From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul> Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2012 09:17:00 -0700 Archived: Fri, 02 Mar 2012 15:38:25 -0500 Subject: Re: Sampling Earth's Biodiversity >From: J. Maynard Gelinas <j.maynard.gelinas.nul> >To: post.nul >Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2012 04:49:36 +0800 >Subject: Re: Sampling Earth's Biodiversity >>From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul> >>To: post.nul >>Date: Wed, 29 Feb 2012 10:21:02 -0700 >>Subject: Re: Sampling Earth's Biodiversity >>>From: Stanton T. Friedman <fsphys.nul> >>>To: <post.nul> >>>Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2012 11:11:41 -0400 >>>Subject: Re: Sampling Earth's Biodiversity >>>1. Earth is the densest planet in the solar system implying >>>higher levels of such very high density metals as Rhenium, >>>Osmium, Gold tungsten, uranium,etc.. all of which have special >>>properties and appear to be rare in the stars of the local >>Earth is slightly (several percent) more dense than Mercury and >>Venus, but there is nothing to suggest that that this is due to >>some unusual abundance of the elements you cite. Indeed, if >>those elements were to suddenly disappear, the effect on the >>average density of the Earth would be negligible (<< 1%). >>That bit of pedantry aside, your broader point is taken that >>Earth is quite the jewel in the local neighborhood. >But what is the resource that makes Earth that jewel? Is it a >raw resource, such as rare elements unavailable elsewhere? Or >does life itself - the ability of life to craft chemical bonds >atom by atom - combined with vast a biodiversity allowing for >the creation of all sorts of novel compounds represent that >jewel? That's the question at hand in this thread. Hi Maynard, I think your effort to make a hypothetical ET visitation less anthropocentric is commendable, i.e., we shouldn't suppose it would be all about us. But your proposed scenario might itself be considered anthropocentric, in that it implicitly ascribes human motivations and characteristics to alien life forms. For example, you frame your question as: Is it some raw resource (e.g., rare elements) that makes Earth a 'jewel', or is it perhaps living organisms themselves (e.g., from which to create novel new compounds)? But this is a quintessentially human assessment of the options, one that effectively presumes that the 'value' of a place relates primarily to the potential payoff from some extractive or exploitative process (e.g., so as to fill the coffers of Spain with gold, or to sell coal to China). If there were some clear evolutionary advantage to such a philosophy, I would be more comfortable with projecting it onto hypothetical ET visitors. However, quite the opposite seems likely... the rate of species extinction on Earth is now 100 to 1000 times the normal background rate, and it's no mystery who's behind it. And continued unchecked, it spells our own doom as well (consider, say, the extinction of plant pollinators). In other words, our own experience suggests that there could well be an evolutionary selection effect at work that makes visitation by aggressively exploitative/extractive ET cultures, or even the descendants of such cultures, relatively unlikely. But I confess that may represent hope as much as deduction. As to the specific resource you've focused on and its potential use to ETs, the idea is certainly intriguing (also as expanded in your more lengthy recent post). But whether for purposes of biomechanical modeling or generating exotic chemical compounds, why on Earth (so to speak) would they need to come all the way here to do that? Presumably they themselves derived from biological evolutionary processes, so they should already have genetic material to work with. There is nothing to indicate that such processes on Earth are chemically unique in terms of exotic reactions or extremely rare elements. The requisite materials are widespread, and they are known to combine spontaneously to form many of the critical components (e.g., amino acids in interstellar molecular clouds). The genetic/biochemical factories and toolsets you discuss are already in rudimentary development by our own species (e.g., witness goats producing spider webs in their milk, and similar grotesques). I should think that in general such capability is developed and mastered well before interstellar travel is. Absent the looming ecological crisis discussed above, or perhaps even in spite of it, humans could well soon be custom-designing and fabricating genetic material out of whole cloth. Which is not at all reassuring, since that would represent a vastly more dangerous toy than, say, nuclear weapons. Mike Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast At: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/sdi/program/ These contents above are copyright of the author and UFO UpDates - Toronto. They may not be reproduced without the express permission of both parties and are intended for educational use only.
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