aligned properly. So if you calculated for every single atom in your body, the atoms in say a chair, at one point those atoms and the spaces between the electrons would eventually align and allow you pass through your chair. Just think if there was a way to calculate this and time it correctly. That would be a lotto worth hitting. Anyone else ever hear of this?

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 Posted: 25 June 2008 04:19 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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A similar problem was posed in my first physical chemistry class.  All of the air molecules could end up under the instructor’s desk.  What’s the probability of that happening.  As I recall we calculated it and found that it would happen once in every 10 to the 43rd seconds (or was it 46th seconds?  I guess it doesn’t make much difference).  That’s only a trillion trillion trillion times as our universe has been in existence.  So don’t bother waiting around to hit that lottery.

Occam

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 Posted: 25 June 2008 06:18 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Occam - 22 June 2008 05:03 PM

Dorge, for the fun if it, we can do some very rough, approximate calculations.

Infinity tends to be confused because it gets mixed up between mathematical and practical infinity.

This is exactly the point that was occurring to me.  Gold star for Occam.

Dorge elsewhere on this forum the same theme recurs when people discuss an omnipotent or omniscient God.  In reality it’s not at all clear what these terms mean, any more than what “infinity” means something in practice.

On balance I think the argument Dorge makes is reasonable, but as Doug noted it’s hard to make a rigorous estimate.  Since Drake did his work there has been a significant amount of thought going into the argument that humans on Earth are plausibly the only intelligent life. {but it’s still sketchy from that angle as well}

If bacteria count as aliens I think probability really sky-rockets.  I think it’s likely that we could seed Mars and Europa with Earth-bacteria and that they could survive. Do not know a reference. I think it’s also likely that we haven’t decided if that is “ethical”—which would be material for another thread.

Thanks for the post.

Jackson

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 Posted: 25 June 2008 09:54 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Quite the controversial topic you’ve chosen. I myself believe that extra-terrestrial life forms exist. Just look at Drake’s equation. It’s almost absurd to think otherwise. Now, although they may exist, is it a form of life that we can define as ‘alive’ by our own closed definition of life? This issue stretches to viruses, as kkwan pointed out.

Although you have a nifty little equation there, this cannot PROVE that there is other life in the universe, it can merely point out the statistical probability of it. Just like Drake’s.

Since we do not live in an infinite universe (although not to say that one doesn’t exist!), I do not believe there are an infinite amount of life forms.

As to awisemanoncesaid’s comment, doesn’t the electromagnetic force stop this, because of the repelling electrons? I was under the impression that it’s impossible for that to happen, no matter if the electrons weren’t touching. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Oh, and it’s nice to see someone else under the age of 17 who’s pretty smart! :D
I thought I was the only one.

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 Posted: 26 June 2008 06:19 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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subgenius - 25 June 2008 09:54 PM

Since we do not live in an infinite universe (although not to say that one doesn’t exist!), I do not believe there are an infinite amount of life forms.

As to awisemanoncesaid’s comment, doesn’t the electromagnetic force stop this, because of the repelling electrons? I was under the impression that it’s impossible for that to happen, no matter if the electrons weren’t touching. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

[\quote]

It’s great to see young’ns thinking these cosmic thoughts! Reminds me of my days in Jr. High carying around relativity and astronomy books!  This came on the heels of me carrying around a bible in grade school - but that’s another story.

According to an old, classical (as in classical physics) idea of solar-system like atoms, this idea is plausable. However, the Max Born model of atoms as itsy-bitsy whirring electrons circling around dot-like nuclear centers is, unfortunately, not the way the universe has contrived to exhibit our particular reality.

If you look here, you can see how quantum-mechanics has shaped atoms.  The electrons exist in a kind of “cloud” around the nucleus rather than being discreet points that move around said center.  Electrons are so incredibly tiny that they are in a very real sense “spread out” in space due to the wave-like nautre of all elementary particles.  This has implications for electron-electron collisions, which tend to be more sloshy than the interaction of say, billiard balls.

So far, I’ve been talking about the pysical mass or spatial distribution of electrons.  The electric field complicates things even more.  Since like charges repel, even if electrons get “near” one another, say less than one typical atomic diameter apart, they push each other away.  As somebody else has noted above, this negative repulsion is the biggest effect responsible for matter not passing through matter like gossamer through fog.

Now here’s a question, mostly for you curious youths:  Why, if like charges repel, do the protons in the nucleus not shatter away from one another?  Or do they?

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 Posted: 26 June 2008 03:35 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Occam - 22 June 2008 05:03 PM

Infinity tends to be confused because it gets mixed up between mathematical and practical infinity

Really? how is that?

Occam - 25 June 2008 04:19 PM

A similar problem was posed in my first physical chemistry class.

Thats because its not similar. The probability of this happening gets lower as the number of air molecules increases, while the probability of creation of life in the universe gets higher as the universe gets bigger. For in infinite universe, the probability is either 0% or 100%.

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 Posted: 26 June 2008 08:23 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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subgenius - 26 June 2008 06:19 AM
tscott - 25 June 2008 09:54 PM

Now here’s a question, mostly for you curious youths:  Why, if like charges repel, do the protons in the nucleus not shatter away from one another?  Or do they?

Isn’t that because of the strong-nuclear force? I’m just going off memory here, so I might sound a little dumb. The strong-nuclear force is also responsible for holding the neutrons in the nucleus. Going into more theoretical realms, gluons are the reason the whole strong-nuclear force works in the first place!
Cool stuff.

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 Posted: 27 June 2008 10:58 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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PavelR - 26 June 2008 03:35 PM
Occam - 22 June 2008 05:03 PM

Infinity tends to be confused because it gets mixed up between mathematical and practical infinity

Really? how is that?

Really, Pavel, you are going to have to learn to understand more than very literal meanings.  Scientific and general meanings of quite a few words are somewhat different, and this causes much confusion when people in a discussion use them with the different meanings.  For example, “theory” means a well crafted, researched, and peer verified concept in scientific language.  To a layman it means a guess that doesn’t have much basis on which it’s based.  “Infinity” means very, very large to a layman, but without limit to a mathematician.  Accuracy and precision mean about the same thing to a layman, but have different meanings to a scientist.

Occam - 25 June 2008 04:19 PM

A similar problem was posed in my first physical chemistry class.

Thats because its not similar. The probability of this happening gets lower as the number of air molecules increases, while the probability of creation of life in the universe gets higher as the universe gets bigger. For in infinite universe, the probability is either 0% or 100%.

You missed the point, Pavel.  I wasn’t referring to the probability of the creation of life, but answering another post that mentioned the idea of all the air molecules ending up in one place.  However, again, you were taking the example too literally.  It was merely demonstrating the concept of extremely large number probabilities.

Occam

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