Friday, December 3, 2010

It's life Jim, but not as we know it.

A bit of a departure from the norm today. Whilst we were raiding last night, one of our raid force expressed an interest in the recent findings by NASA scientists concerning life forms being found to exist in an environment predominantly of arsenic. This is unusual as even though we know some life forms do exist in extremely toxic environments, most of those toxic environments consist of chemicals that are attributed to the basic building blocks of life, for example nitrogen and sulphur.

Part of the hullabaloo is the fact that if life can exist in such inhospitable conditions and not in one of the chemicals forming the basic building blocks, such as arsenic, then this could mean the existence of life forms on other planets, even ones where we thought life would be completely unsustainable. A very interesting and compelling argument for sure. However, what I have to say is this, why are we surprised? Yes, I know it is a step forward in scientific research and it somewhat confirms what some scientists have theorised for a long time, but I like to look at such things from a slightly different angle.

Now for one who has a background where proof and evidence is King, this may seem like a bit of a weird point of view. But I like to look at the probability of such things. Before I continue, I guess it’s prudent to state that I absolutely believe that without a doubt that there is other life forms out there in our Universe and beyond and possible even in our own Solar System. Just look at Simon Cowell! No, that was cruel and unnecessary, but I couldn’t help it!

The first part of my understanding is simple. It is to do with the size of the universe ‘as we know it’. You only have to look at the unfathomable size and things start to look likely. If ye like a bit of science with your sauce, check out The Drake Equation. You’ll notice above I placed ‘as we know it’ in apostrophes. The reason for this is I believe it forms a huge part of my belief. Throughout history and also in modern day it is more than apparent that we can only state for certain what we know. The rest is educated guesses some perhaps based on scientific evidence and hypothesis. I feel this is immensely important and links in with the old, “To assume, makes an ass, out of (yo)u and me” statement. What we don’t know we can only guess at and yes those guesses may be backed up by something stronger, but that’s what they still are, guesses.

Look at what happens when North Koreans escape to the South. They have to undergo training to fully understand how real societies within our world work. They ‘assumed’ under their old regime that they knew how things worked. Moving to South Korea showed them that they really did not. As a race and a planet we are the same. How can we possibly be so arrogant as to assume that we know it all? Of course we cannot and do not.

So what are we left with is probability and perspective of evidence. Perspective of evidence is an interesting one. For example, take the fact that daily we are passed information in different formats by our Governments. On the whole we believe what they tell us. Why would we not? But time and time again we have evidence provided to us that Government keep secrets and tell us at times a bunch of porky pies. This in itself makes it impossible to put any stead in what we are told. How do we know which it is? The truth or lies? I’m no great Government debunker, but I rarely take what we are told at face value as we have experience and evidence that we cannot always trust what they say. As a child if you put your hand in the fire, it burns. You do not do it again. Lesson learnt. Same thing. They have shown their propensity for lies and spin time and time again and although I’m prepared to admit mostly they probably do tell us the truth, there is no way to differentiate between the two. So erring on the side of caution is always advisable when looking at the information they provide.

Now take this perspective of evidence. Look at the information passed to us by respected professionals such as Aldrin, Wolfe, Collins. Both Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins tell us they have seen UFOs. I have no evidence of them lying to me before, but the Government debunks this information. Why believe the hot fire? It burns. Why would such folks risk their careers and good reputation by coming up with crazy stories of UFOs or structures seen on the dark side of the moon? I don’t know what they are telling us is the truth. But it’s more probable that they are telling the truth than the Government is.

Go back further in history and perspective of evidence gets a little shadier. What do we believe when met with such supposedly proven evidence such as the Piri Reis Map. A map showing the coast of the Americas and coast of Africa but also surprisingly Queen Maud Land , part of Antarctica seemingly without ice. The map was from the 16th century. The last time that part of Antarctica had no ice was over 9000 yrs ago. So how the hell did they know? Then you get stories of tribes in Meso-S America stating their Gods used to visit them and the knowledge for the drawing up of the map came from these Gods. Are we talking aliens here? The technology to map the land beneath Antarctica ice has only been available in our life time. Some scientists call this pseudoscience or psuedoarchaeology, but others state it is wrong to think we always have known what is right and old evidence should be re-evaluated. Who to believe?

Not knowing the answer of course, I come back to what I personally feel is probable. Link that with humans astonishing ability to be blinkered in to believing that we know more than we do and deciding the answers before we even have enough supporting evidence to do more than hypothesise, and I cite for example a lot of scientists’ belief that all life is carbon based. How do we know for sure? Yes, on this planet it’s very likely, but how can one apply that to the whole of a massive area we know little about such as the Universe? Of course, we cannot.

So, life as we know it? Is that it? I personally believe not. There has to be more out there and I think we’d be extremely arrogant to think otherwise.

Phew! A bit of a departure from the norm indeed. Fun though. Gets the old brain working. Normal gaming fun will hopefully be back with us after the weekend.

Be well.

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